Jason Rothenberg is good at keeping secrets.
If he weren’t the showrunner for the CW apocalyptic drama The 100, I’d say he missed a calling to serve in the intelligence field, or at least in politics. He knows what he’s doing, teasing reunions between beloved ships and spouting off metaphors about gardens and serpents and new seasons filled with ambiguous villains. But he was nice enough to take pity on us when we spoke to him about the upcoming season of The 100 – one that kicks off with a six-year time jump and promises to pit fan favorites against one another for at least a few episodes. Here’s Rothenberg spilling all he legally can about season five’s new dilemma, why he likes to burn storylines to the ground, and the biggest obstacle to a certain ship’s happily ever after.
We’ve survived the end of the world, again. Does that kind of fresh start give the writers’ room to create even more ambitious storylines in season five?
There’s sort of, narrative reboot every season, but this one had the six-year time jump [which] really allows us to do pretty much anything we want as long as, I think, it still feels like these people are different but not totally different, if you know what I mean.
So the key to keeping things fresh on The 100 is to just burn everything to the ground as often as you can.
Well, you know what? It’s funny that you say that because [budget-wise] it’s not always the smartest thing to destroy your set every season, but we do that anyway. In the beginning, it was a challenge to say, “Yeah, we just spent a million dollars on this spaceship, and we’re going to destroy it,” but at this point, the studio is used to it.
One of the most anticipated storylines this year has to do with Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) (or Bellarke) reuniting after years apart. You’ve said you don’t like love triangles, but how big of an obstacle is Echo (Tasya Teles) going to be for Bellarke this season?
I have said that I don’t like love triangles, but as I think about some of my favorite movies of all time, The English Patient, Casablanca, you know there’s some great love triangles in those movies for sure. So, I think just on its face, it’s a bit of a grand statement to say I don’t like love triangles.
I don’t really think about it [Bellamy and Echo’s relationship] in those terms. We’ll see what happens in terms of Clarke’s emotional state with Bellamy and vice-versa. I know I’m being kind of ambiguous, as I always am when I talk about things like this.
I’m just worried for Tasya, who’s such a good actress and who seems like a nice human being. You might be setting her up to get a lot of hate this season.
[Laughs.] Yeah, Echo was an antagonist for most of her run on the show and the people are right to not necessarily like her. I think if you are being honest about it, everybody on the show, for the most part, is doing what’s right for their people so, even though what was right for Echo’s people was diametrically opposed to what was right for our protagonists: Bellamy, Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), Clarke, etcetera, she was still, essentially, behaving just like they were. It’s not like she was innately evil, so I think that common ground is something that, when your goals are in the same direction, allows for people like Echo and Bellamy and Echo and Octavia eventually to sort of begin to row together. But yeah, it also makes things tricky.
Talking about characters working together, how are these relationships we’ve been invested in going to changes because of the six-year gap? Are we going back to season one Bellarke or is that shared history going to come into play?
They still love each other, they still care tremendously about each other. I mean, everybody, Bellamy and Octavia, Bellamy and Clarke, Octavia and Clarke, and so what it does is, what this six-year time jump does is, shifts everybody’s priorities. Clarke’s priority is now Madi (Lola Flanery), and Bellamy’s priority is now SpaceKru and Octavia’s priority is now WonKru. That doesn’t mean that it’s their only priority. They still care about each other as individuals too. The trouble, of course, will be when what’s right for one group’s priority is not what’s right for the other. Are you going to choose Madi over Bellamy when push comes to shove? It’ll be impossible, it’ll be heartbreaking, but that’s what you do. If something is going to threaten my family, my child, then anything is possible.