After leaving fans clutching their hearts at the end of the Season 1 finale over the presumed deaths of Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Finn (Thomas McDonell), and perhaps the eminent death of Chancellor Jaha (Isaiah Washington), who sacrificed himself to save the remaining population of the Ark, it was only too fortuitous to run into two of the executive producers of THE 100 at the CBS summer TCA party and attempt to get some long-awaited answers.
In an exclusive interview, executive producers Bruce Miller and Jason Rothenberg talked about where Season 2 shall pick-up for the hundred and what may have become of those last seen in dire straights in Season 1.
So what does Season 2 have in store for THE 100? What’s up with the white room and Mount Weather?
BRUCE: It’s all about expanding their world. Every time we found something interesting, like an interesting character, we thought, “That character shows us a window into their world” and we try to make those worlds really big and complicated. It also shows a different realm of what is happening. Mount Weather is a good example. What’s happening at Mount Weather? Who is there? Then we have the Grounder world, which is just as complicated.
Are there many Grounders left? It seemed like a lot were incinerated in the Season 1 finale.
BRUCE: There’s lots and lots of Grounders left — lots of different kinds of Grounders. The idea is that there are little pockets of people all over the world that survived, and it took a long time, but eventually they began to thrive a little bit. So they are all over the place and they have adapted to where they are. It is one of the few shows that I have worked on where it is literally endless. We never have a problem coming up with stories. But we only have 43 minutes and we cannot do as many stories as we want to.
How many episodes was the show picked up for in Season 2?
BRUCE: We were picked up for 16 episodes in Season 2. Last year you saw how much we tried to do in every episode. It’s the same thing this year. We don’t ever hold anything back.
THE 100 is one of those shows that has adopted the tactic that I call “fearless” television. It is not afraid to embrace storylines and make everything happen fast.
BRUCE: (Laughs) We have a roomful of smart people; there is nothing that they can’t think of a way to get out of. Like we were going to hold a story for the end of the season, and then we thought, “Why not make that Episode 2?” There’s that feeling, especially in a world with so many possibilities, you do not ever come up dry. It just makes the characters more interesting.
One of the fascinations of Season 1 was the duality of the space story and the Earth story. It is hard to foresee much of the space story continuing in Season 2, unless you have done something we do not expect; so will the show still have that dual-balance still? Or will it be more of an Earth-bound story?
BRUCE: It’s Earth-bound to a certain extent, yet it is not bound in just one world — just as we are a world that is split with people — they are too. Think about all the people that have to find each other. So we still have that, very much. In fact, most of the second season, people are spread far and wide. It takes awhile for people to come back together. Because you have the people at Mount Weather, how isolated are they? The story still has people who are in contact or very gentle contact who are trying to communicate and who are longing to be with each other. I think it worked beautifully last season. I was very proud of the fact we were able to keep it going without people going, “Why are we up there, when we should be down there?”
Well, the storyline was so accelerated, we didn’t have time to think about that.
BRUCE: It was good that we got some communication going, but I think for our themes of coming together and how when they do get together, how much they have changed — especially when you think of Abby (Paige Turco) and Clarke (Eliza Taylor). When was the last time we saw them together? When they finally do get together, if they get together, think of how much figurative water they have under the bridge. They are different people.
So what kinds of surprises are in store at Mount Weather?
BRUCE: First of all, it’s going to be very different than you expect it to be. It’s so clean and to see Eliza so clean is startling. But the thing that I think is going to surprise you about Mount Weather is how similar their struggles are to both the people on the Ark, the hundred and the Grounders. Everybody is just trying to find a way to survive that doesn’t push their moral code too far out of whack. Nobody is evil and nobody is good, and nobody is really noble and nobody is really bad. What you’re going to find is how much you connect with them. How easy it is to connect to their world. Just like it was easy with the people on the Ark, it didn’t take long to think, “Oh my god, I can see myself in that world.” That’s what I think is going to be the big surprise. That they are falling in love, and they are going through the same things we’re going through. So even though it is going to be alien, in some ways you’ll connect right into it.
One of the things that seemed to come together at the end of Season 1 was Abby and Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) seemed to have some chemistry. Was that deliberate or was that something that just happened?
BRUCE: We’re very blessed to have a group of actors that lean into their characters and dig into every moment and pull out as much as possible — and some of them are young and some of them are more experienced, but they all do it. So what took place in a scene by scene and story by story basis for Abby and Kane, their characters grew to respect each other and out of that respect grew just a little bit of softening now that they were not at odds all the time. They learned to respect, even when they disagreed. Out of that, and it was surprising even was we wrote it, what we try not to do is just push people to wherever we want, but to follow the characters.
I kept thinking that I might be reading too much into Abby and Kane’s interactions, but they were so antagonist towards each other at the beginning of Season 1, and then by their final scene where they are finally on Earth, I’m like, “Wow, there’s something there.”
BRUCE: Fans really take to heart every look or every scene really has meaning, so we are incredibly careful with what we write and the actors are incredibly careful to really act those moments. Even just one or two little looks add up to, when you get to that final scene, you feel this connection between the two of them.
I would have never expected that it would be Abby and Kane to be the ones standing there together as with the last of the Ark survivors when they returned to Earth. It was kind of a double-take moment.
BRUCE: (Laughs) And I liked how they didn’t feel weird at all. It didn’t feel at all weird for them. But I would never have expected it either.
They had just gone through this harrowing experience where they were on the verge of death and this was their last chance, and they made it. So as a result there seems to be a closeness because they went through that experience.
BRUCE: And I think there is a little bit of alignment as they start to realize that they are fighting over things that not that far apart from each other. In the beginning, it was just such a style difference because Abby got so much more support and Kane got the hard knocks because of his point of view. So it was nice to see when they meet a little bit in the middle. They are such good strong actors, both of them, that you really believe that they can clash and then sit down and have a beer together afterwards.
With regards to the timeline, in Season 1, the show took its time in telling the stories of the hundred and those on the Ark on a day-by-day basis and approximately three weeks went by in Season 1. Do you have an idea of how long the timeline will be for Season 2?
BRUCE: We were just talking about that. One of the things we have tried to do is when someone is really interested in finding another person, they are not going to be doing other things. That’s why our timeline was always so present. Their problems were urgent. And Clarke is not the sort of person who gets derailed. She is very determined. In fact, we have the strongest group of women: Clarke, Raven, Octavia, Anya, Abby — and they are not afraid to get dirty. And even when they are all covered in blood. Granted they all still look so beautiful even when dirty, but we don’t do beautiful dirt on purpose. We were very mindful that in science fiction, women characters have full personalities. They should be relationship minded. They should be society minded. They should think about others. They should think about themselves. They should not be one dimensional. The great thing is I wouldn’t have thought we could have that many badass women characters and that they wouldn’t go up against each other.
Perhaps that’s because they seem to sense that they need each other.
BRUCE: I love it. It’s my favorite thing about the show. As far as the timeline, we always try to move time ahead whenever we can. But we are not afraid to take our time. I think as long as there are interesting things happening we are going to keep following those things. In this world, because there are alien elements, the minutiea is sometimes the most interesting stuff. Like seeing Clarke look around that room at the end of the season. It’s fascinating and every little piece of it is fascinating. So I prefer if we take our time.
Will Season 2 pick up right where we last saw Clarke in the white room, or will there be some kind of time-jump?
BRUCE: Don’t you want to find out what happens next? I want to find out what happens next! So I don’t think we’re going to disappoint you. You are so curious about what happens next, and that’s what we want to show you.
Plus, I really want to know who survived — especially since we got so attached to the characters so quickly. We’re all dying to know the fates of Bellamy and Finn.
BRUCE: That’s the thing about our show, those moments of discovery, like when Eliza finds out, it plays so real. It’s heart-breaking. And when we pick up, we have a bunch of people who don’t know what happened to people they care about, so that’s going to be fun see play out.
Since you’re not revealing what happened to everyone, let’s try something else. In Season 1, we saw a lot of the story through Clarke’s eyes. Whose eyes will we see the story through in Season 2?
BRUCE: We’re just expanding. Clarke is a wonderful person to see our world from. She’s very tough, but she is also influenced by the world around her. The moment where she killed the Grounder and looked into his eyes, you get to see her take in a little bit of the violence of that world and take it on. Those kinds of moments, Eliza does spectacularly well. But because we have expanded our world, you inevitably have to spread out your point of view. We try to see things through the eyes and the hearts of the characters. Not only do you see the world through them, you get to know them better because of their point of view. Bellamy has certainly has his stories; Octavia’s had her stories; even Lincoln’s stories. Ricky Whittle is an amazing actor. When you write those scenes, you don’t know how they are going to turn out. But he’s a lovely, gentle man and so beautiful, he brings such humanity to the role. Ricky and Marie together as Lincoln and Octavia is so sweet. They have such great chemistry and they bring it to the characters. When you see things through Lincoln’s eyes, you get a different view of the world and it’s not just a view — it’s a point of view. He has an opinion and a sweetness about how he looks at the world.
So we’re going to be seeing an expanding of their world and seen through multiple perspectives?
BRUCE: Right. I like that and I think the audience likes that. As much as I love seeing things through Clarke’s point of view, when I got to see things from Jasper’s (Devon Bostick) point of view, I loved that too. We are blessed to be able to bounce around like that. They are such a great cast, and they are so game. They will do anything.
What about Murphy (Richard Harmon)? Is he still going to be around in Season 2?
BRUCE: Richard is an amazing actor, and once again, the sweetest man. He is also so gentle and such a great actor. He is in a role that on another show would be so arch, and yet he is not arch at all. He is just completely understandable. Getting inside his head and understanding him — after all, nobody is the bad guy in their own story. I don’t blame him. After what happened to him, when he got strung up, you have to think, “He does have a point.”
You always have to remember that they are all still children and they are so young.
BRUCE: That’s the thing. That’s what you have to remember when watching the show. Part of them being kids is that they have a distorted view of the world, whether it be too optimistic or too pessimistic or not thinking enough about the future. They are sometimes very mature and sometimes they are very immature. I find that them being kids allows you to have them make mistakes, but a well-intentioned mistake. Like when you have to put together a criminal justice system in two minutes.
The show was also not sparing in taking lives when it needed to. In fact, it seemed like that is how Clarke and Bellamy bounded — over the losses. They started out so far apart; yet with each death, it seemed to bring them closer together. It also felt like that with each difficulty they encountered, it drew them closer and closer as leaders, determined to figure out how to best save everybody.
BRUCE: That is such an interesting relationship. Clarke and Bellamy have such respect for each other, even though they don’t see the world the same way. They also respect each other for their strengths. The fact that they are getting closer and closer — and it is not a romantic relationship — and yet they are closer than a romantic relationship. They bonded and yet they almost never talk about personal things. It’s almost always about all business, and yet they ended up so deeply connected. The weight of that responsibility of “how do we save everyone,” only they know what that feels like.
They kind of stepped into that role the second they stepped on Earth. They chose to be leaders and with that comes responsibility on how to save these people.
BRUCE: It really is a testament to Bob and Eliza that they took two characters so far — especially Bob, who all they way from the beginning was putting more layers on Bellamy. Because here’s a guy whose central mission is love for his sister; so you immediately feel for him so much because he is operating to protect his sister and he always has. So I think because of that, Bob was able to fan that flame into a real warm core of Bellamy, even though he tried to hide it, we kept seeing it.
Bellamy also went through a self-destructive phase. He felt like he had nothing to live for, even once they arrived on Earth and they could not communicate with the Ark, he seemed to think his life had been thrown away because he killed somebody. So that weight on him was kind of destroying him. He had to choose to live.
BRUCE: I loved that moment when he found out that Jaha wasn’t dead.
Yet Bellamy had to choose to live before he found out — he had to choose to embrace life and make the best of it before he found out that Jaha was still alive.
BRUCE: For me, it showed how much that death weighed on him. After that, he was never going to kill someone so easily. It was one of those great moments when they are talking about whether Murphy killed Wells or not, and he says to Clarke, “Don’t say anything.” It’s not Bellamy going out and saying, “String him up.” And when they do string Murphy up, Bellamy tells Clarke, “This is on you. I told you not to say anything.” So Bellamy really has this respect for what is right, which is not necessarily something you would put together with that character.
Bellamy thought he was a condemned man and he had nothing to live for once those on the Ark came down.
BRUCE: That’s what he thought, but he wasn’t. I think Clarke was one of the people who told him, “You have value.”
Clarke said something like, “You’re worthing saving,” and Bellamy needed to hear that from someone whose opinion he values.
BRUCE: Yeah. Someone he know didn’t like him, but who he respected. Even more interesting was that Bellamy only surrounded himself with people who would argue with him, like Clarke, Octavia and Raven. That was a great moment when Raven (Lindsey Morgan) had a knife to his throat and he’s like, “You’ve got to stay. We need you.”
It was great to see that Bellamy surrounded himself with such strong, independent minded women and that he would even defer to their opinions, whether it was Octavia, Clarke or Raven.
BRUCE: It is really interesting. Bob, as an actor, is just really comfortable. There are some actors that have a difficult time with strong women actors — and those three are very strong women actors — but Bob is not afraid to get in their faces. Bob is such a big guy and Eliza is such a little thing, but she would get right in his face and they’d go at it yelling at each other. Part of it is they are such old friends. They are really comfortable with each other. The same with the scenes with Bob and Lindsey, she’d stick her chin out and get right in his face too. But the more these characters would get into it, the more it got interesting.
Bellamy seems intelligent enough to know that when he hears a better idea that he had better listen. It seems like because of how they all grew up on the Ark that women were just as valued as the men, as everyone had to contribute equally for their own survival.
JASON: That’s the world we wanted to create that women, just like men, were capable of being in charge. In fact, on Earth amongst the Grounders, women were in charge.
So Season 2, what can you tell the fans that they can look forward to?
JASON: First of all, it’s a bigger season. We have a little bit more money to spend, more time, more days for production. There’s more characters to explore. There’s much, much more. And it’s a very separated world at the beginning of the season with the characters spread apart. So it’s a lot about working their way back together — reunions are a big deal.
Will we find out right away if the Mount Weather people are trustworthy or not?
JASON: You will not find that out right away. In our show, it’s all about gray areas. Every character is the hero of their own story. So those at Mount Weather are doing what is right for their own people. The show is all about survival and “how are we going to survive in this world?”
Bruce mentioned that the show picks up pretty much where Season 1 left off. So will we get to see everything from that point forward?
JASON: In Season 1, we started on a journey to Mount Weather, and that’s where we ended the season — at Mount Weather — and it was not something anyone expected. So we do pick up in Season 2 in the white room with Clarke.
To hear more about what Season 2 has to offer, be sure to check out our video interviews from San Diego Comic-Con with executive producer Jason Rothenberg, along with stars Eliza Taylor, Ricky Whittle, Lindsey Morgan, Devon Bostick, Marie Avgeropoulos and Isaiah Washington.
See if you can pick out the clues that hint at the fates of Bellamy, Finn and Jaha. THE 100 returns for Season 2 on October 22nd at 9:00 p.m. on the CW.