“The Last War” reached an unexpected conclusion in Wednesday’s series finale of The 100, which put the entire human race — what’s left of it, anyway — on trial. TVLine spoke with showrunner Jason Rothenberg about the episode’s biggest developments, but first, a quick recap:
With the code in his possession, Cadogan prepared to take the ultimate test, facing a celestial “judge” who took the form of Callie. And he might have stood a chance, had Clarke not busted in and shot him from behind. (“Pencils down.”) With Cadogan indisposed, Clarke stepped up to finish the test, facing her own judge in the form of Lexa. Unfortunately, the artist formerly known as Wanheda failed, dooming all of humanity.
Well, everyone except for Clarke. As “Lexa” pointed out, her actions (aka killing Cadogan mid-test) carried consequences; she would never be allowed to transcend. Then came the final final twist: Clarke discovered that a small group of people (aka all of the named characters we cared about) decided not to transcend, choosing instead to remain on Earth for the rest of their days. And because none of them are able to procreate — per the rules of transcendence or whatever — they represent the very last members of the human race.
Read on for our full Q&A with Rothenberg, breaking down the “return” of Lexa and Abby, the hint of closure for Bellamy, and the moment he wishes we could have had more time to savor:
TVLINE | This show has always had strong religious undertones, but you kept it vague with this “judge” character. Did you want to avoid being too preachy?
Depending on a person’s perspective on religion, there’s certainly a religious interpretation that one can draw from the finale. That wasn’t my intention. I’m saying that we all have energy, our consciousness is energy, and our energy can neither be created nor destroyed — only transformed from one form to another. And this is the next evolution of human consciousness, to join a higher universal consciousness. It’s the science fiction explanation for where religion draws its inspiration from.
TVLINE | I still gasped when I saw Lexa, even if it wasn’t really her. How did it feel to direct Eliza Taylor and Alycia Debnam-Carey again?
It was amazing. It was so fun to have Alycia back. She’s such a good person and such a team player. I know she was really excited to be back in the make-up and costume. It was a little tricky for all of us finding the line between how much of Lexa she should bring to the performance and how much to play the judge/higher being thing that’s happening in that scene. But it was great to be there and to watch that. I’m hoping that the fans get some closure. I know that’s important to her and to me. It won’t satisfy everybody, but it was lovely to have her back.
TVLINE | “Abby” was also a fun surprise. What was your process for deciding which characters to bring back? You certainly had a long list to choose from.
It mostly came down to who was going to be facing the judges. Cadogan was first, so it made total sense that it would be Callie. Iola [Evans] flew back from London to do it and she was totally up for it. She was amazing, by the way, so I really hope we get to play with her in the prequel. We also knew that Clarke was going to come in and disrupt that test, so we thought, “Who would be the character that she would see, knowing it’s either your greatest love, your greatest teacher or your greatest enemy?” And knowing that Clarke was going to fail the test and that Raven was going to appeal the verdict, she needed the embodiment of her greatest teacher. Sinclair was definitely on the table as a thought, but Abby meant so much to her — more than her own mother, on some level. And those were the only people who faced the judges, so there wasn’t any thought about bringing anybody else back.
TVLINE | I think the fans probably hoped to see Bellamy in this episode. I certainly did. Was there any talk of bringing him back in some form?
As Levitt says to Octavia in the hallway while they’re protecting Clarke, only the living can transcend. That’s a crushingly sad moment for Octavia to realize, that Bellamy was right. That was just the rule we established for transcendence, so it didn’t make sense at that point [to bring Bellamy back].
So much fun! All of those scenes in the woods during the battle took two days of shooting that probably should have taken six days. We didn’t have a lot of time to get everything done. JR Bourne and Adina Porter are such pros, they don’t need a lot of time; they’re perfect the first time out. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time to savor [that victory], because the finale had to keep moving.
TVLINE | What’s next for Clarke and the rest of the people who chose not to transcend?
They can never procreate and they can’t transcend, so this is it for them. They’re going to live their days together as a family, grow old together, and when they die, the human race is over. It’s OK, though, because we transcended and joined the universal consciousness. So it’s a happy ending for the human race.
TVLINE | The judge agreed to spare humanity when it saw that people could learn to lay down their weapons and get along. Is that the thesis of this show, that the human race is all really Wonkru?
Yeah, that is absolutely the message of the show, simplistic as it sounds. Tribalism is bad. The whole show was dramatizing the dark side of tribalism, of killing the other guy because you’re protecting your own people, as opposed to realizing that we are all sharing this space together. We are all Wonkru on planet earth, and until we realize that, we’re doomed.
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