'The 100': Season 4 Kicks Off With a New Nuclear Nightmare

Damian Holbrook
Diyah Pera/The CW

It's the end of the world as The 100 knows it, and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) is so not feeling fine as Season 4 launches on its new night. Not only has she destroyed the virtual-reality utopia created by A.I. bombshell Alie (Erica Cerra) and basically forced all of the acolytes under Alie's micro-chipped sway to feel their pain again, she is also one of the only people aware of the fact that the nuclear reactors that survived the first armageddon are in the process of melting down to a new disaster for mankind's remainders. Hey, it's hard out here for a Wanheda, but executive producer Jason Rothenberg hints that the kickass Clarke may actually find strength in The 100's numbers. Let's hope so, because the clock is ticking.

RELATED: The 100: 6 Burning Questions About Season 4

The City of Light is done, a nuclear apocalypse is months away...where does Season 4 pick up?
Jason Rothenberg: You know, it picks up right where last season left off, and now Bellamy (Bob Morley) and Clarke (Eliza Taylor) are the only two people at the beginning who know that the end of the world is coming...again. So essentially from the beginning of the premiere to the end of the finale, it's one uber-story about the death wave that is coming towards them. First, they have to determine if they can stop it. Then they have to determine how they survive it. And then they have to determine who survives it. Some people decide they can’t fight anymore and just want to, like, party until the end of the world, while some are going to never going to give up trying to find a way to save everybody. And I think you can guess who those people are. [Laughs]

When do they start to actually feel the effects of the nuclear-reactor meltdowns?
Episode 3 is when the leading indicators begin to appear that the environment is breaking down and that it’s real. And by the way, Raven (Lindsey Morgan) is all over it. She’s science-ing the shit out of it. But yeah, the third episode is where we see the beginnings of the unfolding disaster.

The season opener also sees an aligning of Sky Crew and Ice Nation…
What ends up happening is, because Alie had [recruited] everybody that she could, there were thousands of Ice Nation warriors in Polis at the time Clarke had shut her down. Suddenly, they’re in control because there's more of them and they’re warriors. Echo (Tasya Teles) is among them, and Roan (Zach McGowan) is still alive, so the story becomes that everybody wants to kill Sky Crew because they blame Clarke for corrupting them, pulling them into the City of Light. That’s a technology thing, and they blame Sky Crew for the technology. Ultimately, you know, some are unhappy that Clarke took them out of the City of Light and we drove them into a world that is coming to an end. So our heroes need to carve out some breathing room. They need to figure out a way to survive the day so that we can go home and figure out how to survive the storm that’s coming. That’s the shape of the premiere.

The last thing they have to worry about is also fighting off another tribe.
Exactly. Like, you can’t solve your five-month problem if you can’t survive your five-minute problem. So in the premiere they need to figure out a way, politically, to maneuver. There is no time for a war. So Clarke will make any alliance that she can in order to get the breathing room that she needs to go back to Polis and get with Raven and the other smart people in Arkadia and try and figure things out.

And this alliance includes handing over the flame?
That’s the political bargaining chip that she has to give up in order to buy that space that I was talking about, right? It’s important that the story was designed for Clarke to have to sacrifice something in order to get that, in order to save everybody. And what she sacrifices is the flame, and you could go further with that and say it’s Lexa.

Exactly, which is problematic. Because that puts it on an emotional level.
Oh yeah, it’s emotional.

the 100, eliza taylor

"Stop asking me where I got this corset."

I love that you're leaning into the idea of Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) as a killer and using that to the crew's advantage.
It gets really dark. She’s still reeling from the loss of Lincoln and has a huge emotional void to fill. Right now, she’s filling it with the only thing she knows at the moment, which is violence and killing. Ironically, I think the only time she feels alive is when she’s delivering death or she’s close to death herself. She’s going to need to remember what she learned from Lincoln, which she's lost sight of, that there is a time to fight and there is a time to kill, but a good warrior knows when not to kill, also. And right now, she’s lost her way in many ways. And it’s a really exciting arc for her this season. At the end of the season, I think she’s going to blow some people’s minds.

Is there anyone there for her? Do we see anyone advocate for her or reach out to her?
 You know, I think her brother is really worried about her. But part of Bellamy’s journey this season is to sort of let go a little bit. Octavia needs to work this out for herself. There’s nothing he can do, you know? He can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. I think it’s fairly insightful of you to say that darkness becomes something that may be useful, at some point, to people. Like, will others take advantage of Octavia’s killing-machine nature? At some point you could envision a scenario where that becomes useful. And then, what does she do with that realization? But that’s down the road.

The 100, Wednesdays, 9/8c, The CW; Season 4 premiere Feb. 1