The 100's Showrunner Explains Why [Spoiler] Had to Die
Spoiler alert! Don't read further if you haven't watched the latest episode of The 100.
The only show on broadcast TV with a body count higher than Gotham or the local news added another one to the pile and this time, it's major. Like fandom-breaking major. #Clexa fans around the world watched—and no doubt screamed—as their beloved Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) took a fatal bullet while protecting their equally adored Clarke (Eliza Taylor), who was trying to save a captive Murphy (Richard Harmon) from the gun-wielding Titus (Neil Sandilands). It all happened at the end of an episode that explained how mankind was originally wiped out, and to be honest, we were pretty wiped out ourselves. Here, executive producer Jason Rothenberg reveals the decision to tear our hearts out and what the death of the 12 Clans' leader means for Clarke and company going forward.
Oh my god, Jason.
[Laughs] Are you okay?
No. What were you thinking? You have taken some big swings in the past, but this…
[Laughs] I remember as we were breaking the season, we talked about reincarnation in the Grounder world and how that was how commanders were selected. I didn’t want to throw that out as nonsense, which is how Clarke had received it, but I also didn’t want to say that it was real reincarnation. At the same time, I was reading this book by Ray Kurzweil called The Singularity Is Near that talks quite a bit about a future where we’ll be able to upload our minds—literally upload our consciousness—into a computer and live forever. This is something that he believes is not too far away. All of this sort of came together in my mind like, “What if it was a technological reincarnation? That the commander was somehow able to upload and would need to be able to pass itself on?” The commander A.I. would need to be able to pass itself from person to person over time and that Lexa was just the most recent recipient of this artificial intelligence augmentation of her consciousness. So once we came up with that idea, that was the point at which everything jelled and sort of came together storytelling-wise. And of course, if you’re dealing with a story about reincarnation, you’ve got to die before you can be reincarnated. So Lexa dying became a very tragic necessity.
Not to mention, a scheduling one.
Yes, at the same time Alycia Debnam-Carey, who I adore more than anything in the world, got another series which she’s a regular on and was only available to our show for the first seven episodes. Beyond that it was very unclear and unlikely that we would get to work with her because I know that show Fear of the Walking Dead is not going anywhere anytime soon. And thank god for that because I love that show, too. Regardless, all of these things were in my mind at the time that we made this decision.
Are you ready for the backlash?
Well, I unfortunately know what’s coming for sure. But maybe what’s been happening with Bellamy this season has prepared me for it. [Laughs]
Yeah, you have that whole thing going on as well.
I know. I know. But we’re bold here. We’re trying to tell a story and we’re focusing on what we think is the best story and hopefully people will go for the ride and understand. You know, I understand how emotional this loss is going to be for a lot of people and I totally sympathize with them. It’s emotional for me, too. I loved the character. I love Alycia. But hopefully people can either give us the benefit of the doubt. I don’t even want to talk about the trope that’s out there about LGBT characters; that is not something that factored into the decision.
It feels like you gave them such a loving goodbye. Clarke was there and present for her. If the story had to come to an end, then it was a really lovely way to end it. Clark was all in.
Oh my god, I cry every time I watch that sequence. When Clarke gives the Travelers’ Blessing to Lexa and when Lexa says her final words about how Clark was right, that life is about more than just survival and surviving, you know I think it’s beautiful. It’s tragic. It’s sad. You know, I think it’s a good story.
There was so much story in this episode. You’re telling an origin story with new characters, you’re connecting it to the Grounder story and you’re ending this romance that people have gotten so connected to. There’s a lot going on in here.
It was a very different episode for us because, as you rightly point out, almost half the episode takes place between characters that we don’t know. It’s a flight back to 100 years ago, so it’s both a different kind of episode for us and a very important one for the reasons you point out. The only thing I might quibble with is although Lexa is obviously no longer amongst the living she’s certainly not going anywhere as far as Clarke’s in love with her. Clarke is going to have to compartmentalize her emotions over the loss of her and figure out a way—like we all do when we’re struck by tragedies in our lives—to compartmentalize and to go on and be the hero. You know, in the real world when we lose people you have to figure out a way to move on and so Clarke is going to grapple with that the way that any person does. And of course, as I said, we’re now up in a world where uploading consciousness is possible and so what does that mean?
PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes of The 100
Obviously Allie (Erica Cerra) looking for this other version of herself, not to be united with it but to destroy it.
I think the question to be asked is, “Will uniting with it also be destroying it?” It’s like an upgrade to her software. Apple puts out an upgrade to its operating system and you know we all want to use it. We all want to get the most recent version, but she’s also curious as to so why her creator left her, locked her up and went to work on version 2. I don’t think she’s speaking the meaning of her creator’s actions, but at the same time there is a curiosity there for sure. That will definitely play out over the next half of the season.
It was really cool to have Murphy be the one who dovetailed from the other story rather than Thelonious.
I love Murphy. I love how he’s sort of the accidental hero. He’s sort of stumbled into the center of everything here, and he will now stay there for a little while. His journey for the rest of the season I think is both hilarious and incredible. Richard Harmon is so great.
It’s something to watch for sure. He is now going to be a little bit like The Man Who Would be King. People should watch the movie because it’s hilarious and was inspirational in crafting the Murphy story this year.
How is this going to affect what Thelonious (Isaiah Washington) is doing back at Arkadia? Because it now feels like he’s building a cult.
Well he is [and] Allie is, for sure. Murphy is the one person who knows everything. He was with Jaha at the beginning and now he’s over here with Lexa and sees the other A.I. come out of Lexa’s head. He’s the guy, the one person really who now knows everything and of course he’ll tell Clarke and then she’ll know everything, too. But yeah, I think what Jaha and Allie are doing is trying to get everybody connected. In her mind, she wants to continue making the world better, making the human race better. She thinks that’s what she’s doing by taking away our pain. Now the question is, what does it mean to be human? Do you need your pain to be human? Is that part of life? That’s one of the other things we’ll talk about thematically for the rest of the season. Allie doesn’t realize that what she’s taking away is what makes us human.
Jasper (Devon Bostick) is on the edge of wanting to take the chip and Raven (Lindsey Morgan) is already under the influence. Are we going to see more people kind of fall under his sway? Because you got a lot of people in some kind of pain!
Yeah. For sure, I mean everybody’s in emotional pain and Raven is the poster child. That’s why they wanted Raven. If they could get Raven, then others would come and we see in Episode 6 they’re lining up to take the pill, to take the chip and that’s something that will continue between episodes. More and more people will sign up to the City of Light and we’ll see where all that leads. That becomes a big story and becomes even bigger leading forward.
The 100 airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.