‘The 100’ EP Talks ‘Anaconda,’ the Episode That Could Become a Spinoff

Adain Bradley, Crystal Balint, and Iola Evans in The 100 - 'Anaconda'
Jack Rowand/The CW

The episode The 100 fans have been waiting for since forever it seems is finally here.

Entitled “Anaconda,” the Wednesday, July 8 hour serves a dual purpose: It fills in a healthy amount of backstory regarding the years following the nuclear apocalypse triggered by the artificial intelligence known as A.L.I.E. that set up the drama’s original conceit, and was designed to work as a backdoor pilot for a potential prequel series.

Opening on the moments after last week’s cliffhanger which re-introduced viewers to Bill Cadogan (John Pyper-Ferguson), the leader of Second Dawn doomsday cult (who turned out to be 100 percent correct, BTW!), the action quickly jumps back in time to 2052 on the evening that ended Earth as we know it. There we meet Cadogan’s family—estranged wife Gemma (Crystal Balint), idealistic daughter Callie (Iola Evans) and ethically challenged son Reese (Adain Bradley)—and find out exactly how the portal was first activated and, sadly, why A.L.I.E.’s creator, Becca (Erica Cerra) went the way of Salem’s most famous martyrs.

The fans have been clamoring for a prequel series for years and The 100 has no shortage of possible places to revisit in its history. There’s the end of the world, the early days on The Ark, even the much begged-for Lexa-centric story. The good news is, should The CW pick up “Anaconda,” all of those spots could be explored. After all, they have that damn portal that can send folks all over space and time. And from the sounds of it, showrunner and episode writer Jason Rothenberg is down to mine areas we haven’t seen yet. So yeah, CW execs. Let’s get on it. You owe us for canceling Katy Keene.

So I wanted to give you some big applause for this backdoor pilot, because this is great. How many times have you destroyed the planet now?

Jason Rothenberg: Well, twice really…only twice. [Laughs]

The 100 Anaconda Iola Evans Adian Bradley

Iola Evans as Callie and Adain Bradley as Reese (Jack Rowand/The CW)

I love the echos, for lack of a better term, to what we have seen in the future. The sibling issues between Callie and Reese that clearly is a mirror to the Blakes.

It is and it isn’t. I mean, it’s definitely a very important sibling relationship, as is the Blakes’ relationship. But their relationship began when he was her protector. He loved her more than anything, but it drove him to do some fairly awful things to protect her, which allowed us to love that character despite what he was doing. And of course their relationship went and took turns, ups and downs over the course of the series.

This Cadogan relationship, they were loving certainly as children, but it begins at a Cain and Abel place. Dad’s love is something that brother is desperate for and never really got while sister got it. That kind of began that conflict. And one of the things that’s so great about Adain Bradley’s performance is that, despite the fact that he is very different from Bob’s performance, in the sense of Bob, despite the fact that he was doing horrible things, loved his sister so much, we see in Adain that he’s really torn and tormented over what he’s doing.

When you see Reese on screen, especially at the end, he’s so broken by what he witnesses and there’s this vulnerability that you start to worry, will he be able to even handle what he has to do?

Totally. The key for casting that role was finding someone we would like innately because of who he is and what he exudes in his eyes as much as anything. And Iola Evans, by the way…

Oh, she’s so good!

We got so lucky.

Because you know fans are going to watch and be like, “OK, if she’s going to be our new Clarke, does she have that strength, will she be able to lead? Will she be able to basically carry the flame?”

She is the first flame-keeper, for sure.

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I love that we get to see Erica Cerra’s Becca Franco again. Obviously, we know that Becca met a terrible end, but did you think about possibly holding off on that so if this did get picked up, she could play a role in the series?

Well, first of all, we were tied to certain things from what we already talked about, in the original show, right. We saw Becca being burned alive in Season 4? I think it might’ve been in Season 5. Regardless, we couldn’t change that. That said, Becca Franco is such a huge part of this mythology…I plan on doing a ton of flashbacks to the world before the bombs in the prequel series. So we could definitely see her again.

You open the episode before the bombs, with all of this news footage playing in the background and I just know it’s filled with Easter eggs…

Yeah, well [there’s a report of] “Trikru in the midst of a protest at Washington D.C.,” that is where Callie and [her friend] Lucy were, that’s where they came from. That’s why they’re bloodied and bruised when we first meet them. Trikru is an environmental group, kind of Greenpeace on steroids, in a world that has environmentally gone far more towards global warming and the nightmare future predicted by people who know anything in terms of the science. So that’s considered radical environmental group, I think it’s referred to as and yeah, that’s an Easter egg for Trikru being one of our main clans in the Grounder world. There’re tons of little Easter eggs like that.

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And is there anyone who’s related to somebody in the future? Do we need anyone in this episode that possibly shares any kind of connection to our current cast?

I would say the answer to that question is yes, but it is not anybody that was in the original 100…although that is potentially not true. I mean, I have this plan, in theory, that one of these characters is going to need to get to space. We know that Nightblood is something that requires zero-gravity to be manufactured, so someone’s going to need to get to space to make more of it probably. And in so doing, they will intersect with the characters who have just come together to form The Ark, right? We know that Becca left her spaceship on Unity Day, blew up Polaris, her station…that’s when she touches down at the end of 307 and into this prequel episode right afterwards. So concurrent to the timeline on the ground, everybody who we love in the series, their ancestors are all up on The Ark. So we could introduce those characters going forward as well. That is part of my plan longer-term for sure.

Who was the person who had to stay on top of all these very disparate timelines that now have to connect?

Well, it is not me actually, because I just tell the story and have so many people that are smarter than me in the writer’s room that are making sure that I am kind of not breaking any time laws. I’m sure there have been times where I have broken them and they’re gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair. And the fandom will be like, “Wait, that doesn’t make sense!” All of those types of mistakes are all my fault, by the way. [Laughs]

But yeah, I mean, definitely Season 7 was a time-hole, for sure. In terms of the various timelines, Sean Crouch, who was one of our writers this year, kind of took it upon himself to be the Time Lord in the writer’s room. And Ross Knight, who was our writer’s room assistant a few years ago and has been the script coordinator for the last two seasons…that’s really his job to make sure everything stays straight. And by the way, he got an episode as a writer this year, too.

It’s crazy that we’re halfway through the final season and it feels like a whole other story is about to begin by the end of this episode.

Yeah. I mean “Anaconda” is the launch point for the Grounder origin story and what the [prequel] series is going to hopefully be. And it is a whole new story, so you don’t have to have any awareness or knowledge of the original show in order to love and follow it because it doesn’t come after, it comes before. You don’t have to know what comes after. If you do know what comes after, certainly there’s a ton of Easter eggs as you see in this episode and obviously would be the case going forward in a big way too. And yeah, we are rounding the bend toward the moral of our story and our series finale. And a lot of that is informed by stuff that we learn in this episode. It’s a pivotal episode that we were going to use story-wise regardless of whether it was the prequel.

The 100, Wednesdays, 9/8c, The CW