‘The 100’ Ending Throws EP Jason Rothenberg Directly Into ‘The Last War’

The 100 Series Finale
Bettina Strauss/The CW

We started with The 100…and then there was one. Episode that is. The brutal, unpretty sci-fi show that launched as a midseason oddity on the sexy teen-leaning CW in 2014 comes to a close on Wednesday and it’s a lot to process. Over its seven seasons, the series has created obsessions, incited fandom wars, killed off beloved characters, reset itself with time jumps, alternately delighted and denied shippers and generally given viewers every reason to scream, cry, complain, cheer and come back. Even if just to scream some more. But on September 30, it all ends.

How, we can’t say, but showrunner Jason Rothenberg knows that it’s a big ask to bring so much mythology and character history to a fitting finale. “It felt like closure for us for sure,” he states. “Whether the audience reacts the same way or not, I think some will and some won’t and obviously that’s everybody’s prerogative.”

The 100 The Last War Series Finale Eliza Taylor

When asked about how he approached this last hour, Rothenberg recalls that it was “probably around the time that we were begging [The CW] to let us end it so that we could write to a certain moral of the story” that he and the writing staff landed on what they wanted to say.

“Obviously, for seven years, we’ve been making a show that was saying one way or another, that tribalism is bad. And that as long as we perpetuate this cycle of violence against the other—whether it’s another country or another group of people or whatever the case may be—then we’re doomed.”

The 100 The Last War Adina Porter Shannon Kook

Adding to the challenge of sticking the landing was the fact that Rothenberg chose to make his directorial debut with the finale, fittingly titled “The Last War,” just as a global pandemic emerged.

“I have to say that as a first-time director, this is the way to do it: Where you’re directing your own show with people who you love that have worked with you for seven years, that are delivering for you and for each other…I don’t know if I’ll ever have the experience again in that way.” Noting how the family environment among the entire ensemble and crew helped him feel “really protected in a lot of ways,” Rothenberg admits that he still had no idea what was coming his way.

“COVID was approaching, but we didn’t realize it until I think there were three days left…that’s when we got the call that we were shutting down and I had to make a decision. I was given the choice to either shut down instantly or we could finish if we figured out a way to finish in advance,” he explains. “And we did. We shot two days instead of three. We pulled up a lot of themes and shot on Saturday to get it done. I think we might’ve been the last show shooting.”

And while fans will be bidding adieu to The 100 now, Rothenberg (who confesses to adding a needle-drop of “my favorite song of all time” in the episode’s final moments) has had the bittersweet experience of parting with his creation in pieces. “It’s definitely weird for me because shooting finished in March and we didn’t finish [editing] the whole season until probably June, so it’s been three months since I’ve been done working on the show.” Still, it hits him how and why the show means so much to so many.

“People grew up watching the show, actors found careers, I grew up on the show in the sense of being a showrunner—I wasn’t a showrunner seven years ago when I got the opportunity,” he says. “I know that there are kids out there that were 12 when they started watching it and they’re graduating college now. My own children, my daughter was three when we started this, my son was 12 when we started this. It’s definitely the end of an era.”

“But the show is going to always exist—thankfully we live in a streaming world now where people can always find it and discover it and thank God for that.”

The 100, Series Finale, Wednesday, September 30, 8/7c, The CW