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July 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

Just announced at Comic-Con: The 100 has promoted Zach McGowan to series regular for season 4!

McGowan joined the CW drama in the third season as Roan, the son of the late Ice Queen Nia (Brenda Strong). He became the King of the Ice Nation upon her death.

In other season 4 news, a promo shown before the panel revealed a giant Once Upon a Time-style cloud with ominous lightning taking out Polis. This comes in the wake of Clarke (Eliza Taylor) learning from A.L.I.E. that radiation plants around the world are on the brink of destruction and will kill the entire human race in six months.

“If that were to happen, it probably wouldn’t be until the end of the season,” executive producer Jason Rothenberg said of the scene. “The Earth strikes back in season 4. It’s an unbeatable foe. [The story] becomes not trying to stop it, because it’s not stoppable, it becomes how do we survive? There are not enough life boats. The Earth is the ark.”

While Rothenberg said Clarke will fight until her dying day to save everyone, not everyone will have the same reaction about the end of the world. “Some people are just done fighting and just want to party until the end of the world,” he said.

“It’s going to be really interesting to watch a group of people, humans, trying to survive again in a world that — this is an enemy that we can’t defeat,” Taylor said, noting that having the clans united is now more important than ever. “How do we move forward? In true Clarke fashion, that will be her trying to get everyone on board. There will be some very different reactions.”

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With that in mind, there’s a vacancy for leadership with the Sky People — which Henry Ian Cusick teased we’ll get info on in the season premiere. “Clarke owns her power,” Rothenberg noted. “She’s earned it. She saved the world last year. Kane [Cusick] and Abby [Paige Turco] as well recognize that. They recognize they’re dealing with someone special. It’s her time to do it again.”

As a result of the events last season, though, many of our favorite characters are very changed going into season 4. That’s especially true for Raven (Lindsey Morgan), who was taken over by A.L.I.E. last season. “It’s not the same Raven,” Morgan said. “She got the A.L.I.E. upgrade, so she’s definitely a Raven 2.0, but it’s even better than that. She went through an evolution. She’s not only stronger [because of the knowledge A.L.I.E. left behind], but emotionally and spiritually, she’s been to hell and back. She didn’t die, so she’s a totally different Raven on a totally different level ready to take on the biggest enemy yet.”

For Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos), Lincoln’s (Ricky Wittle) death still weighs heavily. “You’re going to see Octavia take a really dark turn,” Avgeropoulos said. “Octavia is going to go ahead and do what she does best, which is killing people.”

Speaking of Octavia, her Trikru mentor Indra (Adina Porter), who was last seen on a cross, will return in the new season. “One of the first things we’ll see is Octavia figuring out how to get down and finding her way to Indra,” Rothenberg said. “Adina is amazing. She’ll be back for sure. I love what that character reveals about the world and what that character means for Octavia.”

Luna (Nadia Hilker) will be back as well. “She was a breath of fresh air,” Rothenberg said. “I loved the total 180 from everyone we met from around the world. In a world that’s beginning to collapse environmentally — black rain, all the plagues of the Bible — they’re out there on the rig, so they’re the canaries in the gold mine.”

As fans will remember, Luna is a night blood — someone who possesses the ability to take the flame. As of now, there’s no new commander, the City of Light is gone, A.L.I.E. is gone, but the flame still exists, which will play into the new season. “Ultimately the flame is an important thing,” Rothenberg said. “We realize the flame is a political artifact as well. Whoever holds the flame has power.” Though the flame still exists, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) will not return in season 4. But Titus had sent out night blood scouts, so we’ll get to learn much more about them next year.

Rothenberg also revealed a potential alternate ending for the season 3 finale that would’ve been much more grim for a fan-favorite character. “Jasper [Devon Bostick] comes out of the City of Light and leaves that room and goes and blows his brains out,” he said. “But it was too dark even for me.”

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

After a nuclear apocalypse, a group of people who have been living in space return to Earth—and quickly learn they’re not alone.
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