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All season long the characters on The 100 have been attempting to find a way to survive the oncoming radiation death wave. And in Wednesday’s finale, they did — well, most of them.

(Spoilers ahead!)

In “Praimfaya,” Octavia and a group of Grounders, including the 13th clan, found shelter in a bunker underneath Polis. They closed the doors while Clarke, Raven, Bellamy, Monty, Harper, Murphy, Emori, and Echo were stranded on Becca’s island. But Clarke had a plan up her sleeve: going back to space. The plan was mostly successful, but Clarke had to sacrifice herself in order for her friends to make it there.

Or at least she thought she was sacrificing herself. In reality, she survived thanks to her nightblood — something we learned in the last five minutes of the episode when it flashed ahead six years and seven days. We also learned the bunker is still sealed shut from the capitol’s rubble, Clarke found a young nightblood named Madi, and a new group has returned from space. (Read the full finale recap here.)

We caught up with show creator Jason Rothenberg to learn what everything in those final minutes means and what we can expect from season 5.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Clarke has always been the person who made big decisions, but she never had to sacrifice herself. It felt so significant that she finally did.
You’re right — in the past, she’s always been forced into these awful choices of who she’s going to sacrifice. And in this story, that choice was to sacrifice herself for her friends so they could continue. [Now] in that moment, she didn’t know she was going to make it. She didn’t know that her nightblood would save her. And that’s why she says, “My fight is over” as she’s about to start climbing.

Bellamy also had to make what he thought was a pretty big sacrifice.
It’s very similar to the choice that Clarke had to make in the season 1 finale when she had to close the [dropship] door on Bellamy and Finn, who were still outside fighting the Grounders. Here, Bellamy had to choose to leave Clarke behind and close the door, literally. Which he did while making good on what Clarke was saying: “You’re going to have to use your head.” In this case, he’s sacrificing her.

Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

So let’s talk about Clarke and Bellamy together — they both had opportunities to really shine as leaders in this finale.
No question, it is the most important relationship in the show in terms of these two leaders working together and figuring out how to survive together. One’s strength is the other’s weakness and vice versa. This finale was about Clarke believing she was going to die because of Abby’s premonition and trying to tell this guy, “You’re going to have to figure out how to do this without me. You’re going to have to use your head and your heart, not just your heart.” Bellamy has always been such an emotional, impulsive person. He reacts emotionally to things, which is important sometimes, but it’s also [important to use your head]. And ultimately that’s what he does this episode.

So what is in store for these two relationship-wise?
First of all, Bellamy and Clarke have always been at the center of this show. It has always been the story of — on some level — Clarke and her relationship to Bellamy. And whether they were going to survive or not depended on how well those two human beings worked together — whether romantic or otherwise. I try not to take a position on it. I think it’s ultimately kind of a Rorschach test for people: any interpretation is right, there’s no right and wrong. Until we commit canonically to it, you’re free to interpret it any way you want.

Speaking of what’s happening in the future, let’s talk about the final moments of the episode when we jumped ahead six years and seven days. Are we going to see flashbacks in season 5? Will we learn what happened in the bunker?
Time jumps are designed to be just that — to jump over some time. But I take your point. The time that we’re skipping is highly dramatic. [They spent] six years under the ground being forced to figure out how to survive. They realize that they’re stuck under there as Clarke tells us at the end of the episode. That’s going to be a story that we want to see. When we see Octavia at the beginning of season 5, it’s a pretty big “WTF” moment, and we’re going to want to know how she got there, so ultimately we will flash back and tell some story in the bunker and likewise on the ring.

So we’ll get space flashbacks, too?
When we go into the ring in season 5 and we see how Bellamy and Raven and Monty and the others have made it, we’ll be very surprised by what we find up there. Ultimately, we’ll want to tell some of the story of how it happened. And flashbacks are part of the DNA of the show, too, so it’s not like we’re like, “Oh, we’re going to do flashbacks for the first time.” We always do flashbacks!

Now, as for what we did see — what can you tell us about Madi?
The mother-daughter vibe that you pick up on in that scene is real. (It’s not her biological child; I think it’s fairly obvious that the kid is too old for that.) But she is a nightblood. Clarke was alone until she found Madi. When we find them together in [episode] 413, they have been together already for a number of years and are relying on each other and surviving together. That’s an incredibly powerful bond, and it will be a really important relationship for Clarke in season 5.

How will that affect her other relationships?
Imagine if what’s right for Madi is not what’s right for Bellamy and/or Octavia and her people — what does Clarke do? Her “people” has now expanded to include just this one person, like a parent really. When you have kids, that’s what happens: Your priorities shift instantly. I think it will be really awesome to see how Clarke has changed. She and Abby will have a new understanding of each other based on it. It’s some new terrain for Clarke for sure.

Speaking of new things … what can you say about this prisoner transport coming in?
It will for sure be a threat. What I like about it is it’s full circle, really. The 100, when they came down, were prisoners. They were the prisoners coming down to an earth that they thought was uninhabited. And they realized that they weren’t alone. Now these prisoners are coming down and we will tell the story of how much or little they know about what they’re coming down to.

And what they’re coming down to is Clarke!
It’s a real perspective shift. Suddenly, Clarke is the Grounder and they are the 100, only they are a different breed of criminal.

—Reporting by Samantha Highfill

Episode Recaps

The 100

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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