The 100 showrunner reveals plans for where potential prequel series would go next
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The 100, "Anaconda."
After seven seasons, The 100 finally answered some of the biggest questions raised throughout the series. And they all came in the backdoor pilot for the potential prequel series.
Wednesday's episode "Anaconda," served as both the kickoff point for the prequel spinoff series and a very strong argument for why the CW should order it to series. But it also explained more about the original series than anyone could have predicted. Full of incredible Easter eggs for longtime fans and revelations about the original show, this prequel episode is easily one of the best hours of the entire show.
In between a few scenes in the present with Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and co. facing off against Bill Cadogan (John Pyper-Ferguson) in the anomaly stone room on Bardo, the episode flashed back to the hours before the cataclysm that ended the world 97 years before The 100's first episode takes place. We meet Callie Cadogan (Iola Evans), the new protagonist, and she's every bit as badass as Clarke Griffin. She's holding her own against police brutality at a protest, she can stitch her friend's bleeding head back together, and that last name is no coincidence: She's the estranged daughter of Second Dawn cult figurehead/Bardo Disciples leader Bill, and she thinks he's every bit the monster he turns out to be.
As the nuclear apocalypse hits, we see Callie and her mother escape to safety in the bunker even though they left the Second Dawn years ago. A time jump of two years then shows how bleak things have gotten in the bunker. Becca (Erica Cerra) comes down from space and joins the people in the bunker, but only with the intention to help them become Nightbloods so they can survive out in the radiation. But Bill wants everyone to stay inside, since he has an anomaly stone in the bunker (!) and wants to lead the humans he handpicked to survive the apocalypse through the wormhole and build a new world wherever it takes them. But Becca goes through the wormhole alone, is terrified of what she sees (aka "Judgment Day"), and resists Bill, refusing to give him the ALIE 2 mind drive in her head that helps unlock the secrets of the stone.
Becca ends up getting burned at the stake by Bill's loyal soldiers for her refusal to give them the mind drive, which we knew already from previous seasons of The 100. But what we didn't know is that Becca gave Callie the information about the ALIE 2 mind drive before she was killed, telling her how it works. Callie steals the mind drive, and armed with Becca's knowledge and the case of Nightblood serum, Callie leads a mutiny against her father. She escapes the bunker with a large group of people who became Nightbloods and vows to scour the land for other survivors and make them Nightbloods. With the mind drive in her pocket, she also has the responsibility of choosing the next person to receive it. Ladies and gents, we now have the origins of the Grounders, the Trikru clan, the Flame, the line of Commanders, and even Trigedasleng, the language Callie created as a child that will eventually become the language of all Grounders.
As for Bill and the Second Dawn members who stayed in the bunker, by the end of the hour he leads them through the anomaly wormhole, which explains why the bunker was empty when it was found and used again on The 100. Where did it lead them? Did they go right to Bardo or another planet first? How will the Trikru clan split into all the other Grounder nations? What happens next?
Below, showrunner Jason Rothenberg break down what all this means, his plans for the prequel series if it gets ordered, and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A lot of this episode felt scarily relevant, with the viral pandemic mentioned in the first scene, the protests that turned violent with police, people trapped in bunkers and unable to go outside…
JASON ROTHENBERG: On some level if you think about it, the show is about a band of people who have a cure, in this case, it's radiation immunity, and they're going to try to find as many survivors who are holed up in bunkers or wherever they have been surviving for those two very difficult years, to cure as many people as they can. It's an almost perfect allegory for the times we're living through, totally unintentionally.
What are you getting to do with this potential prequel series that you haven't gotten to do with The 100?
We have a lot of plans to make it different from the original. It's obviously going to be filled with a lot of Easter eggs and fill in a lot of blanks for fans of the original show. We're going to see the origins of the Commanders and the Flamekeeper. Callie becomes the first Flamekeeper, she's got the Flame and she's protecting it as the episode ends. Thematically, The 100 is all about tribalism and how far will you go to protect yours and what's yours, and Callie is 180 degrees from that. She's all about, as she says in the episode, if she can find them, she will save them, she doesn't care if they're "her people." It's just a much more optimistic worldview starting out. Whether or not that worldview can last in a world where of course it's going to be filled with groups of people that are out for themselves and don't think the way she thinks, that'll be an interesting test for her for sure if we're able to tell that story in full.
How much of the prequel series do you have planned out? If you had your way, how many seasons would it run?
We know that we are talking about the origins of the Grounders, and assuming we get to move forward, we would see the fractioning of that group into various clans eventually. We would see the growing importance of the Flame, we would see the way the Flame operates before 100 years later when it came into our story in the original show when it's not working perfectly anymore because of time and however many minds it now contains. Right now it only contains the mind of Becca. We have plans to go to a mind space and to see Becca when the next person receives the Flame, and that will happen as they become the second Commander. So whether we've got five seasons of story laid out or not I'm not going to sit here today and tell you that we do, but we certainly know where it's going and how the world is going to change over the course of a few seasons.
I know lots of people, including myself, assumed the prequel series would only be dealing with the origin of The 100, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how much this episode had an impact on the final season with Bill's motivations and the anomaly. How else will the prequel series continue the story or mythology that we're seeing in the final season?
We know that the people that were in that bunker for years had no idea that there was a stone in the bunker. So we're going to have to deal with that. Where did it go, why was it not something that anybody had seen when they were in the bunker? We'll definitely dabble in that for sure. But [the prequel] is going to be its own show and we're not going to be always married to [the original]. We're going to flash back quite often to the present. We're going to see pre-apocalypse more often, we're going to see characters in their lives prior to the apocalypse and to contrast that with what's going on in their lives in the post-apocalypse radioactive world and see how they've changed and how they got there. That's something that I'm really looking forward to that we didn't do very much on The 100. That world that we get a glimpse of in the very beginning of the prequel episodes to me is fascinating, it's a lot like our world. So there will be scenes in restaurants and bars and houses, another thing that we never really got to do on The 100. And I have a sneaky plan to get us back up to space, because we know that parallel to the story on the ground, we know what's going on in space. We know that Becca comes down on Unity Day as they were bringing the Ark together, and so up there we've got the Ark generation 1 with the ancestors, and I suppose this is a way that we will be using more Easter eggs for the fans of the original show because Clarke's great-great-great grandmother's up there, and Bellamy [Bob Morley] and Octavia's [Marie Avgeropoulos] great grandpappy Blake is up there. We'll meet characters with those same last names that are the ancestors of our heroes in the original show. I don't want to say when because I just [laughs] spoiled something potentially huge to you of the show. But I think it's so cool.
Wait, I didn't even think about how that could be a potential arc on the prequel while watching the episode, but that is such a huge part of the origin of all these characters.
Unfortunately, because we only get 42 minutes, there is a lot of material left out of the episode. There was another character, she got so cut out unfortunately for time, but her dream was to go to space, and of course that dream got shattered by the apocalypse. In season 1, because we're going to need to manufacture more Nightblood, we're going to see her finding a way to get to space, and that allows us to go up to that world. I'm getting texts from people saying I'm spoiling too much right now [laughs], but I'm not worried about it because as of now there is no show. We need to get people excited about this show to get the show ordered. Write your congressman, write your network president, write your HBO Max and Netflix president, make some noise!
The 100 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.