The 100 showrunner breaks down season 7 premiere's new planet, brewing civil war, and more
Warning: This article contains spoilers from the season 7 premiere of The 100, "From the Ashes."
While "From the Ashes" took place entirely in Sanctum, the civilization that's been the setting for the CW's post-apocalyptic series since the beginning of season 6, the hour revealed new information about the anomaly that promises to expand the world much more than Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and company ever imagined — to an entirely new planet. In the aftermath of the season 6 finale, Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos) is still gone after she was stabbed by a now-adult Hope (Shelby Flannery), and Bellamy (Bob Morley) found himself facing a similar fate after he was attacked and dragged off by soldiers who can turn themselves invisible using futuristic-looking technology.
Throughout the episode, more was revealed about these invisible soldiers, like how their mission is to capture some fan-favorite character and bring them to a place called Bardo. After figuring out that Bellamy was taken there, Echo (Tasya Teles), Gabriel (Chuku Modu), and Hope went through the anomaly together to get him back.
"Definitely the name has significance, and it does come from Buddhism," Rothenberg tells EW of this mysterious Bardo. "It is also a cool-sounding name. And we will learn everything about the people that are currently on Bardo, who we have met, those invisible soldiers in the premiere. They're with us all season long."
While the trailer for season 7 revealed that the anomaly is actually a wormhole, fans can expect to learn more about how it works as "a transit system between planets," including Sanctum, Bardo, and more planets, beginning as early as episode 2, according to the showrunner.
"One of the ways that we're justifying [playing with time this season] is that time is moving at different speeds relative to the planets, meaning time is moving slower on [other planets] relative to Sanctum," Rothenberg says. "The whole relativity thing, Sean Crouch is one of our new writers who I kind of leaned on for being the timekeeper this year. But you can spend years on [one planet] and only minutes or days pass on some of the other planets, and that allows us to tell story in ways that we haven't before. Episode 2 spans a decade while nothing is really changing on Sanctum. That's an unusual way for us to tell the story."
Meanwhile back on Sanctum, Clarke was left to deal with the fall of the Primes and all the warring factions, including the Prime loyalists, the Children of Gabriel, the Wonkru, and the Eligius prisoners who are now awake. Shockingly enough, it did not go well! By the end of the premiere, Clarke finally snapped out of her denial about her mother Abby’s (Paige Turco) death as she burned down Sanctum and ordered Russell’s (J.R. Bourne) death. But unbeknown to her, Sheidheda (Dakota Dalby) somehow wormed his way into Russell's mind and took over his body, meaning a quick execution is probably not in the cards as the Dark Commander intends to manipulate the Prime followers to do his bidding.
But first, Rothenberg wanted to highlight Clarke's inner turmoil by having her break down completely in this episode. "As I started thinking about how people deal with grief and how much grief she's had to deal with, obviously having lost her mom days before even though it's been a year for us, a lot of times you don't really express that emotion right away," he says. "A lot of times you are planning the funeral and doing all the arrangements, and by the time everybody else has grieved and moved on, you finally get struck by that loss. So I wanted to play on on that a little bit."
Throughout the premiere, Clarke refused to properly acknowledge her grief until it exploded out of her, taking Sanctum down with it. "Clarke is doing what she does, trying to compartmentalize and run things and run the reconstruction project in Sanctum, and we do worry for her," Rothenberg says. "We see everybody else drinking to Abby and we see them all noticing that Clarke is not expressing her grief, and then it comes pouring out of her in that scene at the end with with Russell. That scene is just a f—ing revelation."
And Rothenberg warns that the brewing civil war in Sanctum is only just beginning, thanks to Clarke's actions burning the palace down and sentencing their last leader, Russell, to death. "Sanctum is, like Raven [Lindsey Morgan] says, a powder keg. It literally is combustible," he says. "There's five different factions that shouldn't all be living together, living together. It's going to be interesting to be the police in that scenario and our heroes, Wonkru, become that essentially governing authority. And it's hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again."
The story line unfolding in Sanctum ended up being Rothenberg's favorite in the final season, which surprised him given what else is happening on the show.
"I thought as we began the season that I was going to be much more invested in this space-traveling, planet-hopping story line — and I do love that — and then I was going to be less interested in the goings on at Sanctum," he says. "But as it turned out, every time we come back to Sanctum, I'm riveted. I love that story. I won't ruin it, but the characters who are there are some of my favorites and certainly some of my favorite actors in the cast, and they just crush it. There's an emotionality to that story that I find to be beautiful and poignant. And ultimately it all comes together in a really satisfying way."
The 100 airs Wednesdays on the CW.