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Why Patience is a Virtue for Fans of THE 100

Why Patience is a Virtue for Fans of THE 100

The end of the world has been looming all season long on The 100. And yet, for most of season four, The CW’s post-apocalyptic series found itself mired in Grounder politics and potential wars between different Grounder clans. Entire episodes revolved around plans for survival that didn’t end up working, so much so that it felt like the series was just kicking rocks for a while. Clarke (Eliza Taylor), Bellamy (Bob Morley) and the rest of the 100 favorites tried plans A through Y, until finally landing on plan Z.

Heading into the finale, “Praimfaya,” they’ll try their best to launch a rocket into space. The hope is to reach the abandoned Ring of space stations the Ark left behind and safely land inside to try and get the oxygen working. Then, and only then, they’ll start to figure out how to survive in space for five years while the Earth is irradiated once more, and the rest of their people are (maybe) safely locked in a bunker underground.

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There’s no denying that the finale is going to be a brutal sprint to the finish line, as every moment of season four has been leading up to the release of radiation. But in order to get to the high-stakes, no-holds-barred ending, viewers have had to endure a season full of stories that felt almost pointless, constantly hitting dead ends. When we know that the world is literally going to end in fire, it’s hard to get excited about Grounder clans fighting for control over Polis. Polis literally won’t exist in a few weeks’ time! Of course, the Grounders don’t know/believe that, so to them, a war over the capital is the most important thing. But it has gotten more and more difficult to get invested in these stories as the season went on.

But then, something changed. When all the characters realized the death wave was coming, the show turned a corner. All of a sudden, every story felt high-stakes once more. Everyone was working towards the same goal: the survival of the human race. Body counts rose as every clan had to pick only 100 people each to ride out the radiation wave in the bunker. Some people, like Jasper (Devon Bostick), beloved fan-favorite since the pilot of the series, chose suicide over fighting to live another day. Friends and family made up after seasons of fighting. Couples traded “I love you”s. Things of importance actually started happening. And then, the penultimate season four episode turned out to be one of the best episodes of the series. But the finale tops that.

Nerdist has seen the epic hour already, and while we can’t (and don’t want to) spoil any of the big surprises, what we can say is that when The 100 returns for season five, it will be a completely different show.

“Next season is going to be crazy,” executive producer Jason Rothenberg told Nerdist after an early screening the episode. “Big changes are coming for season five. Interpersonally, relationships are going to change. Some people will be excited, some people will be pissed off, as always.”

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While this season felt like it was divided in two parts–the first half dealing with the looming threat of death and then the second half dealing with the ticking clock finally hitting zero–Rothenberg explained that wasn’t his intention.

“I never really looked at it as two parts,” he said. “To me, it feels like the big concept for season four was we wanted the clock to start ticking in the premiere and it ticks down to zero in the finale. And as you get closer to zero, things get more and more intense and desperate. By its nature, a story like that starts more slowly and then accelerates in intensity as time runs out. Frankly, that’s what we always do on some level. We are telling one big story every season and the finale is hugely important as the destination for that story, and the first few episodes are usually dealing with the fallout from the previous season. And then we start to kick into high gear as things get closer to that finale.”

He continued, “There was no one part of the season that excited me more than the others, it was always exciting to me to try to tell a story that was essentially going to get more and more intense with every episode. I think that’s what happened and I’m glad to see that it played out the way I hoped it would.”

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Fan and critical reactions to the beginning and middle of this season were lackluster, but now, getting to the finale, that makes sense. The story of the season had to start slowly for the payoff to have as big of an impact as it does. Patience is truly a virtue for The 100 fans. And though that might come hard for some, Rothenberg never got discouraged seeing the criticisms this season.

“We’re telling the story that we want to tell and we always hope that every episode is great,” he said. “I actually thought that the first half of the season was really strong. We by design were telling a story where our heroes know that the end is coming and were desperately searching for a way to escape the end of the world. So by design, it was, ‘We’re going to try this idea–shit, that failed!’ ‘We’re going to try this idea. Shit, that failed, too!’ And more and more desperation starts to consume everybody as the reality of the situation hits and it gets more harrowing as we race towards this finale. To me, the finale is just the icing on the cake.”

Something that Rothenberg prides himself on is that when The 100 makes a promise, it delivers.

“We say something is going to happen, and then it happens–that’s our DNA,” Rothenberg said. “That’s happened 16 times in this show already, so that’s our formula, if we have one. We hope to deliver those promises in a way audiences won’t expect. We said the death wave is coming, and it comes. Our heroes figure out a way to survive or not.”

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Of course, plenty of heroes do not survive. For example: Jasper, who took his own life knowing the death wave was coming and fearing he couldn’t survive it. This show has always been known for its brutal high stakes, and Jasper’s death served as a gut-wrenching reminder that no one is ever safe from death. But Jasper provided the comic relief that even Rothenberg has gone on record to say that the series needs. So why did he have to die?

“These people have all gone through hell and people react to traumatic situations in their lives along a spectrum,” Rothenberg said. “Not everyone can be the hero who sucks it up and saves the day. Some people are broken by what happens to them and that’s what happened to Jasper. He ultimately was broken by the tragedy of Maya [Eve Harlow] and what happened in Mount Weather, but it’s the cumulative affect of all of it. This show is a tragedy, and we I think appropriately told that story in a really powerful way. We weren’t trying to make any political statements necessarily. We certainly weren’t saying that Jasper’s choice was the right choice–in fact, the opposite. But it’s certainly something that happens in life.”

While Rothenberg always planned to kill Jasper, his death was delayed more than once. Bostick revealed back in season one that he was only supposed to be on the show for the pilot, but the writers decided to keep Jasper around for longer, so he survived a spear to the chest. Then, Jasper was supposed to take his own life at the end of the season three finale, but Rothenberg changed his mind again.

The CW

“That was supposed to be how his journey ended at the end of season three–it was too dark of a finale-ending moment,” Rothenberg said. “I didn’t want to leave the audience for the 10 month hiatus with that as the last image. It might have been fine as the end of an episode with a new episode a week later, but it was just too much to end a season on, so I pulled back on that. I was happy that we did that because I felt like Jasper’s story this season really allowed us to play with a different kind of reaction to the end of the world. It gave us, ironically, a chance to inject a little lightness and humor into this season, a little bit of season one Jasper, but in a very different way. But to be true to what we promise in this show, he said he was going to do it, he made no secret of it, and then he did it.”

In the era of Peak TV, when there are so many TV shows to choose from and not enough hours in the day to watch them all, it can be hard to stick with a show when it’s not perfect week in and week out. But if you’re looking for a show to tell a complete story from premiere to finale each season, paying off promises made no matter how heartbreaking or brutal they may be, then stick with The 100. Look back at every season finale and how they always tie up the season in brilliant and surprising ways, and you’ll remember how the journey is always worth it. Even when your favorite characters get killed, or you might become bored with a particular storyline or character, the writers have a plan.

And it’s only going to get crazier from here.

Images: The CW

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