The March 3 episode of “The 100” will be a pivotal one for the CW sci-fi drama, which will take fans back 97 years to tell “the origin story of the entire series … and the reason that the Ark exists in the first place,” says showrunner Jason Rothenberg, promising more insight into “how A.L.I.E. came to be.”
Titled “Thirteen,” the hour will also explore “the ramifications of the fact that Pike has violated the ceasefire and gone into this village,” according to Rothenberg.
Tensions are already high between the Sky People and Grounders — especially following Skaikru’s decision to slaughter the Grounder army sent to protect them — but can war be averted? “When Lexa gets wind of [Pike’s actions], as Octavia said in episode 6 in the cave with Miller, ‘stop the attack, stop the war.’ Is Lexa now going to continue down the peace path, or is she going to say ‘I gave you a chance, now I have no choice’?” Rothenberg asks. “If she wants to continue down a peace path, what does that mean for her? Her people are certainly gonna want to go to war.”
With a schism forming inside Arkadia over how to deal with the Grounders, one Arker in particular is caught in a precarious position between his friends and allies: Bellamy Blake, who has allied himself with newly elected Chancellor Pike against the Grounders, much to the horror of his sister Octavia and friend Clarke.
Variety critic Mo Ryan previously criticized Bellamy’s decision to side with Pike as “poorly handled,” noting, “In my view, ‘The 100’ rushed through every single element that was supposed to get me to understand his decision to join Pike’s faction. We barely met his forgettable girlfriend, who ended up being an unfortunate instance of “fridging” in a show that has generally avoided such regrettable tropes. On top of that, Bellamy has known Pike for what feels like 10 minutes. The omission of an understandable set of motivations for a key character meant the moment was not just a dramatic misfire, but quite worrying.”
Rothenberg says that he’s heard the fan criticism over Bellamy’s choice, and observes, “I think Bellamy has made choices that he definitely is questioning right now. On some level, you see how torn he is over what’s happening, but he still believes that what he’s done is right… the line has not been crossed yet in his mind, and may or may not be crossed in his mind.”
In terms of the debate about whether Bellamy is “in character” or “out of character” this season, Rothenberg concedes, “I’ve seen it on Twitter, I’ve seen it online — I get it; I get that people are questioning that in a way. But at the same time, I look at the story and obviously I see it holistically as well, as the creator of the show and of the world. I see what Bellamy’s done and I know that he doesn’t feel the way we feel about the Grounders. I love the Grounders too; I get that the Grounders are complicated; I get that there’s a difference between Azgeda and Trikru for sure, and Bellamy on some level probably understands that too. But the truth is, Lexa – who is the person that everybody loves – and the Trikru Grounders [that] Indra and Lincoln are a part of, they were the same people that were killing them relentlessly in Season 1. Lexa, who is this great hero now to people and to us, did betray all of them a couple months ago. A couple months ago, she left them all to die in Mount Weather.”
Rothenberg credits Lexa’s popularity to actress Alycia Debnam-Carey’s performance, but notes that the lines of loyalty and trust have been blurry between the Grounders and Arkers since the beginning, and that many of our favorite characters have very different motivations. “Lincoln, who clearly is a fan favorite and who we love as well — and who Bellamy is friends with and is totally torn over — Lincoln, as the season began, had a kill order on him from Lexa,” Rothenberg says. “So it’s not black and white at all.”
He adds, “I do think that ultimately, Bellamy’s story, if I’m going to admit anything, it did happen quickly — some of it did play offscreen; certainly the relationship with Gina played offscreen for the most part, and so that’s a mea culpa on my part for sure. But ultimately I think that all of the beats of what I just discussed with you are in the show for people to look at. Some people have begun to zoom out and say ‘okay, I might not agree with the choice, I might not understand why he did that, but on second thought, X, Y and Z.’”
“The 100” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.
What do you think of Bellamy’s choice? Will the Arkers and Grounders go to war? Weigh in below, and come back to Variety after the episode for more from Rothenberg.