Exclusive: “The 100” EP Jason Rothenberg on this week’s game-changing episode, “Thirteen”

Whether you’ve seen the show yet or not, I’m sure you’ve seen The 100 taking the world by storm. The internet is crazy about this show, and the queer fans (myself included) are obsessed with badass bisexual Clarke Griffin and Commander Lexa, and their complicated relationship.

This week’s episode, titled “Thirteen,” is a huge one for the season, and for the show in general. Executive Producer Jason Rothenberg was kind enough to chat with me about the episode, what it means for the show (without giving away spoilers!) and about the show in general.

Thirteenphotos by Liane Hentscher/The CW

And check back in after the episode airs for a bonus question and answer that was too spoilery for today!

AfterEllen: First of all, I’ve watched the episode, and it was one of the most intense episodes of television I’ve ever seen, it was amazing.

Jason Rothenberg: That’s good! I’m glad you hear you say that.


AE: Since we can’t give away too much, what are three words you would use to describe the episode?

JR: Oh, my God. Three words I would use to describe it…I think it’s epic. I think it is—what’s the world you would use for the key to everything? Crucial! Game-changing? There you go. Game-changing is a hyphenated word. I’ll count it.


AE: I would have just given three exclamation points, so you did better that I would have. One thing we can talk about are the flashbacks. Flashbacks haven’t been part of the narrative for a while. What made you decide to go back to the end-of-the-world flashbacks in this episode?

JR: Well, flashbacks are definitely a crayon in our crayon box. We’ve used them several times—probably four, off the top of my head. It’s definitely a kind of storytelling we like to do when there’s a reason to do it. When there’s a story to tell that we’ve been talking about, but there’s a really different perspective that needs to be given by taking us into that world. In terms of this specific flashback, I have wanted to tell the story of the 13th Station for a very long time. We’ve been hinting about it, talking about it on the show since Season 1, and you know, it’s the origin story for our show. It’s how the Ark came together; it’s how the apocalypse happened. I think we answer a lot of questions in that way, but also in terms of the story we’re telling this season and the AIs, that’s obviously a huge key to the current story that’s being told. So all of that together justified a very different episode. I mean, you’re right—it’s a flashback to characters that we don’t know and love yet, and have never seen before. So it’s a very, very different, but I think mind-blowingly cool episode for us.


AE: Yes, definitely! Are we going to be seeing more flashbacks or will we be piecing the rest together with Clarke and everyone else from now on?

JR: We’re not going to go back again to that time period in this season, so we’ll be piecing it together with our heroes, with Clarke and the others for sure. But I think there are so many dots that can be connected based on this flashback that I really look forward to seeing how the fans of our show who are way smarter than me in many cases, the people who write about the show, sort of interpreting it and connecting those dots and telling me what the story actually means.


AE: And I know sometimes, especially for big episodes like this, spoilers get leaked. How do you feel when that happens?

JR: Yeah, obviously that’s incredibly frustrating, because the studio takes a lot of care in terms of what clips we want to release and things we want out there before an episode airs, and I myself obviously oversee the selection of all those clips and make sure we’re only telling as much as we’re comfortable telling and allowing the audience’s experience to be preserved, so when people do things like leak things from screeners that we provide, that is incredibly frustrating. it doesn’t happen very much frankly; we gave a whole bunch of screeners out at the beginning of the season—the first four episodes—and we had a little problem here and there with people. Obviously, those people won’t be getting screeners again. [laughs] But you know on this particular episode, you’re right, there are big episodes we like to do that for so we can have conversations like the one we’re having now before the episode airs, so things can be written both immediately after it happens and before, and the only way to do that is to let people see it. So we only gave it this time to people that we trust. Like AfterEllen!