The 100 sure does an impeccable job of blowing our freaking minds. Kira Snyder, a name being well-circulated throughout the fandoms therapists this week (including my own), is a writer and producer on the post-apocalyptic themed series, which can be seen Thursday nights on The CW. Now, before you dust off that pitch fork and crucify her for making you feel all the feels, let’s take a moment to process. OK, enough time? Good. There’s loads to catch up on and there’s no time for upheaval.
Synder, who has been on board since the start of the series, definitely brought her A-game, presenting us with not only an impactful death but two substantially important reveals: that Jackson is Team City of Light now, and Polis was named after a falling dropship from the seemingly forgotten 13th station. Her attention to detail and knack for naturally weaving these storylines together is notable. “Bitter Harvest” can only be described as a meticulously crafted foundation which will set the stage for the highly anticipated link between Polis, the City of Light and Alie. Seriously, how are our varying world’s going to finally collide and will I be left with any active brain cells once they do? Have your emergency room on speed dial because I anticipate increased heart rates, fainting, and our inability to breathe once it all comes together.
Synder, who wasn’t very forthcoming with the spoilers (we tried, but she’s a tough nut to crack), did dig deep when it came to her well-received episode. From making the decision to suffocate Monroe with acid fog, to the uprising within Arkadia, one of The 100’s brightest was elated to discuss the ins and outs of her episode as well as the series. We spoke at length about Titus’ concern for change, Bellamy’s decision to officially side with Pike, and a tender moment of humanity between Lexa and Clarke. Oh, and yes, I mentioned the Bitanic and many laughs were had. From finding a balance between mercy and vengeance, brawls brewing and politics being challenged, no topic was off limits. Though, she may have passed on a few– which, I forgive her for.
I’d advise you all to go ahead and arm yourselves (perhaps with a shiv made out of a cup) because you’re about to relive all the feels from “Bitter Harvest” and beyond.
MCKENZIE MORRELL: Thanks so much for being here, I’m having a blast chatting with you guys so I do appreciate your time. To start in a nonconventional way… Your Twitter bio claims that you can make a shiv out of cup, how does one stumble upon such a skill?
KIRA SNYDER: That’s one of the fun things about being a writer is learning random things for story stuff, I actually wrote a long piece about this on my Tumblr but the short version is I was working on season 2 of the sci fi show Alphas. There’s a character on it that is super smart and also had the ability to heal very quickly and our good guys catch him and they lock him up in this high security, very secure cell, and he needed to get out for story reasons. And I was trying to think well what could this person ask for in prison and conceivably be given without our guys being idiots. We could give him a plate of food or a knife or a fork, but I figured those little soft cups you have at water coolers might be something that he might actually ask for and would get. Then I thought, could you turn that into a weapon? So, what I did was went into the break room of our writer’s office and I got one of those cups and kind of folded it and mashed it around and actually got a sharp little shiv out of it. And that’s what ended up being in the show. He folds this paper cup into a very pointy shiv, stabs himself in the jugular and dies, the guards come in and open the door and then he murders them and then they were off to the races and he was outside.
MM: [Laughs] That is wild. I was like, I have to mention this, this seems like a fun little kickstarter before we get into the nitty gritty of things, but obviously we’re going to talk about your episode… You’ve been with The 100 since the very beginning, how has that experience been seeing the show evolve and it gain so much traction over the seasons?
KS: It’s been so much fun seeing the show grow and find its footing and have the world expand. It seems like a million years ago since it was just our kids in the dropship camp dealing with mysterious grounders out in the woods. And the world has gotten so much bigger and richer, so having sort of seeing it creatively evolve, adding new characters, getting to peel back the onion layers of this really interesting world that the writers and Jason Rothenberg were all creating together has been so much fun. The other thing that has been gratifying is seeing the traction and the buzz and the fandom really pick up. It’s been really, really fun just seeing that grow over time. I think Comic Con is a really good snapshot of that, we’ve been at Comic Con for the last three years, the first year we hadn’t even aired yet so during our panel we actually showed the pilot and then we had a Q&A afterwards. The people who were there hadn’t really heard about it so it had a very small footprint, so the next year we had been on for the season, still not a whole lot of traction, we did have a couple of people who did dress up. We had a couple of Raven’s.
MM: [Laughs] Aw Raven.
KS: Which was great, we love Raven.
MM: Yes, we do!
KS: Last year things kind of really kicked into high gear because we had a big fan meet-up, which is fantastic, lots of people in costume, people slept out overnight. The panel, they moved us into one of the bigger rooms, we were on a bag at Comic Con! Which if you go to Comic Con you know is kind of a big deal. Then the social media aspect has been huge and fantastic and rewarding. It’s a chance for us to engage with the fans and the press on a very one-to-one basis. We love doing Q&A’s, we love having that connection with the fandom. It’s been really fun seeing the show get bigger and richer in all of the aspects over the last three years.
MM: Oh yeah, and I’m trying to get you guys to come to New York Comic Con, I know that it’s hard especially because that’s around when you guys are shooting and the schedules are super, super crazy but that’s one of my goals. So we will get you on the East Coast at some point! [Laughs]
KS: Yeah, we’d love to go! I’ve actually never been to New York Comic Con, I’ve heard it’s fantastic.
MM: It is, you have to come.
KS: I do, I really want to come, as does the show. It’s just a matter of scheduling sometimes, I know that the show officially, and the actors on their own, like to get out there and meet people so yeah, we would love to!
MM: Well we have our fingers crossed! Obviously “Bitter Harvest” is our goal today… it was a huge episode, we finally find out how Polis got its name and we see the connection between the 13th station, the grounders and Alie coming together. Out of everything that happened during your episode did you have a favorite moment?
KS: It’s tricky because like you said there are a lot of big reveals and moments, I have recently discovered and I have Jason Rothenberg to blame for this– looking at reaction videos on YouTube.
MM: Oh, yes!
KS: They’re so much fun, there are a couple moments that were particularly fun to watch the reactions of. I liked the entire episode start to finish but there are some moments that definitely had strong reactions, it was really fun seeing people kind of respond to those. I think the biggest ‘oh my gosh’ moment… well, I love the Polis reveal at the end. The Jackson having joined the City of Light was one I found really satisfying. Because we tried really hard not to tee it up too much, you don’t really see it coming and you think ‘oh yay, Abby is going to get to the bottom of this and our guys are going to be saved’ and then ‘oh my gosh, Alie has a man on the inside!’ I loved that moment, I loved the mythology reveal of Polis at the end.
I also just loved the quiet character moment between Clarke and Lexa at the beginning because we don’t get to see our characters having a breather and just being people in the world because they have so many other big things going on, so I like that moment as well. And just the big thrill that I enjoyed was Clarke’s wrestling with vengeance over mercy and trying to see how much she has changed in this world and really wanting blood for blood. And knowing that if she wants to be part of turning the world around, the world they’re living in around, she’s going to have to make some hard decisions. That’s a long answer, but I like a lot of pieces of it, I guess.
MM: I would hope that you would like a lot from your episode! But to touch upon the Clarke and Lexa moment that you mentioned, which was this very human moment between the two, did you guys have any– obviously Eliza Taylor tweeted that hilarious Bitanic picture way before the episode even happened.
MM: Did you have any reservations, or that hey is she doing this on purpose because she knows what’s coming up, this is foreshadowing and a spoiler? [Laughs]
KS: No, it was kind of funny how it was put out there and then it was out in the world for people to kind of see if it paid off. And it did pay off. Certainly no worries there, and it was fun having that little tease or little breadcrumb. We don’t dig the spoilers or the leaks, but we do like the teases and the more officially released things and I would count interviews as part of those.
MM: Yes, we do not like leaks or spoilers, we are against those! Speaking of spoilers… this might fall under that category but can you speak to the fans idea that Lexa’s back tattoo is Polaris falling from space and landing on Earth? If you can’t confirm, can you at least tell us if we’ll eventually find out the meanings behind her tattoos?
KS: Yeah, that falls under the category of things I can’t really comment on, the episode is coming up, at the end of “Bitter Harvest” as you noted a bunch of things get set in motion, a bunch of reveals get kicked off and that is something we will continue going forward in the episodes to come, so you’ll have to wait and see.
MM: I figured, but I was like ‘I’m gonna throw that in there anyway.’
MM: More and more people are taking this City of Light chip, a few of the more shocking participants are Raven and the reveal of Jackson in your episode. Did you anticipate the fans having a tough time digesting… pun intended… the idea that their beloved characters would join Jaha on this new venture?
KS: [Laughs] It’s really interesting, that’s one of the reasons we wanted to have Raven be the first of our main characters to kind of step into that world of the main regular cast, I mean, obviously Jaha is part of that world and Murphy is aware of it from the outside. But having Raven, who obviously– well all of our characters are fan favorites, it’s one of the nice things about the show everyone has someone to love– but Raven in particular, who has been through so much, having her be the lens into that world. It was important for us to understand why someone would do this, why someone would take this thing and then see her afterwards be happy and content and working again but something’s off about that. We thought she would be a great person to kind of get into that story with. Also, not just for the ‘oh my gosh’ reveal of it for Jackson but again he’s someone, and Sachin who plays Jackson, has spoken about this on the Dropship Podcast, there are very good reasons why Jackson and pretty much everybody in Arkadia would have wanted to, or who might be vulnerable to someone who’s saying ‘hey, I can take your pain away, I can give you peace.’ These people have been through a tremendous amount, the story is starting to unfold and in terms of what exactly the City of Light is and how it works and are there downsides… what does it mean if you don’t want to be in the City of Light anymore? Is that even a choice you have, the story is going to be unfolding over episodes to come, for sure.
MM: Oooh. And this might be another question you can’t answer, but I’m feeling sneaky today… One side effect of the City of Light pill is memory loss, now, is this limited to just painful memories, or all memories are fair game?
KS: Again, that’s probably the unfolding story so I can’t really get into that!
MM: Shucks! Okay, let’s talk about Octavia and Bellamy… The tension between the Blake’s are starting to boil and we should expect a throwdown soon, why do you think Bellamy still doesn’t accept his sister as a grounder?
KR: I think, you mean, the kind of telling her to ease up on the Grounderness of it all?
MM: Yeah, him telling her to come back to being a sky person and to stop playing dress up, basically.
KR: I think where that’s coming from for him is concern for her safety. I think he’s concerned that, and we even see it in the episode, that people do not treat her the way they treat other people from Arkadia because she has taken on this look and this culture and people in Arkadia, certainly the ones who are on Team Pike, don’t take that very well. I think when he tells her to reign it in a bit, it’s really more concern for her safety and of course Octavia doesn’t like being told what to do.
MM: Yeah, no. [Laughs]
KS: It gets to the larger diverges that the two are going to have. Or are having right now rather, in terms of the kind of world they’re living in. She’s always been a bridge character, she and Lincoln and Clarke in her own way. But these are characters that are bridging the two worlds. What Bellamy has decided in the first part of the season is that you know what, bridges can’t be built, we’ll see how right he is or wrong he is. There are actually a lot of bridge characters, Kane is someone who is building that bridge as well with Indra from the other side, but it’s tough when you have a point of view of building bridges. That only works when the other side is interested in having a bridge built to it [laughs].
MM: The fans seem to be reacting badly to the whole storyline of Bellamy and Pike, how do you deal with that kind of backlash since you’re all so accessible on social media and you’re seeing this real-time response?
KS: We’re telling the story we’re telling and not everyone is going to like every choice we make, not everyone is going to like the character choice that the characters make. But this is a story that we dug into and spent a lot of time talking and understanding Bellamy’s mindset and thinking about all the things that he had been through, and has been through recently and that’s where the story took him. And he has this person coming in that is speaking to all that loss and that sense of betrayal and he’s thinking now that maybe he was wrong to kind of come around away from his season 1 point of view. He’s very much in the season 1 frame of mind and what we say in the room is Pike and his people they didn’t get to see season 1. They had a terrible, terrible season 1 of The 100 fending off the Ice Nation. Bellamy is hearing this voice remind him of the things you felt about these things when you first landed and they were murdering your friends in the woods, people getting speared and yanked up into trees and dying in traps, these are still the same people. He’s feeling very torn and other writers, and I think Jason has said this as well, is Bob Morley is doing such an amazing job of playing all that conflict, you see that in every episode. Even in the one where he sides with Pike officially, he is extremely conflicted and now that his sister is on the other side that’s just going to continue to grow.
MM: We’ll probably see that unfold because Pike says that they need to talk about his sister. So obviously that’s going to be an issues that comes up and Bellamy is going to have to side one way or the other I’m assuming.
KS: Yeah, there are troubled waters ahead for the Blake siblings.
MM: Aww. Well, we’ll have to deal with it. So, you killed Monroe! How dare you [laughs].
KS: I’m not proud of it, I guess. Katie Stuart is lovely, we’re sad, we loved having her on the show– we do miss her.
MM: Where did that decision stem from? Was it something you concocted and brought to the table, or was that something that after the story was done and you knew you were going to go into that village that she would ultimately be the one to pay the price with her life?
KS: The overall shape of the story very early on was that the resistance, Kane and Octavia and their allies were going to try and stop an attack on a grounder village undertaken by Pike and his people. Bellamy and a group of his people, but it would have a cost, that things wouldn’t go completely how they want because it’s The 100 and things never go completely right.
KS: So once we knew early on that the attack needed to have a cost, they we were looking at who might be in that group, who might be someone that we’d care about losing frankly, and Monroe is someone, she’s one of the original hundred, we’ve seen her since the very beginning and she’s someone who also fit this mold really well. Because she’s always been Team Bellamy, she’s always followed him and that’s going to be, you can already see in this episode that that’s going to haunt him. That’s something that would sting for Octavia as well because Octavia knows Monroe, they’ve all been through alot together. Monroe was the person who was going to fit the story goals that we needed for that moment. It has been mentioned elsewhere that poor Monroe has been, her neck has been on the chopping block a few times, she’s escaped several times but unfortunately this time the poison smoke got her and we are sorry to say farewell to Monroe because it’s been really great having her on the show.
MM: Agreed. And now, did you title this episode? I’ve heard the intricate protocol for titles, so how did you guys stumble upon this one?
KS: Yeah, I did name this one. I actually have pretty good luck with naming my episodes. It’s all kind of what scenes feel right and sound right, this was named this pretty early on and it stuck.
MM: And is it a throwback to early episodes? Do you guys do that when writing the titles that you tie it in with something that happened earlier?
KS: Sometimes, yeah. The titles come from all kinds of places, sometimes it’s literary– Kim Shumway has some really cool literary references to hers, sometimes they’re historical. But for this one, I think I was playing very much on the farming metaphor and the goal the Farm Station had, they wanted to expand and build a future and start farming and things go terribly wrong. That’s where the name came from.
MM: Well, I dig it. Now everyone is super uneasy about the fate of the Commander, our friend Jo Garfein has dubbed this fandom freakout PCDA (Premature Commander Death Anxiety) so that’s a thing that’s trolling around the internet right now… do you have any words of encouragement for Lexa fans? Obviously you can’t speak to her fate, but any fun tidbits about working with Alycia or why you love the character?
KS: Lexa’s been great, and I think we were all pleased to see that she popped as much as she did. She first appeared in an episode that I wrote, she’s in 206 “Fogs of War” last year, with the fun psych out reveal of ‘oh it’s the meek servant girl, and oh she’s got a limp and she looks kind of scared.’ And then you see her take Jaha down at the end, when you know later what she’s going on to do her having that crafty introduction was one of the reasons we all liked that in the room when we were working on the episode. It really said a lot about her character. We had seen grounders be very warlike and have a very knee-jerk reaction, like the people that were hunting Bellamy and his friends out in the woods when they were out looking for Octavia. They didn’t ask why they were there, what they were doing, we start to see a little bit of the other point of view with Anya in that scene that she has on the bridge in 109 “Unity Day.” But with Lexa, we had talked about the Commander, we wanted to set up someone who was different and visionary and smarter. She doesn’t immediately kill Jaha and Kane when she has them imprisoned, she wants to kind of see who these people are so she gives them this little test, she puts herself in the room, which is pretty brave if you think about it. She’s in the room with these two big guys and a knife, as we discovered later, not really a problem!
MM: Nope! [Laughs]
KS: We thought a lot about her character and the grounders in general. They are thoughtful and that’s what she wants to learn about these people. In the episode she doesn’t kill either of them, she said she was going to use Jaha to send a message and you think ‘uh oh. They’re gonna dump his body at the gates at Camp Jaha.’ But she actually, literally uses him to send a message. That never happens. We thought that was cool as well. It’s been really fun seeing her and she’s fitting in great with the cast and everyone has these great interactions with her, but yeah it’s been really fun seeing that character really blossom.
MM: Let’s talk about Titus, Neil Sandilands is such an amazing and insightful guy, I had a great time talking with him recently, but man his character is starting to rub us all the wrong way. Are we going to see more of his backstory and what his intentions truly are?
KS: Yeah, definitely. Neil is terrific. He’s such an amazing actor, so thoughtful. I loved your interview with him. I know he had long conversations with Jason and other writers who were on set, and he was very thoughtful about how he approaches the role. Titus has a line about how he was Fleimkepa for three or four other Commanders and Lexa is special. So he is Fleimkepa, head advisor at a very challenging but interestingly opportune time for the grounders. So not only is Lexa the Commander and she has united the 12 clans, which has never happened before. It’s always been civil war between the clans. He appreciates what she’s doing, but he sees change is dangerous, and you have conservatives in the Old Guard, pretty much any time in political structure. Lexa is a new variable in the grounder world. And the Sky crew is another really big variable in this world. The grounders have had the Mountain Men to deal with but it was kind of like a boogie man situation, it was something that you had to worry about and think about but they weren’t up in your face, up fishing where you wanted to fish, hunting where you wanted to hunt. You basically have this big new population which have kind of landed, partially refugees, partially your expansionists, you can look at them a couple of different ways. It’s a really stressful time for poor Titus, because a lot of things are changing really quickly and it’s hard for him in particular. He’s the Old Guard, and he is genuinely worried about what it all means for his people. As has been true since the very beginning, everyone’s really concerned about their own. Almost never does someone act out of a purely selfish point of view, everyone is looking out for the larger good. What that does mean though is people kind of take some dark paths sometimes, we see this in lots of different characters so that’s where Titus is coming from, he is worried about his culture, his people, but he’s also worried about Lexa. He’s very fond of her, he’s kind of a father or an uncle figure, he’s worried that like he says in a couple episodes that her new ways are dangerous, not just to the grounders but to hers as well. He’s operating in a position of concern.
MM: Oh definitely. Concerned enough to try and shoot at people, we can’t wait for that.
MM: There’s obviously a lot of speculation and fan theories that swirl around the internet, I don’t know if you guys read some of those but if you do read them do you have a favorite fan theory that you’ve read?
KS: Variously we do and do not look at the fan theories, I can’t really comment on them just because–
MM: It can be misconstrued, I’m sure?
KS: Yeah, it might be misconstrued. It is very interesting, I will say there are some we’ve read that we do think are kind of amazing, we’re always like ‘that’s really interesting, we hadn’t really planned that.’ But that’s an interesting interpretation, it’s kind of the whole gamut. I will say though that I, and everyone, are so thrilled and pleased and gratified and humbled that people take the time to think about it with so much thought. Just the interest and the passion for the artist and the fandom, everyone is so creative and they’re just so amazing. I can and have blown entire days on Tumblr just looking at fan art and listening to the songs. We don’t read the fanfictions, though.
MM: No, don’t!
KS: Just looking at the art, and the gif sets and the cosplays, it’s all just so fantastic.
MM: That’s amazing. And now you’re also a game designer, is that correct?
KS: Yes, that is my background, my background is in playwriting and online game design.
MM: Any hope of designing a game around the world of The 100?
KS: That’s a really interesting idea, I don’t know if that has come up before. That’s interesting, I know some people who have made their own little side games, I’ve spotted that on Tumblr. I’m not sure who would take a look at something like that, Warner Brothers or the CW. But yeah, I have worked, not recently, but I’ve been doing TV for the last 7 or 8 years, but my background, part of that was online game design and specifically in virtual world design, so all the City of Light/Alie, all that stuff is definitely getting tapping into what I was doing for a living for a while, which is pretty fun.
MM: That has to be cool! Well, we are down for a game! We are on board. So, who is your favorite Coliloquy publishing sister, and you’re supposed to think about your answer carefully.
KS: [Laughs] That’s really tough, so Coliloquy, yes, Coliloquy is or should I say was, is an interactive publisher. I had written, and they’re available now if you wanna look them up on Amazon, a series of interactive YA novels. But also, on that publishing platform a couple of people I am still very much in touch with online and Jennifer Lacopelli and Heidi Kling are the two that come to mind most quickly. I am in touch with a bunch of them, but Jennifer and Heidi are fantastic and I know they both watch The 100, which I’m so happy about and really honored that they take the time to, amongst their many book projects to check out the show.
MM: Yes, Jennifer and I bonded over The 100. Which is so great, I think it’s awesome that it brings all these people together and people in the industry out of the industry all that stuff.
KS: Yeah, it’s great!
MM: “Thirteen” is being described by Jason, and TV critics who have already seen the episode as a real game-changer. What can you tease for that episode? I’ve lost probably 7 years of my life in anticipation for this one.
KS: [Laughs] I obviously can’t tease or spoil anything coming up, but I do know that what they do every week, we’ll get some new scenes and behind the scenes and inside the episodes will be released. So keep an eye out for those. All I can say is I described 306 as setting the table for what comes next, that is the case. If people want to give 306 a rewatch before 307 that might not be a bad idea. There’s some little moments that get hinted at that definitely play out further. All will be made clear on Thursday.
MM: We can’t wait! This has been awesome to get some insight, finding out how the show is made and all of your backgrounds. It’s been amazing.
KS: Thanks so much, it’s been my pleasure and thanks for taking the time to put these great interviews out there, I appreciate it.
MM: Oh, of course. You’ll be happy to know I got my sister hooked on The 100. I got her through all three seasons in the last two weeks.
KS: Oh my gosh, well done!
MM: She’s a little slower than I am, she can’t really sit down and spend a whole day watching things so I had to be persistent in keeping her on track, but she’s all caught up and we’ll be watching live on Thursday so I’m excited for her to experience it for the first time actually live.
KS: Oh, fantastic! But thanks again, the word of mouth has been really rewarding, it’s a show in its third season, the CW obviously does a great job promoting us but they obviously have other shows to promote and this is one that people who have gotten friends and family and co workers watching and we are just so thrilled and grateful for all the word of mouth that’s been going around. We really appreciate it.
MM: Well, we absolutely love the show, we’re hoping for many more seasons. We’ll keep watching live!
KS: Great! Us too. Thanks so much.
The 100 airs Thursdays at 9|8c on The CW