For two weeks, The Flash fans have been biting their nails for a new episode. "Tricksters" started out as a nostalgic trip back to the 1990s version of The Flash as Mark Hamill reprised his role as the Trickster, but the most important flashback revealed what many suspected -- the truth about Dr. Harrison Wells -- and the rest of season is sure to ramp up toward the big showdown between Flash and Reverse Flash. It was a great cliffhanger that will begin paying dividends, starting in tonight's episode, "All-Star Team Up," featuring the Arrow's Felicity Smoak and Ray visiting Capital City. We spoke with Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg and cast members Candice Patton (Iris West), Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon) and Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow) about what's in store for the remaining episodes of season one, and how much the comics are inspired the show.
"There's definitely a shift, that started in episode 15," explained Valdes. "There's something about to happen in the next episode that will prove to be a game changer, and it involves Cisco and technology. It's this very event that allows the team's further involvement in finding out who Harrison Wells is and finding the justice that Barry Allen's looking for. Everything funnels in, and secrets begin to be revealed. Momentum starts to get gained and figuring out what the goal is and solve that problem."
One secret fans are waiting for is Iris finding out the truth about Barry. Nearly everyone on The Flash, and even Arrow, knows that Barry Allen is the Flash. Iris, on the other hand, is one of the very few who don't know, and as the emotional center and soul of the series, her finding out will be a big moment. Iris is savvy and smart, though, and it's only a matter of time before she pokes and prods the right person. For example, the relationship between Iris and Eddie will see some friction beginning with tonight's episode. Eddie is the one person who is having internal conflict about keeping secrets from Iris.
"Eddie is acting a little different and is solving crimes really fast," Patton teased. "She says something along the lines of 'Are you working with the Flash? Do you know who he is?' So she's starting to think about that maybe he knows more than what he's letting on." And, at some point, Iris will find out the truth, and when she does, Patton revealed what Iris' natural reaction will be.
"She's going to be pissed! How can she not be? When that moment happens, Iris will be so justified in being angry. She's a happy-go-lucky kind of girl, so it will be nice to see her expel all of these feelings on Joe and Barry about lying. This is her father and best friend. Joe, Barry and Eddie are really the only men in her life, and those are the people she trusts, so for them to be lying about something that's so huge -- she's going to be disappointed and heartbroken."
Another reveal will be the truth about Wells to the rest of S.T.A.R. Labs, especially Caitlin. "It's going to be a huge struggle for her," said Panabaker. "She's incredibly loyal person, and she came back to work for Dr. Wells after the particle accelerator exploded. What that took, how much faith she had to have in him to come back after that -- so he's on the highest possible pedestal. Anything to suggest It would be devastating, to have that reality crumble in front of her. She's not going to want to hear it, for sure."
Credit must be given to The Flash writers and producers, who have not shied away from the comic-book roots and crossing that line that most other shows try to curb to keep the show grounded in the real world. They understand the Flash's rogues, their importance and that featuring them means going all the way in bringing the fantasy of The Flash to life. Next week will be a shape-shifter episode so characters won't be who they appear to be, and Gorilla Grodd is still on deck. We asked Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg about their plan of rolling out the rogues and keeping the gas pedal to the floor in building the world of The Flash.
"We did this on Arrow, too. I don't know if people didn't want to see it, but the first image from production was the Deathstroke mask. That wasn't an easter egg we planned and thought, 'Wouldn't it be great if we could one day do this.' We've always had this idea. In the Flash pilot, we very purposely have a glimpse of the Reverse Flash, you saw Gorilla Grodd's cage, and he fought the Weather Wizard, or one of them. We really wanted to come out guns blazing saying that this is the most DC, DC Comics thing you've ever seen."
"Part of it is that Flash has the best rogues gallery; he just has the best villains that served us well to come up with these emotional stories and think, 'Who was the best person to deal with that?' Right off the bat, Barry Allen was dealing with the duality of his new existence and that was great to have Multiplex; we wanted a scary episode, so we had the Mist and obviously introduced Captain Cold. It's always been character first."
"We have a board in our office that literally has index cards of every character, villain, hero that's ever been in the Flash universe, in the Firestorm universe, and other things they've allowed us to mine from. As much as we moved into the 'We did it' column, there's so much on the other side. If you're going to do a show called The Flash, especially in this day and age, you don't shy away from it. You have to have Captain Cold, you have to have Gorilla Grodd, and you have to have the Trickster!"
It doesn't stop at the rogues. "Out of Time" introduced viewers to Barry's ability to time-travel, and we heard rumblings of a "speed force" for the first time, which opens up a large portion of the comic book canon for potential storylines, like Flashpoint.
"When I read episode 15, and you get to the end and realize at the end that Barry runs back to the end of the day, I realized as an actor that we're dealing with time travel in season one." explained Patton. "So anything is possible as far as all of these multiple timelines and universes. I think we could see different versions of ourselves."
"I love the idea of time travel, I'm a nerd like that, so for this show I think it would be cool to see Iris and all of the other characters completely different than what we've known them to be. Maybe Iris is a drug addict [Laughs] -- something crazy!" The impact of the comics is strong on the set and has prompted some of the cast to go beyond the scripts. Valdes is hoping to show off his break-dancing moves should he get to play Vibe someday, and Panabaker knows her character has villainous roads ahead as Killer Frost. Patton admitted to never seen a comic book or held one prior to working on The Flash, but is now hooked.
"I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Batman in cartoon form. It wasn't until the show that I started reading comics. I love The Flash comics, I'm not a crazed person, I still want to be surprised. I have The Flash omnibuses and am reading [mature DC/Vertigo title] Preacher, and I'm slowly delving into the comic-book world. I didn't mean to. It's just something that I found I actually like." Who says TV shows can't get comics new readers?
Patton also alluded to an epic ending and assured Iris West fans that she'll be in the thick of it. "She always finds her way in the middle of it." But for fans of The Flash and Arrow, and to those that understand the magnitude of Reverse Flash being the big boss villain for season one, it can feel as if more crossovers and team-ups are imminent. Kreisberg explained that while they wanted to make sure The Flash and Arrow could stand on their own, the fun of making a show based on DC comics is to embrace the shared universe.
"Part of the fun of these comic-book shows is comic books themselves, that when you're reading a Batman comic and you get to that last page and you turn the page and it's a splash page of Superman, who says, 'Do you need help?' You're like, 'What?! YES!' That was so cool, and to integrate that and what's always fun, especially for us, is taking one character from a show and move them to the other, because they really get to play different versions of themselves. You get to see a different side of [Detective] Lance and Laurel through the prism of a Flash episode. A more traditional storyline about fathers and daughters, which wouldn't play well on Arrow, but it plays very well on The Flash."
"Our tone notes to Laurel Lance was to leave all your troubles behind and have fun on Flash. You get to see her smiling and happy in sort of a different place. I think [actress] Katie [Cassidy] really appreciated that, too. When she saw the trailer, she said, 'I look like I didn't have a care in the world.' Conversely, in the crossover when Caitlin and Cisco go over to Arrow, they're not fooling around in Starling City. For us, it's more than just gimmicks and rating stunts, it's a new way to tell stories, and in some cases, like the Laurel Lance story, it's a way to tell the story that we would love to tell that the one show isn't designed for but the other one is."
"We have built the shared universe that exists we these two shows, and I think that it would almost be a disservice to the shows if you got to the point where Barry was in his darkest hour -- and our audience at home is probably thinking this too -- why isn't he calling Arrow? Doesn't he know Firestorm, a guy who can fly and shoot fire out of his hands?"
"It was always great on previous shows whether it was Star Trek or Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and Angel, where you had people show up. In the last episode, of course Angel is going to show up and help Buffy. We're just trying to honor that and people watching both shows. Especially when you get to the end of the year and you try to make things as epic as possible. What could be more epic than having multiple heroes? When you have that [camera] shot from Firestorm to Flash to Arrow ... that, now, to me, is the most DC thing I've seen."
After tonight's episode and the end of the season, we'll be eagerly expecting much more. The Flash airs on the CW at 8 p.m.