Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the series premiere of The Flash. Read at your own risk.
Barry Allen is going to die. Just kidding. Maybe. The series premiere of The CW’s Flash included an ominous closing scene that seemed to indicate a deadly future for Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) that may have left some viewers scratching their heads.
For the uninitiated, Barry Allen first appeared on Arrow last season, crossing paths with Oliver (Stephen Amell) & Co. and making an impression on Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) before falling victim to an accident caused by S.T.A.R. labs’ supercollider, which turned him into the Fastest Man Alive. Now, the man behind the accident, the wheelchair-bound Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), plans to help Barry control his powers. Why? Well, it’s unclear at this point, but Wells got off to an inauspicious start when he walked (yes, he’s faking his injury!) into a secret room that housed a scientifically advanced future newspaper that depicted The Flash’s disappearance 10 years in the future.
The newspaper—which also includes an Easter egg to a Wayne Enterprises-Queen Consolidated merger—seemed to be a nod to DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, a harrowing arc in which Allen actually died saving the universe. The producers have said before that they’re inspired by Crisis, as well as Allen’s reintroduction arc The Flash: Rebirth, so the scarlet speedster’s eventual demise could be a very real possibility.
But there’s a catch: The Flash exists in a world where time travel is possible via a cosmic treadmill. (Just go with it.) Look to the death of Barry Allen’s mother by a flash of yellow light in the pilot as proof of that. By comic book logic, it’s more than likely that the Reverse-Flash—known in the comics as Eobard Thawne, you know, like Rick Cosnett’s Eddie Thawne on The CW series—traveled back in time to murder Barry’s mother, which in the DC universe triggered the events of Flashpoint, the major arc before the launch of the New 52s.
“Time travel is going to play a big part in the overall series, but one of the things that we will discover is that time is mutable,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “As the good Doctor says, time can be rewritten, so not everything you see on the show is necessarily what’s going to come to pass and not necessarily everything that’s happened is fixed.” In other words, that newspaper’s headline could change.
The real question, then, is who is Harrison Wells? Wells is not a character name from the comics, so don’t go searching for clues at your local comic book store. “There’s obviously more than meets the eye when you see Harrison Wells,” says Kreisberg, who, along with fellow executive producer Greg Berlanti and DC Entertainment chief Geoff Johns, recently played very coy when EW posed a theory that Wells was a villain from the future who came back to shape Barry into the perfect ultimate nemesis. “That’s not bad,” Cavanaugh said with a laugh. “You know we’re not going to give you any credit for that?”
Among the other popular theories on Wells’ real identity: He’s Barry Allen from the future. He’s actually the Reverse-Flash and Eddie Thawne is his younger self. Or Eddie Thawne is actually Malcolm Thawne, Eobard’s descendant who is Allen’s long-lost twin brother, and Harrison is the real Eobard. It’s all very confusing and convoluted at this point, but Berlanti promises there will be an episode in season one that explores who Wells really is, hinting that he’s more genuine than the audience may realize. “I don’t think anyone’s witnessed him tell a lie yet,” he says. “I think he’s been very truthful about a lot of things. That will be really intriguing to watch.”
Adds Kreisberg: “It’s hard to write these very sweet scenes between Tom and Grant, and you watch them on screen and you see the camaraderie and the friendship and the respect, but also knowing that there’s something deeper going on. Sometimes that makes it exciting, sometimes it makes it sad.”
Who do you think Harrison Wells really is? Tune in to The Flash Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW to find out.