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The Flash postmortem: Scoop on those surprise returns, Stein's fiery condition

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Cate Cameron/The CW

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. Read at your own risk!

Jay Garrick wasn’t the only new face in Central City during Tuesday’s episode of The Flash.

Picking up where the premiere left off, Jay (Teddy Sears) warned Team Flash of the arrival of speed demon Zoom, who has been using one of 52 breaches that bridge the Scarlet Speedster’s Earth-One and the Crimson Comet’s Earth-Two to introduce new villains in a bid to kill The Flash (Grant Gustin).

With the help of Cisco’s (Carlos Valdes) new powers, The Flash duo are able to take down the meta-of-the-week, the Sand Demon, and save Patty Spivot (Shantel VanSanten) in the process. But their celebration is cut short when Professor Stein (Victor Garber) suddenly collapses. Meanwhile, a peek at Earth-Two reveals a tour group at S.T.A.R. Labs getting the rare chance to meet its founder,Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh)! You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers from executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Todd and Aaron Helbing, who penned the hour:

Harrison Wells lives! But this is a “very different” Wells than we knew, according to Kreisberg. For one, he wasn’t replaced by Eobard Thawne, so we’re finally getting insight into the real man. “It’s one of the more interesting challenges that we could’ve presented an actor,” Kreisberg says. “Play the same character, but we’re giving him a completely different backstory. What’s interesting about the character is the ways in which he’s different, but also the ways in which he’s the same.” But don’t expect to spend a great deal of time with him. “Since we introduce Earth-Two, there’s always a possibility we’ll go there,” Aaron Helbing says. “Not necessarily early on, but you’ll see more of it.”

West family drama: Wells wasn’t the only character who made a surprise return. The never-before-seen Francine West (Vanessa Williams) made her debut this week, hoping to reunite with Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton). “She came back to see her daughter and reestablish this family that she once had,” says Todd Helbing, noting that we’ll soon find out why she’s chosen to return now. “Iris obviously has this conception about her mother and her being away from her her whole life. I’m sure you can imagine that learning that is not the case could turn your whole world upside down. That’s the jumping off point she’s going to be struggling with.”

Victor’s fiery new dilemma: Crossover alert: This is a big setup for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. “Obviously with what happened to Ronnie [Robbie Amell], [Stein is] missing a side of him that he’s had for quite a while now,” Todd says. “That’s going to start to sneak up on him.” Fortunately, Barry and the team will track down a new other half in the upcoming episode “The Fury of Firestorm,” which introduces Legends’ Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh).

Cisco’s new powers: With Stein otherwise occupied, Cisco is dealing with his new powers on his own. “Wells gave this power to him, and Wells was very evil, so he’s just a little freaked out,” Todd Helbing says. “As the season goes on, you’ll start to see him deal with that problem of how do I tell these guys, when do I tell them, and figure out this power that he has and how to control it more.” Suffice it to say, Cisco doesn’t have a great handle on it. “The way these powers are presenting themselves, I wouldn’t say that they’re fun,” Kreisberg says. “That’s really scaring Cisco. He works at a place where they lock up bad metahumans. The gift that his powers are is not readily apparent to him. He’s only seen the bad and the darkness in them.”

Those big breaches: Not only can Zoom cross over to Earth-One, but he has a number of places he can do so — 52, to be exact, which is a hit-you-over-the-head nod to DC Comics’ New 52s. “It’s not good for them,” Todd Helbing says. “But they figure out a way to control it. [There are] 52 breaches and Zoom can come through any of them with whoever he wants. They have to figure out quickly how to manage the biggest threat to them.”

A few things to note: Zoom is the only one who has figured out how to use the breaches, which is tied to being a speedster, and the producers don’t plan to introduce more alternate timelines than Earth-Two for the time being — sorry, Earth-17. Also, Zoom has a very specific reason why he is not trying to kill Barry himself. “Zoom is just your worst nightmare,” Todd Helbing says. “If he doesn’t get these guys to do what he wants, he’s going to eventually show up and try to take him down himself. He’s the scariest speedster on the planet.”

Romance at S.T.A.R. Labs: A big surprise during the episode was the clear chemistry between Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and Jay, which will develop further in coming episodes. “There’s a connection that these two have, sort of an instant comfort level, that wonderful thing you don’t get with too many people in life, that I believe these two experience,” Sears says. “They’re going to explore that a little bit. Jay and Caitlin are part of this bigger team at S.T.A.R. Labs and they’re going to have a series of interactions we’re going to explore a little bit.”

A new love triangle: Speaking of romance, Barry quickly bonded with Patty Spivot, whose father was killed by the Weather Wizard, which is why she’s so desperate to fight metahumans. This blossoming relationship adds a new complication this season. “Iris is always Barry’s lightning rod, best friend, first love of his life, but she just lost Eddie,” Todd Helbing says. “As she’s dealing with this, and Barry and Iris are slipping back into that friendship mold, it leaves an opportunity to explore a relationship with Patty. You’ll see how that develops. Iris and Barry are childhood friends and loves. That’s always going to be there for both of them.”

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

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