Barry Allen is going to have his hands full when The Flash returns on Tuesday night.
Not only is Barry (Grant Gustin) facing new villain The Turtle (Aaron Douglas), pondering whether to tell Patty (Shantel VanSanten) his secret, and dealing with the West family drama after the introduction of future Kid Flash Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale), but there’s the increasingly growing pressure of taking on Zoom. It’s that last danger that will soon send Team Flash over to Earth-2, where they’re face off with some very familiar faces. EW caught up with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to find out what’s coming next:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where are we picking up in the midseason return?
ANDREW KREISBERG: We’re picking up with Barry being haunted by Zoom in the sense of he knows Zoom is still out there. It’s really eating at him. He’s trying to do his thing. There’s a new villain, we’re doing The Turtle, which we’re really excited about, but as much as The Turtle is an amazing adversary for him, the real threat out there — the real existential angst — is Zoom. Zoom starts to become the White Whale for Barry, that thing that’s circling out there that’s haunting him, that Barry knows could come across the breach and destroy him at any moment. It’s a very different angst that he has this year than he had last year. What I don’t think he’s fully aware of is they’re actually linked and that will start to play out more as the season progresses.
What can you tease about The Turtle?
In a surprisingly funny twist, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) has actually been hunting The Turtle the entire series. To Barry’s surprise, everybody knows about Cisco’s hunt for the Great White Whale, which is The Turtle; he’s the only one who didn’t know about it. We love the idea that there was a villain out there that they knew about, but they just haven’t bothered to tell the audience about yet. All Barry wants to do is get faster, because if he can get faster, he can take on Zoom. He’s going up against a villain who is literally slowing him down. This is one of our best episodes coming back that we’ve ever done. It feels big and emotional.
Barry is considering telling Patty that he is The Flash. What might stand in the way of that happening?
Everyone is encouraging him, including Iris (Candice Patton), who says to him, “Look, you not telling me last year didn’t do us any favors.” He’s really thinking about actually doing it until he talks to Wells (Tom Cavanagh). Harry says that if Zoom finds out what you love and who you love, he will take that from you, because that’s what he does. By this point, we know that Harry is under Zoom’s thumb, so ironically, as always, Harry’s actually giving the better advice. Whether or not Barry ends up taking it remains to be seen.
Is Harry basically the perfect spy for Zoom since no one suspects anything amiss with him?
Yeah, as opposed to last year where this was all some crazy long-term scheme to get what he wanted, this is a very different Wells, who is really between a rock and a hard place. Essentially the devil has his child and is telling him to turn on all these people. The irony this time is that the more time they all spend together, the more time they work together defeating villains, the more they all come to embrace him. This Wells just wanted to save his daughter. He didn’t come over here to make friends and find a family. The emotional toll that this possible betrayal is taking on him is some of Tom’s best work. It’s so different this year. Last year, the audience was sitting there going, “Oh God, what is he going to do to him? Don’t trust him!” Here, as much as you’re worried for Barry, Cisco, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), Iris and Joe (Jesse L. Martin), you also feel terrible for Harry, because you know that he’s a father that would do anything to save his daughter. We’re really proud and excited about this storyline this season for Tom. How it’s going to continue to play out is really exciting.
What can you tease for the West family getting to know Wally?
There’s a new West. In the beginning, Joe goes through all the stages of being a parent. Initially, he’s trying way too hard to be insta-dad. Wally is not having that. There’s a lot of friction between Wally and Barry, because as much as Barry is Joe’s son, Wally is his actual son genetically; Barry is the son Joe raised. So you have both of these young men who are vying for that place and Joe’s affection. Joe is also wrestling with how do you love them both without making one or the other feel like they’re being alienated?
How do Barry and Wally get along?
Initially not very good. In the beginning, it’s fraught. There is jealousy. Wally has been hearing now about the great Barry Allen, he’s the greatest son, and that makes it very hard to step into the West family. For Barry, he’s always felt like Joe’s son.
What does the dynamic between Wally and Iris look like?
She’s the sane one in any relationship she’s in. She’s the one who is trying to get Joe to pull back a little bit on the gas. Also, we’re going to learn that Wally is a street racer. He’s racing Fast and the Furious-style races. Because of that, he’s in danger. Joe is actually not putting a stop to it, where he has every right to do that as a police officer. Iris is the one who is trying to massage him through what Wally needs to be. At first, Joe’s instinct is to be his best friend, but he realizes that’s just not who he is, that he needs to be his father. That’s really what Wally needs, especially [with Francine dying].
What can you tease about Barry’s next face-off with Zoom?
It’s really exciting. I’ll tease that it might not take place on our Earth.
What can you tell us about what brings the team to Earth-2?
At some point, they’re going to decide to take the fight to Zoom.
What is it like coming face-to-face with their doppelgängers?
Some of these people are beyond different. What’s so interesting is that you’ve got Wells, who is probably the most similar to himself — the one that we saw last year and this one. They seem different until you start seeing the crazy differences between all of our other cast members. Then he’s the one who doesn’t seem quite so different and crazy anymore. We’ve obviously announced Robbie Amell and you’ve seen the photos of Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost, but there’s a couple of surprises that we’ve got in store that we’re really excited about.
Jesse L. Martin previously mentioned there could be a musical component to his doppelgänger. Did that actually end up happening?
[Laughs] Just because you’re a cop in one world, doesn’t mean you’re a cop in every world.
It seems like, from the short promo that we saw, there’s a chance that Barry and Iris may be together on Earth-Two.
I wouldn’t be surprised if that was true.
Will we see more of Iris’ journalism career explored more in the coming episodes?
Yeah. We actually have a lot of that in episode 12, which is directed by Doctor Who favorite Rachel Talalay. That episode is called “Fast Lane,” and it’s all about Wally and his drag racing. The villain in that one is Tar Pit (Marco Grazzini). It’s really Iris and her journalism that’s driving the story. It’s a really great story for her, we’re really excited about it.
What brings the Reverse-Flash back into the picture?
Time on our show does not unfold linearly. Sometimes you’ve seen events from one direction and then you start to see them from the other. This Reverse-Flash is not exactly the Reverse-Flash that we saw disintegrate at the end of the year. It’s a Reverse-Flash from an earlier timeline. It’s not the Earth-Two Reverse-Flash, it’s the Reverse-Flash. That is, hands down, one of our best episodes.
It’s just such an amazing thing that you’ve got one character who is basically being portrayed by two different actors, and yet you feel like it’s the same person. The closest thing I can describe it to is Doctor Who. You can look at David Tennant, Matt Smith, John Hurt and Peter Capaldi and instinctively understand that they’re the same person, even though they’re being played by different actors. That’s the same feeling you get with Tom’s amazing performance all through last year as the Reverse-Flash and the little glimpses we’ve gotten of Matt, and how Matt takes what Tom did and makes you feel that that really is the person who climbed into the body of Tom Cavanagh and took on the role for the rest of the year.
What can you tease for King Shark’s return, when the Diggles come to Starling City?
We were blown away by how King Shark turned out as everybody else. We were so excited to bring him back. We were trying to think about where he’s been. I pitched to Greg [Berlanti], “Well, what if A.R.G.U.S. has him, because he does have that tie to A.R.G.U.S. because of Suicide Squad in the comic book. Maybe Lyla [Audrey Marie Anderson] comes to town to pick him up.” He said, “Well, not just Lyla, she should bring her husband.” You have an idea, and Greg has a better version of it. Now it’s Dig (David Ramsey) and Lyla coming to town and we get to see them having a lot of fun. I love the big crossovers, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I love these little ones even more — like when just Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) comes by or just Cisco goes over. You can really have fun and explore the different dynamics between everybody.
Will we see more of those smaller crossovers in the back half of the season?
We don’t have any definitive plans for them. I can’t promise we won’t. We haven’t really broken past episode 18 right now. We have plans and we know the big signposts ahead, but that one [with the Diggles] is one to be really excited about. Also, those episodes where we go to Earth-2 are analogous to the episodes last season where we started messing with time travel. We feel like we’ve been building up to it, and it’s exactly the right time to go over there.
The Flash returns Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.