Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of The Flash.
It’s the moment The Flash fans have been waiting for basically since the show’s inception: Time travel.
Just as it seemed like fans’ wildest dreams and a few nightmares had come true—Iris (Candice Patton) professed her love for Barry (Grant Gustin), while Wells (Tom Cavanagh) killed Cisco (Carlos Valdes) after discovering that his mentor is the Reverse Flash—Barry ran so fast that he accidentally jumped back in time, effectively wiping the slate clean and giving him a second chance at the day.
“It’s the advantage of having a show that dabbles in time travel,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “This episode allowed us to give people a tease and a taste and make some big reveals.” But the question remains whether those big reveals will hold true once Barry relives the day. “The ramifications of this episode—and the fun of episode 16—is seeing… how much of it still happens and how much of it might possibly change.”
Next week’s episode will delve into how much Barry can actually change time. Would he, for example, be able to go back and prevent his mother’s murder? Barry certainly hopes so, but it may not be as simple as that. “Like Wells said in a previous episode, there are different versions of time travel,” Kreisberg says. “There’s the fixed loop and there’s a version where time is more plastic and mutable. One of the fun things is discovering, like Doctor Who, what’s a fixed point in time? What can’t be changed? What things always have to happen? What things are changeable and are mutable? It’s a mixture of both.”
While that sounds like bad news for Nora Allen, it’s likely great news for Cisco, who met a grim and heartbreaking fate at the end of Tuesday’s episode after Wells shoved his vibrating hand through his chest. First, though, Wells revealed to his protégé that he is actually Eobard Thawne, a distant relative of Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett), who had jumped back in time with a plan to murder Barry before getting trapped in this era. In cultivating Barry’s powers, Eobard aims to find a way home. Fortunately, even the slightest change at the beginning of the day that Barry is about to relive could prevent Cisco from investigating his boss in the first place, likely sparing his life.
“Part of the fun of [episode] 16 is watching when time changes how certain events differ that prevent Cisco from following the same trajectory, and watching how things play out, but in a completely different way,” Kreisberg teases, praising Valdes’ performance in his “final” scene. “We didn’t even script that he cries, and that notion—that Tom and Carlos worked out—that the minute Tom walks in the room, Carlos knows he’s going to die. I get chills just thinking about it.”
But Kreisberg also stresses that Wells’ actions against Cisco still don’t necessarily make him a bad guy. “I think he felt terrible,” he says. “We always talk about if one of us was thrown back many centuries into the past, and it took you 15 years to figure out a way to get home, you wouldn’t be sitting there by yourself. You’d meet people, you’d make friends. Even if intellectually you’ve been understanding that all these people have been long dead, and it doesn’t really matter to me where I come from. Everyone of them could die and my home is still where it is. Eobard Thawne himself is not an evil man. He has a reason for doing what he’s doing. He has an agenda. He thinks of himself as the hero. Bad people can love other people. Bad people are capable of love. This is the truth, there’s nothing that he said in that scene to Cisco that isn’t the truth. He’s sorry he found out, he’s sorry it has to happen, but it does have to happen. There’s a scene in episode 16 which mirrors this scene that really speaks to that.”
“To [Wells], [Cisco is] already dead,” Cavanagh adds. “It’s just a guy trying to get home. What’s good about it is that it’s not exactly [duplicitous]. He doesn’t lie to them, almost never lies. He’s furthering his agenda, but he’s also furthering Barry’s agenda. As he’s working with them, he is appreciative. All that stuff you see is not a mustache twirling villainous starting point. It’s actually genuine. We’re actually trying to accomplish something. For the first season, we’re accomplishing it together. As we see in this episode, it makes it a little more heartbreaking when the next phase of the plan starts to happen. Now that we’ve established that they are a group and a team, to watch that fracture, I find it all the more compelling.”
It appears that it’s not lost on Wells that he just killed a future member of the Justice League—Cisco goes on to become Vibe in the comics—since that will be addressed in an upcoming episode. “There’s a great line that speaks to that,” Kreisberg says. “Wells begins to impart some tidbits about a certain character’s future possibilities.”
As Wells begins to put his plans in motion, however, his secret really will soon come out without time travel trickery, and we’ll even get more insight into his history. An upcoming episode will feature a flashback to the night of Barry’s mother’s murder from Harrison’s point of view, while another flashback will show the time where Barry was in a coma from multiple points of view.
Dashed once before in his plans to kill Barry, will Wells ultimately sacrifice that quest just to make it back to his era? “He wants to get home,” Kreisberg says. “He wanted to kill Barry. He thought it was going to be a neat and easy thing and instead he’s found himself trapped here for the last 15 years. All he wants to do is get back. Every day in this time is an assault on him. He really is trapped. If he can kill Barry in the process, two for two.”
With the day starting over, one of the many other questions that remains is whether the puzzle pieces will once again fall in place for Mason Bridge’s (Roger Howarth) exposé on Wells to soon be released, which ultimately sends Iris into investigation mode. “Iris’ interest in this article and in Bridge and in Wells make up a large part of Iris’ arc for the rest of the season,” Kreisberg says.
Speaking of Iris, as a giant tidal wave caused by the revenge-seeking Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre)—who will return in an upcoming episode as The Flash bosses eventually aim for a Rogues-filled episode—threatened to drown half of Central City, she finally confessed her true feelings to Barry, who was subsequently forced to reveal his alter-ego so he could save the city. Raise your hand if you actually think that will happen again. Crickets? Same page.
“What’s important about this episode is we finally learn the answer to the question that Barry asks Iris in episode 9,” Patton says. “Iris, when she’s backed against a wall and she realizes they could both lose their lives, it propels her to finally come to grips with how she’s been feeling about Barry. I think it’s important that at the root of how she feels, she loves Barry. But that also makes it very complicated because she goes love Eddie, it’s just in a different way.”
And Eddie… well, that’s just a whole other hurdle to tackle. His descendent is the one causing all this mess! With the spoilery trailer providing a shocking upcoming twist for Eddie—in which he shoots two cops—could he also be turning evil? “There are some great scenes coming up between Tom and Rick that starts to become a storyline, which you might’ve glimpsed a little bit of in the trailer,” Kreisberg hints.
Adding fuel to that fire is the complicated love triangle between Barry, Iris, and Eddie. “Eddie will always get that there’s a relationship between Barry and Iris that he can’t compete with to some degree,” Patton says. “That’s unfortunate, but Eddie is strong-willing in keeping Iris in his life. He loves her, he’s a good mate for her, he’s kind and loving. He’s everything a woman would want in a man and Iris knows that. We’ll continue to see their relationship blossom and also have typical relationship falters.”
But Eddie won’t be too happy with how Barry feels about his girlfriend, as the trailer also featured him punching our hero in the face. You know who else isn’t too happy with Barry Allen? Grodd, the hyper-intelligent telepathic gorilla who will face-off with not just Barry, but also Joe in an upcoming episode. “He’s coming back and he’s mad,” Kreisberg teases.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.