By Natalie Abrams
Updated October 19, 2015 at 10:44 PM EDT
Cate Cameron /The CW

The Flash

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A new woman has captured Barry Allen’s heart — and brought even more comedy to the sophomore season of The Flash.

Last week, Shantel VanSanten made her debut as the quirky police officer Patty Spivot, who instantly bonded with Barry (Grant Gustin) and secured a spot on Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) anti-metahuman task force, which may help her finally get justice for the death of her father. What’s next for The Flash’s newcomer? EW caught up with VanSanten to get the scoop on Patty’s future and an interesting departure from her comic book counterpart:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s your take on Patty Spivot?

SHANTEL VANSANTEN: My initial take is a lot different than what she’s evolved into over the last few episodes. Initially, she was this smart, bright, ambitious and spunky cop, who worked for CCPD. She was so confident and so sure after becoming a cop that she wanted to be on the anti-metahuman task force. To find out that her purpose is rooted in this dark place in her past was really interesting for me. Moving forward, it evolves from there in such a fun, great way where now I get to be on the anti-metahuman task force and fight metahumans. Patty’s hoping to come face-to-face with Mark Mardon (Liam McIntyre) eventually, and be able to avenge her father’s death. In the meantime, she’ll take down some other metahumans, and try to do the right thing as a foot cop. She has the same ambitions — if she had powers, I couldn’t imagine what she would do — as The Flash does. She wants to help save as much as she can of the world.

Patty is fairly new to the comics. Did you read up on her?

I did. Actually, when I got the job, it was right before my birthday. For my birthday, I received from my family a whole bunch of The Flash comics. I’m a big comic book fan, but I actually have not read any of the recent ones of The Flash. I did read some of them. It’s interesting because in the actual comics, Iris (Candice Patton) and Patty butt heads a little, because Iris oversteps boundaries. I would say they don’t play into any of that. That’s not anything that’s interesting to watch, in my mind, like catty, girly stuff. It’s funny where it all picks up. I’m interested to see what parts they take from the comic books.

Then what can you say about Patty’s relationship with Iris?

Right now it looks like a lot of work relationship stuff with her. Her main relationships are with Barry and Joe. Developing those relationships has been really important over the episodes. For her to have a developing work relationship, it’s hard because everybody has secrets. Joe has secrets, Barry has secrets and Patty has hers. Everybody has a little bit of a wall up. It’s interesting to watch and see things develop.

What secrets does Patty have? Or do you just mean about her father being killed by the Weather Wizard?

I think every character on this show has secrets. The main secret really is that Mark Mardon had killed her father. That’s not something she’s shared with anybody else other than Joe. Really, if you watch, everybody has things that they don’t tell, especially once you get into relationships.

What can you tease of Patty’s relationship with Barry moving forward?

With Barry, it’s this really fun, lighthearted, great dating relationship. We get to see their first date, which is a very unconventional first date. There’s so much comedy. In my mind, it feels very Patty and Barry. The way that they’ve written things is like they are kindred spirits. They both get the jokes that each other tells, no matter how nerdy or scientific. I’ve had to learn a lot of science words, which has been a lot of fun. In the meantime, I’m holding a gun half the time when I’m working with Joe. I get to play a really fun, strong, smart woman, and that part is everything that every actress looks for.

Cate Cameron/The CW

Might Patty learn the truth about Barry’s alter ego?

I actually don’t know. I haven’t asked ahead of time. Personally, I’m sure that secret will eventually have to come out. Secrets can only stay secret for so long, especially if they’re dating. I’m interested to see how Patty will react to that. The anti-metahuman task force works alongside of The Flash on a lot of things, but she doesn’t know that’s who she’s dating.

Does dating Barry put Patty in more danger?

I would say it does. [Laughs] The closer we get, the more danger that Patty could be in. The closest things to The Flash are the things that are most at risk, as we’ve see in the past.

She’s basically the only person on the task force at the moment. What does her working relationship with Joe like like?

They have an interesting work relationship because they’re so different. Joe’s a very tough guy, and very regimented and work-oriented. Patty’s very spunky, quirky and tells a lot of jokes. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t take her job seriously, she just approaches it differently. She also has a scientific mind. So her and Barry can connect on that. It’s developed nicely, but also in a natural way. The minute you throw two partners together, it doesn’t always work perfectly, but the evolution of it has been very fun. They’re slowly starting to open up to each other and realize they need each other.

Have you had a chance to play Earth-Two Patty Spivot yet?

I have not. That would be awesome. It would be like having a twin in another dimension. They’ve talked about it and said in another Earth Barry could be a mechanic or something like that. It’s always interesting to see what they can do. They were smart to open up the possibilities of Earth-Two, because it does give you a lot more to play with. As an actor, you always want to play with characters, and get to play a totally different side to somebody.

What surprised you most about this role?

I think it was the strength that I found in her. At first I found the quirkiness and I understood it. I understood the nerdy moments, and that maybe nobody else gets her but Barry. But I found a surprising amount of strength, like in the scene where she’s tied up and she gives that whole speech, it was really profound and was everything that she stood for. There’s a choice that you could’ve made when you got your powers between good and bad. A lot of people in The Flash story choose bad. They could’ve chosen good. Also, when she says she doesn’t have powers. She knows she wasn’t given a gift, but she still wants to do as much as she can. Those moments come across as a lot of strength in Patty. At first I couldn’t get over how quirky and awkward she was with some of the things she says, but it’s been fun finding a balance between the two.

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

Episode Recaps

The Flash

After the success of Arrow, Barry Allen (a.k.a. The Flash) gets his own CW treatment in this comic-themed spin-off.

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