By Chancellor Agard
July 17, 2019 at 02:00 PM EDT

The Flash runs on three principles — heart, humor, and spectacle — and when executive producer Eric Wallace took over as showrunner for the upcoming sixth season, he knew exactly which one he wanted to emphasize.

“If season 4 was a little bit more humor and season 5 was a little bit more spectacle, in season 6 we’ll have a little more heart. I want to deepen character emotions,” Wallace tells EW, explaining that the Oct. 8 premiere begins 10 seconds after the tragic season 5 finale because “it allows us to not shy away from the big elephant in the room of [Barry and Iris’ daughter] Nora passing. That is something that Barry [Grant Gustin] and Iris [Candice Patton] must deal with in season 6 in order to be the heroes and supportive couple that they are.”

Grant Gustin as The Flash
Credit: Carlos Serrao for EW

“Moving toward the crossover, we’re going to see the impact [losing Nora] is going to have on the future,” says Gustin. “We’re also going to find out more about the ‘Crisis’ headline in the [future] newspaper and why that date changed [in the season 5 finale], if the date changed. Heading toward the crossover we’re going to be dealing with that.”

In fact, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” this year’s multiverse-threatening five-hour event airing over two months, will send a shock wave through The Flash’s entire season. “We found really unique ways to make the season fresh that we never expected, thanks to ‘Crisis,’” says Wallace. “This season is really divided up in a way that the episodes before the crossover are pre-‘Crisis’ episodes. Then the back half of the season is all about dealing with the fallout from the events of ‘Crisis.’”

Grant Gustin as The Flash
Credit: Carlos Serrao for EW

In addition to “Crisis,” Barry and Team Flash will have their hands full with a new big bad, too. Although Wallace wouldn’t reveal the villain’s identity, he did confirm that the baddie is male, “has not been named dropped on the show, but is from the comics,” and has an emotional connection to Barry that distinguishes him from past big bads.

“The emotional journey that the big bad is on mirrors the emotional journey that Barry Allen must face going into season 6,” says Wallace, clarifying that Barry will deal with another emotional gauntlet in addition to losing Nora. “The big bad this season, if we can do our jobs right, will be the most personal villain the Flash has ever faced emotionally since Eobard Thawne. Because this year’s big bad is facing kind of the same circumstances Barry Allen is going through, it’s going to bring them closer together in a darker way than villains that perhaps we’ve seen in the last few seasons.”

Of course, there’s also the Reverse Flash of it all. In the season 5 finale, Team Flash defeated Barry’s arch-nemesis Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh); however, the yellow speedster managed to escape, but not before assuring Barry that they’d see each other again during the next crisis. When season 6 begins, Thawne is still “in the wind and could appear at any moment,” says Wallace.

While Barry may not be looking forward to an encore from Thawne, the same can’t be said of Gustin, who is eager to see that storyline wrapped up. “Moving forward, I definitely want to see us put a bow on the big bad of the series, which is Reverse Flash,” says Gustin, who also wants Keiynan Lonsdale to return as Kid Flash, too. “I feel like we haven’t done enough Kid Flash-Flash stuff.” Same here.

EW August 2019 Cover - Grant Gustin as The Flash
Credit: Carlos Serrao for EW

The Flash returns Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. on The CW.

For more on how the Arrowverse saved the TV superhero, pick up the August issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands July 25-26. You can buy all five covers, or purchase your individual favorites featuring Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, White Canary, and Batwoman. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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