After sacrificing himself to save Central City, the Scarlet Speedster, quite literally, will be going through a rebirth in season 4 of The Flash.
“The experience of being in the Speed Force was a bit of a baptism for him,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells EW. “His experience in there has really washed away a lot of his sins, cleansed him of his doubts, fears, and his guilts, and he really loves being The Flash again.”
But will the team feel the same? In Barry’s (Grant Gustin) absence, Iris (Candice Patton) has become the new leader of Team Flash as they’ve struggled to stay afloat over the last six months — which lends for some comedy over who’s really in charge upon his return. “They wind up going to couples therapy to work through it,” Kreisberg says with a laugh, noting those moments are part and parcel of The Flash leaning back into a lighter tone this year.
Even so, Team Flash will face one of its toughest foes yet in The Thinker (Neil Sandilands), whose ultimate objective will initially be shrouded in mystery. “There’s a chess match going on, and in the beginning, our guys don’t even realize that they’re playing against him,” Kreisberg says of the fastest mind alive. “You watch as they’re realizing that somebody is manipulating events and pulling the strings as it’s all building to a big confrontation.” Good thing the fastest man alive is back then!
Read our full interview with Kreisberg below about the season ahead.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What’s Barry’s mindset when we pick back up with him?
ANDREW KREISBERG: Barry is not exactly the same as when we last saw him, and he’s going to go on a bit of a journey in the premiere episode. But the most important thing about Barry this year is that the experience of being in the Speed Force was a bit of a baptism for him. The premiere episode is called “The Flash Reborn” and Barry, in a way, has been born again. His experience in there has really washed away a lot of his sins, cleansed him of his doubts, fears, and his guilts, and he really loves being The Flash again. It really is leaving him free and clear to have an open road and a fresh start, and he’s just not upset the way he’s been these past two seasons.
It’s not in the titles, but every one of these shows — whether it’s Supergirl or Arrow or Flash — it really is like Begins; it’s really Arrow Begins, and Flash Begins, and Supergirl Begins. Now it’s season 4 and he’s really become The Flash in the comic books, the one who really is in full mastery of his skills and has the emotional maturity that he has in the comics.
How has the team been operating without him? And how will the team feel upon his return since Iris has taken charge?
Well, it’s a lot of fun in episode two. Barry and Iris keep comically clashing inadvertently because she’s used to being in charge, and he’s used to being in charge, and so they wind up going to couples therapy to work through it. The two of them with the therapist is some of the funniest stuff we have ever done on this show, but it also leads to a deepening of their relationship.
Grant is so funny this season. We’ve been having him do the funniest things, and Candice is really — making her the team leader, which unfortunately didn’t occur to us until this season, has really given her the agency on the show that she hasn’t always had. She’s always been smart, and funny, and proud, and brave, and eager, but she didn’t always have the authority that she has this season. It’s really nice to see her making decisions, and telling people where to go, and what to do, and Candice has really risen to the challenge, as we knew that she would.
Will there be trust issues between Barry and Iris upon his return since he didn’t really discuss sacrificing himself with his fiancée?
He is so happy to be back, and so happy to be The Flash, and so happy to be with her. There are some things that she experienced in the last six months, because from his perspective, he went into the Speed Force and then he was out, so for him no time has passed at all, but she had to spend six months living without him, and as she says, living with having to explain that he disappeared, it’s been a hard six months for her. So obviously she’s happy he’s back, but they do have some things to talk about.
Other than not being a speedster, what makes The Thinker a different villain than what we’ve seen on the show before? Can you talk about his motivations?
It’s been interesting because none of us are geniuses, so it’s been interesting putting all of our writer brains together to come up with something that is worthy of somebody who is supposed to be the world’s fastest mind. Last season, by the back half of the season, we really zeroed in on Savitar and his motivations and whatnot, but I think early on in the season, it wasn’t as clear to us, and I think that showed on screen. This season, we worked really, really hard to really understand what the Thinker wants, and why he’s doing it, and how he’s going about it. As you’re watching these first episodes you really see that there’s a chess match going on. In the beginning, our guys don’t even realize that they’re playing against him, but then you watch as they’re realizing that somebody is manipulating events and pulling the strings, watching them move and countermove in episodes as it’s all building to a big confrontation.
What can you tease about Breacher’s arrival and what kind of dynamic he has with both Cisco and his daughter, Gypsy?
Well, we just thought it would be a great episode. Gypsy and Jessica [Camacho], they’re so tough and so strong. We’re like, “Obviously she came from somebody strong,” and we just thought it would be a hilarious idea for Cisco, who’s managed to melt Gypsy’s heart, being unable to do the same with her father. We were in the room and we were like, “Who could we get?” and someone said Danny Trejo and we all started laughing like, “He’d be great, but of course Danny Trejo’s not going to do this.” But as I’ve discovered over these past few years, if you don’t ask, you don’t get it. So we reached out to him and his people, and it turned out he was a fan, and he was eager to do it, and he loved the character. I feel like we wrote him a great script. His character and his storyline with Cisco and Gypsy, it’s part of this slight redirection of the series this year — it’s just doing much more fun stories and much more just out and out hilarious things to match Barry’s newfound optimism and lightness.
What is Caitlin’s journey this year and how much has she changed since the end of last season?
I don’t want to give too much away, just because how Caitlin reintegrates with the team is part of the fun of the first episode. All I’ll say is that for the people that love Caitlin, they’re going to be really happy, and for the people who love Killer Frost, they’re really going to be happy, too.
What can you tell us about Wells this year? Are we seeing another one, or are we just picking up with Harry, who was sticking around at the end of last season?
We’re picking up with Harry. We felt like we managed to pull off three different Wells in three years, and rather than just going and doing another Wells, we definitely felt there was more meat on the bone with Harry. Harry is a genius, and his daughter is safe, and she’s The Flash on Earth-3, and he’s one of those people who’s realizing that he doesn’t have a life. So season 4 for Harry is really realizing what he’s missing in his life and what it is he needs to become a better, more complete person. So he’s going to be going on a fairly epic emotional journey this season that is tied to The Thinker’s plan, and we’re really excited about it. It’s probably something a little bit more emotional than we’ve ever done for that character, but Tom is such a phenomenal actor, we know he’ll knock it out of the park. I’ll also say that Harry won’t be the only Wells we’ll see this season.
What themes are you’re exploring this season? Are you inspired by any certain comic book storyline, because a lot of people assumed you guys would be doing Rebirth?
Yeah, we’re not doing Rebirth based on that title. We were actually going to call it Rebirth, and then realized everybody was going to think we were doing Rebirth, which is why we changed it to “The Flash Reborn.” These first three years were really about growing up and now they’re all adults, which is both good and bad. They’ve all become pretty expert at what they do and they’re not as wide-eyed about everything that’s happening to them. For Barry and Iris, they are finally going to get married this season and then it’s going to be: Can they stay married with everything that’s coming up against them?
The Flash returns Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.