The Flash star Brandon McKnight previews Chester's 'impactful' '90s trip
The Flash is doing the time warp.
In Tuesday's episode, aptly titled "The One With the Nineties," Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) not only accidentally travel back to the year 1998, they also get stuck in a time loop there. While the brainy duo aren't exactly thrilled about their predicament, the same can't be said for McKnight, who loved all the '90s nostalgia, including the colorful, pattern-clashing clothing and the music.
"I want those pants [I wore]," McKnight enthusiastically tells EW. "I also got to wear Air Jordan V's in this episode, which is really cool. I remember wanting Jordan V's a lot when I was kid. For the whole nine days of the shoot, I was listening to nothing but '90s music in my trailer."
At one point, Chester and Cisco go undercover in a high school to figure out how they got here and, more importantly, how they can get home, which sparked McKnight's own trip down memory lane. "There's this one scene where we had to be in the music room, and it just brought back all of these memories of me being in band class in like grade nine," McKnight says. "Everything about this episode was just nostalgia."
But The Flash isn't just returning to the '90s for the sake of nostalgia. The installment also dives into Chester's backstory, which ends up holding the key to Cisco and Chester's freedom.
"You'll see Chester really kind of meet things from his past that he didn't fully understand and wasn't completely aware of, and he'll have to face some of these traumas that he [hasn't] dealt with," says McKnight. "You really learn where Chester comes from and why he is the way he is, why he does the things he does, and why he has specific and particular skill sets that nobody else has. Why is he as happy as he is? But then also, what is the other side of Chester? Is he always this happy dude?"
McKnight continues: "This is the first time Chester gets to actually be the main focus of an episode. It was a privilege as a new member of the show to actually get this chance to really push this character and show audiences and fans many different sides to who this person is, and to actually discover more [about] who this guy is and to be able to share that with people. It was a lot of fun. I'm really, really excited for people to witness this side of Chester and see him get to pull the weight and be the hero of the day, and really do something impactful not just for himself and his own personal life, but also for Team Flash and his relationship with Cisco."
Speaking of Cisco, "The One with the Nineties" is another great showcase for McKnight's hilarious chemistry with Valdes, which was on display season 7's fourth episode, "Central City Strong." According to McKnight, their dynamic is completely natural.
"There was no prep for any of that," he says. "It kind of just happened. I attribute that to Carlos Valdes. He's an extremely generous and intelligent actor where it almost seems effortless for him to create chemistry and create an open space. We definitely stuck to what was written, but then we would also add a bunch of stuff. Even just the actions of us walking down that [school] hallway. I haven't seen the episode so I don't know if it's in it, but I know I saw a bit of it in the teaser: We come out in the new clothes and we're walking down the hallway. It wasn't scripted in the way that we did it. It was just scripted that we walked down the hallway and we see someone else walk down the hallway, they believe we're from this time and don't think we're suspicious or anything, so we're good. Even us just doing that and all the montage stuff, there were so many moments where we just found what felt like gold on the day."
He adds: "I'm interested to see the bloopers of [the episode] because we went for the home run in every scene. That's just something that naturally happens because of how open Carlos is and because of who these characters are. They're two peas in a pod. They're the same guy in a way. They speak each other's language."
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.