"There are some unanswered questions that I want answered," Eric Wallace says.
Courtesy of the CW
We Are The Flash

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Wednesday's episode of The Flash, "Into the Still Force."

The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace decided to stage his own version of Undercover Boss by directing this week's episode.

When he stepped behind the camera for his Flash directorial debut with Wednesday's trippy installment, "Into the Still Force," he not only wanted to make the weirdest episode yet, he also wanted to get a better idea of how the series runs behind the scenes.

"The last time I directed was on Teen Wolf, so it's been a few seasons," Wallace tells EW with a laugh. "It's very interesting directing when you're the showrunner because the crew looks at you as, 'Is he the boss, or is he the director that's visiting this week?' and they kind of don't know what to make of you at first. I had to put everybody at ease and go, 'I'm just the episodic director this week, all right? Let's have fun. I trust you, I hope to earn your trust over the course of day one, and let's just make an episode of The Flash — a weird one, mind you, but let's make an episode of The Flash.'"

He laughs again as he thinks back to that first day of filming the episode, when he noticed the crew start to relax as they realized he wasn't going to be "some kind of megalomaniac" on set. "You could see them thinking, 'Great, he's not going to just try and ask for all these insane things because he's the boss; he's going to play by the rules,'" Wallace says. "That was something that was very, very important for me: I deliberately decided to direct an episode from a script I had not written. I wanted to have the same experience that any episodic director coming onto my show would have so I can go through that process and see just how it's working, see how you interact with my department heads in this way. We all had a good time, and I think towards the end, the crew was like, 'You have to do more of these.'"

Below, Wallace teases where season 8 is heading, how the finale sets up what could be the final season of The Flash, and where he wants the show to ultimately end.

Grant Gustin on 'The Flash'
Grant Gustin on 'The Flash'
| Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You've directed TV before, but this is your first time directing an episode of The Flash. Why did you want to step into the director role on this show?

ERIC WALLACE: I felt, as a showrunner, you should know as much about the making of the show that you are in charge of as possible. It allowed me to understand what we can really do production-wise on our show. For example, it's very subtle but one of the things I noticed watching the show is, "How come we don't see all the parts of the set? How come we never shoot in this corner? How come in Barry and Iris' loft, we never shoot up to the second level on the stairs?" When I arrived on set as director, I asked the same question, and they're like, "Well, we don't really know. Nobody thought about it before." I said, "Well, we're doing it today. Let's do something new."

I feel like it makes it a little more real. The episode opens with Barry [Grant Gustin] coming down the stairs from the second floor, then the audience can go, "Oh yeah, this is a loft. It should be a little bit bigger and higher than what we normally see." It's funny, that staircase has been there for eight seasons and nobody has shot it, and I'm like, "Well, why not?" It's little things like that that I tried to do throughout the episode in all the sets, shooting from different angles and spots.

And of course, there's also a lot that happens by the end of this episode. There's clearly something wrong with the Still Force and with Deon's betrayal, so where does this leave Team Flash?

We've started our interlude episodes with "Funeral for a Friend" last week. There's a couple of them in a row, including next week. They're all different. "Funeral for a Friend" was a coda dealing with the aftermath of Frost's death, this [week] is kicking off the search for Iris [Candice Patton], and next week is actually a funny episode. What's interesting is the more I got in the process of putting this episode together, the more I started to realize we're really setting up the finale of season 8 in this episode in a strange way that I don't think is overt. Obviously we have all sorts of surprises coming in the season finale this year, but there are little clues throughout this episode that, hopefully, the audience can pick up that are really going to pay off in this year's finale.

This search for Iris and the cure for her time sickness are very much what we're leading to in this year's finale, so this episode, in a strange way, feels like a prelude to the end of the season. That was not intentional, but it sort of became that through the writing.

Candice Patton on 'The Flash'
Candice Patton on 'The Flash'
| Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Does that mean Iris' time sickness and what's going on in the Still Force are going to play a big part in the next graphic-novel arc, or is that going to come back in play in the finale?

You're absolutely right, it's a big part of our final graphic novel of the season. We have three this year: "Armageddon" was our first one. Then we had a few interludes. Then we had "Death Revisited," our second one of the season. And then Iris' time sickness and curing it will lead Team Flash into a direct confrontation with the next big bad of the final graphic novel.

Can you reveal what the title of the third graphic novel arc is?

No, I'm not [going to], because it is so spoilery. [Laughs] It literally has the name… It's like Deathstorm with "Death Revisited." Literally in the name of the graphic novel is the villain, which we don't want to spoil, so I'm so sorry. I can't. But don't worry, Iris' time sickness will be resolved by the end of season 8. She will be cured, and I am happy to report that Iris and Barry will be reunited joyously. They're not breaking up. Neither of them are dying. It is a happy, happy ending at the end of season 8.

That's great news. If you can't reveal the title of the graphic novel, are you able to at least explain what you wanted to explore with the last chunk of this season?

Yeah, there's a couple of driving forces behind the final graphic novel of the season. When I first came up with the idea, I wasn't sure whether or not this was going to be a series finale or season finale. I had to make a decision prematurely to wrap up a lot of things, not just for the season, but there's one or two hanging questions — one in particular — from the past of the show, specifically going back to season 1, that need to be resolved in the same way that we were able to resolve what really happened to Ronnie [Robbie Amell] when he went into that black hole. If this is the last season, there are some unanswered questions that I want answered, let alone that I feel would be great to answer for the audience. That's a big driving point behind this last graphic novel, to answer some hanging threads.

No. 2 is it's very much been a season with Barry and Iris apart. She's been on this coastal journey with Sue [Natalie Dreyfuss] dealing with Tinya [Mika Abdalla] and the time sickness. Meanwhile, Barry has held the fort down with Team Flash as a leader who's leveled up. We needed to see the two worlds of Barry and Iris come back together in a way that honored their epic love story. You'll see at the end of the season, in solving her time sickness, it's done in quite an epic way that will touch upon things that have been planted throughout this entire season. All of those seeds are going to come back together. That's the other thing driving the season finale this year.

It kicked off in this episode with the discussion about how in the Still Force, the past, the present, and the future all coexist. Well, if Iris is lost in the Still Force, what does that mean for her past, her present, and, yes, you guessed it, her future? At the end of the episode Barry tells Nora [Jessica Parker Kennedy], "Go back to the future and check in on Iris. Make sure everything's okay." That is not a coincidence. She needs to get to 2049, because there might be some interesting things going on that we have kicked off here which we'll see pay off in the season finale. When Barry gives his big speech when he's in the lotus position and seeing the future and the past and the present all at the same time, there's that theme again, that we say and that Deon [Christian Magby] says. Take a note of that.

Danielle Nicolet, Jesse L. Martin, Grant Gustin, Kayla Compton, and Brandon McKnight on 'The Flash'
Danielle Nicolet, Jesse L. Martin, Grant Gustin, Kayla Compton, and Brandon McKnight on 'The Flash'
| Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Now that we know there will be another season of The Flash, are you planning next season as the final season?

I hope next year isn't the last season, knock on wood. But I have to now plan, going into season 9… I mean, I have to plan it that way, just in case. I don't want to get caught unawares. I don't want the audience to get caught with a cliffhanger that doesn't get resolved or anything like that. I want to make sure that we complete the journey that Barry, Iris, and Team Flash have been on. This isn't a spoiler, but you'll see the moment in this season's finale which was the original ending where we've resolved the plot, we've defeated the big bad, and all that stuff. That was going to be the end of the season. Then when we got the pickup — thank goodness — you'll see something that will set up next year in a very fun and delightful way that both resolves the shenanigans in the Still Force, which are going to get wilder; this is our biggest, craziest season finale ever, and it starts here. The good news is we do resolve it, Barry and Iris are okay, and we've even got the bonus that we get to add a little tag to set up next year that I'm very excited about. But I will approach [next season] as the final season unless somebody tells me differently — and I hope they do, because there's still many more Flash stories to tell.

If next season is the last season, where do you want to see the show end?

I'll be very honest with you, I'm still trying to figure that out. I know what the plot endgame of next year is. That's not a problem. Ironically, it's set up very succinctly in the season finale for this year. However, where all the characters end up emotionally, that's still in flux. It's been a very intense three years trying to make a show during a COVID pandemic, so I've had to be so far ahead of the game all the time in order to make sure the show just gets on the air. Now, for the first time, in between seasons 8 and 9, I'm going to get a bit more of a chance to get a little bit of a breather and to think about where do I really want to send these characters off emotionally as people and as human beings? What do I want their final goodbyes to this wonderful, loyal audience to be? That's what my summer homework is.

The Flash airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.

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