By Chancellor Agard
April 20, 2020 at 03:52 PM EDT
  • TV Show
  • The CW

Barry and Iris are running toward a huge, emotional confrontation when The Flash finally returns from its month-long hiatus.

When we last checked in with the speedy superhero drama, Barry (Grant Gustin) was gearing up to use Nora's journal to build an artificial Speed Force, you know, after accidentally killing the original one when he entered it using the Spectre's power during "Crisis on Infinite Earths." As if that wasn't enough, he still doesn't know Iris (Candice Patton) is trapped in the Mirrorverse and has been replaced by Mirror-Iris, who is controlled by Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor). As you can guess, all of that will create some major problems for the show's main couple.

Below, EW chats with Gustin about Barry and Iris burgeoning conflict, the birth of an artificial Speed Force, and more.

Colin Bentley/The CW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Barry is building his own Speed Force based on Nora’s journal. How is that process going for when we The Flash returns?

GRANT GUSTIN: They are not necessarily successful right out the gates, but Cisco is helping immensely. [Barry] is wearing this speed gauge that Caitlin and Cisco have developed for him because in the meantime he has to make sure he’s not depleting his speed at too fast a rate, so they’re having to closely monitor how much energy he’s using while they develop this artificial Speed Force. They’re going to struggle with it for a handful of episodes before they find a way to actually get it to work, so it’s kind of tough for them.

Is there any danger in using Nora’s notes that are based on Thawne’s teachings?

I think there’s always a danger to use anything that Thawne is giving us for sure just because there’s the element of trusting him or not, trusting his information. But then there’s also the element of time travel and using something from the future to help us build something in the present, but Barry wants the Speed Force back so badly that he’s willing to kind of ignore those dangers for the time being.

Does this bring up any of Barry’s lingering grief surrounding Nora’s death?

You know we don’t really touch on that too much. I think if anything, he feels connected to her being able to use the journal to help get what they need in this moment. At this point, they’re still so focused on so many different goals and getting Iris back from the Mirrorverse, and getting the artificial Speed Force to work that there isn’t any extra time to continue grieving at this point.

Did the death of the Speed Force result in you having to run less on set?

It’s funny, I think initially for an episode, but I found myself running more almost because of not having the actual speed and not doing the special effects format running. Whenever we actually saw me running, which was a handful of times, I’m just running at practical speed. So, we actually have me running quite a bit still even though I don’t have my powers at this point.

When I spoke to Eric Wallace, he said this season is heading toward some trying times for Barry and Iris.  What can you share about that from your perspective? 

Barry is the first person to eventually start to get suspicious that there’s something going on with Iris and kind of confronting that and bringing it up with her results in some tension and a pretty big confrontation at one point. We’re gonna see a pretty big fallout between Barry and Iris, and their relationship is going to change drastically just because this Mirror-Iris element.

This feels unlike any other conflict we’ve seen Barry and Iris have before. What has it been like for you and Candice to dig into this? Did you discover anything new?

I think the newest part is that I saw her a lot less in the second half of the season just with Actual Iris being in the Mirrorverse, and Mirror-Iris being in the real world and being so set on her goals. Our storylines have been pretty isolated and when we have interacted, it’s been weird. First of all when we start to see the changes in the Valentine’s Day episode, that was really fun because Barry hasn’t really caught on yet. He’s getting whiffs of, “This is kinda bizarre,” but we had a lot of opportunity for a different dynamic between Candice and I that was a little fun, awkward, and weird just because Iris was so different. Then as that continues and Barry starts to really get suspicious about what’s going on, it’s the first time we really see that we’re not getting through to each other at all. We’re on such different pages. She has a very specific goal that Barry’s not aware of and Barry really wants to get through to her and understand what’s going on with her, but it’s not really Iris, so we see them butt heads in a way that we’ve never seen in the past. We had one fight scene in particular — not combat fight, but an emotional fight between the two of them — that was definitely unlike any other Barry-Iris conflict we’ve had in the past. So it’s definitely fun to do a different dynamic with Candice.

It feels like the writers have been throwing a lot more at you this season. Does it feel that way on your end?

Yeah, it’s been fun. They also spread the workload out more and more every year. They’ve been great with that. You know, giving Danielle and Carlos more work, Candice more work. Then, we have all of our new characters coming with Chester and Camilla and Allegra. Everybody’s had different moments to shine in their own way. And Tom, of course. Jessie’s had his own isolated stuff going on, and Dani. So, it’s been nice that everyone’s had their time. But for me, when they do give me a heavy episode, it has been fun and different, and I have been challenged in different ways this year, which I always welcome. They always know I love to be hit with heavy dialogue and extra work when they want to hit me with a big storyline. So, it’s definitely been a fun, different challenging season. Or was, I guess it’s behind us now for the time being.

What’s been the most the exciting challenge so far?

This season hands down it was “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Part 1,”  [which] Chad Lowe directed. That was some of the most fun I’ve had in years on the show, and the most nervous and scared I’ve been every day on set. I felt very precious about it, really wanted to get it right. I think visually, it turned out amazing. Our DP Brenton that episode did a great job, and Chad did a great job, and the writers gave me something unlike anything else I’ve had on the show. I was really grateful for that script.

Eric previously said this is the craziest story The Flash has done so far. Do you agree with that assessment?

Yeah, we’ve done a lot of crazy stuff on the show. I hadn’t even seen what should’ve been our finale script yet, but just this Mirror Master and the fact that they made it a woman, and Efrat Dor just killing it. [She’s] a really, really serious actress and always shows up ready to go. She brought a cool different element to the show that we had never had before, and I didn’t get to work with her nearly as much as I would’ve liked to. Candace was working with her enough, and she was singing her praises before I ever got to meet Effie. She brings something different to the show, for sure. The dynamic of Iris and Barry is something we’ve never dealt with this like this, and Barry losing his Speed, and not just like a one off like he doesn’t have his speed for an episode and gets it back by the end. The real conflict of it depleting and knowing it’s his fault from his actions during “Crisis” and having to deal with that — there’s a lot of things going on that’s different from elements we’ve ever dealt with before.

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

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