The Flash boss: Joe 'rises up' in season 7 story inspired by recent 'societal changes'
The Flash will draw on recent "societal changes" in season 7.
In a recent interview with showrunner Eric Wallace, EW asked if the ongoing discussions about how law enforcement is depicted in pop culture, sparked by the wave of nationwide social justice protests, will impact the CW super-drama given that two of its main characters work for the police force. Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) is captain of the Central City Police Department and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who moonlights as the titular Scarlet Speedster, is a forensic scientist. Without going into specifics, Wallace confirmed Joe will have a topical story line in season 7.
"Joe’s story line this season is inspired by the societal changes happening in today’s world," Wallace told EW. "Because with everything we’re all waking up to each day in 2020, I felt there was a great opportunity here — even within our fantastical, family-oriented show — to comment indirectly on truths folks could easily recognize. And do so in an entertaining way."
While Wallace didn't share too many details about the plot, he teased it will test Team Flash's beloved father figure like never before.
"As we're working our way through Joe's wonderful story line this year, Joe gets challenged by the events of the world that are going on nowadays. Of course, in a sci-fi superhero way, because we're on a superhero show. And he really rises up," he said. "I'm so proud of the character and I'm so excited for Jesse to take Joe in just a little bit of a new direction. Because Joe's a good man with a good heart. And if he sees injustice, he's not a person who turns a blind eye to it. He's a person who says something and does something."
He continued: "I'm happy to report that we're working that actually into the scripts right now. It's not in the first batch. It's more in the middle of season 7. It will be very obvious as Joe goes through these changes and ends up in a place that's unexpected for him, but that is honorable and very aware of today's problems from a law perspective. So it's made the storytelling for his character's story line, I think, the most exciting thing that I've been able to write for him since I've been the showrunner. I just can't wait for folks to see it."
Wallace, who joined the series in season 4 and was promoted to showrunner ahead of season 6, admits he never anticipated taking Joe in this direction. "We were laughing about it the other day in the writers' room. We're like, 'I never saw this story coming for Joe. How cool was this? And how interesting that we can actually comment on what's happening in the world, but do it in a fun, lighter, [and] entertaining way?' It just makes our show richer and it makes the character, I think, richer. And it makes us love him even more," Wallace said.
The Arrowverse, like the comics that serve as its source material, has a history of engaging with social issues. For example, Arrow tackled gun control in a season 5 episode; Supergirl explored xenophobia throughout season 4 and delivered a powerful episode about transphobia earlier this year; and Black Lightning's first three seasons were inspired by the Tuskegee experiments, Flint water crisis, the crack epidemic, and several other real-world problems.
To hear more about Joe's topical story line and the rest of season 7, watch the extended version of The Flash's DC FanDome panel, moderated by EW's Chancellor Agard, this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on DCFanDome.com.
The Flash will return for season 7 in 2021 on the CW.