The Flash boss says season 6's sudden ending makes season 7 'stronger'
The newly freed Eva McCulloch (Efrat Dor), a.k.a. Mirror Mistress, killed her husband and framed Sue Dearbon (Natalie Dreyfuss) for the murder. Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton), who was still trapped in the Mirrorverse, blipped away to Beebo-knows-where right before the screen cut to black. Despite the fact that Team Flash basically lost in the season-ender, Barry (Grant Gustin) and company remained hopeful that they could eventually prevail — and that optimism also being felt behind the scenes, because showrunner Eric Wallace is confident that this unplanned ending has made season 7 stronger.
Below, EW chats with Wallace about what didn't make it into the finale, what would've happened in episode 20 (90 percent of which had been shot before the shutdown), and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you found out episode 19 was going to be the finale, did you have to do any re-editing to make it work as one?
ERIC WALLACE: Well, there was no "Oh, I think this is going to be our finale." The pandemic decided what would be the finale. When we shut down production, we didn't just shut down production, but everybody started working remotely from home, not just the writers. So it became a mad dash of "How many episodes can we complete and get on the air before this is shut down?" So it was not guaranteed that we would even be able to complete episode 19 in time. There was a world where 17, "Liberation," or 18, "Pay the Piper," could have been suddenly a season finale, which is tough. I feel very fortunate we were able to at least get that extra 19th episode done, and it's a real testament to our visual effects house at Encore and our postproduction people, our editors, our assistant editors just doing an incredible job of helping me and the rest of us get it on the air.
Given that, every season of The Flash is like a movie in three acts. 619 was always intended to be end of Act 2 of the movie, where the heroes are at their lowest point and it has a big cliffhanger. I knew if we could finish post through 19, we might have a chance of at least having an episode that felt sort of like, "Oh, that it is a big cliffhanger. Okay, that's a good pause point."
Was that split-screen action sequence scripted to look that way, or did that come up in editing?
That was collaboration in action. I got a call from [director] Phil [Chipera] halfway through shooting and he's like, "I've got a crazy idea that I want to pitch you… Why don't we make it a comic book come to life?" I said, "That sounds terrific. Do you have the footage for that?" Then he howled with laughter: "Eric, just wait until you see my director's cut."
What people don't know is that the fight sequence they saw last night, which was five minutes, was 12 and a half minutes. It was this epic journey. There are so many action beats that had to be removed and cut out for time because we can only fit in a 42-minute slot. So the comic book panels became a way to show multiple angles at the same time; it became a problem-solving thing, which is what Phil was getting toward.
Was there a beat in there that you really loved but had to cut for time?
There's an additional Sue scene that we just didn't have the time for that was just terrific. There's a scene where she goes up to that room to confront Carver and we just didn't have time for it. It just broke my heart because it was just so terrific!
I was really impressed by how you used Eva McCulloch in this back half of the season. Villain fatigue usually starts to set in with a seasonlong baddie, but that wasn't the case here. In fact, I'm dying for more Mirror Mistress.
That's all on purpose. I realized the same thing you just said, and I wanted to not follow that same pattern. That's why there are two villains, really. We put all of our misdirection cues on purpose to say Black Hole is the sole villain and Eva is just another victim of Black Hole. But all along the way [we were] giving you clues there's way more to Eva, [but] we're just going to drip it out slowly, from a narrative perspective, knowing that two big things weren't going to happen until end of Act 2 of our The Flash movie. Those two things are: Eva gets out, which happened in "Liberation," and then the second thing is, Eva puts on the costume, which happened last night, and gets what she thinks she wants, which is the death of her husband. Eva McCulloch did get what she wants, but she has not gotten at all what she needs, and that's what she's going to find out the hard way right when we come back in our season premiere.
How has this shifted your original plan for wrapping up this arc?
It hasn't changed how we're going to wrap up the arc, because of the three episodes that are still remaining — which are now the first three episodes of season 7 — episode 620, which now becomes episode 701, 90 percent of that footage is in the can. That only leaves what we always intended as our two-part season finale of season 6 to follow in episode 702 and 703, which is wrapping up Eva's story. That's all going to be the same. We might tweak it a little bit because we don't know how the pandemic is going to affect shooting. Like, can we have a whole bunch of extras running around? Can we have these big stunt sequences outside that you would usually see in a Flash finale? It might be smaller now. I don't know. We have to adjust that without adjusting the story because Eva's story is on a very specific trajectory that we want to honor and finish.
The other big thing it's going to then affect is the rest of the shape of season 7. We actually already started breaking season 7 when this pandemic happened. So it's really: How does it affect the top of season 7? I think it's making it even better, I think it's making it stronger because it's forcing us to look at these two separate things — which is the end of Eva's story and the beginning of the next villain's story and how he relates to Barry and Iris — [and realize] they kind of have to be connected even more because there isn't some summer break anymore. The audience will experience it now a week later.
What's the one thing in those three episodes you were dying for people to see immediately?
I wish everybody could see the episode that comes right after this and find out exactly where Iris is and what happened to her. It's really cool and there's a twist, and it's a big Iris story with a lots of surprises. Also, there's a big guest star from seasons early on in The Flash. I was really excited for people to see that next week and how that ties into what Eva's doing. Also, the next episode is an incredibly emotional one, like tears, and I love watching it.
Looking back on the 19 episodes that aired, what are you most proud of?
I'm very proud of the two villains of the past season because I felt like they were a little different. Sendhil Ramamurthy as Bloodwork, it was a personal story. I guess that was a big thing I wanted to see with the villains this season — that their madness and plans were very human and very understandable. Not that I don't love the villains of the past. I've said it before, Zoom is my favorite speedster villain, I love him so much. But stealing speed is very different from "I want to live because I'm dying" or "My husband is such a horrible person. I just want to get back at him." Those are very personal wants for villains to have that don't involve grand machinations of ruling the universe and dominating folks.
I'm very proud that we were able to have two very different kinds of villains that had very small agendas and that — and I think you'll see this whenever we get to these next three episodes — in getting what they want personally, they become a much larger, dangerous threat. Eva got what she wanted last night, and that's the worst thing that could've possibly happened to her because she still hasn't gotten what she really needs. That's what remains in her story. And with Effie, I really wanted to see if it was possible to create a villain who had no beef with the Flash. We've just never seen anything like that. Yet in doing what she does, she becomes public enemy number one for the Flash.
Oh, I'm also proud of Team Citizen and expanding Iris' story. That was something specifically I wanted to do because I think Candice is fantastic in the role and I wanted to see her shine. I'm an African-American writer-producer, she's an African-American actress. We're bringing an African-American role model and character to life. That was a high priority to me, to get her more front and center. That led to the creation, very deliberately, of Team Citizen. Give Iris her own team, like Flash has his own team, and also give her more screen time and and let her go to town. It's been a delight watching her perform this season. I hope the audience has enjoyed it as much as I have.
I mean, I'm worried about Eva just because a few episodes ago she did say she had a plan to remake the world…
[Laughs] Eva, Eva, Eva. Now that she's got Joseph Carver out of the way, what is she going to turn her attention to? Exactly what you just said. And you know what? That's not going to work good for anybody.