Showrunner Eric Wallace discusses the show's uncertain future and previews the "emotional disasters" hurtling toward Barry.
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Courtesy of The CW.
We Are The Flash

Warning: This article contains spoilers from the March 9 midseason premiere of The Flash, "Impulsive Excessive Disorder."

Bart (Jordan Fisher) and Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) may have fixed the timeline mess they caused in The Flash's nostalgic 2013-set midseason premiere, but there are more problems coming down the pike for the rest of Team Flash in the year 2022 as season 8 ramps up once more. First up, there are two relatively light interlude episodes that bring the focus back onto Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and the rest of the gang before diving into the season's next Graphic Novel (a.k.a. mini arc), which showrunner Eric Wallace promises will be "emotionally intense." All of this will eventually build to a finale that will either be a season or series ender, depending on if the CW renews the speedy drama with another cycle.

Below, EW chats with Wallace about post-"Armageddon" season 8's tone, writing the finale, Robbie Amell's return, and more.

The Flash
Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

ERIC WALLACE: I don't know if we've spoken this year, so Happy New Year even though it's March.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Happy New Year to you, too. That feels appropriate given the midseason premiere's New Year's Eve setting.

It is. Folks don't really realize is, when we wrote this, it was originally supposed to air in January. And things happen, it's no big deal, but there was a moment in the post-production process, where it was like, "Well, do we change this? Do we make it a birthday celebration or something, and do we walk away from New Year's?" And I said to myself, "I don't recall seeing lot of episodes of my favorite shows that specifically celebrate New Year's. Let's stick with it, regardless of when it airs." And I'm glad we made that decision because I think it makes it a little more unique and very fun.

I think it works since it's still The Flash's first episode of the year. As we move into the next Graphic Novel, how would you describe the tone and themes of season 8?

I would say tonally very intense, perhaps one of the most intense seasons we've had in a while, I would say. The first couple of episodes after "Armageddon," one of which you just saw, are designed to be interludes that are a little lighter, and they're designed that way on purpose because when the next Graphic Novel of this season starts in a few more episodes, it's going to get very hardcore for Team Flash. We have a lot of things to explore emotionally, especially in Barry and Iris' [Candice Patton] relationship with Iris' time sickness; with Caitlin's [Danielle Panabaker] decision to start dating again that we introduced in "Armageddon." Also, Chester [Brandon McKnight] and Allegra [Kayla Compton], we saw them kissing in the future. What does it mean? Do we have to explore a little bit of that this season and how do they eventually get there? Do they get there? Is something standing in the way of them getting there? So it does get very emotionally intense, especially in the middle of season 8, very much so.

Do you think the intensity level is comparable to a previous season's?

I would say season 2 or 3, but it's such a different feeling because the villain of the middle Graphic Novel is so different. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that the villain is not a speedster. But it kind of reminded me a little bit of that emotion of seasons 2 and 3, of that kind of intensity. So that, I think, is a pretty apt comparison.

Season 3 makes sense, given that Barry was trying to save Iris from being murdered in the future, and here he's dealing with her time sickness, which has been dangling since season 7. How quickly can we expect to get answers about that?

It'll take center stage by the middle of season 8. We're writing the season finale as we speak, and I'm happy to report that it all gets resolved by the end of season 8, so we can start fresh and clean, should we, knock on wood, be able to have the privilege to do a season 9.

Since the show hasn't been renewed yet, are you writing the finale as a season or series finale, or some kind of hybrid?

I have to do both. I've known what the ending was for a few years now. We're coming to the end of a three-year master plan that I've had with the show at seasons 6, 7, and 8. But the actual ending-ending, I have to write two endings, because I don't know what the future holds. I know what I'm hoping for. I'm very hopeful there is a season 9, but I have to make sure I have closure on all of the character arcs depending on which way it goes. But then I also have to film a tag or a teaser that potentially sets up another year. So it's a challenge, but it's one that we love doing as writers. It's made it even more interesting and more intense, but I think it's going to be worth it.

The Flash
Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen on 'The Flash'
| Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Barry Allen is supposedly the fastest he's ever been. What can we expect from the big bad in season 8's next Graphic Novel?

Despero [Tony Curran] is a perfect example of, if you're going to make the Flash stronger, you have to make the villains even stronger than your leveled-up hero. That's a theme that plays out through the remainder of the season. And remember, all the strength and speed in the world can't help protect Barry from emotional disasters, because heroes are still human beings. And if you love, you have a vulnerability and that's the people you care for. And the villains he faces, especially the ones in the middle of season 8, are going to exploit that to an incredibly devastating effect. And obviously that's going to tie back into Iris's time sickness. What is going on? Why is this happening? And more importantly, why is it happening right now?

You said "villains." Does that means we're dealing with multiple big bads?

No, it means we're doing something different this year. Instead of just two Graphic Novels, we're having three. So "Armageddon" was the first. Then we have a few interlude episodes, right? Then eventually we'll go into our second Graphic Novel that has its own big bad. Then we'll have, again, a couple of interlude episodes and then we'll do something new. So you get more villains this season. More, more, more than ever.

As you mentioned, Caitlin starts dating again this season. Is it fair to assume Robbie Amell's return ties into that?

It does. It does definitely because what's more inconvenient as you're are starting to date than to have your ex-husband show up? I mean, part of that's actually very funny. It's very comedic. I'm not saying it's the funniest storyline, so please don't get me wrong, because it's not. It's obviously very dramatic and intense, but it isn't a coincidence that she starts to date and Robbie Amell is guesting on our show. It's part of the complicated journey that she's going to go on to really kind of find out who she is at her core, because that's what we wanted to ask this season. Who is Caitlin? Oh, she's a doctor. Well, does that really define her? Okay, she's a member of Team Flash, but does that really define her? Who is she really? That's what we'll get to know in the middle of season 8. I have to say, Danielle Panabaker's performance this season, we're so lucky to have such gifted performers on our show, but I mean, she overachieved this year. It's just phenomenal to see her work because she's playing two characters.

Legends of Tomorrow star Caity Lotz just announced she's directing an episode. What can we expect from her episode?

It's very interesting that we have three kind of interlude episodes and it's me directing, Caity, and Danielle, all three in a row. So we kind of joked about how hilarious this was, all three of us doing our episodes all back to back, and it spoils the cast in [a] sense ... because we know them so well.

You've directed in the past, but how did your directorial debut on The Flash go? Did you give yourself a special episode to helm, or was it determined by scheduling and when you had time to spend two weeks in Vancouver?

It just brought us all closer together and, quite frankly, it was an enormous amount of fun. I think on the last day, Grant and I were busy laughing as we were shooting this final scene. And I said to him, "You know I'm going to do this again, right?" He was like, "Of course, yes, bring it on." Because we were just having such a great time.

I think I gave myself what I would call quote unquote, "the weird episode." And it's really funny because I wasn't supposed to direct this weird one. I was actually supposed to do the one before it, which is more emotional and more kind of not traditional, but more of what you would expect from The Flash week to week. And because of scheduling and because of the holidays and all these types of things, it started to become very clear that, "Oh, I'm going to have to do the weird one. All right. Let's embrace that." So I just embraced it and it was really good to kind of work with the two writers of the episode. I wanted to make sure that for once I was not directing an episode I had written. I wanted to have the same experience that a guest director would have coming to the show.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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

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