By Andy Behbakht and Tatiana Hullender.
After a long, extensive hiatus, The Flash season 8 is finally resuming tonight. The midseason premiere following XS and Impulse as they go back to take care of some good ol’ time traveling business.
The eighth season opened up in a massive way with the fifth graphic novel “Armageddon,” which served as a special event featuring multiple Arrowverse heroes and villains from other shows. While not a traditional crossover, heroes like Batwoman, Black Lightning, The Atom, and the new Green Arrow came into the fold as Barry Allen dealt with Despero before discovering the true villain of the story, who was none other than Reverse-Flash himself.
Following the events of Armageddon, tonight’s midseason premiere will see Nora and Bart West-Allen travel back in time to the year 2013, which takes place prior to The Flash season 1 events. As we get ready to run (yes, pun intended) back into The Flash season 8, The Flash Podcast’s Andy Behbakht and Tatiana Hullender recently sat down with showrunner Eric Wallace to get some updates on what’s coming throughout the season.
This will serve as Part 1 of our extensive interview, with Part 2 being released later tonight (including in video format on DC TV Podcasts’ YouTube channel, so go subscribe now!) While Wallace chats about the after-effects of Armageddon, Supergirl fans may want to pay attention as the showrunner teases something very fun for viewers of the series.
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The Flash Podcast: I love how “Armageddon” went back to Eobard Thawne instantly, which is interesting because we usually don’t see him for a while after an appearance. Why was it important to make sure he was the driving force of this graphic novel?
Eric Wallace: Well, it was funny. First of all, we had to hide the fact that he was in Armageddon. We had to do that, because we knew in episode 1 where we’re driving to. We know at the end of 3, he’s going to be at the wedding, and there’s going to be this big surprise. So, we had to make sure that with Despero, we were really almost misdirecting the audience and saying, “No, no! This is your sole villain. He’s the sole bad guy.”
Because Reverse Flash is such an integral part of season 8 as a whole. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that he’s sprinkled out in very mysterious ways. I would say keep an eye out for him, in ways you may not be expecting. But it was all part of the plan, because Batman has Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, and the Flash has the Reverse Flash. You have to honor that if we’re trying to tell the ultimate Flash story, especially in our graphic novels.
We have three this year, by the way. That’s new. We have one at the top, one in the middle, and one in the end – and they are booking-ended in such a way that we’re telling a very big Reverse Flash story. Very big.
The Flash Podcast: Batwoman and Flash fans both got a kick out of seeing Iris and Ryan being besties and getting glimpses of canon Wildmoore before their show had actually gone there. I’ve heard Javicia’s side of the story, but what was clearing that like on your end? Might we get the building blocks of a friendship with Barry and Iris in this universe as well?
Eric Wallace: I love Javicia, and I love Batwoman – let’s just say that flat out. I was the most excited person to get her on our show. When we decided which people we needed to be our guest stars on Armageddon, there was no way it could be done in the way I wanted to do it without Batwoman, without Cress [Williams as Black Lightning], without Ray Palmer and without Kat [McNamara] playing Green Arrow. It was very specific, the story that we were telling.
In regards to Batwoman, I just wanted to see two black women onscreen who were best friends. It’s just that simple. I think that’s a powerful image. They’re just doing normal things: “We’re at the wedding reception. Okay, yes, villains attack.” We’re a comic book show, right?
By the way, I don’t know if we’ll ever get a chance to do it, but there’s so much more to that opening scene at the party before the attack happens. We only have 42 minutes. Caitlin says she’s going to start to date in 8.01. Well, it’s the future 10 years later, and you get to see how it has gone. And we didn’t get to show it in the opening sequence, and it broke my heart. It’s on the cutting room floor. There were more lines with all of the Team Flash cast members, and with our guest stars too. I think there’s another couple of lines from Chyler Leigh interacting. It’s just part of the realities of making things. But anyway, I digress.
I came up with a story first. I said, “These are the people that we need. Alright, let me call up Caroline over at Batwoman…” And you start to sweat, right? I’ve known Caroline for years, love her to death and think she’s awesome. But still you’re thinking in the back of your mind, “What if she says no, or what if a scheduling conflict doesn’t work out?” I pitched her what my plan was, and I said, “I’d like her to be the maid of honor of Iris. I’d like the two women to be best friends; I think we need to see that.” I got about one minute into my pitch, and she’s like, “Yes, yes. Yes. That’s all done. It’s all fantastic. You need to do more of that.”
She was all behind it, and I was very happy about that. We talked about the maid of honor thing, and [I said,] “Can I mention maybe that Ryan and Sophie…?” and she’s like, “Embrace that, Eric. Embrace it all, because we’re going to write towards what you’re setting up on Flash.” And I went, “Oh, that sounds terrific.” And she even had a funny pitch. She said, “Hey, have Javicia give a funny toast at the party.” This is stuff that obviously ended up on the cutting room floor, but it was incredibly wonderful.
Then I talked to Javicia, who’s just the most delightful person in the world. In fact, in our second conversation after I pitched the story to her, she said, “Eric, whatever you need. Put me in even more scenes, and I’ll do it all!” And another thing that we lost, I’m so sad to say, [is that] she was actually supposed to be in the Act 5 fight of 8.04 with Damien Darhk. We had all these cool batarang toys, and bat moves that she did, and it just broke my heart. We only had her for a couple of days to shoot, and we couldn’t do it. So, I did what we always do on our show, which is just put it in a file. [She needs] to come back to our show; we had way too much fun.
We had this really cool moment where she does this really cool action thing that I’m not going to tell you, because I want to show it to the audience. Hopefully next year. Fingers crossed, if we can get another season. Because she’s just amazing, and she was just a delight to work with. The cast just fell in love with her. The director, Chad Lowe, fell in love. Everybody just had a great time.
The Flash Podcast: After seeing the reception “Armageddon” got, if there is a ninth season, what are the chances we may see a graphic novel in this kind of scope again at the start of next season?
Eric Wallace: Yeah, I was obviously very happy that people seemed to respond very favorably to it. And again – knock on whatever imaginary object we should be knocking on – if we are lucky enough to get a season 9, I do have a crazy idea that I would love to do as a nice big kickoff to the season with some guest stars. I don’t want to get my hopes up yet. I, like the rest of you all, are still waiting for a pickup too.
But I know how these things work from a more practical level. If we are lucky enough to get that pickup, then very quickly, I’m going to be asked, “Hey, what’s the story next year?” I can’t wait that long. I need to have a plan in place now, so that’s been my job over the last couple of months or so. I would like to have the people who were on the show before in Armageddon, but there’s also some new folks.
I won’t spoil it, but one of the people I’m actually having conversation with in two weeks is a Supergirl alum who has never been on our show before. And I’m going to try and get that individual – notice I did not use any pronouns – onto our show in some way because I love the character so much. One step at a time.
The Flash Podcast: With Despero as the Armageddon villain, we really see your penchant for pulling villains out of obscurity and putting your own spin on them. What is the process for selecting what comic book characters are going to make it onto the page, and how do you decide what changes about them?
Eric Wallace: The first thing is you have to balance one of two things. One: What villain am I a fan of as a comic book fan? I’m a huge Justice League of America fanatic, and my favorite two Justice League villains – among many of them – are A.M.A.Z.O. and Despero. Those are my two all time favorites.
I managed to talk Todd in season 5 into doing A.M.A.Z.O. He’s like, “Who?!” I’m like, “He steals the power! It’s really great. We’re gonna do this thing.” It’s one of those things where Todd just went, “Okay, I need a villain. Just do your thing.” Sam was my co-writer on that episode, and he’s a fellow really super comic geeky guy. We’re like, “We just got the keys to the kingdom. Let’s do this!” But in the back of my mind, I’ve had Despero sitting there waiting for the right moment. So, that’s one.
The other thing is: you look at the story that’s being told emotionally. And in this case, it’s a season of leveling up. The Flash has leveled up, so the villains had to level up too. They had to be way more powerful than anybody the Flash had faced before. That meant somebody who was alien, right there. Looking for an alien, loving Despero? Now it starts to come together, right?
It’s this big epiphany moment where you’re like, “Okay, how would this work? We can’t have him be a big purple guy with a fin all the time.” As much as I would love that, we simply can’t afford it. It’s not financially feasible; I’m just talking about the realities of it. But also, we’ve hired such an incredible actor in Tony Curran, and I want to see Tony’s face. I want to see Tony emoting in scenes with Grant. One of the things that Grant said to me very early on, in one of their first scenes together in 8.01, was, “Oh my goodness, working with this actor is such a privilege. He’s so talented, and so amazing.”
We actually were gonna have more of the purple fin version of Despero in episode 8.02. But when I saw the dailies coming back from 8.01, I realized it would almost be a mistake to put that kind of facade in between the character’s emotions and the audience. I actually dialed it back, an the ethos became that when we go to a big 12-foot or 8-foot purple guy, it needs to be for a reason and it needs to be justified by story. That’s why you see him in very specific moments as the digital version, versus very specific moments as the human version.
For example, in 8.04 when he’s torturing Cecile and he’s just killed all of Team Flash, I felt that would be more emotionally powerful in his human form. Because of the nature of human beings and our capacity for violence. It just would have been too easy to see an eight-foot purple guy do that. I don’t think it would have landed the same way.
Conversely, when Flash comes in and says, “Look, I’ve done these things. I’ve changed time; I’ve stopped Armageddon. I’m the badass hero,” now the villain needs to level up and show his true self. “I don’t care. I’m still more powerful than you are. Let me go check it out, and if not, I’ll be back.” Because obviously we knew it was only part 4, and we knew we had to come back and part 5.
Again, there’s always a method to the madness on these things.
The Flash Podcast: Something that we on the podcast talked about for years is wanting to see that future timeline that Eobard comes from, and his origin story of really becoming the Reverse-Flash. What are the chances that, after what we got in “Armageddon” and what you said about him being sprinkled through the season, we’ll get to see that backstory between them onscreen?
Eric Wallace: It was one of the things I specifically wanted to do an Armageddon and one of the things I specifically wanted to do this season, in case it’s our last. I have to provide the origin story; the audience needs to know this. I as a fan need to know this. We got the story in 8.05 in one of my favorite scenes in Armageddon, which is that Caitlin and Tom Cavanagh scene.
As far as going to the 23rd Century and actually seeing it? Obviously, as you might imagine, it’s something that I’d love to do. It’s a wee bit cost-prohibitive, I’m not gonna lie. That would be a reason for a season 9 maybe.
There’s only so much we can do, that’s why we go to 2049. It’s not too far removed. It’s the future, but there’s not people in hover cars flying by. It’s not Minority Report, obviously. I’ll be honest with you: yes, I’d love to see that origin story played out and revisited. I just don’t know if it’s possible, and when or if we can get to it.
The Flash Podcast: We’ve had a chance to see Iris mentor Allegra at the Citizen – which was something that long ago, fans wanted to see Iris be on the receiving end of. As much as I love her as a media mogul, how do you plan to further incorporate her as an active investigative reporter this coming season?
Eric Wallace: There’s a couple of answers to that question. Number one: Iris might be a media mogul, but she’s got a big problem to deal with. As I recall, she’s suffering from time sickness. Do you think that might distract from her duties as an investigative reporter? I think that’s a pretty safe bet.
Now, having said that, in one of the episodes I’m most excited about in the middle [graphic novel], Iris is going on a very cool investigation. I’m happy to report that; I’m very excited about it. We get to see her in cool reporter mode. And it’s kind of a new twist on the Team Citizen concept. I won’t tell you, because I don’t want to spoil the guest star surprise, but it’s a little bit different. It’s pretty fun.
But her investigative story will start to collide with her comic book story, which is “How is this time sickness affecting me?” Because that’s a big thing we have to resolve and deal with over the course of the back half of season 8. And Candice has been loving it. She’s been loving just performing some of these scenes. She’s like, “I’m just a reporter today. This is really amazing. I’m literally on a case! How great is this?” Obviously, that case then has to connect with the comic book-ness, but not at first. We actually get some reporter things; it’s quite nice.
If we are starting with Iris’ time sickness then kind of segwaying to investigating and going back to time sickness, we’re doing the opposite with Allegra. We already saw her level up in 7.14 last year. We know that in certain instances, she can go nova. But how does she level up in her job, which is what we started in 8.01? You’ll see the opposite with her. You’ll see her leveling up as a reporter, then you’ll see the comic book stuff in the middle.
But in the episodes we’re filming now, which are the last four of the season, we’re really seeing how being a reporter collides with her being a hero. And it’s created some really intense emotional stuff for the character of Allegra Garcia, which is very exciting.
In addition to that, we did see Allegra and Chester kiss in the future. I wonder how that’s gonna play out? [Laughs] We can’t just drop that. Get ready for a little bit more of that. I say it’s a slow burning journey, but they go through some really intense things this year that are going to bring them closer together than ever.
The Flash Podcast: Are any of those intense things D&D campaigns gone wrong that we can witness? Because that would be great, I think.
Eric Wallace: Without giving a huge spoiler away, I will say you might even actually see a D&D game on our show this season.
With Iris now being a podcaster as well, I know some fans were curious about the chances of Iris interviewing the Flash. Because we’ve seen Lois Lane interview Superman and such.
Eric Wallace: That’s actually something we talked about and ended up going a different direction with. Because the story that was being told through Iris and her investigative kind of journey that she goes on in the middle of the season didn’t quite lend itself to that scene. But we do see more of her Citizentopia podcasting towards the end of the season. It actually plays a very emotional role in a very special episode right in the middle of this season. I won’t tell you why, but I will say look for it, because I just watched the cut yesterday – after I stopped weeping so much.
Stay tuned tonight for Part 2 of our interview with Eric Wallace that will include more teases about what’s coming up for the second half of The Flash season 8 and what’s going on with Season 9!
“Impulsive Excessive Disorder”— (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (TV-PG, LV) (HDTV) THE FLASH ZOOMS TO WEDNESDAY NIGHTS – Picking up where season 7 left off, after returning home from a visit for their parent’s vow renewal, Bart (guest star Jordan Fisher) and Nora (guest star Jessica Parker Kennedy) quickly realize that things are not exactly as they left them. The duo race to repair any fissures in the timeline and restore everything back to the way it is supposed to be. The series stars Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Danielle Nicolet, Kayla Compton and Brandon McKnight. David McWhirter directed the episode written by Thomas Pound (#806). Original airdate 3/9/2022. Every episode of THE FLASH will be available to stream on The CW App and CWTV.com the day after broadcast for free and without a subscription, log-in or authentication required.
The Flash season 8 resumes TONIGHT at 8/7c on The CW. Stream the latest episodes the following day only on The CW and The CW app! Be sure to STAY TUNED for Part 2 of our interview with Eric Wallace, as well as with Jessica Parker Kennedy (read Part 1 here) right after the episode has aired, with some great teases for the future!
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