When The CW’s The Flash resumes Season 5 this Tuesday at 8/7c, viewers will gain some insight into why Barry and Iris’ daughter Nora is seemingly in cahoots with no less than an imprisoned Eobard Thawne aka Reverse-Flash circa 2049.
Also in the coming weeks, Barry will be pointed down a scary path following his next clash with Cicada; the search for a metahuman cure will cause conflict between Caitlin and [Spoiler]; and Barry and Iris will find themselves paying the Flash Museum a rather unexpected visit. Showrunner Todd Helbing gave TVLine a peek at what’s to come — while also fielding a couple of our burning questions.
TVLINE | At the end of the winter finale, we learned that Nora is in some sort of cahoots with Eobard Thawne. How would you describe the dynamic between the two of them?
I would say that Thawne is her “coach”. We get into it a lot more in [the winter premiere], we explain what’s going on, and as the season progresses, she goes back to the future quite a bit. You’ll see a lot more of Thawne.
TVLINE | Thawne looking like Tom Cavanagh was explained away for the purposes of the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover. Is it for purely practical reasons that you’re sticking with that, and didn’t bring back Matt Letscher?
No, we love Matt — he’s fantastic as Reverse-Flash, too. But it’s funny, if you plot out the Thawne timeline — I think there’s a version of this online somewhere — it makes more sense, logically, in a weird, time-travel way, that this is the Thawne that we see. Also, the whole theme of this season is “legacy,” so it felt more applicable in the way that we introduce Reverse-Flash, as Wells, for it to play out that way with Tom.
TVLINE | Some of us here at the office were surprised that Nora didn’t know key things about Barry’s backstory — specifically, the events surrounding the death of his mother. In your mind, is there a reason she wouldn’t already know such a thing?
In the future, Iris has dampened Nora’s speed and kept her powers from her, so I think this all falls in line with “I don’t want my daughter becoming a speedster and possibly being fated the same way her father was. And If I explain to her this whole backstory about how Nora [Allen] was massacred by this Man in Yellow….” I mean, Nora ultimately finds her way to Thawne, but in that time period he is in prison, so he is “around.” It’s just a way for Iris to try to keep Nora away from Thawne and learning all the stuff she doesn’t know about.
TVLINE | I guess it just makes me wonder what is in the Flash Museum if not his origin story!
The Flash Museum knows a lot, but they had to get their information from someone…. There’s a lot of speculation — they know Nora Allen was killed — but if you go back to Season 1 it was this mysterious Man in Yellow, and they thought Henry [Allen] was responsible, and then Wells was the one who admitted to it.
TVLINE | I see you have Cisco and Caitlin looking into a metahuman cure. That sort of comic book storyline, where powers can willingly be taken away, always take an interesting turn.
One of the things we’re starting to deal with with Cisco is that Barry and Iris are able to juggle this superhero life with a relationship, a marriage, but Cisco is a little less certain that he is able to do that — and he doesn’t know that he wants to. So he is going to start realizing that is if there is a cure out there, “maybe it’s something I should think about.” For Caitlin, meanwhile, it creates this interesting thing, now that she and Killer Frost are more [simpatico]. If Caitlin were to take the cure, she’d lose this personality [inside her], so there’s a tension that starts to arise between [her and Killer Frost].
TVLINE | And there’s always the matter of if a cure falls the wrong hands, people who don’t want to be cured….
That’s a huge part that comes up — if we do this, how do you stop that from happening? You can’t take the choice away from people. That becomes a whole storyline.
TVLINE | All of the Cicada face-offs have been brutal. The power he has, to render people powerless, is scary.
It is scary, because they rely on these powers all the time now. Last year [against the Thinker] they had to use their brains a bit more, but now it’s like, how do we stop this dude? And it’s not just about saving themselves, because every time they encounter him they have to stop him from killing someone else. It’s been a lot of fun, and Chris [Klein] is killing it as Cicada. But yeah, the brutal fights continue.
TVLINE | But this next one in particular, what purpose does it serve?
When you grow up and it’s just you, you’re a bit more of a daredevil; things don’t land the same way when you’re a parent. So when you see your child in a situation where they could or do get hurt, that amps you up tenfold. There’s a situation like that that arises, and Barry gets a little unhinged.
TVLINE | The latest trailer offers a glimpse of Barry and Iris visiting the Flash Museum in the future. What can you say about that trip?
Nora is working with Thawne, and after her experiences with Barry and Thawne in Episode 8, she certainly knows Barry’s reaction to Thawne. Now that she has a full understanding of their history, it makes it a little more complicated for her and Thawne in the future, and how she thinks her parents and everybody else on Team Flash would react to that [partnership]. It gets a little dicey for her, a little tricky, and in that episode (airing Jan. 29), there’s a situation that arises where Barry and Iris could learn [the truth], so Nora tries to keep that from happening. It’s a “schmience” trip that sort of goes awry.
TVLINE | It has to be tempting for them to visit the future and find out why exactly Iris did what she did. But thus far they’ve held back.
It’s certainly alluring, but Barry simultaneously learns his lessons from time travel and yet still makes the same mistakes. If you had that ability, it’s the whole “Christmas present” thing — do you open it or do you not? What makes you happier? Does it matter when you learn certain things? When it comes to hearing about the Flash Museum, I know that I would check it out if I could!
TVLINE | I suspect that we don’t know the full story behind the speed-dampening chip that Future Iris implanted in Nora. Is there something you’re holding back on?
There’s a Thawne aspect to all of this, that we haven’t revealed yet — that we will.
TVLINE | Lastly, is there anything The Flash needs to get done during the remainder of this season in service of next fall’s crossover, “Crisis on Infinite Earths“?
Oh, yes. There is, and we will.