The following contains spoilers from the Nov. 23 episode of The CW’s The Flash.
This week on The Flash — in the style of a February episode of CBS’ NCIS (as well as a September 2017 episode of Blue Bloods) — it became increasingly clear (to us if not to Barry Allen) that a major character had died months prior, off-camera.
That character is(/was?) Joe West, played by original cast member Jesse L. Martin.
Last week’s “Armageddon” opener dropped the first, tiny clue, when Cecile had an overt reaction to Chester quipping that Ray was “dead to him” (for which Chester quickly apologized). The next clue came early in Part 2, when Iris told Barry she was going to visit with Cecile and Jenna, who have been “having a pretty hard time lately.” Moments later, Kristin Kramer led into a pep talk for Barry by saying, “If Joe were here right now….” But still, maybe Joe is just on a trip! Without his wife, or child.
Then, when Barry sought out Cecile for some legal advice, he remarked that she seemed a bit on edge. “It’s just been hard lately…,” she started to say. The biggest and final nail in the proverbial coffin came when Barry suggested that Team Flash swing by the West home for a post-victory celebration, where maybe Joe could whip up some of his grandma’s famous jambalaya.
Coming off of everyone’s stunned looks, Caitlin reminded Barry, “Joe died six months ago.” And moments later at the Wes house, Iris told her puzzled, in-denial husband that he delivered the eulogy. (Read full recap.)
So, is Joe truly and sincerely dead, and that realization is what will start Despero’s foretold cracking of Barry’s mind? Or is something else at play?
Ahead of Season 8, TVLine asked The Flash showrunner Eric Wallace about any storylines on tap for after the five-part “Armageddon” event. When the topic turned to Joe West, and after considering his words carefully, Wallace said (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT!):
Let’s just say that Joe is going to get an incredibly different perspective on life, and it’s going to lead him to, I think, a really big choice. Everybody seems to think the big choice he made was last year, to put down his badge, but there is a much bigger choice coming his way in Season 8 that takes the character down a path that he didn’t know he was on, but that will feel like it’s the place he always needed to go.
Is Despero simply working the most nefarious mind-eff on The Flash, perhaps in a first step to claim Earth on behalf of the Kalanorian rebels?