The following contains spoilers from the June 22 episode of The Flash.
Back in December, at the close of the “Armageddon” event’s fourth episode, viewers saw Tom Cavanagh’s hoodwinked Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash slip into the S.T.A.R. Labs time vault and ominously declare, “No one uses time against me!”
Cavanagh in turn told TVLine at the time that his villainous alter ego likes to pace himself, when unfurling fiendish plots.
Well, the sinister speedster’s time bomb went boom in The Flash‘s penultimate Season 8 episode, when a series of incredible events that we won’t dare try to recap here 1) saw the Negative Still Force rapid-age imprisoned Thawne into a shriveled corpse, 2) put Iris in the line of Barry’s lightning fire, as it became clear that she, and not Fast Track Labs’ Eobard, was a “sacrifice” to be made, and 3) Matt Letscher’s Eobard ripped open his head to reveal that Tom Cavanagh’s version was hidden inside, and once again a speedster.
Yeah. It was a lot.
TVLine happily hopped on the phone with Cavanagh to at least try to break down this week’s wild/deadly happenings, and get a sense of what it means for Reverse-Flash’s season-ending plan.
TVLINE | So, I just got done watching this week’s episode…. Tom, what the hell did I just watch?
I don’t know because I haven’t seen it; I honestly don’t know what’s in it. I mean, I know I shot it, but we shot like a whole bunch in a row, so I’m not quite sure which one you saw. But if you like it, that’s good!
TVLINE | Well to jog your memory, Matt Letscher just peeled his skull in half, and you popped out.
Oh, good. That’s a good thing!
TVLINE | It’s a very discomforting visual. You’ll have to tune in and see it.
You know, I direct a bunch of, like, Flash and Superman & Lois, and you can write [the words] on the page, right, and you’re like, “Yeah, easy!” But then, you’re like, “Wait, how do we shoot this exactly??” You’ve got to do like freeze frame, or motion capture, or have all these different tools at your disposal. There were a lot of technical aspects to that scene, so that one I know.
TVLINE | Immediately after watching this, I cued up Episode 4 from this season where you were in the time vault and Thawne hissed, “Nobody uses time against me!” Are we seeing the culmination of that threat?
You could write this better than I can say it, because that’s a great way of putting it. It really is. Well done.
TVLINE | The last time you and I spoke, you noted that Thawne likes to “pace” himself.
And that’s exactly what I was driving at, because at the time we spoke, you don’t want to have the audience get ahead of you and you don’t want to say too much. But for people who actually are genuinely involved in the show in the sense that you are, you sort of want them to be like, “Look, I’m not teasing you. This is going to pay off.”
TVLINE | There’s a lot to process coming out of this episode. Is there going to be some sort of boastful recap from Thawne à la “Here’s everything that was going on for the past six months that you did not realize was alllll part of my long game”? Even something as recent as when the Negative Still Force rapidly aged you in the A.R.G.U.S. cell. In that moment, we thought, “Oh, Tom Cavanagh’s character is very dead now.”
It would be, I think, a genuine surprise to me if they look at any demise by any character I ever played — all 20 of them! — and thought, “That’s it for that guy” In particular, the Reverse-Flash. What’s the Batman without the Joker?
TVLINE | Is it safe to say that everything has gone according to plan for Thawne?
That’s a great way of putting it. I think we’ve said a variation of this line over and over again over the years, about how he’s always 20 steps ahead, always 40 steps ahead, and this is a good example of Thawne being a number of steps ahead of Team Flash.
TVLINE | There was a moment at the very end of this week’s episode I truly did not understand, because I was watching a rough cut and the visual effects were temp. Iris, after dying, turns into, like, a cloud of particles that float into Matt Letscher, before he turns into you. Do you know what was going on there?
Do I know what was going on? Sure. Yeah. I know what was going on. I’m not going to tell you because I have WB snipers on the roof all around me. It’s all like I say, he’s 10 steps ahead and it’s all plotted out and it makes sense when you see the next episode.
TVLINE | How worried should we be for Iris?
At first, I was like, “How can you do the show without Iris?,” but Carlos Valdez also felt like the heart and soul of the show…. As long as the numbers are there, I think the show will persist. So, I guess you could be worried about Iris, but that’s going to be up to the individual’s Worry Meter.
TVLINE | Over the years and especially when you stepped down as a series regular, you have said when The Flash comes to its very end, you’ll be back because we’ve got to have that final Batman/Joker, Flash/Reverse-Flash showdown. Is this that, even though the show wound up getting renewed?
I don’t think so. I think that’s going to be up to Greg Berlanti, and the people at Warner Brothers. It has never been my call to say [it must end with] Flash/Reverse-Flash. That’s just what Grant and I have always talked about, and Berlanti has talked about, because it makes sense. The other thing is that if the show goes another 20 years because Gustin keeps doing it, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to have a couple hundred-year-old people facing off against each other. I think a lot will be determined by the success of the show and how many seasons they have, how many stories they have to keep telling.
TVLINE | Now that Thawne has his speed back, does he have a plan?
Thawne always has a plan.
TVLINE | Knowing that things aren’t always filmed on the same day, I’m curious if have you and Matt Letscher have ever gotten to hang out on set? You have shared custody of this character for eight years.
Greg Berlanti has hired Matt and I numerous times, we did Eli Stone together…. Through Berlanti, it seems that Matt and I cross paths repeatedly, and it’s so funny because we’ve worn grunge clothes, we’ve worn good suits, we’ve worn old-time wardrobe, and then it was like, “Oh, yeah, we’re wearing superspeed suits in this one!” He’s talented and charming, and it’s always a pleasure when those paths cross. We got to hang out on this one, and again, like I say, it’s always great to see him.