The following contains spoilers from The Flash‘s Season 8 finale.
The Flash with its Season 8 finale saw Eobard Thawne become more powerful than ever, as the Negative Reverse-Flash. In turn, the positive Forces resurfaced to similarly supercharge Barry, as their own chosen avatar. Iris meanwhile was revealed to have cheated death, her consciousness finding refuge in the time stone that Damien Darhk gifted Joe back during “Armageddon.”
Damien coached Iris to facilitate her own escape by rediscovering her lost connection with Barry, after which she re-materialized at Joe’s house. Iris then found Barry mid-battle with Thawne and urged him to dial things down, seeing as their fracas was building to, you know, Armageddon. So, despite crackling with the combined power of the other Forces, Barry literally opted to sit out the rest of the rumble, positing himself criss-cross-apple sauce on the pavement and meditating, much to Thawne’s frustration. Thawne then summoned “more power” to slaughter his foe where he sat, only to wind up obliterated by his own excess.
In the coda that followed, Iris reunited Tinya with her rescued mom… Cecile discovered that a form of telekinesis has been added to her power set… Caitlin’s “Frost” chamber malfunctioned, leading Mark to an unexpected discovery… and Barry and Iris enjoyed a quiet, romantic moment at home, where she explained how she rediscovered their spark, and he thanked her for de-escalating his fight with Thawne. Then, in a final stinger, as Barry and Iris acknowledged that the Negative Forces will one day find a new avatar, the camera panned a lab in the year 2049, where a (cobalt?) blue crystal was on display….
TVLine spoke with Flash showrunner Eric Wallace about planting the seeds for the time sickness arc, whether we’ve now really seen the last of Tom Cavanagh, why “WestAllen” has been put through the wringer, and what that final image meant.
TVLINE | I gave you a slow golf clap when Joe revealed that the time stone was in his cabinet, and we got the flashback to Damien handing him it. You really played the long game. What would you say was the very first seed for this time sickness storyline?
It really starts in Season 7 — in Episode 715, I believe? — where Iris seems to have the flu off-camera. Candice [Patton] was not available for Episode 715, so we were like, “I wonder why Iris is not available? Hey! What if this is a diabolical master plan of some kind? And what if it’s really the bad guys, and not the flu? What if they’ve given her a time sickness and she won’t figure it out for another six months? Oh my goodness, we’re going to have the most epic, involved storyline ever, and we are going to pay it off!” That’s where it started. And then there’s a deleted scene that unfortunately didn’t make the cut at the end of Season 7 — right before the vow renewal, it’s a scene with Iris and Nora—
TVLINE | TVLine actually posted that deleted scene, with the necklace.
Yes, the necklace scene! I can’t remember if we had the finished effects there, but at the top of the scene you see Iris’ eyes glow green for the first time. Even though she got it off-camera in Episode 715, that’s where [the time sickness] would have been confirmed to the audience. But instead, we talked about it in [Episodes] 801, 802,803….
TVLINE | Did you by chance film these new scenes with Neal McDonough the same time as “Armageddon,” knowing this callback was coming?
No, but we knew we wanted to bring him back. Going into “Armageddon,” we knew, “Oh, this is how we’re going to cure Iris’ time sickness. It’s going to be in some capacity using the time stone, so I hope Neal is available to come back!” At that point I had seen the dailies of him working with the rest of Team Flash and it was just magic. I thought it’d make a perfect bookend, not only to the end of the season, as far as wrapping up the time sickness storyline, but wrapping up the “Armageddon” storyline.
What hopefully everyone gets is really this has all been about “Armageddon” — the beginning of the season and the end of the season. In the first five episodes, we couldn’t show Armageddon because the hero prevents it. Then as soon as we got around to [Episodes] 804, 805, we realized that if Flash solves the mystery and defeats the bad guy, we won’t get to see the coolest thing ever. “Well, I guess we know what our season finale is now!” It was wonderful symmetry.
TVLINE | That was quite a last hurrah for Reverse-Flash in the finale, but Tom [Cavanagh] has speculated over the years that when The Flash really comes to an end, there’d need to be a final face-off. Do you have any idea what that would look like?
No, not yet — because when we were writing the finale for Season 8, we thought that was the series finale. So we were like, “We’ve got to have the greatest, most epic battle ever between Grant [Gustin] and Tom! That’s how it has to end.” And after the script was done and we were getting ready to start prep, that’s when we got the news that we would be getting a ninth season. So we were like, “Oh crap, we just did the ultimate battle. How are we supposed to ever top that? Then it was like, “Let’s just kill him for now and worry about that later.” [Laughs] Because Reverse-Flash and the Negative Reverse-Flash, just like Frost, are dead. I mean, they are dead. Now… having said that… it is a comic book show, and I’m pretty sure that in Season 9, there’s some reason that you might see Tom Cavanagh again. I won’t go into it, but that’s a pretty safe bet.
TVLINE | Talk about coordinating with Legends of Tomorrow on the sharing of Matt Letscher’s Thawne.
The Legends people had called me and said, “We have this idea to use Reverse-Flash, but we don’t want to mess with what you have planned, because it’s pretty radical.” [Legends‘ Jan. 22 episode established that the time wraiths had assigned Letcher’s Thawne to safeguard a fixed point in the year 1914.] And then I heard their pitch and went, “That fits in perfectly with the end of the Armageddon storyline.”
TVLINE | Your leading lady, Candice Patton, has been a bit cordoned off from the rest of the cast and the canvas in recent years, starting with Season 6’s Mirrorverse arc and followed by her storyline in Coast City this season and then being MIA for these past four weeks. Is there a why behind that? And coming out of this finale, can you promise that Season 9 will be different on that front?
OK, OK, I hear the note underneath the note. Yes, I can unequivocally say that in Season 9 you will see much, much more of Barry and Iris together. Not just together in the same room, but together in all ways. It’s something that is a part of the new approach for the new season. Every season is different, and Season 9 is going to be very, very fun and very exciting.
The reason we can do that is because of what [WestAllen] have been through over the last season-and-a-half specifically, being apart and growing individually. As we see in this finale, Iris was the last person to have not “leveled up” yet, and we get to see it actually happen in the episode. Now that she has completed her journey of leveling up, she and Barry can both face what is coming in Season 9 together, as a couple. So you will see much more of them together, unlike what you saw in Season 8 at times.
TVLINE | So, Iris’ perceived isolation was a combination of storytelling needs with maybe a bit of COVID protocols thrown in…?
Oh, without question. COVID has been running rampant in the world as we know and creating havoc with how everybody makes their TV shows, not just ours. And if you throw that in with just the stories themselves, it created a certain storytelling style. And now that we’ve completed that journey, we can move onto something new.
TVLINE | How will the outcome of Caitlin’s experiment reconcile with the promise made to Danielle Panabaker that Frost is truly and sincerely dead?
Danielle told the truth, and I’m keeping my promise to her. Frost is dead. But Danielle Panabaker is still a regular on The Flash, and we heard her voice speaking to Mark…. That begs the question, who’s in there? Is it Caitlin, or is it something else? That is something we will see immediately at the top of Season 9 — and I think everyone will be as surprised as Mark is.
TVLINE | Turning to the finale’s very final image, a glowing blue crystal inside a lab in the year 2049. Should comic book fans know what that was?
The hardcore comic book fans know what’s coming; those who don’t, I’m not spoiling it here, so it’s going to be a big surprise for them. But yes, we’re pulling directly from the comic books here, and boy is it going to be fun.
TVLINE | When we spoke last month, you didn’t yet know the answer to this: Is Season 9 going to be the final season?
I still do not know. I do not know. I hope it’s not. I’ve got plenty of plans. The first three seasons [I was showrunner], 6, 7 and 8, really is one big omnibus. And that whole story is now done. I’m now formulating a new, shorter, two-season plan, for Seasons 9 and 10, so I sure hope I get to tell that story, because I know where I’m driving to.
What did you think of The Flash‘s almost-series finale, and the promise of more together time for WestAllen? Weigh in below!