The Flash is not only a highly entertaining, funny and fun show, but it’s got killer villains that could each have their own cool arc. Whether it’s metahumans, people with cool weapons, or geniuses who manipulate technology, they are all unique adversaries for the Scarlett Speedster (Grant Gustin).
During a recent Q&A at The CW offices, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg spoke to a handful of online outlets about what they wanted to do with Pied Piper (Andy Mientus), Dr. Wells’ (Tom Cavanagh) secrets and his definitive plan, letting the audience in on the Reverse-Flash reveal, why Barry Allen and Joe West’s (Jesse L. Martin) relationship is the heart of the show, the likelihood that they’ll explore time travel, Barry’s budding romance with Linda Park (Malese Jow), Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Ray Palmer’s (Brandon Routh) cross-over appearance, why Central City doesn’t know about the Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) situation, and the desire to get all of the Rogues together, at some point. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
ANDREW KREISBERG: Well, like many of the comic book characters, they sometimes are a little bit silly. The Pied Piper dressed very flamboyantly and he would literally play his hand flute and warp people’s minds, and we wanted to do something a little bit more grounded. We were all fans of Andy [Mientus] from his work on Broadway. When he came in, we said, “He was the evil Harry Potter.” And Hartley is not a metahuman. He’s one of our technology-based villains, like Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller). [Team Flash] hadn’t really gone up against anybody like him before. We wanted them to go up against somebody who was brilliant and a genius, and somebody that they had to really outwit, which was different because a lot of times, it’s Barry either having to outrun or out-speed the villain. So, this one was really complicated, in that we had to do a lot of different things. We had to establish, early on, how important Wells was to the team, and how important his thinking was to the team. That gave us the idea of the chess master, and that played throughout the entire episode. It’s really a chess match, with Barry as the pawn between the two guys.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone targeting Dr. Wells. Is that going to be a continuing theme, with Barry Allen protecting this man without knowing who he is?
KREISBERG: I’m not sure how many more times that comes up. The truth is that every metahuman could wake up one day and go, “Hey, wait a minute, it was that guy!” So, we don’t want to play that card too often. What was interesting about this one, and what made it different from “Power Outage” and Blackout was that Hartley hates him from before the accident. Tom especially loves playing the pre-accident flashback days because he was living a normal life. But, you really saw a glimpse of that darkness when he lets Hartley go. It’s interesting because it’s somebody who was targeting Harrison for what he had done beforehand, and then consequently targeting The Flash because he felt replaced.
KREISBERG: The endgame will happen this season. Endgame is also a chess term. Wells has a definitive plan, and when you look back, you will see that he’s had a definitive reason for doing all the things that he’s done, throughout the course of the season. We think it makes sense, and hopefully, you all will, too.
What made you decide to reveal to the audience that Wells is the Reverse-Flash?
KREISBERG: With Arrow, we learned not to jerk the audience around too much. Sometimes people withhold secrets at their peril, and we felt like, if we hadn’t revealed it, then it wouldn’t have been a satisfying conclusion to those first nine episodes. The only debate we had amongst ourselves was about how long the audience would accept knowing that he’s the villain and having the rest of our characters not know. It’s something we’ve been dealing with for the back half of the season. Are people going to feel like they’re dumb for not realizing this? Part of what’s keeping these next stream of episodes going is, how good at hiding his villainy Wells is and how strong Tom Cavanagh’s performance is. Having episodes like “The Sound and the Fury,” where he really is being incredibly selfless, and yet, part of you knows it’s all a show and it’s all fake, shows just how effective it really is. And even more so than that, it shows how much you want it to not be true. That’s the biggest thing that we discovered, as writers. When we watched the episode, and saw Tom in those scenes, you see how kind and supportive he is. There’s always those little moments, throughout the episode. Even though we’re the ones that made him evil, we sit there and go, “Why?! Why?! Just please be Harrison Wells. Please don’t be this nightmarish demon.” Hopefully, we’ve plotted it so that not being sure what he was, and then knowing that he’s the Reverse-Flash, but still not knowing what his full agenda is, people will have continued to invest in it without feeling like they’re too far ahead of the characters.
KREISBERG: In pretty interesting ways. In an upcoming episode, without letting Cisco know what he’s really thinking, Joe and Cisco launch a pretty spectacular investigation into what actually happened the night Barry’s mother died, which plays out in a really cool way. There’s something in Joe’s cop gut that tells him that this guy is wrong, and he can’t let that go. Joe smells something, and that’s definitely going to be causing problems for everyone, as the episodes progress.
The relationship between Joe and Barry is really great. Are we about to see it all fall apart?
KREISBERG: Not to give anything away, but no. Every episode with a great Joe and Barry scene is gold. It just is. They’re so good together, and you can see it. That love between them is not only acting, but it’s also between Grant and Jesse. There really is this father-son dynamic between them in real life, too. That’s the heart of the show, and you don’t want to mess with that. There’s enough pain and heartache everywhere else. I think one of the great strengths of The Flash is just how close everyone is on the show. They tend not to have these raging conflicts, like what we keep giving everybody on Arrow. That show is more of a soap opera, and I don’t say that derogatorily. I’m one third responsible for that soap opera. But there, we always think to ourselves, “How can we hurt these people more? What’s the worst thing we can do to Thea? What’s the worst thing we can do to Laurel? What’s the worst thing we can do to Oliver?” And the drama comes from there. Part of the strength of The Flash is that the drama comes from how these people who have banded together and love and trust each other, and how they deal with conflicts that come their way.
KREISBERG: Yes. We have this mystery where one of our characters is essentially the devil, and he’s mixed in with everybody else. If and when people find out, what will their reactions be? That’s the fun of this back half of the season, so I don’t want to speak too much about that. Joe and Barry are the rocks. It’s more about what they’re going to do, as opposed to creating a schism between them.
Is it Morena Baccarin’s voice that we hear in the episode?
KREISBERG: Yeah, it’s Morena, which, by the way, we cast her before Gotham. She is an old friend of mine from years and years back, and we asked her to do this. She was so gracious.
It’s been hinted at that you might be doing some time travel. Can you talk about that, at all?
KREISBERG: No. Well, if you’ve seen the pilot, you know in some subsequent episodes, certain individuals have certain knowledge of certain events that they wouldn’t have, if they didn’t have access to the future. So, if you’re a fan of the comics, you know that The Flash is ultimately all about time travel, and you’ll start getting some more hints of that. We have to satisfy the comic book fans, but we also have to satisfy the regular fans. For the regular fans, it’s all brand new to them, so they’re just going with it. And for the fans of the comic, we try to create and layer surprises, so that their expectations are met, but then we also subvert them in a way that they’ll enjoy and not be angry at.
KREISBERG: Obviously, Speed Force is very important to The Flash lore. We don’t have anything definitive, right now. The Speed Force is, in a way, a little bit like The Force in Star Wars. It is this amorphous thing. Hopefully, comic book fans will feel a little bit more like we’re heading in certain directions. For right now, it’s a catch-all phrase that speaks to a grander universe and a grander power and, ultimately, grander abilities. If you know the comics, you know what having access to the Speed Force gives you the ability to do.
What can we expect from Barry’s upcoming budding romance with Linda Park?
KREISBERG: Malese Jow is so adorable. She’s amazing. She and Grant are really fun together. We wanted Barry to have a little romance, and our iteration of Linda is a spark plug. She’s a firecracker. She’s a lot of fun, and she’s ballsy. She speaks her mind, and she’s cool. Barry can’t believe that somebody like her is interested in him. She’s in four or five episodes, and she’s really great. Barry suddenly having somebody like that in his life will cause all the other women in his life to maybe see a little green.
Iris is remarkably calm for someone who had her best friend tell her that he’s in love with her. Are we going to see that come up again?
KREISBERG: Yeah. They had that really nice talk in Episode 10, but it’s out there. And when he starts dating Linda, what he said he changed things, and it’s definitely weighing on her. It’s also going to weigh on Eddie, and it’s going to weigh on Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker). And it’s going to weigh on Linda, a little bit. Watching what putting that out there means is a lot of the emotion of the back half of the season.
KREISBERG: At that point, Ray needs a little help with his suit, and who better than Felicity’s high-tech guys at S.T.A.R. Labs? It happens to come at a particularly bad moment for Barry, but that’s partially why we did it. In the first episode with Felicity, Episode 4, she really came along at a time where her experience in being part of a crime-fighting team definitely helped Barry overcome what he was facing that week. And similarly, when she comes again this time, he’s having a crisis of conscience that, in some ways, only somebody like she can help him through. But, it’s a really fun episode. I hadn’t gotten to write much Ray this season, on Arrow. I got to write him in the Season Zero comic book that we wrote, and I loved it. So, getting to write him is just so much fun. And he finds a best friend in Cisco. There’s even a line in the script where Felicity says, “Ray is like Barry in Oliver’s body.” And then, she says, “Oh, god, did I say that out loud?” Ray, even though he looks like Brandon Routh, is just a big tech geek, at heart, so he and Cisco quickly bond. It’s just a fun episode. We have the Bug-Eyed Bandit, who’s a big Atom villain, and is going to be the villain in it.
Is there any particular reason why Central City doesn’t find out about the Oliver situation?
KREISBERG: When you do these things and you have these shared universes, sometimes it’s the coolest thing ever. There’s an upcoming thing in a Flash episode that feels like a throw-away, but it actually describes an event that happens in a flashback story, this season on Arrow. We do stuff like that. For us, it’s so much fun, and hopefully, the audience finds it fun. Last season, there were all the mentions of the accelerator on Arrow and Channel 52. But then, sometimes, it’s a real hindrance because we’re like, “Oliver’s missing. Call Barry and have him run to Nanda Parbat, and run all over the place until he finds him.” So, when it serves us, it’s absolutely great. But the more we talked about it, bringing all that up on The Flash side of things, especially given all of The Flash stories, knowing that Oliver is missing created more problems than it was worth. If we addressed it on the show, then it would seem a little bit unsympathetic because they were not throwing all of their S.T.A.R. Lab resources into finding Oliver. So, sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor. But, Ray and Felicity are coming.
KREISBERG: This season is really about introducing them all. We have Episode 16, where we’re going to have Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and Lisa Snart, or Golden Glider. And we’ve got The Trickster in Episode 17. Those dailies are incredible. So, we’re going to do something with all the Rogues. I can’t promise that it will be this season, but definitely. We know that the original Flash series, if they had gotten a second season, both John [Wesley Shipp] and Mark [Hamill] have told us that the first episode was going to be a giant Rogues episode. So, that sounds like maybe a good thing for us to do, since they didn’t get the opportunity to do that.
How did you decide on the Golden Glider casting?
KREISBERG: That was another no-brainer. I didn’t work on The Tomorrow People, but I was working with Greg [Berlanti] while it was all going on, and Peyton [List] is that rare bird of being so unbelievably gorgeous, but also being so unbelievably talented. She was just right at the top of the list. And she’s also really funny, so it felt like she would really fit in there. With Wentworth [Miller] and Dominic [Purcell], and the history that they have, and the shorthand and the in-jokes and the camaraderie, if you were going to throw somebody in there, it had to be somebody like Peyton, or they were going to get blown off the screen. She certainly stands toe-to-toe with the two of them, and it’s a really fun relationship, watching Captain Cold try to be a good big brother to this slightly psycho younger sister, and watching her manipulate Heat Wave, and his willingness to be a dumb lug for love. I can’t say enough about Dominic. He loves playing the part. And the three of them together is just so much fun to watch. You haven’t really seen that dynamic anywhere in live-action, watching all the villains team up. We’ve got Team Arrow and we’ve got Team Flash, but watching the Rogues form, and the complexity of those characters and the caliber of actors that we’ve gotten to play them, you can envision an episode where you’re just following them and you’re not bored.
Does it tempt you to do a villain spin-off?
KREISBERG: Oh, god!
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.