In the “Run, Iris, Run” episode of The CW series The Flash, Iris (Candice Patton) finally gets the opportunity to suit up and see what it’s like to be a superhero for herself. When Team Flash confront a new bus meta that Cisco (Carlos Valdes) has given the moniker Melting Pot (Leonardo Nam) for his ability to swap people’s DNA, he accidentally takes Barry’s (Grant Gustin) speed away and gives it to Iris. And with a new and very dangerous threat unleashed on Central City, Barry must step into Iris’ shoes and act as the team leader while Iris learns how to use being a speedster to defeat their foe.
After a screening of the episode at the offices of The CW, Candice Patton and executive producer Todd Helbing spoke to a handful of media outlets about meeting fan expectations with this episode, why it was fun to see Iris deal with superpowers for an episode, how they wanted to make her experience different from Barry’s, learning to work in front of a green screen, deciding on the right shoes for the costume, how Iris has changed since Season 1, the fan theories about Jessica Parker Kennedy’s mysterious character (who’s aptly named Mystery Girl), and whether Cecile’s (Danielle Nicolet) telepathic ability will play into things with DeVoe. Be aware that there are some spoilers discussed.
Question: Since this is such a highly anticipated episode, what can you say to tease how fan expectations might be met?
TODD HELBING: They get to see Iris run in the shoes of The Flash. Hopefully, it’s everything that they would want to see in an episode where Iris is the speedster.
CANDICE PATTON: Beyond that, it’s about Barry and Iris. It’s a complete role reversal. It’s about the team trusting in her and her getting her moment to step out from behind the console and be a leader, in a different way.
Candice, Iris has always been a hero without needing superheroes to be heroic. Did you want to see her try out powers for a little bit to see what that would be like?
PATTON: I did. I always thought it would be cool for fans and for the show to see her suit up for an episode. I never wanted it to be a thing, where Iris became a superhero on The Flash. We’ve got enough superheroes, and that’s just not who Iris is. The most important thing about who Iris is, as a character, is that she’s a hero, in her own right, without any superpowers. She uses her heart, her intellect, and her street smarts to help the team. It appeals to the audience that we, ourselves as human beings, every day, can be heroes in our own lives. We don’t need superpowers and we don’t need to get struck by lightning tomorrow to do something important. Irish illuminates that, on the show.
Todd, what did you want to do differently from Barry, when it came to Iris learning about her powers?
HELBING: It’s different because we knew that we were gonna do it in one episode, so it’s not like she can go throw all of the trials and tribulations that Barry went through. We knew that we wanted her to do something Barry had never done before. Using everything that she’s learned in the past, plus with Barry’s expertise, they could do something different. We really wanted to have this dynamic where, when they flop places, she gets to know what it’s like for Barry, every time he goes out there, and Barry gets to know what it’s like for her.
Candice, how cool was it to get to have superpowers?
PATTON: For the character, really cool. For me, it was just like riding a bike, for the first time. There is no school for acting in front of a green screen that I’m aware of. I’ve watched Grant [Gustin] do it for three years and been like, “Cool for you, bro. That’s something I’ll never have to do, but good for you.” I didn’t find out about this until shortly before we were shooting it.
HELBING: We like to just surprise people.
PATTON: Don’t do that! I could have done some more lunges! I had to learn to run in front of a green screen. Your arms are moving, but your legs are not, which is a weird thing. Grant, god bless him, was giving me tips like, “Don’t stand up straight and do it ‘cause you’re gonna look ridiculous. You have to hitch over.” He was giving me the play-by-play of how not to look like an idiot, on screen. He’s had four years to perfect that, and I got one episode to just try to make it not look stupid. It was weird and interesting and fun and challenging, all at the same time. It was great! I’m so happy I got to do that. I don’t know that I want to do it, every day.
Did you get to have any input on the actual costume?
PATTON: Not much, no. I did fight for the shoes. I call them the David Bowie shoes. They didn’t want me to have them because they were like, “I don’t know if it’s safe, or if you’ll slide in those.” I was like, “Have you seen me walking through S.T.A.R. Labs, in the heels that I wear? I can run in a low heel like that.” They were the coolest shoes I’ve ever seen.
HELBING: There was a specific reason for the jacket. That’s all I’ll give you.
PATTON: So, there was no input from me on that, for that reason.
Candice, now that Iris has gotten to have superpowers, even if only temporary, what else is on the bucket list?
PATTON: A child? Maybe that way I could get some vacation time.
HELBING: Let me tell you, as a parent, when you have a child, you never get vacation time.
PATTON: No one wants to see pregnant Iris at the controls. I’m just trying to get some vacation time. Help a girl out! I think the next step would be to eventually see Barry and Iris have a kid. I don’t know when that could possibly happen, with what they’re trying to do. For me, the bucket list is checked. If they kill me off tomorrow, I feel like I had a good run.
HELBING: I don’t think that’s happening!
Looking back on who Iris was in Season 1, how do you feel about how she’s changed and what makes you happiest about that?
PATTON: She’s changed so much. I’m really happy with her evolution. It’s taken some time, but it’s been done in a way where you really appreciate her growth. She was a young woman when we met her, not sure what she wanted to do with her life or who she even wanted to be with and marry. Now, she’s this secure married woman who’s the leader of a team and wants to be a journalist again. Also, she got to be a superhero for an episode. She dons all of these hats. She’s really grown as a woman, and I almost like that more than seeing Iris all put together in Season 1. Me, as a woman, I’m still not all put together. Seeing a woman that’s 100% put together is just so unrealistic. Me, at her age, I just was not. I like seeing her growth. I think it’s been a good thing to watch, over the last four years.
HELBING: There are blessings and curses with 23 episodes. On the pro side, you get a long time to develop these characters and watch them change and grow. But, you also have 23 episodes, every season.
PATTON: I know fans have been frustrated because they want to see her be this put-together woman, all at once, but I think it’s important for characters to grow into that, so that it’s believable.
Jessica Parker Kennedy has been popping up, here and there, this season. What can you say to tease her character and what she’s doing in Central City?
HELBING: Her title in the scripts right now is Mystery Girl. That’s what everybody is calling her, so that’s where we’ll leave it.
What do you think of all the theories that you’ve seen?
HELBING: They’re pretty fun.
Has anyone gotten it right?
HELBING: Not really, no. Every year, there are theories, all over the place, about what we’re doing. Some of them get pretty close, or they hit one part of it, but they don’t get other parts. It’s fun to read. I don’t think anybody is ever gonna guess exactly what it is, but they’re hitting the wall.
Do you have a fear of the fans coming up with something better than you have?
HELBING: That’s my daily existence. There may have been some that are a lot better.
Are there any that you want to rule out?
How will Cecile being a telepath eventually play into the DeVoe story?
HELBING: It’s really cool! I can’t really go into too much detail, but it plays in, in the last couple of episodes. It’s pretty trippy.
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.