Directed by Tom Cavanagh, the episode of The Flash entitled “Elongated Journey Into Night” shows what can happen when you a parent gets in the middle of a romantic relationship. While Cisco (Carlos Valdes) thinks things are going very well with Gypsy (Jessica Camacho), her father, Breacher (Danny Trejo), would rather hunt him. At the same time, Barry (Grant Gustin) finds himself face-to-face with his old nemesis, Ralph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer), who isn’t quite the same guy that he was, the last time they saw each other.
After a screening of the episode at the offices of The CW, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and guest star Danny Trejo talked about what it’s like to be welcomed into The Flash family, the tone of Season 4, balancing action and comedy, when we might see Gypsy and Breacher again, introducing stretching powers, what Ralph Dibny brings to Team Flash, when Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) will return, the pregnancy storyline, just what DeVoe is up to, what viewers can expect from Katee Sackhoff, the “Girl’s Night Out Episode,” and the upcoming epic four-show cross-over. Be aware that there are some spoilers.
Question: Danny, how did you come to be a part of this show?
DANNY TREJO: They asked me and I said, “Hell, yeah!” It’s one of the most popular shows on TV, so I was like, “Yeah!” I immediately said yeah. It would be dumb to say no. I really enjoyed the whole thing. The cast is unbelievable. It’s like a big family up there.
ANDREW KREISBERG: We were in the writers’ room coming up with this character. Often, someday says, “Do you know who would be great for this?” And someone said, “Danny Trejo.” A lot of times, you don’t ask because you’re afraid or you assume people would say no, but you never find out, if you don’t ask. So, we asked and he said yes, and it’s awesome!
What’s it like to get that yes from an actor you really want for a particular character?
KREISBERG: For us, once the image came into our heads, we couldn’t imagine anybody else doing it. It’s a tough part because it’s really hard to be known for being an action star, but also have a sense of humor, especially with this cast. Between Tom [Cavanagh] and Carlos [Valdes] and Grant [Gustin] and Jessica [Camacho], who’s turned out to be such a bright comedienne, you really need somebody who’s gonna play tennis. If Danny had said no, I’m not sure what we would have done. But even then, it was far funnier than we could have imagined. When you decide who the directors are gonna be, we have a grid for the year. There are a couple of episodes that you know, like the mid-season finale, so you probably want one of your better directors because you know that will be a big episode. But a lot of times, you don’t know what episode is going to be what. We put Tom Cavanagh in this slot, and I always find that, no matter what you do, you wind up with the perfect director for that episode, and having Tom, who’s an actor’s director and who’s so funny himself, took this episode to new levels, not just for Danny’s performance, but also for Hartley [Sawyer] ‘cause it was his first episode.
This season has been a lot funnier, so far, and it almost feels like a new show. What did you want to do, going into this season?
KREISBERG: My goal for the year was that people would think I got fired and they brought somebody new on. I think there’s a public perception that we really felt like we needed to make a course correction after last season, but we just don’t want to keep doing the same thing that we’ve always done. I’ve read some things where people are like, “Oh, it’s back to Season 1.” I think people are mis-remembering how dark Season 1 was. It was about avenging the death of Barry’s mother and his father was in jail, and we had The Mist, Blackout and Girder. We had some tough guys as our villains. So, when we were sitting down for the season, we just thought it wasn’t going to get any darker than it got last season, with the possible death of Iris, with the death of H.R., and with Barry’s future doppleganger as the villain. We just wanted to do something new and do something fun. Our goal was that we said, if the previous seasons were Raiders of the Lost Ark, this season is The Last Crusade, where we’re commenting on the silliness of the show, and wanting everybody to just have a good time and have it be funny. We have a bunch of new writers this season, who are all hilarious, and we have stuff coming up where you’re gonna die. It’s just silly, crazy and fun. I think people are craving a little bit of that right now. It’s a tough world. Having 42 minutes of just pure unadulterated joy is something that people are keen for.
Danny, you’ve played so many menacing roles, but what was it like to play comedy? How was your experience on set?
TREJO: My experience on set was awesome. It’s like a big family, and they welcomed me, right away. I love comedy. Being fierce ain’t that hard. You just show up. I like the way that they put both menacing and funny together. The whole thing would just crack me up and they’d go, “Cut! Do it again, Danny. You’re not supposed to laugh!” It was really a lot of fun and a great experience. Like I said, I love comedy. That’s what entertainment is. It’s just being able to go from this menacing character, and then make people laugh.
What did you enjoy about working with Carlos Valdes and getting that right degree of antagonism?
TREJO: That cute kid? He’s a lot of fun, and just a really great actor. He’s really, really good. His timing is awesome, and it just worked. Sometimes you just get on set and automatically like someone. He was like a little brother, but then he knew his lines and he didn’t bump into the furniture. He gives you a lot. It’s give-and-take, and he gave a lot. It was a lot of fun. It’s definitely work, but it was a lot of fun. It was an E-ticket ride, really.
How is this experience with Breacher going to affect Cisco and Gypsy’s relationship, going forward?
KREISBERG: We’re talking about that right now, about what the next iteration of that plan is. We’re so happy for Jessica that she’s on Taken this year, which somewhat limits our ability to have her be in more episodes. Right now, we’re working on a Cisco-Breacher story that doesn’t involve Gypsy. We love Gypsy and we love Jessica, so we haven’t wanted to let her commitments to Taken influence our storytelling. We also think it’s nice that one couple just doesn’t have any problems, other than her father trying to kill [her boyfriend]. Jessica is coming back in Episode 9. Their relationship is steady and moving well.
TREJO: Cisco and Breacher go fishing.
KREISBERG: That’s pretty much it, but they’re not fishing for fish. It’s the old tropes. It’s the classic buddy movie. Enemies become friends, and friends become enemies.
How much would you like to use Danny Trejo, going forward?
KREISBERG: As much as he’s available.
TREJO: That’s awesome! Like I said, it’s one of the biggest series on TV right now, so I’m available.
KREISBERG: We’re so excited by the tone of this year. It just feels fresh and it feels fun, and we love the people that we’re adding. With Danny and with Katee [Sackhoff], who’s gonna be in three or four more episodes, this year more than any year, we’ve really found those fun supporting characters to come in that don’t overwhelm everybody else. They actually serve to enhance our stories.
Can you talk about introducing stretching powers, in comparison to running and speed?
KREISBERG: We spoke to Armen Kevorkian, who’s our visual effects producer on this show, Supergirl and Legends, and we asked him, “Can we legitimately pull this off?” He always says yes, but he always delivers. It’s funny, what we’ve been learning is that sometimes the crazier the thing is, the easier it is for them to do. Stretching his hand at the end, to shake Barry’s hand, took 50 different iterations. Finally, they had to make Barry’s hand digital, so that’s Grant’s digital hand shaking his hand, at the end. That took forever. The shot where he sneezed into his face was one pass, and that shot was just incredible. Now that it’s over, we’re doing a post-mortem on this episode to figure out what we can do well and what we can’t do well. It was the same thing with the speed. In the beginning, we would have multiple passes of him just running because they couldn’t get it right. There was too much lightning, not enough lightning, the lightning wasn’t coming off of him the right way, he looked blurry, he looked too clean, or whatever it was. Now, we don’t even give notes on that stuff. I think with Ralph, it will be the same way, but right now, we’re figuring out when it should be him and when it shouldn’t be him, when it should be the digital double, and when his pants should be digital.
Ralph always had a lighter presence in the comics, and he’s funny, but you’ve effectively darkened him up, a little bit. What made you want to give him a grittier past?
KREISBERG: You don’t want to add something that you already have. Ralph, in the comics, is very squeaky clean and a good guy, and the one thing we didn’t have on this show, because everybody is so likeable, is a jerk. Harry is a jerk, in a different way, but we didn’t have somebody who was just a louse and crude and who liked to drink, and who’s somebody that would come in and point out how silly it is that everybody is in a superhero show. With so many of these characters, they’re not who they are yet. They’re becoming the Green Arrow, or becoming The Flash. We thought it would be interesting if he had a murkier backstory, so that by the time we got to season whatever, he’s the Ralph Dibny that everybody knows and loves from the comics. That was the decision. And it’s different from Barry. We have an episode coming up where Ralph gets hurt, and he didn’t know he could die. Cisco is like, “Wait, I’m sorry, were you only doing this because you thought you were invincible?!” And he’s like, “Yeah! Why else would I be doing this?!” It’s interesting ‘cause it’s different, as opposed to a speedster. Jesse and Wally were both going on very similar trajectories to Barry, but Ralph’s problems and his hero’s journey has different facets to it, which make it feel fresh.
Like with speed, are you trying to figure out all the different things you can do with stretching?
KREISBERG: Yeah, and there’s a couple of big things coming. There’s a reason we chose Ralph, this season. Some of the things he’s able to do, you’ll look back and go, “Oh, they had a plan!”
How long have you had Ralph on your bucket list?
KREISBERG: Every once in awhile, somebody would bring it up as an episodic thing, but we thought he was too big of a deal. It’s Season 4 and shows can get stale, so we really wanted to bring somebody in and have it feel like something new and different, and like something you haven’t seen a lot on television, and not just with his skill set, but also that character. Show that have seven, eight or nine years always have that new character come in around Season 3, 4 or 5, that helps take you through the rest of the way. They’re not similar as characters, but like Faith on Buffy, that was our hope for Hartley.
Is there a Sue in Ralph’s future?
KREISBERG: Yeah, but I think we want to wait until we get to know Ralph and exhaust Ralph where he is, before he meets Sue. Ralph and Sue are endgame, as the kids like to say. You don’t want to bring her in too soon, but it’s definitely in our plan. If not for this year, then we’ll see.
When will we see Wally again? What’s Keiynan Lonsdale’s status on the show?
KREISBERG: Keiynan is a regular, and you will see him back in Episode 7.
Will you go to Blue Valley?
KREISBERG: No. It’s too expensive.
Was Wally leaving why you brought in Ralph now?
KREISBERG: There are things that will become clearer, as the season goes on. For us, it was difficult having two speedsters on the show, creatively and financially. There were a lot of times where either Barry had to get knocked out so that Wally could save the day, or that Wally had to get knocked out so that Barry could save the day. Just even knocking them out cost a lot of money. And also, creatively, we had to go through that scenario a lot. Wally is not gone, and Wally is certainly not gone from the Arrow-verse. He’ll be back on The Flash, and more exciting stuff about Wally will be revealed, as we move forward with the season.
Why did you decide to include a pregnancy storyline in the show, and how did you decide to give it to Joe?
KREISBERG: First of all, that scene with that song, and the way it played out and filmed was all Tom Cavanagh. That wasn’t the way it was in the script. Tom said, “I’ve got a vision for that.” And we said, “Go for it!” I want to give him props for making that moment. And as far as the pregnancy thing, when we sit down at the beginning of the year and try to figure out every character, we always try to figure out what we can do to throw people off. It’s usually about this time where your leads get pregnant, so we thought what was the most unexpected thing we could do for Joe. And we love Danielle Nicolette, who plays Cecile. We thought, this guy whose kids are basically getting married, who’s finally an empty nester, is suddenly finding out that he’s going to have a baby. What does that entail? We just thought that would be the funniest thing we could possibly do to Joe. For all of the insane things that he deals with, like meta-humans, breachers, people from other dimensions and time travelers, that “Holy crap, I’m middle-aged and I’m going to have a baby again” thing just seemed like the funniest thing we could do. We’ve been trying to ground the show more in people having real issues without it being so ,“I saw the future!,” or the kinds of problems that people don’t have.