‘The Flash’: John Wesley Shipp on Jay Getting His Speed Back & Playing Mentor to Bart
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Flash Season 7 Finale “Heart of the Matter, Part 2.”]
How do you stop replicas of a god of speed? With a team of speedsters. Barry (Grant Gustin), his wife Iris (Candice Patton) — with a jolt from the Speed Force — as well as their kids from the future, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Bart (Jordan Fisher), and Jay Garrick (John Wesley Shipp) team up to take on the Godspeed clones in The Flash finale.
Then, to stop Godspeed himself, Barry teams up with the enemy, Thawne (Tom Cavanagh). In the end, Godspeed’s locked up (and his memory of Barry’s identity is erased), and Thawne is still out there to be a thorn in the Flash’s side in the future. But the season ends on a happy note, with everyone gathered for Barry and Iris’ vow renewal.
Shipp, who played Barry Allen in the ’90s CBS show The Flash, breaks down the finale and teases what could be ahead if we see Jay again in Season 8. Plus, he teases his upcoming appearance in Stargirl Season 2.
Thirty years later, and we’re still seeing you as The Flash, which is awesome.
John Wesley Shipp: [Laughs] It’s a trip.
Speaking of, Jay gets his speed back, then everything goes down with the Godspeed clones, and he’s immediately back in the fight and using his helmet in such an awesome way in the finale. So it’s just like riding a bike for him, right?
Yes! One thing that was so fantastic is Jay gets to use a power, and what a great concept to have each superhero get to use a new spin on their power that we haven’t seen them use before. And of course, with Jay, it’s the helmet. What fun, to get to do something other than be beat up or dragged through the woods, to actually do something and be effective as a member of the team and helping to solve the Godspeed War. That was a lot of fun. I also thought that was a brilliant idea to give everybody a new power that they get to exercise in that War.
And I liked the little tap on the helmet after.
Oh, they kept that in the bing on the helmet? Oh, great, good. Because you never know. That’s the peril of doing these interviews is that you know what you did and you know what you meant to do, but you don’t know what they shot and you had no idea what they edit in or edit out. So I’m delighted to hear that they kept [that in].
Because all of that happens in such a short period of time, does Jay know what’s next for him as a speedster? Back to the usual?
We know that change is constant and the speed went away once. It could go away again, we don’t know, but for now, both John and Jay are loving the fact that he has use of his powers. I got to tell you, that cane worried me. [Laughs] I was like, “Oh no, come on.” When I was talking to [showrunner] Eric [Wallace] about coming back for these last two episodes, he said, “Jay gets his speed back.” And I said, “Say no more. You got me. Say no more. That’s enough. That’s what I wanted to hear.”
And the second thing was that I would have the opportunity to play a mentor-protégé relationship that I missed with Wally [Keiynan Lonsdale]. It went in a different direction. I get to play some of that with Bart because Bart and Jay have this amazing connection, which is also cool because it’s based on a lived history that Jay hasn’t experienced yet. So in the finale, when Bart comes to Jay with this energy and calls him Uncle Jay, Jay’s delighted, but he doesn’t quite understand where all that’s coming from because he hasn’t lived it yet. What a fascinating concept.
I loved that conversation between Jay and Bart in the finale because we heard about that relationship with the conversation that Bart had with Nora in the previous episode.
And wasn’t that beautiful? Oh my God. That broke my heart. He totally sold that relationship.
Being an uncle is new for Jay, but he’s coming into this role though that Bart and Nora know him in already.
Exactly! I couldn’t have put it any better myself. They know me in a role based on a lived history that I haven’t experienced yet. That just blows my actor’s mind. It’s so cool.
And for all Jay knows, he’s going to live that again, coming up in the future, depending on what happens with Barry and Iris and kids.
Right. Yeah. And there could be payoff for the intrinsic closeness that exists between Bart and Jay [in the future]. We find out Jay was impulsive, like Bart is, when Jay was younger and having lived decades and decades and learned some things, when Bart goes to do something, he knows the root of it and maybe knows how to temper it a little bit better than someone as close as his own father Barry might be able to. [I think] there [could be] a very special relationship that develops between Bart and Joan [Michelle Harrison] and Jay.
The Speed Force looks like his wife and he just says that she looks like someone very close to him. Would anything faze Jay at this point?
It’s like, “you look like someone very familiar to me.” But he knows so much about the Speed Force and if he has any value to the team, it’s because of that, his experience with the Speed Force and the different developments and the hypercollider and how we used it to get past the superluminal wall. And then we use it in another way in the finale. His experience in this world is what he has to offer.
[If Jay returns], there will be challenges. You see it in the finale — Jay’s like, “Uncle, OK, that’s new. I like it.” But he doesn’t really know how to manage that role. So there may be some surprises down the road in that respect.
The season ends on a very happy note, with Barry and Iris’ vow renewal.
It was great to have everybody there, and it was terrific to have so many speedsters fighting in the field together, in the Godspeed War. The pictures that I’ve seen released, where we’re all out there together, what a comic book lover’s dream to see that happen. And certainly the wedding — we all got to be in civilian clothes. We got to end on a happy note and on love and reconnecting and recommitment and on an emotional note.
I think it’s one thing that The Flash has done very well — and this was particularly in the first season — it balanced an action-adventure superhero, ride-at-the-amusement-park, leaping tall buildings in a single bound kind of massive entertainment with heart moments or moments that hit the heart. Combining those two is where Flash is at its best. And we got ’em. When I read the last two episodes, I was counting the special effects and I was like, “Wow, OK, they’re going all out.” But they end on a moment that speaks to the heart. And I think it’s balancing those two things that make The Flash the show that it is.
We’re going to see you over on Stargirl in Season 2. Is there anything you can tease about that?
Yes! All I can say is everybody, start watching Stargirl on August 10. I’m in the ninth episode. Don’t wait for me. It’s a great new show that has a new show energy and it’s unique. I loved working with Luke Wilson, Lou Ferrigno Jr. working with all these people. Geoff Johns was on the set every day. It actually felt like one of the early seasons of The Flash, when everybody was there. And I gotta tell you, it’s got a great energy around it.
It’s what people use to say about The Flash. They’d say, “Well, I don’t know. It’s a new version. It’s a younger Barry Allen. I don’t know if I’m going to watch it, the CW Flash.” And I said, “I have one request. Watch the premiere and then make up your mind.” Well, that’s what I’m going to say about Stargirl. Because I think unless I am much mistaken I think it’s going to be a big hit.
The Flash, Season 8 Premiere, Tuesday, November 16, 8/7c, The CW
DC’s Stargirl, Season 2 Premiere, Tuesday, August 10, 8/7c, The CW