‘The Flash’ Boss Looks Back on the Season 8 Finale That Almost Was

Spoiler Alert
The CW

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Flash‘s Season 8 finale, “Negative, Part 2.” So if you haven’t watched yet, maybe Chillblaine can hook you up with a containment unit like the one holding whatever Frost has become.]

After staving off Armageddon in a five-part arc, only to lose Frost (Danielle Panabaker) and then almost lose Iris (Candice Patton), our boy Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) closed out Season 8 in a, well, flashy show of superpowers. Thankfully, he has the world’s greatest support staff on hand, so as Team Flash mobilized to take on the Negative Speed Force crew, Barry was able to eventually center himself, see how a lot of this was his own doing and literally overpower the Negative Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh). Like, to the death.

At least that’s what showrunner Eric Wallace says. Here, he expands on taking this latest version of Thawne off the table for good, elevating Iris to the Queen status she has deserved since Day 1, tying this arc to past storylines, planting the seeds of next year’s villain(s?) and how The Flash would have ended if the show hadn’t been renewed for a ninth season.

OK, well you pulled it off. You tied it all to, what, Season 6 stuff?

Eric Wallace: It was all part of the plan.

But we still don’t know what that plan is going forward!

Well, that’s good! It’s a fresh start next year in Season 9, which is what’s really exciting for me and the writing staff and the directors and our producers and everybody. Seasons 6, 7 and 8: Even though they’re separate seasons and they all have their own separate graphic novels, we feel like in some ways you can look at those as one complete story. Like one big epic novel—you know, graphic novel, because we’re a comic book show. [Laughs]

And now that’s done. Barry and Iris have been through an insane journey where they started together, they were pulled apart a lot, and now they’ve gone through everything they went through. They’ve both leveled up. She’s leveled up. She’s almost on the same level as him. He’s leveled up as a superhero. The team is leveled up. They’re back together as a happy ending. Now it’s time to take it to an even higher level in Season 9. But who can come between them now that they are both at the peak of their emotional and superhero powers? That’s what’s gonna happen in Season 9, and that’s why we had to wrap everything up in this season finale. We wanna start clean next year. So we had to resolve time sickness, we had to show that we’re going to resolve Danielle Panabaker’s situation…

Oh yeah, that was a nice little tee-up. What are you getting into next with her?

[Laughs] It’s something new, okay? That’s all I can say. And something that people are not expecting. I pitched my crazy idea about six or seven months ago to Danielle, who was like, “Ooh, I like that. We have not done that before!”

The Flash - Danielle Panabaker

Shane Harvey/The CW

So is this something that comic fans will understand or recognize?

I don’t know, but like everything we do, it will become very clear, very quickly, what’s happening and why. And it has its roots in perhaps the past. I don’t wanna spoil anything.

All right. So what would you say Iris’s powers are now?

Well, it’s not that she has superpowers. That’s why everybody says [at the end], “Hey, I don’t have the force powers” and “Hey, I don’t glow with fire anymore.” What we have here now is that she knows what she brings to the equation, more than ever, is equal to what Barry brings to the equation. That’s really what this story has been about for three years and now I can talk about it, right? It’s ultimately a marriage story about the equality of partners and spouses in a marriage. That’s what this is really about. And what I really tried to get across is a healthy relationship works when both people bring equal things to the table, where both people have agency and both people are treated equally and are as equally important in the relationship’s functionality.

Does this mean that we’ll see more of Barry and Iris together next season, because it feels like they have been separated so much.

Oh, yes it does. And we had to do that, right? We had to do that to get where we are now. It’s one of the things I’m most excited about for Season 9—that it’s now time to see them at their best together. I’m very much looking forward to it.

The Flash - Grant Gustin + Candice Patton

Bettina Strauss/The CW

I spoke to  Tom Cavanagh last week—loved the suit upgrade, by the way—and asked if this sets him up as the next bad. Because, if there’s anyone who’s gonna be able to pull these two apart or threaten them or challenge them as a couple, it would have to be Thawne.

[Laughs] Well, that’s an interesting statement, you know? Without going into too many spoilers for Season 9, I will say this: Just like with Frost, the Negative Reverse Flash is dead. I mean, dead, dead, dead. Okay? This is a final death. Frost, I can tell you right now, is not coming back. Just like the Negative Reverse Flash is not coming back. However, Danielle Panabaker is coming back. And how could you have a season of The Flash without, at some point and some way, having Tom Cavanagh in it? So you never know where he might show up or how. It just won’t be what you think.

What else can you tell us?

We’ll have a brand new Big Bad right out of the gate. We’ll continue our graphic-novel format but we don’t know how many episodes we have yet. So right now, there’s two planned with interludes in the middle. That could change if we get a nice long order. I’d love to get it back up to three arcs, like we did this past year. We’ll have to wait.

Because the nature of this season, when we were writing this finale, it was like, “Okay, this could be the final episode of The Flash.” That was our other reason to wrap everything up: It really wasn’t until the 11th hour, until we were well into the writing of the script, that the news came down that we got a ninth season. So we had to change the ending. It used to be that the Negative Reverse Flash dies, everybody kumbayas and you actually have a longer sequence with Team Flash talking about where they might go next. And you would also have had a much longer sequence with Barry and Iris. They weren’t just sitting on the couch. There was talk of kids…let’s say it was a little bit more romantic and perhaps sexier, right? Because they gotta have kids, we know that! And there would have been a final scene, obviously with all of Team Flash, you know, hugging and all that to give us the goodbye. But they didn’t have to do that and so that put us in a position of, “Ooh, we can introduce next year’s Big Bad right now…let’s do that!”

And that is not what Chillblaine (Jon Cor) finds at the end? 

Nope, it’s not what he finds. [Laughs] Oh, I’m so happy that it was that it kind of snuck through, right? Wow. Yes. Yes. I would rewatch that one scene if I were you. It’s right in front of you.

The Flash - Jon Cor

Colin Bentley/The CW

Oh, the glowing rock!

Yes! But what does it mean? I can’t tell that but you will know very quickly, very quickly. That is the doorway into the first graphic novel. Actually, not just the first graphic novel. We’re gonna do something a little different next year with our graphic novel format where there might be a little, how should we say, cross-pollination. One of the things I talked about with the staff is, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to see more of our two Big Bads next year, maybe in the same place at the same time?”

I just think it’s so fun. And you know, I have made no secret of my love for Zoom. So I put a little Easter egg in 815 because I’ve always wanted to get Zoom and Godspeed together. I think they would be a great team…I can’t guarantee it [ever happening] but I am gonna try.

Well, there’s always The Flash Museum…they could be housed together in an exhibit of villains.

Oh, that’s right. I forgot that! It’s funny you should mention that. When it was going to be a series finale, the end of this episode originally had STAR Labs being destroyed and it was going to be rebuilt into The Flash Museum. That got dropped, but I could see that happening towards the end of next year.

And actually, from the beginning of Season 8, I wanted everybody to see Armageddon. But you couldn’t really see Armageddon because Barry has to prevent it in the first five episodes. Then I thought about the end of Season 8 and realized we could see Armageddon in an unexpected way. So the Armageddon-like battle between Negative Reverse Flash and The Flash would have originally destroyed even more of the town. It would have destroyed STAR Labs, hence, allowing us to rebuild it.

OK, so if Seasons 6 to 8 were the WestAllen Omnibus, what sort of vibe do you see for Season 9?

Barry and Iris are now in, let’s call it “Phase 2.” And I always think of stories in larger terms, so I’m kind of thinking of the next Omnibus in terms of two years, Seasons 9 and 10. And I know what you’re thinking, “Eric, are we getting a Season 1o?” Right, right, I’m just trying to get to 9, but as far as my thinking goes, I’m thinking now of a new two-year plan to get us to 200 episodes, which would be in Season 10. I don’t know if we’ll get to do that, but I gotta have a plan. And in this new kind of Omnibus, I want it to be fun, a little bit sexier and a little bit more romance mixed in with the action.

I want us to come out of the darkness into a little bit of light. And honestly, that’s perhaps in reaction to the world right now. I need some fun and I think our audience does, too.

The Flash, Season 9, 2023, The CW