The Flash has recently wrapped what many people have deemed as its most disappointing season yet. What many people once thought of as the one of the best pieces of DC content ever on live-action has been having quite an underwhelming run ever since the Crisis.
This week’s finale titled “Heart of the Matter, Part 2,” came one week after the flagship Arrowverse series celebrated its milestone 150th episode. The finale featured Karan Oberoi’s August Heart/Godspeed and his army of clones wreaking havoc in Central City, and saw the entire Flash Family including XS and Impulse fighting alongside each other in order to protect Central City at all costs.
The season finale also saw the return of many fan-favorite characters such Carlos Valdes’s Cisco and John Wesley Shipp’s Jay Garrick alongside Tom Cavanaugh’s Reverse Flash, and was definitely the best entry of the season.
The Flash’s showrunner, executive producer, and writer Eric Wallace sat down with Deadline to break down the season’s highlights and to tease what is in the future for the show that is now going into its eighth installment as he also dishes out on the five-part special mini crossover event at the start of Season 8.
The Flash: Eric Wallace talks Season 8 and the Mini-Crossover Event.
DEADLINE: How long have you had the framework for the Season 7 finale in mind?
ERIC WALLACE: It probably goes back a year, and I guess the biggest part of that was knowing that we wanted to introduce Impulse in the 150th and 151st [episodes]. When I made the decision that his fate would be tied to Godspeed’s fate, that’s when the story started to come together. After that, [it was about], “How big and exciting and action-packed and emotional can we make our season finale this year?”
The reason I wanted to do that was that I felt that last year, we got kind of cut off in the middle of things, and I know how hard that was for the audience. It was hard for the cast and crew because it felt incomplete, even though it made for a nice cliffhanger, which I’m very happy about. But I wanted to really, with this finale, say thank you to the fans, and give them something special to make up for the unintended cliffhanger of last year, which is why this finale has such a close-ended feel. It almost feels, in some ways, like a series finale, even though it’s not. But that was on purpose. That was just a little thank you to the fans, saying, “Thank you for being here during the Covid pandemic. We all know how hard it was, is, and continues to be, and hopefully, this helps a little bit.”
DEADLINE: Were there any plot lines that you thought about taking in a different direction, or story elements you thought about including? Or did the concept for the episode remain the same, from your initial breaking of story all the way up to production?
WALLACE: Everything has remained the same. Everything that I wanted to make sure we, as a writing staff, were able to address…pretty much got addressed. I think there’s only one little thing that’s hanging a little bit, but that’s on purpose, and that’s Iris’s time sickness. [That plays] a big role in Season 8, so we wanted to not resolve that in the finale. There was actually a deleted scene from the finale that just didn’t quite work for a lot of reasons. It did address Iris’s time sickness, but we decided it would be better to save it for the beginning of Season 8.
DEADLINE: Original cast members Carlos Valdes and Tom Cavanagh officially exited as series regulars prior to the finale—as we told you first—though both appear in tonight’s episode. How did you figure out how you would employ the actors in the finale, given that both played multiple characters, throughout the series’ run?
WALLACE: Both of those were planned long in advance. [Tom’s] last episode as a series regular was actually going to be the season finale of last year, 622. But because of the Covid pandemic, 622 became 703.
I thought that was a serendipitous thing that turned out to be really cool, but we always knew, when he went away as Timeless Wells, [that] he would have to come back…to help with the third graphic novel, which was the God Complex storyline with the Forces. And we always knew what we were driving towards at the end of Season 7, which is this surprise team-up between two foes. I knew very consciously that the only way to really sell how dangerous and powerful Godspeed was, was to show that the Flash needed his enemy’s help to take this guy down. So, that was the plan right out of the gate, at the top of Season 7, with Tom’s character.
With Carlos’ character, it was a little hilarious because we didn’t know at first how many episodes he would be able to appear in, and then Covid obviously complicated matters greater. So, we ended up having to do his goodbye episode—which was Episode 12, “Good-Bye Vibrations”—a little sooner than we had anticipated. We actually thought we would have him for more episodes in Season 7. But again, because of Covid, our whole season order—like many shows—was reduced. But it worked out just fine. I had the foresight to go, “All right, whenever you leave, I’m saving your last two for the end”….Because I talked to Carlos, and it was important to both of us that the character of Cisco take part in the 150th anniversary two-part celebration.
DEADLINE: It must have been hard to bid Valdes and Cavanagh farewell.
WALLACE: It’s bittersweet. I wish everybody the best. Carlos and Tom had been here since day one—longer than I have—and were such an important part of the show. But I get that sometimes they want to do other things. It’s human nature. But that’s why we always keep the door open for them…They’re always welcome back. I have already joked with Carlos: I said, “What if I had a very special two-parter?” and he kind of gave me that grin. So, we’ll see if that gets paid off. There’s no plans for that obviously, because he is leaving, but you never know.
One thing [their exit] does do for us that’s a silver lining—I guess that’s the only way to look at it—is, while we’ve lost some characters that have been with us for a longer time, that means we have less series regulars. I guess that will give us an opportunity in Season 8 and beyond to continue to grow some of the newer cast members that the audience may not know as well.
DEADLINE: At the end of tonight’s episode, Cavanagh’s Eobard Thawne (aka Reverse Flash) vanishes. It’s suggested, though, that he will be back “someday.” Do you have concrete plans for his return?
WALLACE: I’m not going to answer that because there’s spoilers involved there. I will only say this: The Reverse Flash is a person that keeps his promises. [Laughs]
DEADLINE: Where are you at with Season 8?
WALLACE: The writers’ room has just convened. We’re a couple of weeks in and we’re going to kick the season off, as has already been announced, with our five-part special event. Now, because it’s coming up so fast, I did have to really formulate the story for this five-part event before we had finished writing Season 7. That was a little crazy, but what it did give us is a great continuity between Seasons 7 and 8. So again, for example, with Iris’s time sickness, we know exactly where we’re going with that next year…and how it will resolve.
The writing’s going well. A lot of the same writers and directors will be returning next year. We’re very excited, and who knows? There might be a few very unexpected, special guest stars, especially on our special event, so we want folks to stay tuned.
DEADLINE: What more can you tell us about what’s to come next season?
WALLACE: I would say this is the season of Flash where we’re making a conscious effort to turn Grant into The Flash from the comic book—the most confident, incredibly powerful, secure team leader. It’s really a season for Grant to shine in a way that perhaps he hasn’t been able to shine always, and it’s very exciting. The question is, how is that wrapped up in his romance with Iris? [They’re] in a really great place at the end of Season 7, and that will obviously continue, but I think their biggest challenge that they’ve ever faced lies ahead, and it’s going to be tough. It’s going to take what I consider to be one of the great love stories in the history of television to survive what they are about to go through, especially in the back half of Season 8. But don’t worry. It’ll be a happy ending.
DEADLINE: As Barry and Iris renew their vows, Cecile hints to Joe that she “loves weddings.” So, I imagine their romance will be further explored next season, as well.
WALLACE: One thing I’ll say that’s related to that question directly is, we’re going to see a few more relationships blossoming in Season 8 of The Flash than we’ve seen in the last two years. I won’t say with what characters, but let’s just say romance is going to be in the air in a very bizarre way, in the middle and back half of our season. It’s going to be really fun, and you might even see some old, familiar faces from our first few seasons of the show.
DEADLINE: Might August Heart (aka Godspeed) return, after finding himself locked up in Iron Heights?
WALLACE: Yeah. What happened to Godspeed at the end of the Season 7 finale was twofold. He was already angry at Impulse. But now, because of The Flash’s intervention, he has made a mortal enemy of Godspeed. By saving his kid and saving the day, and saving the town at the end of the Godspeed Civil War, [Barry] made a terrible, terrible enemy in August Heart, and sooner or later, that’s going to bite him.
DEADLINE: Will Season 8 further examine Kristen Kramer, following her realization that she’s a meta?
WALLACE: You should tune in to for the first few episodes; you might get the answer right out of the gate. [Laughs]
DEADLINE: Will we revisit past villains this fall, or be introduced to new ones?
WALLACE: This year, we’ll see, as usual, a combination of both. Our graphic novel format will continue, and one of those graphic novels has a brand new villain to the Flash, to the Arrowverse, which I’m very, very excited about. He’s a very scary fellow, and when he shows up, we might dip our toes into the world of horror and the supernatural.
So, it’s going to be very fun and very different for the show. But also, we will see some returning, classic Flash villains that we all know and love.
DEADLINE: Are you planning a crossover event for the end of this year?
WALLACE: No. At least, not at this point. There are still a lot of Covid protocols in place, which limit a lot of the things we can do as a production. However, with this five-part event, we want to deliver the same feeling to the audience that you would get with a crossover kind of story. That’s really the goal here, to give them something that’s not just an ordinary season premiere—something special, [in terms of] the guest stars that will be joining us, but also in the story that we’re telling. It is a little bit bigger than usual for The Flash, which was very exciting. I think it’ll give people that sense of scope that you sometimes feel—both emotionally and in the action sequences—with a crossover, without actually having 20 characters in one scene.
DEADLINE: So, the special event is a temporary replacement for the standard Arrowverse crossover, necessitated by Covid restrictions?
WALLACE: Exactly, and don’t get me wrong. We’d all love to do a traditional crossover, but we’re just not there yet. With Covid protocols and things, it’s just not possible.
DEADLINE: Grant Gustin is one of a number of Flash cast members, whose contracts end at Season 8. Could this mean that the show’s s upcoming season will be its last?
WALLACE: To be honest with you…I don’t know. Let’s all find out together, but until I hear differently, everything’s fine. You know? I know that’s super vague, but it’s just the honest truth. Anything can happen in this world.
DEADLINE: Do you have a sense of how much more story there is to tell with the show?
WALLACE: I feel this show could run easily for at least several more seasons, and possibly beyond. Because I feel like every season, we, as a writing staff, have to decide between all the wonderful stories we want to tell, versus how many episodes we actually have to tell them. We have so much more that we’d love to show the audience and give to them, as a thank you for coming along on this ride with us, but we just can’t get to it. That’s why I say, there’s many more seasons worth of stories to tell, at least from our creative perspective.
The Flash will return with its Season 8 in November.