Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve seen “The Flash” Season 1, Episode 15, titled “Out of Time.”
Yes, “The Flash” just sent Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) back in time, and the repercussions of that inadvertent act will change the course of The CW series forever — which is just as well, given that the March 17 episode also saw Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) reveal his true identity as the Reverse Flash — aka Eobard Thawne — to STAR Labs tech genius Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) right before killing him. On a more positive note, “Out of Time” also allowed Barry to admit his own super secret to Iris West (Candice Patton), after the two shared a long overdue kiss. But how many of Episode 15’s revelations will remain intact after Barry’s trip to the past?
To get answers, Variety was among a number of outlets that participated in a Q&A with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and stars Tom Cavanagh and Candice Patton following a screening of the episode, and we also caught up with Gustin, co-star Rick Cosnett (Eddie Thawne) and executive producer Greg Berlanti at the show’s recent PaleyFest panel in Hollywood. Read on to find out how Barry’s new ability will affect the coming episodes, and what Eddie shares with Eobard, besides a last name.
If I Could Turn Back Time
As it stands, Cisco is dead, Iris knows Barry’s secret identity, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) is probably very suspicious of Wells and Central City is in the path of a tsunami created by the new Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre), but how much of that will still be true after next week’s episode?
Kreisberg wasn’t telling. “The ramifications of this episode are the fun of Episode 16, and seeing exactly what happened in 15, how much of it still happens and how much of it might possibly change,” he teased. “It’s sort of the advantage of having a show that dabbles in time travel; this episode allowed us to give people a tease and a taste and make some big reveals, because, as always, we try to not keep every secret all the time. We try to dole some stuff out and start giving the audience some of the answers that I think they’ve been craving, because there are still plenty of things that have been unsaid — what Wells really wants for Barry ultimately and how things are going to play out — but this episode just felt like an amazing opportunity to do some crazy stuff.”
Cavanagh admitted that in many cases when a show takes such a big swing, future episodes can seem underwhelming by comparison.
“That is not the case [here], so as we read the next one that comes, you’re like, ‘oh, that happens!’ Much the same way that Cisco moment happens, we have large and small moments that use this as a starting point,” he said. “Our season finale is also something to be reckoned with … it escalates nicely.”
Patton agreed, “I remember when I read this episode I was thinking, ‘where can we go from here? We’ve given everything away, what can we possibly do?’ Andrew always says, ‘use what you have now and we’ll think of new ideas later,’ and I think that’s what’s really great about our show and this episode. If they’re gonna do this in Episode 15 I can only imagine what the season finale is like and that’s exactly how you should feel, you can only imagine what the finale’s going to be like.”
Wells (or should we say Thawne?) might’ve dispatched Cisco pretty brutally, but Cavanagh argued that murdering his STAR Labs sidekick wasn’t a decision his character made lightly. “There’s a genuine affection between them, like when we’re watching the movie. when Thawne is in the current time, he’s wholly invested and he truly cares about Cisco and is truly impressed with him… he sees some of him[self] in Cisco and there’s a protégé-mentor relationship and there’s a genuine relationship. When he says that line, ‘you’ve shown me what it’s like to have a son,’ he’s not saying that idly, he means it. At the same time, the guy’s gotta get home.”
Kreisberg reasoned, “If one of us was suddenly thrown back many centuries into the past and it took you 15 years to get home, you wouldn’t be sitting there by yourself; you’d meet people, you’d make friends. Even if, intellectually, you were understanding that all these people have been long dead and ‘it doesn’t really matter to me where I come from, every one of them could die and my home is still where it is,’ no man is an island … Eobard Thawne himself is not an evil man. He has a reason for doing what he’s doing and he has an agenda and he thinks of himself as the hero. Bad people can love other people; bad people are capable of love, bad people are capable of incredible amounts of kindness and generosity. There’s nothing he said to Cisco in that scene that isn’t the truth. He’s sorry he found out, he’s sorry it has to happen, but it does have to happen, and there’s a scene in episode 16 which kind of mirrors this scene that I think really speaks to that.”
Kreisberg also revealed that the scene’s real emotional impact was a product of a collaboration between the actors and writers. “We didn’t even script that [Cisco] cries; it was a notion that Tom and Carlos worked out where the minute Tom walks into the room, Carlos knows he’s going to die. It wasn’t even something we intended, it’s what they brought to it.”
Thawne’s agenda has now shifted from his initial goal, according to Kreisberg. “He wants to get home. He wanted to kill Barry and he thought it was going to be a neat and easy thing, and instead he’s found himself trapped here for the last 15 years and all he wants to do is get back… Every day in this time is an assault on him… and if he can kill Barry in the process, then he’s two for two.”
For now, though, Cavanaugh says, “he’s furthering his agenda but he’s also furthering Barry’s agenda, and those two agendas are simpatico and so as he’s working with them, he is appreciative. All that stuff is not a mustache-twirling, villainous starting point, it’s actually genuine. We’re trying to accomplish something, and for the first season, we’re accomplishing it together, which makes it a little more heartbreaking when the next phase of the plan starts to happen. And I think that’s just good writing because if he was just a dick the whole time, when he kills Cisco it’d be like, ‘I just hate him.’ But now we’ve established that they’re kind of a group and a team, to watch that fracture, I find it all the more compelling.”
Gustin told Variety that Barry will remain a little behind the curve in terms of figuring out Wells’ secret. “It’s not until 16 or it might even be 17 that Wells says something to make Barry suspicious; it’s not something he does, it’s something he says to him in a moment where he’s trying to provide help, and it makes Barry suspicious for the first time.”
Made for Each Other
Whether or not Iris still knows Barry’s secret when the time travel dust settles, Patton said we’ll have to wait and see, but pointed out, “I think what’s important about this episode is we learn the answer to the question that Barry asks Iris in Episode 9: ‘I feel this way about you, how do you feel about me?’ When she’s backed against a wall and realizes they could both lose their lives, it propels her to finally come to grips with how she’s been feeling and I think that’s so important that at the root of how she feels, she loves Barry. And that also makes it very complicated because she does love Eddie, but it’s just in a different way.”
Iris’ mentor at the Picture News, Mason Bridge, has his suspicions about Dr. Wells, and that will draw Iris further into his orbit, Patton teased. “The wheels are turning for [Barry] as far as what’s going on with Dr. Wells and Iris is going to continue to go after that story because Mason has piqued her interest. For Barry, he wants to keep her out of harm’s way, and this is directly putting her back into harm’s way by going into a situation with Dr. Wells that he’s not even quite clear about.”
Kreisberg added, “Iris’ interest in this article and Bridge and in Wells makes up a large part of Iris’ arc for the rest of the season.”
Love is a Battlefield
We now know that Eobard Thawne is somehow related to Eddie, but Kreisberg was reluctant to give too much away about how their storylines intersect — or whether that relationship is the reason why Eddie can be seen turning his gun on a couple of fellow CCPD cops in the PaleyFest teaser trailer.
“There obviously is a family connection between the two of them, and there’s some great scenes coming up between Tom and Rick,” he hinted. “That starts to become a storyline that you might have glimpsed a little bit of in the trailer. It’s cool stuff.”
Cavanagh weighed in, “I feel like in the pilot, from the moment Candice and Rick get together and they say his name — you hear Thawne for the first time — people who are even semi-knowledgeable are like ‘aha, here we go,’ like clearly that’s going to be reckoned with at some point, so we’re getting there.”
Cosnett agreed when Variety spoke to him on the PaleyFest carpet: “Eddie Thawne is his name, so we always have this disconcerting feeling whenever Eddie’s really good, right? Even I do. I always have a very evil voice. But let’s just say that things unravel with the good and evil side of ‘The Flash’; things come to fruition with Wells’ storyline and Eddie’s storyline and Barry’s, and Iris’ storyline. She is [a catalyst] and she’s the last one to find out about metahumans and all that so she keeps that world alive. But we’re gonna see a whole lot of things change, and what we’ve already filmed, things have really escalated in a big way and our characters have had this wonderful arc already, so there’s gonna be a huge thing happening at the end of this season.”
For Kreisberg, part of the fun of the season and the eventual reveal about the Reverse Flash was the opportunity to misdirect the comic book fans who thought they had it all figured out. “There are the people who read the comics and know everything, and then there are the people who know nothing and you have to make the show for both of those people and that’s one of the things we did very early on: oh, if we name Eddie ‘Eddie Thawne’ then immediately a whole bunch of comic book fans are going to go ‘obviously he’s the Reverse Flash,’ so I get it and hopefully they were surprised when that turned out not to be the case,” he explained. “And for the people who didn’t know the comics, they were just going along for the ride anyway. As always, we’re not trying to purposefully trick the comic book fans but sometimes I think, being one myself, you can be upset when it’s like ‘that’s not quite the way it was in the book,’ but the show has to live on its own and be for everybody, it can’t just be an adaptation of comic books that people have already read and know so well. So we’ve thought about this from the very beginning and it’s been leading up to this.”
Despite that ominous connection, Patton said that Iris and Eddie aren’t breaking up any time soon. “I think their relationship continues to be complicated. Eddie will always see that there’s a relationship between Barry and Iris that he can’t compete with to some degree. That’s unfortunate, but I think Eddie is strong-willed about keeping Iris in his life; he loves her and he’s a good mate for her. He’s kind and loving, he’s everything I think a woman would want in a man and I think Iris knows that, so we’ll continue to see their relationship blossom and also have typical relationship falters.”
Cosnett echoed that sentiment. “Things get more and more tense between Eddie and Iris; it’s hard to talk about without giving too much away, but it’s difficult for them and they find a way to make it work and I think Eddie is just so madly in love with Iris that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to keep her.”
Kreisberg added, “People forget that Eddie and Iris dated for nine months without Barry being around — they’ve been together for a long time in terms of when people date and when they decide to move in together. And for Eddie, all of a sudden, this guy appeared back in her life and it’s caused all these problems. I don’t think Eddie gets enough credit for in some ways being the most emotionally stable [character]. He sees the two of them together and he’s like ‘I’m not good with this’ even if she doesn’t [see it].”
Revenge of the Rogues
The Flash has one of the most iconic Rogues’ Galleries in DC Comics canon, and the introduction of Liam McIntyre as Mark Mardon/Weather Wizard is one more step along a path that was laid by Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller) and Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell).
“Liam is coming back this season, he’s in episode 16 but he’s also coming back later in the season,” Kreisberg said. “We’ve been really blessed with the Rogues and hopefully building up to a real Rogues episode the way we would all love to see it.”
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
As executive producer Greg Bertlanti told Variety at PaleyFest, “You can’t do a Flash show without doing time travel, I think, because so much of the nature of the character is about that.” Because of that, he promised, episodes 15 and 16 were designed as a way of “laying down the groundwork and laying down the rules for our audience. Every time travel show has its own rules and we divide it up that way and explain those things and have in the past episodes. So it’s about laying down those things, and they’ll become really essential to how we evolve the series by the end of the year and then hopefully in future years, because there’ll be some other big switches too.”
For Kreisberg, the important thing was to make sure their rules were consistent. “Like Wells said in a previous episode, there are different versions of time travel: there’s the fixed loop and there’s the version where time is more plastic and mutable and I think one of the fun things is discovering what’s a fixed point in time and what can’t be changed — what things always have to happen and what things are changeable and mutable. It’s a mixture of both. None of us knows how time travel really works, but we’ve come up with what we feel are our rules and we try to stick by them. A lot of what we’re doing now is a lot of stuff that was set up in the pilot.”
Blast from the Past
In addition to time travel, Kreisberg said that the show will also be utilizing flashbacks again this season, with Episode 17 featuring a flashback story from Wells’ point-of-view (which could technically make it a flashforward). And in another episode this season, everyone’s going to flash back to that time when Barry was in the coma, so you’ll see that time from Wells’ point-of-view and Caitlin’s point-of-view and Joe and Iris — you get to fill in a little bit more of the backstory, things we’ve always had in our heads that we get to see on camera,” Kreisberg said. “Towards the end of the season, a whole bunch of new questions will pop up, and that’ll drive the series forward. But most of the questions that we proffered at the beginning of the season will be paid off.”
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
What did you think of “Out of Time,” and how much of what we saw do you think will play out the same way in next week’s episode? Weigh in below.