SPOILER WARNING: Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the Season 2 premiere of “The Flash,” titled “The Man Who Saved Central City.”
“The Flash” returned for its second season with a literal bang (or five), revealing that Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell) and Martin Stein’s (Victor Garber) Firestorm were responsible for closing the wormhole that threatened to destroy Central City in last season’s finale, seemingly killing Ronnie in the process. Six months later, we found Barry Allen’s (Grant Gustin) titular hero attempting to work solo to protect the rest of his friends, but a powerful metahuman known as Atom-Smasher (Adam Copeland) soon reminded the Scarlet Speedster that there’s safety in numbers. Just as well, since the dust had barely settled before a mysterious newcomer called Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) appeared in STAR Labs with a dire warning for Team Flash.
Another surprise in the hour came courtesy of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), who managed to both help and taunt Barry from beyond the grave, providing the confession that would help exonerate Barry’s father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp) for the murder of his mother and managing to squeeze in some gloating in the process.
Variety spoke to “Flash” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg about the premiere’s big reveals and what’s ahead for Team Flash this season.
We saw Barry trying to work alone to avoid endangering the team in the premiere, but has he moved past that impulse now, knowing that they’re so much stronger when they work together?
I don’t think, moving forward, it’s so much about Barry going it alone – obviously, he knows how important his friends are to him and how important his friends are to his work and to the show. I think Barry Allen, and the show itself, have grown up a little from season one — and I don’t mean that as a slight on season one, it’s probably the year of television I’m most proud of having done. Whereas [before] Barry would’ve pushed people away or made a slightly more immature decision when faced with the problems he’s gonna be faced with in season two, he’s tending to be more mature about his decisions and his reactions.
I think that for Barry, what’s really going on for him emotionally is what Wells said to him on that videotape: “you’re never gonna be happy.” I think that’s really the thing that’s eating at Barry all year long — it’s this belief that maybe he made a mistake, and maybe he should’ve saved his mother. That’s the thing that’s weighing on him as he faces all the challenges he’s facing this year: “if I had made a different decision, would everything be different now for everybody?” And it’s a little bit more heady, but it’s interesting, because it’s somebody who had the chance to heal their core wound and didn’t take it, and in some ways, at the time, everyone was so proud of him for making the heroic choice, but as the season goes on, it starts to wear on him … he begins to question whether or not he did the more heroic thing by not doing it.
When did you decide to have Wells help exonerate Henry after last season’s cat and mouse game?
It was sort of based on last year, trying to get Wells’ confession. It was one of the earliest ideas we had for the premiere as we were thinking about things: what could we do that was different and giving Barry a different start to the year … and not feel like “oh god, every time we go to the prison it’s gonna be depressing.” But the thing I love about the Wells character is that you literally never know what he’s going to do. He basically tells Barry, “even though I’m dead, you’re never gonna win, and to prove it I’m gonna give you the thing that you want, and guess what, you’re still not gonna be happy.” We just love the idea that even though he’s been erased from existence, he’s still Barry’s nemesis, and in giving him the gift that Barry has long desired, it still doesn’t quite feel like victory. That’s the thing that’s going to be haunting Barry.
What went into the decision to have Henry leave (at least temporarily) to let Barry fulfill his heroic potential?
It was part of the maturing of the show; Barry’s a grown-up now and he would’ve been infantilized if he was constantly having to be there for his dad.
Martin Stein (Victor Garber) has seemingly assumed the Harrison Wells role in STAR Labs, and he seems like a natural addition to the team, but we know he’s also signed on for “Legends of Tomorrow” at midseason, so what can you preview about his “Flash” arc?
He’s been dealing with the loss of his superhero self, and Professor Stein was really the perfect person to step into this world — he was one of those weirdo kooks who believed in time-travel and aliens and metahumans, so that he got to be part of it just made sense. Victor himself is such an amazing actor and he has this unbelievable ability to make the implausible sound plausible and the ability to ground the most crazy things that are going on around them and make them relatable to the audience. And that was one of the things that Tom’s character served last year. So in the early going, Victor is going to represent a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit more cautious voice amongst the team. Obviously, his connection to Firestorm is not over and is going to continue in a fairly “Legendary” way, if I can make a horrible pun, but as long as we could have him on “The Flash,” we were so happy to do so, because he so feels of the “Flash” word.
Ronnie sacrificed himself to close the singularity, but since we’re dealing with Earth-2 and the idea of multiple universes, is there a chance we could see a version of him — or some of our other departed characters — again this year?
Yeah, that’s part of the fun of Earth-2 and introducing the concept of Doppelgangers and that’s part of what we’ll be exploring this season. We were really conscious of not wanting to repeat ourselves and last year was obviously all about time-travel. I think that whether people realized it or not, the whole series was about time-travel from the beginning… Looking back, you realize that there was a lot more time-travel in the pilot than you might’ve realized at first, and we wanted to do something different in season two, especially with “Legends” co-opting the time-travel concept. So obviously, the multiverse is a huge part of the DC Comics universe and it felt right to tackle it. And as we always do with “Arrow” and “Flash,” we laid the seeds of season two towards the end of season one, so creating the singularity and the breach and seeing Jay Garrick’s helmet were all portents of what was to come, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
Getting to see who’s over there and who’s not, and getting to see some of our actors getting to portray different versions of their characters, that’s really the fun of when you look at the great sci-fi shows like “Star Trek” and “Doctor Who,” when they go into the mirror world. Not everybody will have a sharp Van Dyke to signify that they’re evil. [Laughs.] But that has been part of the fun of the show. Unfortunately our imaginations are far grander than the pile of money we have, because we would be going the whole hog on some of these things, but so far it’s been really great, we’ve had a lot of fun exploiting the idea. And the other great thing is that while we’re solely focusing on Earth-2 for the time being, there’s an Earth-3 and Earth-4 and Earth-5 and so on, and there’s definitely room to explore all of that, certainly over the life of the series.
We finally met Jay Garrick in the premiere; what does he add to the show, from your perspective, especially in regards to Barry’s journey?
It’s funny, Teddy looks more like what you’d think a comic book superhero would look like, but I think what’s so interesting about this is that last year Barry had mentors and fathers and [we explored] the search for fathers, and this year, Barry’s relationship with Jay is a little bit more like an older brother. Jay has already been to war, Jay’s been The Flash a little bit longer than Barry and he’s a little bit more hardened by experience and a little bit more solitary. But he knows things about being The Flash that Barry doesn’t know yet because he doesn’t have the wealth of experience, and Jay is able to teach Barry some new Flash tricks that didn’t even occur to him.
But by the same token, Jay has lost something and he’s a Flash without a secret identity; he’s a Flash who worked on his own; he’s a Flash who didn’t have a team at STAR Labs; and that’s something that Barry’s able to give back to Jay, that sense of community and a sense of what it is you’re fighting for and home and friends. Watching the two of them come together is some of the most heartwarming stuff. And there’s probably a romance on the [horizon]…
“The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.