“We knew Barry had leveled up to a point where he had almost godlike abilities this season,” Wallace explains. “And as big as his foes have been this year with Deathstorm and Despero, I was like, well, how do you top that? All right, we’re going to put Tom [Cavanagh] in a new suit and he’ll be the negative version of The Flash. But what does that mean emotionally? You can’t just get more and more powerful and have that power be unchecked.”
Barry Allen’s greatest weapon has always been his humanity—his compassion, empathy, and ability to put himself in the shoes of the worst sort of monsters. Yes, we’ve sometimes made fun of his ability to basically pep talk villains into changing their lives for the better, but what makes Barry a hero isn’t his superspeed. It’s his heart.
“The theme is, really, no matter how much you level up, always realize you’re a human being. And human beings not only have limitations but we want people with limitations,” Wallace says. “We want people with humility. We want people who know when to stand down and are compassionate. So I was very excited to really get that theme across in an entertaining, kind of nutball, crazy way this season.”
One of the biggest overarching themes of season 8 has been the mystery of what’s happening to Iris. Since developing a mysterious time sickness in season 7, she’s been frequently experiencing debilitating pain, lost time, and occasionally straight-up vanishing into the ether.
“As storytellers, we’ve known where we were driving the whole time. We knew Candace [Patton, who plays Iris], would not be in four episodes. We have nothing to do with that. So when people are like, ‘Why isn’t Iris on the show?’ That’s just the way things happen in life sometimes,” Wallace explains. “It’s not an evil plan. But we know it’s coming—and I know how hard it is as an audience member to ask ‘Wait, where’s my favorite character? Why isn’t she on the show this week? Grrrr.’ I get it because they’re not in the writer’s room, and [they don’t know] that when she comes back, we pick right up at that story, and we’re going to pay off her season-long journey, which is she has to level up too, just like anybody else.”
According to Wallace, he had to think about what that meant for a character like Iris, who has already been through so much over the course of the last few seasons, from getting trapped in the Mirror dimension to battling the time sickness that’s been zapping her in and out of reality for a season and a half.