The Flash is back tonight, and he's got a whole lot going on.
When last we saw the West-Allen family when they weren't in the middle of a crossover, we had just learned that Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) had been working with her dad's arch-nemesis Eobard Thawne (Tom Cavanagh), and Nora just learned that it was Thawne who murdered her grandmother.
Along with a new villain and the continued problem of Cicada, there's a lot for the gang to immediately deal with and to look forward to dealing with down the line...including the looming Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is next year's crossover. Sure, that's not happening til late fall and we've barely recovered from the last crossover, but given how significant that story is to The Flash in the comics, it's not a surprise that the seeds will start to get planted pretty soon.
And then of course, there's Barry's disappearance, which may or may not be tied in with Infinite Earths, but is very much tied in with the story of his relationship and Iris' relationship with their daughter. All of it will be addressed over the course of the rest of the season, and we got the scoop on what to expect from executive producer Todd Helbing.
Nora Has to Rethink Things With Thawne
Nora's been keeping secrets about her relationship with Thawne in the future, but Thawne's been keeping secrets from her as well. She now knows he killed her grandmother, and Helbing says that revelation will have a huge impact on her—something which gets addressed in the opening scene of the midseason premiere.
"It opened her eyes a little bit, you know, it changes her opinion of this guy she's known in a completely different way than Barry and the team," he said, explaining that Thawne of the future is not the same as the Thawne we've all come to know and hate. "It's quite a few years in the future, and he's ben in prison for a while and he's changed like anybody that's been in prison for a while."
Helbing says the writers took some unexpected inspiration for the relationship between Nora and Thawne.
"We sort of liken this relationship to Hannibal Lecter and Clarice," Helbing says, of course referencing Silence of the Lambs. "So it's this guy that can teach her a lot of things, but she's not quite sure if he's genuine or not. So especially with the warnings that Barry gave her, I think she's starting to really think about and look for those warning signs whenever she talks to him now."
While we'll see more of Nora and Thawne pretty immediately, don't expect Nora's secret to come out any time soon.
"Because of what happened in episode eight, she's not really eager to tell them that she's working with this guy. She knows it's going to be a massive problem, so it's something that she keeps from them for quite a bit. But ultimately yeah, when everybody finds out that that's the scenario, it's a big deal. She's going to have a lot of explaining to do.
Barry's About to Become Unhinged, But Iris Will Have His Back
One thing that we know is about to happen is that Nora will be injured during the fight with Cicada, essentially giving Barry the same kind of motivation Cicada has been operating on.
"Now that Barry's in the parents' shoes, his concern is totally amped up so he sort of becomes unhinged once this happens," Helbing previews. "I mean, it's his kid. I think the the anger that Barry feels is something that he hasn't really experienced before, and that fear and that sort of vengeful side sort of starts to come out."
But while Barry becomes unhinged, Iris will become his rock.
"The great thing about Barry and Iris is that when one of them is weak, the other is strong, and so while Iris may be just as scared and angry and pissed about seeing their daughter in this situation, Iris is as strong as they get, so she's able to sort of deal with it in a way that keeps everybody's spirits high.
The Fight Against Cicada
In at least one version of the future, Cicada is known as the one The Flash couldn't catch, and that does play into how the team will face him throughout the rest of the season.
"After our midseason premiere, they get a little bit more info about what they're doing and how it's changing the future, so it feeds into what they're doing and how they're approaching the rest of the season, and with Cicada, if anything they're doing is having an effect on the legacy of this guy," Helbing says, but he promises "there is a way to defeat him" that Barry is just going to have to figure out.
Future Iris Is Coming
Candice Patton promised us we'd see future Iris, the Iris whose husband went missing and who made the decision to suppress her daughter's speedster powers, and Helbing confirms she's coming, though he wouldn't say exactly how we'll see her other than that it'll be more than once, and one instance has to do with a visit to the Flash Museum.
"We see an Iris who has continued on with her life as a single mother and made the decisions she made, and told her daughter the lies she told her for very specific reasons, and how it's affected her. The version you see is not the version that we know now," he said, and then things got confusing. "You eventually will see her in the future as she is, and then there's multiple versions of the future that you see, not necessarily because the timeline has changed..."
This show, man.
A Metahuman Cure Ahead?
Cisco and Caitlin are about to be hard at work on a metahuman cure, and the show won't shy away from the ethical questions that come with that.
"None of these guys really had any part to play in if they wanted these powers, right? So I think it's on everybody's mind that we're partially responsible for this happening to everybody in the city and beyond, and we didn't get a choice to say whether we wanted this or not," Helbing says. "So if there is a cure, a) how do we keep it [away from] people that may use it irresponsibly, but b) there needs to be a choice in this equation, and how do we do that responsibly?"
Crisis On Infinite Earths
Next year's Arrowverse crossover is a major, major moment for all of the characters, but Barry Allen in particular.
"We know the nuts and bolts of what's going to happen next season, so we know where we'd have to get all these characters to emotionally to set it up properly, so there's certainly some work that we have to do," Helbing says of planting the Infinite Earths seeds.
The article about Barry disappearing has been around since near the beginning of the series and made a new appearance in the season trailer above, and Helbing says the show will "address something with the newspaper by the end of the season."
When we asked if we should be concerned at how close we appear to be getting to Barry actually dying or disappearing, Helbing could only give us this: "You should...pay attention."
We will, but...that's not very comforting.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.