Tonight, The Flash is telling some backstory two seasons in the making—and having a little time travel fun while it's at it.
Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) has been a part of the show since the beginning of season six, when he built a black hole machine that nearly destroyed him and Central City. Once he got his life back together after that incident, he joined Team Flash to offer his scientific expertise, and now, he's finally getting the backstory he's been missing. It's not going to come easy, but it is going to come with a good time and some really cool pants.
This deep dive into Chester's past comes when he and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) accidentally time travel into the 1990s during a mission near Chester's hometown. It doesn't take long for them to embrace the time period, tech and all, as they try to figure out how they got there, how to get home, and what this all means for the future.
But of course, this is The Flash, so it's not all fun and games. There's some heartbreak in there, some danger, and a larger looming threat that's clearly going to come to a head soon. We hopped on the phone with McKnight to get the 411 on Chester's revelations and why things may not be what they seem.
McKnight says he had a lot of conversations with showrunner Eric Wallace about Chester's past, but it wasn't until he read "The One With the Nineties" that he really got into the "nitty gritty" of who Chester is.
"I teared up a little bit," he says of his first time reading the script. "I think I read it the most out of all the episodes that I've read. There's this specific scene that I read maybe 10, 15 times. I loved it so much."
You could say there are some parallels here to the things that Barry (Grant Gustin) has dealt with as he's learned about his past, and just as Barry was deeply affected, this episode "changes everything" for Chester. It gives him a "boost of confidence" that allows him to see what he can really bring to the table for Team Flash, and it's help they're going to need after what goes down in this episode.
"A few seeds have been planted in the last few episodes, and now in this episode, we get introduced to another one of those mystery villains who seem all powerful—definitely the most powerful villains we've seen so far," McKnight teases. "It's definitely planting seeds for a lot of stuff, but what I will say about that is don't believe everything you see, and don't think you fully understand what is going on."
"There's a lot of twists and a lot of turns coming up," he continues, "That I don't think anybody will really see coming."
As for the '90s buddy comedy aspect of the episode, it was like a dream for McKnight.
"I was born in 1990 so like, I'm a '90s kid," he says. "This is amazing, the fact that I get to go back to this nostalgic thing of this era that shaped who I am as a human being."
He also got to wear a pair of pants that he'd very much like to keep for himself (which you can see in the promo below), and he and Valdes spent quite a bit of time trying to improvise '90s slang.
"The entire thing was just a ball," he says. "And I was in a state of nostalgia for the entire nine to 10 days that we shot that episode."
McKnight says he started rewatching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air right around when filming for the episode began, and along with hip hop and boy bands, it became very important when he and the costume designer were building his outfit.
"All of my inspirations were Will Smith," he recalls. "I remember sending pictures and collages of '90s clothes and outfits [Will] wore in The Fresh Prince, and it was good...The '90s were this crazy time where technology was starting to boom, but everybody was still old school, and fashion was going through this mixture of so many different influences. Color was still seen as this really big, fashionable thing. Nowadays color is like a fashion statement. Back then, it was just the way people dressed."
Beyond the colorful fashion and "best music of all time," McKnight is just psyched for people who see who Chester really is and what he's capable of. But be sure to also check out his pants, because they are, to use an appropriate '90s phrase, da bomb.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.