The Flash finally returns to The CW this week, nearly ten months after its shortened Season 6 finale.
The showrunners are now discussing just how the long delay and other factors contributed to changing their plans while still trying to make Season 7 an exciting one.
The unintended finale of The Flash Season 6
Like all TV shows, the Flash crew was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic to cause an industry-wide shutdown in March of 2020. The series had just been wrapping up its 19th episode, which had to be reworked into the season finale quickly.
As it left off, the evil Eva McCullough had escaped from her “Mirror World” to kill her husband, Joseph Carver, and become a new villainess. Meanwhile, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was working on a way to rescue his wife, Iris (Candice Patton), who was trapped in the Mirror World.
Another development was Eva framing Sue Dearborn (Natalie Dreyfuss) for Carver’s murder. Raph Dibny (Hartley Sawyer) helped her, which would have led to the two becoming a couple like their comic book versions.
But in August of 2020, Sawyer was fired from the show after some troubling text messages from his past were uncovered. This leaves Sue’s fate up in the air.
Speaking to TV Line, showrunner Eric Wallace acknowledged how the shutdowns and long delay forced some reworking of the Season 6 finale and the Season 7 premiere.
“The first and the third episodes of the season changed. The first changed about 20 percent, let’s say. Our premiere was not intended to be a premiere, so we had to give it an entirely new opening that had more Flash-y action because people want to see Flash [played by Grant Gustin], and Eva McCulloch in her Mirror costume. We had to re-engineer the entire first third of the premiere, which was a really fun challenge, but I think it made the episode much stronger.”
Wallace noted a considerable challenge is that the new restrictions to filming mean limiting extras and not as much time or money for special effects. He also addressed how the loss of Sawyer has affected the storyline.
In order to then wrap up Eva’s story, there was an episode early in the season that literally–we had to change almost half of it. That was also due to COVID, too. Usually, to wrap up a storyline we have hundreds of extras and all of these things going on in downtown Vancouver, we blow up cars….
We have a sense of scale and spectacle to end the Big Bad, and we couldn’t do that because of COVID, but we still had to have spectacle — so how do you do that? And we had to deal with the loss of a cast member in the Elongated Man, who was very wrapped up in that story because we have to exonerate Sue [of Joseph Carver’s murder]….”
What’s ahead for The Flash
Ironically, the shutdowns did end up aiding in the need to write off the Flash’s key allies.
At the time of filming Season 6’s finale, Danielle Panabaker was pregnant, and the writers were preparing a storyline of her Killer Frost leaving town to control her powers which would have meant her absence for the first few episodes of Season 7.
Due to the extended delay, Panabaker (who gave birth in June of 2020) will now be back full-time as Caitlin Snow/Frost. Likewise, rather than being sent on his own mission, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) will be back when the new season begins.
The season will open with Barry attempting to rescue Iris and repair the damaged Speed Force while discovering new abilities. He’ll face old foes like the Top (Ashley Rickards) as well as Chilliblaine (John Cor), who follows in Captain Cold’s icy footsteps.
The synopsis for episode three (titled “Mother”) details that Sue will return, which will wrap up her cliffhanger plotline. Wallace is tight-lipped on more but has hinted a major villain from the past will return, and even saying the pandemic aided the show’s surprises.
“When we wrap up Eva’s story, there are some real surprises for the audience that would not have existed in the same manner if there hadn’t been this COVID interruption.”
Flash fans may have been disappointed in the shortened Season 6 and the long delay for his return. But if anyone can make up for lost time, it would be the Fastest Man Alive.
The Flash airs on the CW on Tuesdays.