Eric Wallace has previously written for DC Comics on titles such as ‘Mister Terrific’ and ‘Titans’, as well as several episodes across Seasons 4 and 5 of ‘The Flash’ TV Series. Heading into Season 6 of ‘The Flash’, Eric Wallace was promoted to showrunner after Todd Helbing exited the show to helm ‘Superman and Lois’. Our interviewer Michael Slavin talked to Eric Wallace about what has come so far this season on ‘The Flash’, what to expect following ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, and what to expect in the remainder of the season.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: To begin the interview, what has your thoughts been on the reactions from fans to The Flash Season 6 so far?
ERIC WALLACE: Uh, what are the reactions to The Flash Season 6 so far? (laughs) I actually really don’t go on the internet.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Oh really?
ERIC WALLACE: I’m the kinda guy who y’know does the work and I hope folks dig it, and if they don’t that’s okay too. I do believe everybody has the right to their own opinion, and I tell the staff “Don’t tell me anything unless it’s somebody who liked it” as a joke.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: I mean everything I’ve seen has been positive so that’s a good sign I’d say.
ERIC WALLACE: Oh good! I know everybody thought Episode 6×07 “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Pt 1” was freaky (laughs), y’know with the black goo coming out of their mouths, kind of a very different episode for us. And I think that what was great for me was talking to Grant about that episode in particular and how much he said to me he enjoyed acting in that one and making it, y’know how it challenged him in the best possible way and I think that’s what you see on screen, you just see an actor going for it. The director, Chad Lowe, I thought did a terrific job and I thought Sendhil did such a great job as Barry’s adversary, we got really lucky and blessed with someone as wonderfully talented as Sendhil Ramamurthy in Graphic Novel #1, which people I guess don’t know because we use the graphic novel format for our seasons now but every graphic novel does have a name, I just can’t tell folks until the season’s over because the titles are so spoilery. But that last season, Graphic Novel #1, was titled “Blood and Truth”. That’s the actual name of Graphic Novel #1 and we’re starting now with “Marathon” in 6×10, we’re starting Graphic Novel #2 which also has a name that I cannot reveal because it’s so super spoilery, and very metaphorical, because I loved English and English class when I was in High School a little too much. And very often in the writers room I’m the one calling the “theme police” on us to keep us on it.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Right, Perfect. So now I just want to pick up from the last episode at the moment. So we saw Iris enter the mirror dimension and I was wondering how this affects her character in the second half of this season?
ERIC WALLACE: Iris will grow in ways she didn’t know she could, and I mean that emotionally. Being sucked into that mirror will push her to the edge and a little bit beyond. It will literally test her sanity, which is really great because it’s given Candice as a performer a wonderful opportunity to just give some of the greatest performances she’s ever given on the show in my opinion and just knock it out of the park. One of the things that was important to me as a storyteller was, we spent a lot of time with Barry’s emotional state leading up to Crisis, while in Graphic Novel #2, which is the second half of this long season, it’s not necessarily all about Barry, we wanted to focus equally on Iris in the back half. And that’s what getting sucked into that mirror believe it or not, is going to allow us to do. Who knows what lies behind that mirror but I guarantee you it’s a different place. It’s a place that will affect her in a way that she will have to examine who she is and what makes up Iris Allen-West in all of it’s different facets and if that’s a good or bad thing.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: It was interesting when I was watching Crisis on Infinite Earths the scenes with Iris were always really interesting because she was tying our perspective back into these superhero characters so it’ll be really interesting to see where you take her next. Obviously you mentioned Crisis on Infinite Earths and it’s still a huge discussion point with the multiverse reset allowing for a blank canvas per se, how has that experience been for a writer in terms of being able to introduce and change major parts of the show and kind of do whatever you want going forward?
ERIC WALLACE: Liberating. That’s the perfect description. The best thing that ever happened to this show was Crisis on Infinite Earths, the crossover, and moving past the end of our pilot. Way back at the end of the pilot of Season 1, we see that newspaper and it’s telling us what we’re driving towards, so in a sense, the first six and a half seasons of this series have been driving towards a predetermined point, and that can be a little limiting from a story point of view, especially from a writing point of view. Now, we fast forward to Graphic Novel 2, our six and a half way point, who knows what’s going to happen now? and that’s the fun part. We can take all of the best of the past, keep it, but we can add in ways. I said to our writers in the writers room, I said “Who are the villains from the past? From previous seasons, 1, 2, 3, 4, whomever. We have the opportunity to tweak them now, just a little bit” and put on a fresh coat of paint. I use that term a lot now to describe our methodology. And you’re going to see that with several villains from past seasons, you might also see that with some heroes too, maybe one or two, who are from the past. And that’s great, it’s very liberating, very exciting, it keeps it fresh for us as writers, and I think when we’re feeling the excitement for the freshness of the stories we’re telling, hopefully that’s translating into what you, the audience, sees. It feels like the best of all worlds, it feels like the show you know and love, that feels familiar, but also maybe it just has a new coat of paint. Specifically it’s painted with a new main title credits. That is something I planned from Day 1 when I took over on the show. I said “When we get to post-crisis, it’s a brand new world. What’s the best way to visualize that for the audience and send them a literal message that says this is the line of demarcation between the previous seasons of the show and the show from this point on going forward? Well… it’s just a card that comes up with some lightning, what happens if we do 15 seconds of awesomeness” which the composer got excited about, Warner Brothers got excited about, who did just a terrific, bang up job on the title for us. And now that is one reaction that might be one of the only times where I was actually curious as to what people thought and thank goodness there seems to have been a real positive response to that and, I know this sounds kind of strange, but in a sense it’s kind of the message that sort of opens the door for everything else, so I’m glad people are kind of seeing that. And they should look for more changes, in the characters growing in ways we haven’t seen them grow before, in the story this season in the back half, not just Iris’ story but Barry’s story too, Killer Frost’s, everybodies kind of on a really wild journey that takes them to new places, and that’s on purpose. There are no rules like there used to be, pre-crisis, for stories.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: So that leads perfectly into my next question, which is what characters and locations can we expect to appear in the back half of the season that have changed or came about following Crisis?
ERIC WALLACE: Oooh, how do I answer that without spoiling anything? That’s a good question… I gotta think about that one because there is one set that goes to crazy town but that’s a spoiler, I cannot say that.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Can you hint towards it at all or?
ERIC WALLACE: Uh, no. It’s so huge of a spoiler. I will say there is an episode where the West house, not the loft, but the house that Barry and Iris grew up in, there is a scene where that house undergoes a, shall we say transformation of sorts that’s really exciting. Our DP did something really special with that episode in general. The director did something special, it’s actually quite a special episode. That’s an example of how we can look at the same set and they’re a little bit different. Other than that though, other than this one obvious way which I can’t tell you about it because it’s so spoilery, the sets don’t really change. It’s more the characters changing, the villains changing, the scenarios that happen being a little weirder and as an example of that I use, at Comic Con I pitched out to the world what Season 6 was really all about, it was the season of Thrills and Chills. Well, Part 1 ~ Graphic Novel #1, was the chills. Literally we made a horror movie. Now, in the “new” season, Graphic Novel #2, the back-half, this is the Thrills section of the season. This is the section of the season that, and this is great because you’re DiscussingFilm, I’m a film buff. I watched a whole bunch of 1970’s paranoid thrillers to get in the mood to prepare for the back half.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Is there any one film from that genre you’d say that has directly influenced the rest of the season?
ERIC WALLACE: Ooh, I can give you three. Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, and All the President’s Men. Those are three examples of literally if someone were to watch those three movies and then go watch all 12 episodes in Graphic Novel #2, they would see some similarities. They are hard to find unless you really study those films, but they’re there. The tone of it, that’s really what we introduce. You guys saw we introduced Joseph Carver, and what’s he up to, right? Well, I can tell you right now it ain’t good, and somebody’s gotta investigate it. And Iris in investigating it has already gotten into a lot of trouble because she got sucked into a mirror. What does that mean for her? So that’s the investigation, I’ll use thee words “paranoid conspiracy”, that’s the kind of world that’s going to be opened up here in this back-half. So it’s The Flash’s version of a sci-fi thriller. Does that make sense?
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Yeah, yeah absolutely. So sort of jumping ahead a little bit, we know that Wally West is going to be returning this season, and it’s obviously highly anticipated, we’re wondering what you can reveal about what his return will bring to this season?
ERIC WALLACE: When Wally comes back it’s not the same old Wally. Being in Tibet will change you if you embrace the tenets of tibet (laughs), he’s going to come back a little older and a little wiser, and this is a spoiler I don’t mind saying, he might just have a new ability or two, and that’s part of the fun. Sometimes abilities don’t have to be crazy and intense, sometimes they can just be darn fun. That’s another thing that Keiynan said to me when we were talking, I don’t know last week or the other week, I was chatting with him and I said “Well you know, how are you feeling?” and he just said “Wow. This is the place I always wanted the character to go, I’m so happy with what we’re doing here, It almost feels like I’m a rebirth a little bit.” And that’s exciting for him, and I literally think this is the best performance of Keiynan on this show. I think when people see this episode they are gonna love it. There’s specifically a truly great Barry and Kid Flash scene, where they really get their act together in a way they haven’t been able to do since I think Keiynan’s first appearance on the show way back in Season 2. So it was really kind of an honor to bring back that special magic between the two of them and explore how their relationship has been changed because y’know Kid Flash… his name might still be Kid Flash but maybe he’s a man now. Maybe he’s grown up a bit, and that’s what’s exciting. So look for that in that episode, I think it comes out in a really unique way that I don’t think the audience is quite going to see coming because it works into the plot and the villain of the week, so it’s really fun but it does bode very well for I think the future of Kid Flash and I’m very hopeful that this isn’t the last time we see Kid Flash. I’m anxious to see what the audience thinks, I hope they enjoy it, we enjoyed writing it and making it.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Yeah. So you mentioned how Kid Flash sort of ties into the latter half of the season, so what storylines are you excited to explore in the back half of the season?
ERIC WALLACE: Well the main ones I think would be Iris’, you know? What happens to Iris in the mirror? We wanted very specifically to get that out of the way in the opener and I’m not one of those people who like to tortue the audience, I don’t think that’s fair, I like to play fair with them, so you will find out next [episode] what is on the other side of that mirror. We’ll get exploring, you will not have to wait eight episodes and all that stuff. The first three episodes very quickly get into what’s up with Iris and what happened and what will be her journey this season. I’m extremely excited about that. I’m also excited to go exploring more of Team Citizen, which we introduced at the end of last year. It was very important not to just have Team Flash, because that investigates meta crimes and whatnot, it was very important to also have Team Citizen be an equal part of the storytelling. Allegra, Camilla, and Iris as human beings investigating real truths in the world. Let’s face it, I think we live in a time where truth and journalism has never been more important and I want to make sure that gets left even in the smallest way in our fantastical stories.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Yeah so obviously All the President’s Men that’s a clear influence from what you were saying earlier.
ERIC WALLACE: Correct. Correct. Those thrillers that I mentioned had a influence on me when I watched them in college and I hadn’t seen them in 15 years or something like that and kind of “poach the best” or “pay homage” right? (laughs) So yeah I’m very much looking forward to that, I’m looking forward to Kid Flash’s return and what that’ll mean going forward for the show. I’m very excited about exploring new facets of old villains, I’m kind of obsessed with that. So you will see at least two, I’ll give you a number, at least two old villains from the past in the back half who maybe have changed in the post-crisis world. And that’s gonna be really exciting I think for people.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: So yeah obviously a synopsis was actually released for “Grodd Friended Me”, an old villain, and what can you tell us about that coming episode and what it means having Gorilla City on Earth-Prime?
ERIC WALLACE: How can I answer that without spoiling?
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Ah don’t worry about that just say whatever you want
ERIC WALLACE: Right, sure you want me to do that. Well first of all, not a ton of people know this, everyone around here does, but Gorilla Grodd is my favorite flash villain. And I don’t mean that just in the show, even from the comic books. I am obsessed with Gorilla Grodd and have been since I was probably, y’know, eight years old. I just think that a talking psychic gorilla might just be the coolest thing ever invented. OR maybe I watched too many Planet of the Apes movies. I remember, I think subsciously, there’s an influence of Beneath the Planet of the Apes running through that Grodd story. It’s hard to see, but now that I’m thinking about it, I think that must’ve been in the back of my mind a little bit. I take the movies that I loved as a kid or in college and they go into this crazy mill of The Flash and weird things come out, so they’re not always recognizable. I was a huge planet of the apes fanatic as a kid. So I think for this “Grodd Friended Me”, I’d tell the audience without spoiling anything, look at the title. Look at what it means, I think you should take that title literally. And if we do that, you might see something in Grodd you’ve never seen before. And that’s exciting. So yes you’ve got that old villain coming back but obviously he’s not the only one.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: In Episode 1, there was a slight feature of Godspeed and we were wondering if we’ll see a payoff of that in this season? You’ve been mentioning old villains quite a lot is that what you’re perhaps hinting to or?
ERIC WALLACE: Let’s just say there will be more Godspeed coming. Who knows when or where but it will come.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Can we expect any more Barry and Iris team-ups in regards to going on missions and solving mysteries together? You’ve obviously mentioned quite a few times All the President’s Men and will that feature into them sort of sleuthing together?
ERIC WALLACE: Yes, you will literally see that in the very next episode. Without giving any plot stuff away. And it’s one of my favorite episodes. It’s so great getting to see Grant and Candice working together to solve a mystery, it’s one of the joys of this season. I hope the audience enjoys it as much as we do.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Final question, and thank you so much for your time today by the way
ERIC WALLACE: Sure, sure.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: This question comes from sort of the audience members of DiscussingFilm have asked this quite a lot and most notably asked by sort of a friend of the show named Anthony, who just keeps asking us to ask you, will The Flash’s gold boots from the comics ever make an appearance in the future?
ERIC WALLACE: Yes. They will. Eventually. But not this season. I too am a fan of the gold boots, Grant is a fan of the gold boots, but not this season. We will eventually get there, I would ask for patience.
MICHAEL SLAVIN: Right, so that’s us done, would you like to shout anything out in regards to The Flash or anything else you have going on?
ERIC WALLACE: Ah nah I’m too busy doing this man (laughs) this is sort of an all encompassing hobby as it were, but I do just want to thank all of the fans for their support, for continuing to come back every week, with whatever platform you’re watching on, it’s still greatly appreciated, and we have you in our minds and hearts when we write this episode, we might write them in a vacuum, but literally I tell my writers all the time “If you were watching this show, what would be cool to see this week.” And I hope folks enjoy the cool factor because this is the season of thrills and there will be a few, I think big surprises, that thrilled us and we hope you are thrilled too. So thank you for watching and keep watching.