Earlier this week, The Flash concluded its third season, and left the title character in…we’ll say a very surprising place.
Barry Allen passed down the mantle of The Flash to Wally West, deciding to sacrifice himself to Speed Force limbo in order to save the city from a massive storm being created by instability in the Speed Force itself.
Earlier in the season, it had been explained that a “Speed Force Prison” built to contain Savitar would render the entire Speed Force unstable if it was left unoccupied, and at various points in the season both Wally West and Jay Garrick had been trapped there for a time.
It was in the final moments of the season, after the good guys had semingly won and things were going to be fine, that the storm hit, leaving basically no time for the audience or the characters to come to grips with the gravity of Barry’s decision.
And now we’ll all have to wait until the fall to see what comes out of it.
We have some ideas, some suggestions, and some hopes, though, and while we’re all still thinking about that cliffhanger, this seemed like as good an opportunity as we were likely to get to share them…
The reality is, Grant Gustin is the heart of The Flash, and it’s likely that the premiere will largely center on how to get Barry Allen back out of the Speed Force.
That said? Let’s have a Wally West story.
There’s a generation of fans who grew up with Wally as their Flash, and many of the great stories and characters being adapted on The Flash actually come from that era.
Savitar, for instance, was a Wally villain and while his TV story was much different than his comics one, the version that played out on the page was uniquely suited for the era of The Flash in whcih it was published, utilizing generations of speedsters from Jay to Wally to Jesse Quick and more.
It’s our opinion that following the fan backlash from “Flashpoint” being only one episode, it would probably pay to have Barry’s Speed Force exile last more than just a week — but even if they don’t, let’s see a stand-alone Wally episode that shows he can be a cool, badass successor to Barry.
To go with that, we’re hoping that the episode doesn’t just pick up a few minutes after Barry left and hop right into the cliffhanger. We’d love to see it jump forward six months or so in real time (as many of The CW’s premieres are wont to do anyway) so that we can see how everyone copes with the loss of Barry.
Yes, there is a big difference between seeing what the world is without him, and seeing how they react in the moments after he walks into the Speed Force. The latter is pretty obvious: people are going to be confused and devastated. How they ultimately deal with those emotions is what speaks to their characters.
Iris in particular has a chance to really come alive here, since the relationship between her and Barry has been at the core of the show for three seasons — but the new Flash is her brother, and being supportive of him is going to be something she feels torn about as he tries to fill Barry’s shoes.
Seeing Iris deal not only with the loss of Barry but with his impulsive decision to deliver the Save the Date cards for the wedding just moments before he vanished could give her some really interesting character work, and seeing how she overcomes those challenges (becuase, let’s face it, it’s Iris so of course she will) would strenghten her character.
There are a lot of interesting configurations to look at, too: Joe West dealing with the loss of his son while consoling his daughter and trying to remain supportive of his other son; Tracy Brand getting adjusted to the realities of working for Team Flash; a really potentially interesting first conversation between NuCaitlin and Iris, discussing what it’s like to lose the love of your life.
They’ve been teasing The Flash Museum — a major locale from the comics that celebrates the life and accomplishments of Barry Allen — for quite a while, but season 4 might be the time to really pull the trigger.
If, as we’ve suggested in previous slides Barry is gone for a period of time, it might inspire Team Flash and a mourning Iris and Joe to transform HR’s STAR Labs Museum idea into the Flash Museum.
Frankly the idea of a Flash Museum makes more sense than the STAR Labs Museum anyway when you consider that the public doesn’t have much love lost for STAR following the particle accelerator explosion that kicked off the first season.
(It seems likely that the Philosopher Stone explosion that shot a blast into the air and erupted energy all through the structure in the season 3 finale will have similar effects, although that wasn’t confirmed or explored in the finale.)
Of course, the idea of Iris mourning Barry and the Flash Museum brings us another idea from the comics that could be really interesting…!
…What if Barry’s identity were outed as a result of his apparent “death?”
In the comics, Wally spent much of his time as The Flash with a public identity, and his secret was eventually only reinstated by the intervention of The Spectre, a godlike being, after Wally’s wife became the target of supervillains.
At the same time as Wally was public, so was Barry — becuase he was dead.
Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Iris combined two of her main traits — her journalistic background and her relationship with Barry — to write The Life Story of The Flash, which told Barry’s story to the world and allowed those who knew him to celebrate his life and mourn his loss without the confusion that can sometimes arise when trying to explain away superhero deaths to a supporting cast ignorant of the hero’s secret.
None of The CW’s superheroes really have a public identity, so doing this could lead to some very interesting (and very different) stories, while still retaining the “secret identity” stuff for Wally.