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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of The Flash, “Back to Normal.”]
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Harry Wells (Tom Cavanagh) might be crazier than Zoom (Teddy Sears) himself on The Flash.
By the end of Tuesday’s episode, Wells thought of what he considered to be a great idea on how to get Barry’s (Grant Gustin) speed back so he can fight Zoom: By orchestrating another particle accelerator explosion. Because the first one didn’t do enough damage to Central City …
“The next episode is about the efficacy of doing that,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told reporters after a screening. “Harry thinks that between his particle accelerator explosion [on Earth-2] and what he learned from what the Thawne version of Wells did, he thinks he can contain it and just get Barry his powers back. But it’s complicated and dangerous, and everyone including Barry has to decide if this is the right way to go, considering the craziness that ensued last time. They’re now faced with a damned if you do, damned if you don’t, because Zoom is about to unleash a reign of terror on the city.”
Back on Earth-2, Zoom killed his captive Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) once he got the original version of his love, Caitlin Snow (also Panabaker), as his prisoner. Somehow, after talking at (not with) Caitlin, to her horror Zoom/Hunter Zolomon/faux-Jay Garrick decided that he shouldn’t measure his success in how many victims he’s killed, but rather how many worlds he’s conquered. Now, he’s set his sights on Earth-1 after bringing Earth-2 to its knees, and Barry is powerless to stop him after giving up his speed to save Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale). That’s why Harry is so dead set on creating another particle accelerator explosion, to re-create the circumstances that gave Barry his powers the first time around.
Of course, the rest of the STAR Labs team won’t be as into Harry’s idea as he is. “That’s part of what the next episode is about, is, ‘Are you out of your mind?'” Kreisberg said with a laugh. “This is insanity, and we’re trusting everything based on Harry’s say-so that it’s all going to be fine. That’s part of what makes the next episode so exciting.”
Barry’s inability to make a decision about another particle accelerator explosion will lead him to reach out to someone important for help.
“John Wesley Shipp returns as Barry’s dad in the next episode,” Kreisberg said. “There’s a great scene that’s between Barry’s three fathers essentially, where all three of them are debating what their son should do and not all of them have the take on it that you’d expect, and that makes for an interesting scene.”
Barry’s father hasn’t been seen since Barry first went up against Zoom and lost. He’s brought back into the fold for the same reason as last time: Barry needs his father’s advice on what to do.
“Barry’s at a crossroads as far as what he should do or what he shouldn’t do,” Kreisberg said. “He’s been presented with monumental decision that could not only affect him and possibly kill him, but it could kill everybody in STAR Labs and set off another chain reaction and affect everybody in the city. The last time they took matters into their own hands, they created this whole problem with blowing a hole in the universe and creating all these breaches. They’re all a little bit gun shy and their faith in themselves and their faith in their decision-making is a little bit lost. Everyone [except Wells] is shaken. So Barry reaches out to his dad for help and advice.”
According to Kreisberg, Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) reaction to Harry’s “crazy” idea will be the most surprising out of everyone.
“Because straight up, once Barry decides to do something, I don’t think Joe thinks that he can be dissuaded from doing something,” Kreisberg said. “That’s the Barry that Joe has come to know and love and respect. Given what they’re up against, Joe, who has always been so protective of Barry, surprisingly is the one who says maybe we should give this a shot.”
After Harry’s reconciliation with his daughter Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) in Tuesday’s episode, expect to see her more with the STAR Labs crew, especially with Caitlin still MIA.
“Jesse is now for sure folded into the team,” executive producer Todd Helbing said. “Caitlin has been missing and Jesse’s smarts and scientific know-how — she’s really able to fill the shoes of Caitlin and provide the science background and specialty that the team is missing. Wally, he is not brought in as much as Jesse is to the team. He also is the only one that doesn’t know that Barry is the Flash, so there are still a few more episodes of him being how Iris was last year. It takes a while before he gets fully caught up to what’s going on.”
And speaking of Caitlin, being forced to watch as Zoom killed her evil doppelganger will definitely affect her going forward.
“Ultimately, [Killer Frost] had to go,” Kreisberg said. “Ultimately, even she said, the only reason [Zoom] had to keep her alive was she was a living remembrance of him caring about Caitlin.”
When it comes to the reigning champ of doppelgangers on the show, however, Cavanagh takes the top prize, as he counts up to five different characters that he’s played over the past two seasons on The CW series.
“What I understood when I signed on for this show is the highest tally [of characters] wins,” Cavanagh said with a laugh. “Recently Grant and I had this discussion where he was like, ‘Uh, no. I’m number one on the call sheet. I’m the Flash. It’s not going to change if you do 10 characters.’ But I still feel like when a man sets a goal, a man should follow through with that goal. So personally, this version of Harrison Wells, this is coming swimmingly along. There’s a nice arc to it. This is a big leap for him. And where we’re leading to for the season, I think the payoffs are extreme.”
While neither Cavanagh nor the producers could elaborate on where the season is heading as the finale looms closer and closer, they all agreed that the revelations coming are mind-blowing.
“I know TV scheduling put a couple of arbitrary stops in there, but if you think about it, we’ve been pedal to the metal at a breakneck pace,” Kreisberg said. “This episode where Barry loses his powers was literally designed to slow everything down and let everybody catch their breath before the next four episodes.”
Looking ahead to the final four episodes of season two, Kreisberg is particularly excited for viewers to finally learn the identity of the man in the iron mask held captive in Zoom’s lair.
“The man in the iron mask? The answer is going to blow your mind,” Kreisberg said. “Honestly, the two things that I am most proud of this season are Harry and the identity of the man in the mask.”
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
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