The Flash always likes to leave fans on a cliffhanger before heading into summer hiatus, and the Season 3 finale brought its biggest yet. Viewers last saw Barry Allen heading into the Speed Force, possibly forever, which means we need The Flash Season 4 clues more than ever. Luckily, the cast and writer Todd Helbing were able to share some details of what's ahead in a roundtable with reporters at San Diego Comic-Con.
Let's get one thing out of the way very quickly: Barry is coming back. Not only has Grant Gustin been promoting the fourth season, but nearly every cast member referenced his return. So don't worry, when The Flash comes back on Oct. 10, its titular hero should be close behind.
Of course, that doesn't mean the Barry who comes out of the Speed Force will be the same hero we watched walk into it. "Barry, when he comes out, won’t be himself initially because of how insane this experience is," Gustin says. "This Speed Force experience isn’t like the past ... This time I think he’s been left on his own and he’s been experiencing non-linear time of his life over and over and over again, from start to end, in really no particular order, so when he comes out he’s kind of jumbled and messed up, initially."
However, that doesn't mean Season 4 will be as dark as last season, as Gustin continues, "But once we get past that, I think he’s had this sense of awakening and understanding. He’s been able to let go of a lot of the loss he’s had in his life and forgive himself for a lot of the mistakes he made last year that sent the team down the road that they went down."
That's just one small piece of what The Flash has in store, so here's everything else the cast had to reveal about Season 4.
Iris Steps Up In A Major Way
The Season 4 trailer above shows Iris commanding Team Flash from S.T.A.R. Labs, but Jesse L. Martin, who plays Iris' dad Joe West, suggests that Iris contributes much, much more in Barry's absence. "Iris steps up and becomes the leader, and she literally starts running things at S.T.A.R Labs," Martin says. "[She's] telling everybody what to do, she’s sending myself, Vibe, and Kid Flash out into the field, and we’re doing the work that Flash used to do. Or at least, trying to do the work that the Flash used to do."
But that doesn't mean she's has recovered from the loss of Barry, as Iris herself, Candice Patton, tells reporters that this drive is a way of coping. "Some of the last things [Barry] said to Iris was 'keep running, keep moving forward' and that’s how she starts to deal with him being gone," the actor says. "She just chooses to suppress all of those feelings and step up as team leader because Barry’s gone, and I think it’s a role that suits her very well, but I think she’s also doing it to deflect from what she’s really feeling."
The Rest Of Team Flash Handles Things Surprisingly Well
Last season, Barry traveled to a future where he stopped being The Flash in the wake of Iris' death and things were incredibly bleak. So it should come as a relief that according to Carlos Valdes, who plays Cisco, the team is actually doing OK without the Flash when Season 4 picks up six months after his departure.
"In those six months, the team has taken on a dour and somewhat accepting attitude about Barry's fate," Valdes says. "They said, 'he disappeared, he told us not to go after him and that's what we're gonna do.' ... The team collectively resolves to accept it and move forward."
Part of moving forward means that Kid Flash is now the only Flash, and actor Keiynan Lonsdale says that though Wally doesn't take Barry's place, he plays an important part in the new team structure. "What they’ve established is, 'if we’re gonna make this machine work, we have to figure out our individual parts and make them come together,'" he says. "Wally definitely feels like he’s found his place, and he is the only Flash, but he’s not the only superhero."
There's Trouble For Iris & Barry Even After His Return
While Iris would surely be happy to see Barry again, Patton reveals that they won't be able to pick up where they left off — not after Barry chose to leave.
"[Iris is] obviously sad and depressed and also maybe a little angry of how he left without consulting her and without thinking about how it would affect her," she says. "If and when Barry comes out of the Speed Force, that’s a conversation that they have to deal with before they get married. There’s communication issues between Barry and Iris and as much as we love seeing them together, they’ve got to work some stuff out. It’s a little dysfunctional."
But none of that dysfunction will stem from Iris "replacing" Barry as the leader of Team Flash. In fact, Gustin think that once Barry gets used to the idea, it will be a very positive change. "Barry, whenever he needs it, he gets the inspiration from Iris at the helm," Gustin says. "That’s what’s lifted him up in the past, so I think he knows that and understands that and it’s only a good thing for Barry to have Iris in that position."
The Flash Is Going Back To Its Lighthearted Roots
Even with all of the drama surrounding Barry's absence and eventual return, a key goal for Season 4 is to return to the light, humorous tone that set The Flash apart from other superhero series in its first season.
"Last season it got pretty dark and ... I think that’s as dark as we ever want to take the show," says Helbig, a writer and producer on The Flash. "Season 1, there was just a lightness in the discovery and somebody coming and discovering that they’re the Flash. ... Personally, I want to see Barry enjoy being the Flash again, and not have all of this heavy burden of his past weighing him down."
Surprisingly, Gustin actually credits Barry's time in the Speed Force with this shift. "We didn’t really do "Flashpoint" for long, but we dealt with the repercussions for an entire season," he says of Season 3. "Because of this experience and the Speed Force, Barry is able to let go of things and move on, he’s able to help the team move on and the show can get back to it’s original roots where Barry, you know, enjoys having these powers and has fun and the whole team kind of has a little bit more fun."
Hopefully, that's enough reassurance that, despite the dark note it ended with, Season 4 will bring back not just Barry, but the humor that made us love The Flash so much in the first place.