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Fans of The Flash have been left wondering for an extended break, with several storylines left dangling when Season 6 abruptly ended a few episodes early due to the pandemic shutdown. But the Scarlet Speedster is finally back this week, and showrunner Eric Wallace has opened up about how that early end, and pandemic protocols, affected Season 7.
Wallace told TV Line the first and third episodes of the new season were altered, mostly to make the Season 7 premiere a bit more action-packed (you know, because fans expect a few set pieces for a premiere). Wallace said the episode that will wrap up the lingering Eva McCulloch/Mirror Master storyline was also altered quite a bit, mostly because it simply wasn’t practical to have hundreds of extras on set for a massive, action-packed finale the show typically employs.
They also had to retool the early part of the season to deal with the departure of cast member Hartley Sawyer, who played Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man and was fired from the series due to derogatory tweets.
“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],” Wallace said. “It was an incredible puzzle to finish Eva’s story, but you make lemonade out of lemons and the episode is stronger as a result. We found clever ways to bring in scale by relying a bit more on visual effects, and we had to rely more on character emotions and the actors themselves, and how things were introduced, and how twists were presented. 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.”
One unexpected positive of the extended delay? It got the cast back together a bit sooner than expected for the new storylines to come in Season 7. Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin/Killer Frost was slated for an extended hiatus to accommodate her real-life maternity leave, but since that played out during the pandemic, they rewrote a few episodes to have her character return to duty sooner. Carlos Valdes’ Cisco also returns a bit earlier than planned, after heading off to visit Atlantis last season.
Once last season’s storyline is wrapped up, Wallace teased there will be two mini-arcs to make up the seventh season, dubbed “Graphic Novels No. 3 and No. 4.” The first will introduce new baddie Chillblaine (played by Jon Cor), who Wallace says is turning out to be such an early favorite his character might “leak over” into the following arc.
“He was just supposed to be a part of Graphic Novel No. 3, but I’m happy to report that Jon Cor is doing an amazing job, and I think the fans are going to fall in love with him — a villain I hope they love to hate,” he said.
Season 7 of The Flash kicks off Tuesday, March 2 on The CW.