The CW’s long-running superhero drama The Flash returns for its seventh season tonight in the US, with fans eager to see what the next chapter holds in store for Barry Allen and his friends.
One of the biggest questions that has been hovering over these latest episodes is how the writers will deal with the unexpected firing of former co-star Hartley Sawyer, who played Elongated Man on the hit series.
Showrunner Eric Wallace told TV Line that a combination of that departure and the coronavirus pandemic demanded significant alterations to the opening episodes, as the writers scrambled to conclude their unresolved storylines.
“Usually to wrap up a storyline we have hundreds of extras and all of these things going on in downtown Vancouver, we blow up cars,” he explained. “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?
Wallace continued: “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]. 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.”
This season, The Flash face off once more with the sinister Mirror Master as Iris’ life hangs in the balance, but it won’t be long before an all-new villain rears his head and threatens to tear Barry’s world apart.
Read on for everything else we know so far about The Flash season seven.
When is The Flash season 7 release date?
Due to the coronavirus, The Flash’s return has been significantly delayed.
The series typically kicks off in early October, but as the pandemic has made it difficult to film safely, the series will instead premiere on The CW in the US tonight (Tuesday 2nd March).
This is one week later than had initially been announced due to fellow Arrowverse series Superman & Lois getting a feature-length premiere episode in The Flash’s usual slot.
In the UK, season seven is expected to air on Sky One in Spring 2021.
Production on The Flash resumed late last year at its usual shooting location in Vancouver, Canada, with filming expected to continue until May (via Deadline).
The Flash season 7 spoilers
Flickering Myth reports the following synopsis has been provided by The CW for season seven of The Flash, promising more high-speed thrills and surprises…
“After a thrilling cliffhanger last season which saw the new Mirror Master (Efrat Dor) victorious and still-at-large in Central City, The Flash must regroup in order to stop her and find a way to make contact with his missing wife, Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton)…
“Flash will ultimately defeat Mirror Master. But in doing so, he’ll also unleash an even more powerful and devastating threat on Central City: one that threatens to tear his team—and his marriage—apart.”
However, while fans can expect the same action-packed stories and eccentric villains, the coronavirus pandemic has impacted how the storyline of season seven will be structured.
This is because episodes that had been planned for the end of season six will now be incorporated, in some form, into the beginning of season seven, knocking the typical narrative arc slightly off-kilter.
In an interview with TVLine, showrunner Eric Wallace explained: “Because this is The Flash, there’s a huge twist at the end of every season, and that twist is now kind of coming in the middle of the [start of the] season.
“That has really affected our storytelling for all of season seven.”
Don’t fear though, Flash fans! The team behind the popular show is optimistic this unexpected change could lead to one of their best years yet, pushing them into more experimental territory…
Wallace added: “Amid the horror and the tragedy of what’s happening with this pandemic, if we can find some kind of lemonade in the lemon, it’s us having to rethink a few things about how a Flash season looks, given this ‘narrative unpredictability’ to the season.”
The Flash season 7 trailer
The CW has revealed a dramatic trailer for season seven of The Flash, which sees Barry struggling to cope as he desperately attempts to free Iris from the nightmarish Mirrorverse.
The Flash season 7 cast
Grant Gustin will don the iconic red costume for a seventh season, which will see him clash with the devious Mirror Master (Efrat Dor) as well as an assortment of all-new foes.
Candice Patton returns as his wife, Iris West-Allen, along Carlos Valdes and Tom Kavanagh as super-powered allies Cisco Ramon and Nash Wells.
The writers had planned for Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow, to go on maternity leave during season seven, but due to the filming delay she may be available for more episodes than expected – and is notably featured in the season seven trailer.
Expect to see more of Jesse L Martin as Barry’s adoptive father Joe West, Danielle Nicolet as meta-attorney Cecile Horton, Kayla Compton as tough reporter Allegra Garcia and Brandon McKnight as tech whizz Chester P Runk.
Once Mirror Master’s plans are thwarted, there’s another villain waiting in the wings to take on Barry and his team: the scientist Mark Stevens armed with an array of cold weapons and better known by his alter-ego Chillblaine.
The character will be played by Jon Cor, who will be a familiar face to sci-fi aficionados from his role as Hodge Starkweather on The Mortal Instruments: Shadowhunters, which aired on Netflix in the UK.
In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was uncertain what the fate of John Wesley Shipp’s Jay Garrick would be, as his reality was one of the many that didn’t make it out in one piece.
However, the actor told Den of Geek in a recent interview: “I know Jay Garrick is coming back to the CW show, but they were supposed to be at a further point in the story.
“They didn’t get to play out the end of season six because of COVID as we know, so they’ve got to tie up some things. [Showrunner] Eric Wallace has said that he does want to talk to me about some ideas about Jay Garrick going forward.”
Meanwhile, fans of the wider Arrowverse will be excited to hear that David Ramsey is set to make a return as Oliver Queen’s closest ally John Diggle, who will also pop up in the current seasons of Superman & Lois, Supergirl and Batwoman.
There has been speculation that the character could take on the mantle of Green Lantern in the near future, but Flash showrunner Eric Wallace would not confirm nor deny that theory.
“When we last saw Diggle, he had a situation at the end of Arrow that he needed to deal with,” he told TVLine. “So he arrives to help Team Flash in the back half of the season carrying the weight of that ‘problem.’
“And the question is: How can he help Team Flash when he’s got something even bigger on his mind? And that’s what the story is.”
Hartley Sawyer fired from The Flash
One cast member who will not be returning to The Flash next year is Hartley Sawyer, who had played Ralph Dibny (aka Elongated Man) since season four.
Offensive tweets resurfaced from the actor’s past causing fury among fans on social media, prompting showrunner Eric Wallace to announce he had been fired from the series.
Sawyer said in a statement: “My words, irrelevant of being meant with an intent of humour, were hurtful, and unacceptable. I am ashamed I was capable of these really horrible attempts to get attention at that time.
“I regret them deeply. This was not acceptable behaviour. These were words I threw out at the time with no thought or recognition of the harm my words could do, and now have done today.”
He added: “I am incredibly sorry, ashamed and disappointed in myself for my ignorance back then. I want to be very clear: this is not reflective of what I think or who I am now.”