The Flash is back and he’s only got five weeks to save the world. For the launch of his eighth season, our boy Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is gathering a group of Arrowverse alums and all-stars for “Armageddon,” a five-episode battle against DC Comics’ villainous psychic alien Despero (Tony Curran).
Showrunner Eric Wallace recently told us that he wouldn’t reveal “exactly why he’s there, but he’s got an agenda that sets the whole thing off,” leading to a lineup of guest heroes that includes Sentinel (Chyler Leigh) of Supergirl; Black Lightning (Cress Williams); Mia Smoak, aka, the new Green Arrow (Katherine McNamara) of Arrow; The Flash‘s Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh); Batwoman (Javicia Leslie); The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) from DC’s Legends of Tomorrow; and Ryan Choi (Osric Chau), who last appeared in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. But this is not your usual crossover, offers Gustin, who shared some info with us ahead of what is, for fans, the group hang we’ve needed for almost two years. (Plus, catch a sneak peek at the fun in a new clip, above.)
So let’s talk about this five-week event, because it just sounds awesome.
Grant Gustin: It is. It’s a five-part event called “Armageddon,” so there’s a lot going on. [Laughs] When I saw the trailer, I think, a week or two ago, it really excited me. Because it felt different working on it. [Showrunner] Eric Wallace has worked really hard to up our game…for this whole season, in general. Since he’s been showrunner, I know it means a lot to him to kind of turn up the volume every season. We’ve definitely never started a season where we just jump right into five insane episodes. We usually build up to our mid-season finale. But this is not that. This is insane. Each episode snowballs and gets a little crazier and crazier and bigger and bigger.
Eric was also very clear that this is not like a typical crossover. This is a Flash and Iris (Candice Patton) storyline and these guest characters are not just coming in to make appearances; they are playing major roles in the story.
That what’s been fun. I mean, selfishly, it’s been a little easier in the sense that it’s just a Flash production schedule that all the Flash cast and crew is having to balance.
I have such empathy for Javicia and these other actors who are still working on other shows and crossing over to do this, because I know how hard it is to balance both schedules. And I think we only had Javicia for three days actually, but she did a lot in those three days. So she’ll be all over these episodes.
I’m so excited, because she apparently has a great scene with Candice, right?
Yeah. We got to see a dynamic where they’ve got a cool friendship. And the dynamic I have when she shows up on the show isn’t necessarily what you’d expect. Because without giving away too much, things have kind of gotten flipped on their head by the time we end up interacting.
How was that having all of these guests come in, and you got to make space for everybody, right?
It was fun. But it’s also kind of been a part of these shows for me, for the entirety of its run, for eight years now. I mean, I started on Arrow. It wasn’t even a crossover. It was just me guest-starring on the show. And ever since then, this has just kind of been a part of how we do things. So it doesn’t even feel like crazy anymore when it’s happening. It’s just kind of what we do. It was cool though. It’s always cool to see seven, eight different actors standing on set in their own superhero uniform.
It’s like, you know them all as actors in the blocking rehearsal, and it feels like just another day, except you’ve got fresh faces you don’t necessarily see all the time. And then we go to shoot and everybody’s in their wardrobe and you’re like, “Oh, s–t. Yeah, we’re all superheroes.” [Laughs]
Everyone has been very cautious about not revealing what the whole idea is with “Armageddon,” so what is going on here that has Barry trying to save the world?
Well, it’s not only saving the world, but the fact that Despero is claiming that Barry is the cause. So initially, I’m trying to explain to him that, that’s just not possible. But by the end of maybe the second episode, something happens. Some information is revealed that makes Barry think that maybe this is possible, maybe this is Barry’s fault. Things aren’t making sense, which is when he seeks out Jefferson.
You mentioned that this all started with a guest spot on Arrow and you’ve been doing events like this since then. So what is new for you here?
To be honest, every year feels different and new. I was 23 when I was cast on the show. I’m going to turn 32 this season. So I’ve changed from year to year and just grown a lot over these seasons. And so it always feels like a different challenge every season. But I mean, a lot of it was new, to be honest, this season. Like I said, we don’t usually jump in and do five intense episodes to start a year. When we’ve done crossovers, it’s having to balance all these five other production schedules. And now it’s all happening on Flash, which is awesome.
We’re seeing Barry develop. We keep saying that he’s leveled up. Everybody’s leveled up. One of Eric’s themes this season, especially in these first five episodes, is that we’ve all leveled up. And because of that, we’re seeing Barry do a few things with his abilities we haven’t necessarily seen [before] or they’re like completely new abilities.
How much do you get to do with Candice in this one? There was so much separation in the last season.
Yeah. I saw Candice a lot throughout this first five-parter. We worked together quite a bit. And now we’re shooting, I want to say episode eight or nine, and we’ve seen a lot more of each other this season than we had last season. But at the same time, we also see Barry’s growth this year as a leader in his own right. He’s maturing and when emotional, tough things happen, he handles it a little differently than he has in the past. We are actually seeing each of them on their own paths as well, which is cool.
We haven’t been separated like we were with the mirror-universe storyline, but she’s got a lot going on with the CCC—Central City Citizen Media. She’s got a big company now, she’s started a podcast, and she’s brought Allegra and all these other reporters. They’ve even got a new set and it looks awesome. And so, we’re seeing that really come to life, and we’re really seeing “Iris the reporter.” We’re seeing them together a lot, but we’re also seeing them kind of take ownership of what their own personal lives are, which is cool.
How different was it for you to host the crossover without Stephen Amell around?
It was weird! You know, it’s the Arrowverse. Every crossover I’ve ever done, he’s been a part of it. So yeah, he was missed.
And I’m assuming the five-parter ends with something that leaves us hanging until the show comes back in March?
I’m trying to remember exactly how it does end. [Laughs] We definitely put a bow on “Armageddon” and we move into, as Eric always describes it, our next graphic novel. But we don’t jump right into our next graphic novel. There’s a stretch of episodes and then we’re propelled specifically into what feels like, “Oh, this is the next chapter” a few episodes later. And it’s looking like it’s going to be very cool. But it’s very far from where our viewers are at this point, so I won’t even get into that. [Laughs]
The Flash, Season 8 Premiere, Tuesday, November 16, 8/7c, The CW