SPOILER WARNING: The following interview contains some spoilers for the May 10 episode of “The Flash.”
Barry Allen can’t seem to catch a break. After Zoom stole Barry’s speed, Team Flash attempted to recreate the accelerator explosion that granted Barry his powers. Unfortunately, the plan backfired, and Barry was vaporized by the blast — or was he?
With only three episodes left in the series’ second season, director Kevin Smith stepped in to kick things up a notch and handle Barry’s life after death. Ahead of tonight’s episode, “The Runaway Dinosaur,” Smith spoke with CBR News about how being a Flash fan led to him directing an episode of the series, details about Barry’s Speed Force adventure, which includes a big moment between Iris and Barry. Plus, Smith addressed Jesse and Wally’s fate following the explosion that sent Barry into the Speed Force, and whether his episode will also feature the birth of a hero!
CBR News: You haven’t directed episodic television since 2007’s “Reaper” pilot. How did this “Flash” gig come about?
Kevin Smith: I feel kind of lucky. They don’t need anybody. Flash has a stable of directors over there doing a great job on that show. It all came together oddly. Jason Mewes’ wife, Jordan, who runs our company, called my TV agent, who is also named Jordan — girl Jordan called boy Jordan. Jason Mewes turned me on to “The Flash,” and I became a massive fan, so she tells boy Jordan, “Kevin loves this show. He has been known to direct in the past, sometimes well, so why don’t you ask if they will let him direct an episode of ‘The Flash?'” It was like, “Hey, you guys know Kevin Smith?” “Oh, yeah, ‘Dogma.'” “He would like to direct an episode. What do you guys think about that?” “Yeah, sure. Why not?”
Girl Jordan called me up and said, “Hey, you’re going to hate this, but I called boy Jordan and asked him to ask ‘The Flash’ people if they would let you direct an episode.” I was like, “Oh, man. Why would you do that? That makes me look fucking bad. It’s like begging for a fucking job. Don’t ever fucking do that to me again. We’re about to make ‘Moose Jaws.’ We have shit going on.” She’s like, “They said, ‘Yes.’ Don’t worry.” I was like, “Oooo… Yes! Good job. Well done. Thatagirl. Holy shit.”
So, she got me the job. Jason turned me on to the show, and Jordan pushed forward until, suddenly, I had a directing gig on “The Flash.”
What kind of flavor, or Kevin Smith-isms, did you want to bring to “The Flash?”
I went up there as a long-time comic-book fan and as a big fan of the show. I didn’t go up there as, “I’m a filmmaker. I’ve done some shit,” because I didn’t really want to bring me to the show. There are parts of me everyone knows. Most people go, “Kevin Smith. Wow. Flash is going to say ‘cocksmoker’ this week.” I wanted to make sure I did their show, but what I did want to bring to it was that I’m a crazy-enthusiastic cheerleader of a director. I’ve been told that many times. People like being on our sets. They are friendly and fun, and we’re always having a good time. I knew I could bring that to the show. Imagine the enthusiasm I could bring, and boy, did I. I directed like a Baptist preacher on cocaine. “This is great! We all have the greatest job in the world! What do we do? We make ‘The Flash!’ Let’s go! Action!” The cast were coming to the end of their season at that point, and I think I was a nice breath of fresh air. I heard from a bunch of folks, “Dude, you just reenergized me until the end of the show.”
What were your thoughts on the script when you received it?
There are two more episodes to go, and those two episodes are big. My episode is kind of like the calm before, the quiet before two very massive episodes happen. I was glad when I saw the script. Thankfully, they didn’t get me to write it. They got Zack Stentz to write it. Zack has done a great job writing comic-book movies, so it made sense. He crushed it. I had great emotional stuff to work with. They have three pillars upon which they built that show: heart, humor and spectacle. This episode was filled with a lot of heart. I love every aspect of that show, but what I ‘m most attracted to about “Flash” is the emotional stuff.
The heart of that show is about a boy who lost his mom and spends his life trying to grow up with a tragedy he doesn’t understand, that tore his family apart, and he still turned into a pretty good guy. He’s a moral, good human being thanks to the second family that raised him. Any time you deal with Nora Allen, like the mom stuff of an episode — That’s like porn, if you’re a Flash lover. That’s the best stuff. “Nora’s back!” It just means you’re going to get to feel in a big, bad way in the episode. When I opened my script and midway through, Barry says, “Mom,” I was like, “Oh, we got this.” If I had opened it up and it had read, “Barry fights Grodd,” I would have been like, “We’re fucked. I don’t know how to fucking shoot action. I don’t know how to shoot special effects.” We’ve got special effects in our episode, but it’s a manageable level for me. Really, what was important was what I could bring to it, which was character stuff. I’m good at that. There’s humor, but not a lot.
After the events of the previous episode, Barry appears to be dead. Obviously, that’s not the case, so where do we find him in your episode?
Barry is in the Speed Force. The Speed Force speaks to him as the people who are most important to him. It has a bit of Dickens to it, something like ghosts of his past. It’s an episode about taking stock. It’s somebody looking back at their entire life. Barry meets his maker, looks back at his entire life and tries to figure out what is next.
It wasn’t planned this way. It was just because this episode was open. When boy Jordan called and said, “Hey, Kevin would like to direct,” they were like, “Okay, he can take the next one.” I wound up with the perfect episode for me to handle. Not too much action, but a good amount where it’s still definitely “The Flash.” And, there’s a lot of heart.
How are Barry’s friends and family not only grieving over his apparent demise, but dealing with the ongoing threats in Central City?
They learn pre-credits, thanks to Vibe — or, thanks to Cisco — that Barry is alive. We begin right after the ending of the last episode. It’s right there in the same room with everybody going, “He’s gone.” Then there’s another crisis that takes everybody out of the room, with the exception of Cisco. Cisco grabs what is left of the costume and vibes that Barry is still alive, but they don’t know where he is. Cisco is like, “I’ve seen Barry. He’s still alive.” Later on in the episode, it’s Harrison Wells who figures out Barry is in the Speed Force. Tom [Cavanagh] has this great moment where he goes, “He’s in…” and then he does a dramatic turn, “He’s in the Speed Force.” You’re like, “Holy shit.” Viewers don’t have long to sit there and go, “Barry’s gone.”
Candice Patton crushed it at the tail-end of that last episode in terms of being emotional. She has great stuff to do in this episode. Since Zoom has taken Caitlin, there’s more for Candice to do. Everyone is splitting Caitlin’s roles; Henry is there to do the doctoring stuff that Caitlin usually does, Iris is filling in as Cisco’s sidekick, or, vice versa. There’s a lot more for her to do, both in and out of the Speed Force.
One of the pictures they’ve released shows Barry sitting there talking to Iris. Candice plays double duty in terms of who she normally plays and also another version of Iris. I’m a big West/Allen fan. We reference the episode where they kiss. We went back and shot in the same place that happened. In our third act, we have what, to me, as a fan of the show, is one of the most powerful West/Allen moments we’ve ever seen. There’s this wordless sequence between them that is really quite beautiful. It demonstrates the power and the strength of their relationship and how deep it goes.
Jesse and Wally were also caught in the accelerator’s blast. What can you say about how it affects them?
Right at the top of the show, there’s a sequence involving them. There’s a thread running throughout the whole show. One of the B-storylines involves Jesse. For Wally, there’s a scene that calls back to Joe discovering Barry’s speed. We touch on both of them. I will say this: nobody gets a costume in the episode. That was one of my first questions. I was like, “Is somebody going to get a costume in this episode?” I’m not there for the birth of a new hero, is what I’m saying.
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