Executive producer Todd Helbing promises the fourth season of The CW’s The Flash will return the series to a lighter tone after what he admits was the show’s darkest season with season three. Helbing and The Flash cast, including Grant Gustin, Danielle Panabaker, Candice Patton, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Carlos Valdes, and Keiynan Lonsdale, discussed the upcoming fourth season while at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con, participating in a panel crowded with fans and in a slightly quieter press room for roundtable interviews. During our interview, Helbing also talked about the season four villain: The Thinker.
How much time is Barry going to be spending in the Speed Force? Will you be bringing him back quickly?
Todd Helbing: “When we pick up the season it’s six months later, so he’ll have been in there at least six months. But, I can’t really reveal that yet – but he’s The Flash and the show is The Flash so we want to get The Flash back on the show.”
Will we see him inside the Speed Force or will it start with his return from the Speed Force?
Todd Helbing: “I can’t really go into that. It’s just really tied into how he escapes.”
What can you say about the season’s crossovers?
Todd Helbing: “The only thing really is this year it’s going to be a true four-parter that will start on Supergirl. It’s not going to start on the last scene this time; it’s going to be a true four-parter. You know, we’re kicking around ideas of what the story is going to be.”
Will Team Flash be still as strong as when Barry left or have they faltered in his absence?
Todd Helbing: “They’ve been doing the best they can. Everybody has sort of stepped up. Iris has taken the mantle as team leader. Vibe and Kid Flash have stepped up and they’re the resident superheroes that are taking on all the villains and they’re working really closely with Joe. Everybody has come together to pick up the slack.”
Last year you had the musical crossover. Is there something unusual you’re planning for this year?
Todd Helbing: “We love to get these guys singing anytime we can. Our cast is so tremendously talented. But I think as far as a full musical this year… One thing is we do the crossovers every year, that’s a big thing – a big event. We want to keep the specialness of the musical so if you start to do these things every year, they’re not going to seem special, I think. But if we can get these guys singing, we’ll do it.”
Can you talk a little bit about the big picture and the tone of the season?
Todd Helbing: “So, last year the show got pretty dark. Showing what happened to Iris in the future and maintaining that suspense and that build up, it became difficult to do. And it was also so dark and that’s about as dark as we ever want the show to go. So, we really are concentrating on lightening it up a little bit – or a lot. I think the first couple scripts especially are unbelievably funny. We’ve a lot of funny people on our writing staff and so it’s all working great. And to see the cast and the characters light this year is a lot of fun. It’s probably the most close to season one that we’ve been, for sure.”
Will the Caitlin/Killer Frost storyline be totally separate from the rest of the team?
Todd Helbing: “No. I mean all I can say about that is that if you’re a fan of Caitlin Snow, you’re going to be very happy with this season. And if you’re a fan of Killer Frost, you’re going to be very happy with this season.”
Is Tom Felton coming back?
Todd Helbing: “No, he is unfortunately not coming back.”
Can you talk about the new villain?
Todd Helbing: “Yeah, it’s The Thinker. Last year we said his name twice, Clifford DeVoe. And he is the smartest guy on the planet. You know, the phrase we keep saying is that it’s the fastest man alive versus the fastest brain.
It’s a lot of fun. This season in particular we’ve planned out a lot of the moves and it’s really because when you’re dealing with somebody as smart as this guy, to figure out his plan has been a lot of fun but it’s not something that we can just do on the fly. So, we have all the major goalposts that we’re going to hit. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Is there anything ambitious to pull off in season four in the way that you pulled off Grodd or King Shark?
Todd Helbing: “Yeah. I mean, look, I don’t know if we’re going to be going to Gorilla City again. I think that stretched the capacity for what we can do on a television budget. But anytime we can have Grodd, and King Shark to me is my personal favorite villain, so I don’t know. I don’t want to tell you guys something that doesn’t end up happening but I’m personally going to push very hard to get King Shark and Grodd together.”
Watch the full Todd Helbing The Flash interview: