It wasn't that long ago that The Flash was the bright spot in the DC TV universe; the beacon of hope no matter how dark companion series Arrow would get or dire the mission of the Legends of Tomorrow. Barry Allen, as portrayed by Grant Gustin, remained the eternal optimist.
Then again, “eternal” may be too strong a word, considering that by its third season the character had become so emotionally held back over the deaths of his parents that he threw caution to the wind, tried to change history, triggered the “Flashpoint” paradox, attempted to put things right and had to deal with the repercussions. And those grew pretty dark throughout the year, much of that darkness coming from the fact that Barry had seen fianceé Iris West murdered in the future and spent much of the season trying to prevent it. Check out more from our convo with Grant at Comic-Con:
"Showing what happened to Iris in the future and maintaining that suspense and the build up to it became pretty difficult to do. It was also about as dark as we wanted the show to ever go," executive producer Todd Halbing explains. "So we really are concentrating on lightening it up in season four. I think the first couple of scripts of the new season especially are going to be funny. We have a lot of funny people on our writing staff, and it’s all working great. To see the cast and characters like they’re going to be this year is a lot of fun. It’s probably the closest we’ve been to season one."
“At the start of the new year,” Grant adds, “Barry’s a little messed up, but at the root of it, I think he’s going to have an awakening. The first episode is really weird, but we’re going to see Barry kind of get back to his old optimistic self. He’s going to appreciate his powers again. He’s let go of some of the hardship and whatnot he’s had to deal with, and the loss. He’ll be able to move forward and he’ll kind of get back to the Barry I think everybody wants to know.
“And while it’s the more fun Barry, he’s more mature than we’ve seen him,” he continues. “He’s owned up to the mistakes he made last year that sent the team down the dark road that it went down. He’s been able to let go of that loss of Nora and Henry [his parents] that he was never really able to let go of. We’re going to see a lighter Barry Allen, which will be a lot more fun for me.”
Season three ended with Barry setting the universe right by allowing himself to be trapped in the speed force. As season four begins, six months have passed.
“Team Flash is doing the best it can,” says Todd. “Everybody has stepped up. Iris has sort of taken the mantle as a team leader. Vibe and Kid Flash have stepped up and they’re the resident superheroes taking on villains. They’re working really closely with Joe, so everybody has really come together to pick up the slack.”
The Flash’s fourth season premieres on October 10th.