The Flash is rewriting history yet again.
The CW superhero drama kicks off its third season with an ambitious (and stellar) premiere on Tuesday, set entirely in a new timeline, “Flashpoint,” which was created by Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) after he traveled back in time to the day his mother died to save her from the Reverse-Flash (Matt Letscher).
The differences from the original timeline to the “Flashpoint”-affected world are stark. Barry and Iris West (Candice Patton) are mere strangers, Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) is Central City’s version of The Flash, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) is an alcoholic cop, and Team Flash is nonexistent. Instead, Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) is a playboy billionaire (sound familiar?), and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) is an ophthalmologist.
Ahead of Tuesday’s anticipated return, Patton jumped on the phone with ET to dish on all things “Flashpoint,” the anticipated four-show crossover, and why it’s “essential” that a significant character will come out in the DC-verse.
ET: How exciting has it been for you, now three seasons into The Flash, to kick off the year in such an ambitious way with "Flashpoint"?
Candice Patton: The cool thing about the show is every season feels a little bit different, and I feel like we’re always topping ourselves. When I knew we were doing “Flashpoint,” it was really exciting. If you’re a fan of the Flash comic books, this is a huge thing. It was something that no one had ever seen with these characters. I’m super excited for [the premiere] -- I’ve been waiting for people to see this episode. It’s something that I’m very proud of, and it reminds me of the excitement I had from the pilot.
“Flashpoint” offers you the rare opportunity to play another iteration of your character. What do you want fans to know about Iris in this new world?
She’s a reporter, but she’s also fighting and working with The Flash of this timeline, which is her brother Wally West, aka Kid Flash. As it was in season one, where she was very much in the dark about what was going on, in “Flashpoint,” she’s very much in the thick of it which is very, very cool.
Even though “Flashpoint” Iris may not be permanent, that must have been gratifying for you to explore another shade to her.
I will say that out of all the characters, Iris is essentially the most similar to her original self and it’s a thing that we play with. No matter where we find her, she’s kind of a fixed point for Barry. She’s always the Iris he knows and loves. She’s kind of a safety blanket for him. But it is cool as an actor [to be] on a show where there’s different arcs and timelines to explore -- even if they are small things, just being able to change the character in a little way.
Barry and Iris have had years of history that we’ve seen over the past two seasons, but in “Flashpoint,” we see them meet and get to know each other. What can WestAllen fans look forward to in this timeline?
That’s the thing -- it’s different. They didn’t know each other in this timeline. They didn’t grow up together. Barry lives with his parents because they’re still alive. We know that they went to school together, but they don’t have a relationship. They barely have a friendship. There’s this really cute moment where Barry gets up the nerve to talk to her and essentially ask her out for the first time and try to recreate the romance that he had with her at the end of season two, so there’s a really sweet moment of them meeting each other for the first time.
When “Flashpoint” goes away, how do you think the repercussions of that affect Iris?
Obviously you can’t travel in time without there being some sort of repercussion of that, so everyone is affected by Barry’s decision to travel back in time and then to also travel back [to the present] and have Reverse-Flash kill his mother so he can return to the original timeline. Things are different. It’s small things, but it’s something Barry is going to have to deal with and grapple with for the rest of the season.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, we’re looking forward to The Flash-Supergirl musical crossover. Are you excited to take part?
We’re all kind of just waiting for more details. We’re all super excited but also a little bit nervous. We haven’t done anything like this -- maybe Grant on Glee -- but that’s it. I’m excited to be a part of it. This is the rare show where we get to do a lot of different things as actors, and this musical episode is an example of that. I don’t know what my part in it will be, if it’ll be big or small, but whatever they throw at me, I’m willing to do.
Is the Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow four-show crossover event this fall the biggest that we’ll ever see?
I think so! I think having four shows on the network now that we can cross over to, this is definitely the farthest and the biggest that we’ve been done. We’re in the middle of shooting The Flash [portion of the] crossover right now and reading the script, I was like, “Fans will love this.” You get to see some of your favorite characters interact with other characters, and it’s just cool. Seeing superheroes team up is always cool. I think people will be really happy.
We’ll learn that a major character from one of the four shows will come out as gay this season. What are your thoughts on that storyline and the show embracing the LGBT community by making that a central part of someone’s journey?
It’s absolutely essential. I think one character’s not enough. There should be more. I’m excited that they’re moving in that direction. I’m always an advocate of diversity. I think the more these shows look like the world we live in, the more tolerance there’ll be. Me being a black actress playing the ingénue and being the leading lady on a show like The Flash, that isn’t done very often. We’re changing the landscape of what ingénues look like, and television is very powerful. Any time we can do diverse casting, I think it’s for the better.
The Flash premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.