The Flash is speeding towards the finish line.
"There's lots of tears amongst The Flash family these days," showrunner Eric Wallace tells EW. "It's the last season premiere. We all know Stephen Amell is coming back to the show, and it's the last time we get to work with Stephen as the Arrow. It's the last season finale — there's all these lasts happening and that's really bled into the season themes, which is how finding closure allows you to achieve a new beginning."
Wallace adds there's "a lot of hugging and crying going on" during filming right now between cast and crew as the end quickly approaches. It's a moment he never thought he'd get to witness in person, because he admits he expected someone else would be the one in charge when the show ended for good.
"I arrived in season 4 as a fan of the show, and then got lucky enough to suddenly find myself in a position to be privileged enough to run the show," he says. "And I fully imagined that I'll just run it for a little while, then I'll turn it over to somebody else. That's what happens in television. I thought it'll just keep running for 15 years like Supernatural and then I'll get to watch it again as a fan. I had no idea that things would end on my watch."
That has only added to the "incredible responsibility" he feels to fans of The Flash to not only create a satisfying final season but also to make sure he pays off "a lot of the hanging storylines from season 1, to plant some Easter eggs here and there for the fans saying thank you, to bring back as many familiar faces from the first season as I can story-wise, and most importantly, to provide the most emotional climax to the nine-year journey of The Flash and Barry [Grant Gustin] and Iris [Candice Patton] that I can. And do it in a way that gives the kind of happy ending that not only I want, but which the audience deserves."
It's also an ending that he's had in mind for years — even though he never thought he'd actually get to bring it to life. "Quite frankly, once I took over, I knew what the final scene and final shot of the series finale should be," Wallace says. "I've known exactly what even the final line of dialogue should be. Everybody's going to find out long before the ending because it plays into the title of the final episode."
Wallace had looked so far into the future, in fact, that he actually had "a two-year plan in place for seasons 9 and 10, and it was all leading towards a 200th episode." He adds, "It was going to be super emotional and super spectacular and pay off a lot of things when I thought we were going to have 20 episodes each in seasons 9 and 10. When that didn't happen, I suddenly realized episode 200 just became the series finale. We have to tell that story — it's too powerful to lose it. So that's what happened, and that made knowing where we were going a little simpler."
Shane Harvey/The CW Grant Gustin as The Flash
Wallace ended up taking all the best parts of his imagined seasons 9 and 10 and distilling them all into one shortened final season. "I wish I had an extra couple more episodes," he says. "There's certain things that we just don't have time to get to, unfortunately. There's certain characters I wanted to bring back who we're not going to be able to, but it's okay because everything is very Barry and Iris-centric."
While it's too early for Wallace to get into specifics on how the season ends, he does reveal that "there will be lots of tears" in the series finale, as well as the four episodes leading into that last hour. "There's some very special things, you're going to see a lot of familiar faces from the past popping up here and there, and it all ties into something that Barry's been struggling with ever since season 1," he says. "I can't say more than that. Let's just say the events of season 1 are still unresolved and Barry doesn't realize it until this year. Resolving those issues provides the emotional climax for our series finale at the end of season 9."
And while this version of The Flash will come to "a definitive end," Wallace teases it's also "just the beginning of phase two of Barry and his story as The Flash." He laughs before adding, "And I leave it to the fans to write the rest or maybe a revival five years after that. I don't know, I'll be sleeping at that point. I need a nap!"
Season 9 of The Flash will premiere Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.