After a third season that put the show's characters through the wringer, producers have promised the season 4 of The Flash will have a lighter tone and more of a sense of humor -- and it is something they knew last season they would have to do.
Showrunner Todd Helbing said that the season's turning point last year -- seeing Iris West murdered by Savitar in a vision of the future -- was not something they wanted to shy away from, but it did let them know that they needed to find their North Star a little bit.
"The second that we went to Infantino Street for the first time in season three and showed the audience Iris dying, it didn't take us long to realize to keep up that tension was going to be a big thing and hard to do for a lot of reasons," Helbing told ComicBook.com. "And simultaneously, we realized how dark the show was getting. So we made a conscious effort to change that, and that was one of the reason that we decided to have Barry go into the Speed Force at the end -- because it's a place where you know for the speedsters they can have varying experiences and we knew that we wanted to get back to a lighter tone, so we could explore what Barry's experience was in a way that could help us shift the tone back to something more fun."
Coupled with the decision to go with a big bad who does not possess super-speed, and the apparent absence of any big "mystery" characters who can be revealed partway through the season, it seems the show is looking to regain its original tone this season while abandoning a familiar structure that some fans had said was showing signs of wear.
Some of season 3's lingering questions will be put to rest in the season 4 premiere, which sees Barry return from six months spent in the Speed Force, while some will linger for a bit longer -- including what, exactly, happened to Barry when he was trapped there.
The Flash premieres its fourth season on Tuesday, October 10, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.