Tonight's episode of The Flash gave fans a peek behind the curtain at the West Family's years-long personal struggle and created a new obstacle for Joe and Iris to overcome both in and outside of their personal relationship, with the return of Iris's mother, Francine West.
Francine had vanished years ago after struggling with drugs and a stint in rehab, but rather than try to explain to his daughter that her mother had simply abandoned them, Joe apparently told her that Francine had died -- a masterful plan until she showed up last week hoping to see her daughter again.
During a roundtable with reporters yesterday, Jesse L. Martin spoke about his hopes for the forthcoming season of The Flash, what the return of his ex-wife means and more.
MAJOR SPOILERS for tonight's episode ahead!
What was your reaction when you found out she was going to be coming back into the fold?
Well, I was actually elated. There wasn't a whole lot of talk as to what happened; I didn't even know her name, so all of a sudden she had a name and there was going to be some sort of return. I didn't know what the circumstances were going to be, and you guys have found out that she had a drug problem and it put our daughter in jeopardy. That's pretty much why she ended up leaving -- a stint in rehab, also. But she never really explained why she never came back until now, so it was much easier for Joe to pretend that she died than to explain why she was gone and she wasn't part of Iris's life.
We can assume that Iris will not be happy about being lied to for her whole life?
Well, have you seen the show? Of course not! [Laughs]
Iris doesn't take well to being lied to, particularly a huge lie like that. That's a huge lie. I think you'd be surprised at how it all shakes down but Iris is growing as a character and as a woman and she handles it a whole lot better than I would have ever imagined. She's growing, literally growing, it's awesome.
Has Francine had any children of her own since she and Joe split?
Not that I know of!
Has Francine's return affected Joe's relationship with Barry at all?
No, I think more than anything, Barry's worried about me, because he sees how worried I am that she's suddenly returned and what that means for Iris. So he's certainly concerned about my feelings about the whole thing. Barry, literally, is the shoulder to lean on in this entire episode.
Is Joe involved with the Snarts at all?
Only peripherally. I certainly know of Snart's criminal record, for sure, but Barry's made some deals with Snart in the past and probably will continue to do so because Snart's not going anywhere, I don't believe, but I only hear about what's going on with Snart so far through Barry.
What can you say about Patty's relationship with Joe now that she's an official part of the metahuman task force?
We get into a lot of bumpy situations because there's so many little things I can't tell her, you know what I mean? To put her on the metahuman task force but then sort of keep her in the dark as to what's happening in most cases, any strong woman won't take that well. So you'll get to see how she actually reacts to it, but it's another kind of mistake that I make with another partner.
Does he find himself in any awkward situations because he knows that Barry loves Iris but also we can see that Barry has some chemistry with Patty?
Yeah, there's a couple of awkward situations. There's a whole thing floating around, about when at work, how much do they show their relationship? It flips back and forth: There's a point where I encourage him to sort of be free with it and then I see them being free with it and I don't like it, so [laughs] there's kind of a back-and-forth.
Can you talk about why Francine came back?
I still don't know because we're kind of in there, but I know that initially she really wants to see her daughter. She really wants to see what has happened with Iris and I think that's all I can say.
Can you talk about working with Vanessa Williams?
Yes, I can! I can talk about that all day. She's awesome, by the way. I've known her peripherally for a long time, since way back in the Soul Food days. She worked with a lot of friends of mine. She's an incredible actress, she's a great spirit to have on set. She keeps everything easy; she's truly professional but a lot of fun to work with, and we're having a good time having this little reunion. And from what I hear, it's sort of expanding a little bit. I don't know what's going to happen with this whole thing, but she definitely has a positive effect on Joe.
So she's going to be around for a little while?
I think so. That's what I keep hearing...but I don't know why!
So Harrison arrived at the end of today's episode. Obviously Earth-1 Harrison, or Eobard, confessed and Earth-2 Harrison is now arriving on Earth-1. What kind of complications is that going to cause with you on the force?
Well, with me, I don't trust the first Harrison, so if a new guy shows up looking just like him, I don't trust him, either. So you'll see a lot of that. And he comes back and he's -- I almost said something awful -- he comes back and he's...even less cool...than he was before. [Laughs]
That's the only way I could put it. I was going to use a Cisco term, like "He's a dick." But yeah, he presents a whole lot of problems for me, just looking at him. First of all, I can't believe there's another Earth. So things keep popping out of this other Earth and they keep looking like people we've seen before. I'm like, "That's the same guy! It's not a different guy; that's the same guy."
When do we meet Earth-2 Joe?
That's a damn good question! If there is an Earth-2 and it mimics Earth-1, you would think that maybe there's a Joe over there. And it'll be really interesting to see what he does. Maybe he's meta -- just putting it out there. There was one point where it was suggested by Professor Stein that I might be a scientist on Earth-2. I think Joe kind of liked that. It's better than, like, "Nah, you're a bum." I don't know; it would be really cool, though. We've got a whole lot of episodes to shoot so anything could happen.
So is Joe going to continue to be a bit overwhelmed by some of this?
Look, I take everything by how it comes to me, or Joe does, and I try not to be surprised by what keeps showing up but it's always so incredible. Now there's the whole notion of this other Earth and we're not just dealing with what's happening in Central City, we're dealing with what's happening on Earth-1, and all these metas keep showing up.
Have you ever noticed that Okay, so there's a whole gang of metas, right? Why are all of them bad? Where are the cool ones who can turn water into whiskey and stuff, with the cool powers? It just hasn't happened yet. I guess it's not as interesting if people just show up and be nice, but it'd be kind of cool. All we've got is Barry so far to help save the world, you know? But you guys know more about the comics than I do and I'm sure you know more of some who are good and may show up.
Have you heard the rumblings on the Internet that because the DC TV universe and the DC movie universe are different universes, but now we have multiple earths, they could be connected? Would you be willing to show up on the big screen as Joe West of Earth-TV?
Yeah, why not? I would take this character anywhere; if they wanted to do a live show, I'd do it. Totally down for it.
Yeah, I would love to do that, but to be honest, I really wouldn't want to do it without Grant, so that may never happen. But Grant's my Flash. That's the Flash I'm sticking with and if he stays in the TV world, that's where I'm staying.
Has Joe had any interaction with any of the Arrow characters?
Only peripherally. I did have a little bit of contact with Oliver. Joe thinks Oliver's crazy.
I've met Felicity several times, who I absolutely adore. I think she's awesome in real life and on screen. I've helped Lance with a case. But I don't go to their town much. I've got my own town to worry about. Barry deals with them usually because he can get there quicker than I can.
What do you think would happen if Joe and Diggle ever met? They both have a hard time wrapping their head around some of this stuff.
We have met! There's one little scene. You never see us talk to each other but we're both sort of standing next to each other. But it would be a really interesting conversation: "So, what's the craziest thing you've seen?" "Well, let me tell you..." That would actually be a really cool scene; maybe it will happen someday. Put that out in the Internet world, let's see if it bounces back favorably.
Near the end of the first season, there's a kind of a tense scene between Joe and the district attorney where she tells him that eventually his alliances are going to clash and he's going to get in trouble with the force with all the secrets that he's keeping. Is that something that's going to come up again?
I believe it's going to come up. I hope so because that DA's hot.
I'm sure. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that's bound to happen at some point because I do keep crossing the line as far as what's my job and what has absolutely nothing to do with the Central City Police Department. We have this joke with the costume department where we're figuring out what I'm going to wear. "Wait, is this Rogue Joe?" Rogue Joe is the guy who's trying to pretend he's not a cop right now so he can get away with all this craziness that he's doing, you know? But yeah, I hope that happens. It makes for an interesting time for me, having to weigh what I can get away with.
Will we see more Joe and Cisco together?
I hope so. I have such a good time with Carlos. And Joe does, too, with Cisco. I think that [laughs] I think Cisco's crazy, right? He's crazy. You have to imagine that this kid never sleeps because he's always got something. He'll show up with a thing and you're like "When the hell did you have time to make this?" And he's like "Don't ask questions, just this is what it does."
He's part of [The Police Department] now, at least in an adjunct capacity, and it'll be interesting to see how much they use that. You know what? Our writers have such a tough time because there's so many characters to take care of, there's so many plotlines to take care of, there's so many stories making all kinds of left turns. It must be difficult to keep things linear. it has to be because there's so many characters to take care of. The whole notion that Cisco is working at this department, but also still has a job at S.T.A.R. Labs, new people just keep showing up at S.T.A.R. Labs and all this new technology that has to be put together by Cisco...I don't know how we're going to find the time to do all of that, but I really hope so because I love working with Carlos.
Do you have a favorite metahuman that Joe's been on the chase of so far?
Favorite? It's so funny because the one I'm thinking of I can't talk about, and he was standing right there. [Laughs]
Yeah, I do have a favorite but I can't talk about it at all. After the season is over I can talk about it.