The Flash returned Wednesday night on The CW and while the long-running Arrowverse series set out on its final run, it very much found Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in a familiar place, dealing with some of the same insecurities he's dealt with for the past nine years despite his major victory over Reverse Flash at the end of Season 8. According to showrunner Eric Wallace, Barry still struggling with those feelings and fears isn't a coincidence — and the final season of The Flash will see the hero finally dealing with his unfinished baggage from the past.
Warning: spoilers from the Season 9 premiere of The Flash, "Wednesday Ever After", beyond this point.
The series premiere opens with Barry having a nightmare and while the actual events of the nightmare are unique to the episode — Team Flash taking on Tar Pit — Barry's fears are familiar in that he can't protect those he loves. In an interview with ComicBook.com, Wallace spoke about how the final season will see Barry dealing with his demons and how it's all leading to the hero finally coming to terms with it all.
"It's no coincidence he wakes up from a nightmare. Barry has unfinished business and baggage left over from season one that he's going to come to realize he hasn't dealt with over the course of the season," Wallace said. "And as you might guess, in the series finale, he's going to finally come to terms with this particular baggage from the past and finding closure will allow him to achieve a new beginning. That's really the season, so that's why we have him waking up with a nightmare in the premiere."
Part of Barry's coping mechanism, at least in the first episode, is his Map Book, but Wallace said that the Map Book isn't just a one and done thing. Barry may have destroyed it, but the information in it remains in his head.
"The first thing is the map book has been destroyed, but Barry still read it and still remembers everything that's in it. So perhaps the map book, in some certain way, will come back to haunt Barry and Iris. I'm thinking of one episode in particular that's fortunately a very funny episode. Like I said, this is a much lighter season from a romantic comedy point of view. But that map book and the information in it is going to inform Barry and Iris's journey as the season continues," he said. "You can't know the future and not think about, what if? Is this the day I'm supposed to turn left instead of right? And that's what Iris is trying to teach Barry in the premiere. Dude, you can know the future but still determine your own faith. So that's a lesson Barry kind of has to learn, and he has to do it by first burning the map book, literally, but also dealing with the implications, both him and Iris, of still knowing future elements, that they can't un-know what they already know, and that can kind of mess with your head a little bit. Thematically, we explore that throughout season nine."
The Flash airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.