This season on The Flash, Barry and the team found themselves up against a villain unlike anything they have ever faced before. After three season of speedster bad guy, it was a different kind of fast that bested Team Flash at every turn, the "fastest mind alive," Clifford DeVoe/The Thinker.
That shift in gears, as it were, delighted fans who had been vocal about all of the speedster villains and now, ahead of tonight's season four finale executive producer Todd Helbing sat down with ComicBook.com to talk about how The Thinker isn't just changing up how Barry operates, but how the villain may impact future villains as well.
As we've seen in clips and promos for tonight's finale, Barry (Grant Gustin) is going to have to literally get inside of DeVoe's (Neil Sandilands) head to make a last stand against the villain. It turns out that entering the villain's mindscape is just a natural progression, especially after Barry's experiences inside the Speed Force and when considering just how physically powerful DeVoe has become. After all, last week the villain put all of his powers on full display making him unstoppable despite Team Flash's best efforts.
"I think some of the Speed Force episodes are my favorite ones, I think 'Runaway Dinosaur' particularly," Helbing said. "Anytime Barry can get to going in the Speed Force, it's such an interesting world and concept. Then, for The Thinker, the mindscape, I mean, it made a lot of sense to us that he's so formidable now physically, like [last week] when everybody finally saw him use all his powers and we did the sort of Old Boy-esque sequence. It's just all natural that that was the best place to take down DeVoe was in his head."
Taking down DeVoe outside of the "real world" is also something that will make tonight's finale different from previous season finales. Helbing said that this time around, the whole team is going into the finale needing to rely on one another. It's something that sets this finale apart from previous ones.
"In Season 1 they got Reverse Flash, they stopped Thawne and then there was this new challenge ahead of them," Helbing explained. "Zoom was a little bit different, Savitar was different. For this one, we wanted to put the team and Barry, specifically, in a place where they needed to rely upon each other and everyone had to be working in synch to stop this guy and really go and hit the theme one more time for 'We are the Flash' and it's not just Barry anymore that's stopping the big bad. It's the whole team."
And as for how facing off with a non-speedster villain has impacted the team and The Flash? Helbing said that while there will always be room for speedsters, The Thinker opened up a lot of doors for the show. And that means next season just might not be returning to the speedster villains just yet.
"I mean, I think look, it's The Flash, right? So, speedsters are always going to be a part of it whether it's Wally or Jesse Quick or a new speedster that we introduce," Helbing said. "It's just part and parcel for this world but it is nice to have a villain that we can change up what Barry's obstacle and the team's obstacles are and how to take somebody down so The Thinker, DeVoe, [was] a lot of fun and we certain see the benefits of doing that, having a meta that isn't a speedster and the new ways that we can pose challenges for those guys is fun so I think for next season, it's certainly not going to be a speedster."
The Flash airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW. The season four finale, "We Are The Flash", airs tonight.