The Flash Star Candice Patton Explains Season 8 Absence

The CW's The Flash just wrapped up its eighth season earlier this week with the season finale concluding the long-running fight between Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh) as well as bringing Iris West Allen (Candice Patton) back from the "dead" as it were, finally resolving her time sickness storyline and seeing her reunited with Barry back home in Central City. Iris' return was great news for fans of the series, as well as the news that Patton had signed on for the show's upcoming ninth season. But while both of those things were well-received by fans, questions remained as to why Patton was so absent for most of Season 8. Now, the series star is clarifying the situation.

Patton took to her Instagram Stories to explain that her absence for much of the season was something that had been negotiated in her Season 8 contract due to initial concerns about COVID-related border closures between the United States and Canada, where The Flash films (via Bleeding Cool).

"My s8 contract was designed by myself & my team in such a way to protect myself in the event that the borders between Canada and the US Closed again (making it extremely difficult if not impossible to get home to the US (which is paramount to me)," Patton wrote. "My team & I made it clear at the time of negotiations/signing & throughout the season that should the coronavirus & border situation around summer/fall of 2021 continue to stay optimistic (and it was clear early on that it would) that I would be more than happy to be featured in all episodes. That option ultimately was not exercised & we respected that decision!"

While Iris didn't end up being featured for much of the season, her role in the season finale was significant. In the end, it was Iris who ended up saving the world when she escaped from the time stone, restoring herself to life and getting Barry to see that his fight with Thawne was setting off Armageddon. Series showrunner Eric Wallace told ComicBook.com that it was a major "level up" moment for the character and sets the stage for her to be stronger in Season 9.

"Moving forward if you notice, again, the theme was leveling up. Everybody this season has leveled up in some way, either powers or emotionally, for those who didn't have superpowers. And it was on purpose that Iris was the last one because we knew it would be such a big deal, and it would be so integral to saving the day," Wallace said. "She really is the reason that the world didn't end in this episode, quite clearly. Her leveling up means, 'Oh my goodness. I, in some ways, am the most powerful person here and I have no superpowers. How great is this? Because my humanity, my empathy, and my compassion gives me a clarity,' that clearly Barry Allen was lacking in his key moments because his kids couldn't even get through to it. The kids were saying, 'Dad, don't kill. She's still alive.' He still didn't buy it."

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He continued, "That's her greatest strength and it's a superpower that is greater than all of the speed force space powers that The Flash has. That's what's the greatest irony of the show. That's why we were never worried because we knew where we were driving to as storytellers. I recognized the frustration of the audience, especially when there were episodes where Candice was not in for four in a row. I totally get that. But the point is, we never lost sight of the goal of the end zone, as it were, to use a football metaphor. And I'm incredibly proud of that now, Iris moving forward realizes, 'Wow, The Flash has more limitations than I do and he's a superhero admired by the entire planet. I'm actually cooler than he is."

The Flash returns for Season 9 in 2023.