When The Flash returns for Season 7 in 2021, it has a lot of ground to cover. Not only will the popular Arrowverse series need to wrap up its Season 6 storylines thanks to things being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the show will also deal with some real-world issues as well. While fans already know that The Flash will need to address the departure of Ralph Dibny actor Hartley Sawyer, the series will also see its story influenced by the real world in another way as well. According to series showrunner Eric Wallace, there will be a Season 7 storyline inspired by recent social unrest.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wallace explained that Joe West's (Jesse L. Martin) storyline in the upcoming season will be inspired by societal change and the social justice protests surrounding racial equality and issues of police brutality that have been so much a part of 2020.
"Joe's storyline this season is inspired by the societal changes happening in today's world," Wallace said. "Because with everything we're all waking up to each day in 2020, I felt there was a great opportunity here -- even within our fantastical family-oriented show -- to comment indirectly on truths folks could easily recognize. And do so in an entertaining way."
As superhero television goes, The Flash is in a very specific position to be able to approach some of those truths. While the series is, as Wallace noted, family-oriented, both Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Joe both work for the police -- Barry is a CSI when he's not busy being The Flash and Joe is the captain of the Central City Police Department. For Wallace, this presents an opportunity to challenge Joe in a way that allows the character to rise up.
"As we're working our way through Joe's wonderful story line this year, Joe gets challenged by the events of the world that are going on nowadays. Of course, in a sci-fi superhero way because we're on a superhero show. And he really rises up," he said. "I'm so proud of the character and I'm so excited for Jesse to take Joe in just a little bit of a new direction. Because Joe's a good man with a good heart. And if he sees injustice, he's not a person who turns a blind eye to it. He's a person who says something and does something."
He added, "I'm happy to report that we're working that actually into the scripts right now. It's not in the first batch. It's more in the middle of season 7. It will be very obvious as Joe goes through these changes and ends up in a place that's unexpected for him, but that is honorable and very aware of today's problems from a law perspective. So, it's made the storytelling for his character's story line, I think, the most exciting thing that I've been able to write for him since I've been the showrunner. I just can't wait for folks to see it."
And Joe may not be the only character to go on an unexpected journey in Season 7, either. Wallace has previously teased an "emotional" journey for a character in the series -- though it's unclear exactly which character that journey will be for.
"There was a whole storyline that involved Ralph with another character in particular going off on a two hander journey -- a season-long [arc] that would have involved a whole bunch of twists and turns that would have played into the season's big bad, which I don't want to spoil," Wallace said. "And yeah, we can't do that anymore. However, as is always the case, and this is why I like planning ahead, it turns out to be a situation of some lemons and we made lemonade out of it. We pulled the Elongated Man out of this particular storyline, and the storyline became so much stronger because now it's focused on the other character, [who] I don't want to reveal because it's a surprise."
Wallace did, however, reveal that the other character is a series regular.
"For that other character, it became a much more of an emotional journey," Wallace continued. "And this other character I'm referring to is one of our series regulars, so it's going to be very exciting. That particular character now gets to go somewhere that we never imagined they would until many seasons down the line, but we just pulled that up. So, I think it's going to be really fun. And it was a good way to, like I said, make an awkward situation into a great opportunity that ends up making Team Flash as a whole, stronger."
The Flash is expected to return with new episodes in 2021 on The CW.