The Flash star Tom Cavanagh on all those big Eobard Thawne twists and why we cant get enough of watching Barry and the Reverse Flash face off.Few things are certain in the world of The Flash and several are downright inexplicable you try coherently describing how the Forces of Nature are meant to function as both people and physical places is what I am saying. But one thing is always true No matter what timeline or time period were talking about The Reverse Flash will do his best to bring down Central Citys hero. Even when Eobard Thawne does not have access to his powers and by all rights should be dead.
The Flash season 8 not only saw Barry Allen save his archenemys life in the wake of the Armageddon event but strip him of his speed in the process leaving him a dep owe red prisoner in ARGUS high tech security facility on Lian Yu. And for most of the season that seemed to be where the show would leave him possibly forever. Which is probably why it felt like such a shock to see Deon kill Thawne in the opening moments of Season 8s penultimate episode Negative Part One leaving his drained body a husk of itself on the floor of his cell.
But if you have watched The Flash for any length of time you probably already knew that death was not exactly going to stick. After all it never has before.
Nobody ever really truly dies in the multiverse Tom Cavanagh who plays the Reverse Flash tells Den of Geek when asked about the apparently unstoppable longevity of his villain. In a multiverse filled with timelines it makes it easy for [them] to still be there you know what I mean And so we can take advantage of that. And I think we do it without abusing the trust of the viewers.
Whats different about this particular Reverse Flash comeback however is not just how complicated it is but how shocking the specifics surrounding this particular resurrection are.Season 8 had already featured the return of the Matt Letscher version of Eobard Thawne last seen—and somewhat reformed—on Legends of Tomorrow and given him a genuine love interest in the form of new speedster Meena Dhawan. Strange as it seemed for a moment it honestly felt as though this character might be on a path to if not outright redemption at least a fresh start and a different type of story
Or so it appeared until Cavanaghs Thawne literally burst out of the Letscher versions head at the conclusion of Negative Part One. Yes you read that right. How precisely the dead Reverse Flash is now alive again in the body of a previous version of himself—and how all that ties into both the arrival of Negative Forces and the ongoing question of Iris time sicknessis something the season finale will have to answer. But it certainly made for a jawdropping final few moments.
I want to give full credit to the writers room because thats got nothing to do with me Cavanagh laughs. What I will say about what I contributed to that and what Matt Letscher contributed to that is that you earn your story. You can have a jump scare but a jump scare that is unsupported by story is just a scare. But a visceral moment that is supported by years and years of story works really well.
Cavanagh goes on to describe his perfect example of this phenomenon citing The Flash season 1 episode Out of Time in which Thawne kills Team Flash member Cisco Ramon. When I stick my hand through Cisco Ramons chest in season 1 its a stunning and shocking and visceral—no pun intended—turn of events and one of the highlights lowlights of The Flash television series canon he says. And of course both Cisco and I went on do a number more years on the show right And yet it didnt dissipate how shocking that moment was.
Cavanagh is proud that the end of Negative Part One still feels shocking even though most viewers who have ever watched the show before were probably aware that his Thawne would likely return in some form despite his apparent death at the beginning of the episode.Think about that for a second When you think about all the different shows you [watch] whens the last time you had a moment [that you did not see coming] Hopefully you have a lot of them but those moments are so gratifying to the viewer. And theres so little to do with Letscher and Cavanagh and so much more to do with the sculpting of the moment the storyline brought forth by the writers room.
Part of the trick Cavanagh claims is that the story plays on our desire as viewers to believe in that version of Thawnes turn to the light that both his love for Meena and his desire to be a good man for her are real.
Weve traveled alongside these two guys and weve spent time with them so its visceral and unexpected when something like this occurs. And I think the writers room did a great job of supporting such a shocking moment by the story that leads up to it he says. Because youre allowed to believe certain really good things.