‘The Flash’: The More Things Change

As we head into the final episodes of the sixth season of The Flash, the show has begun to make announcements regarding season 7 regulars. These announcements – along with some suspicious episode titles – have launched speculation regarding the fate of characters who have been around since the beginning of the series. Particularly since it’s uncertain whether some of their contracts might be coming to an end.

If there’s one thing fans can depend upon when it comes to The Flash, however, it’s that that the more things change, the more they remain the same. This will almost undoubtedly remain true for the newest series regulars, as it seems likely they may be poised to fill the void departing characters leave behind. Warning: There are some spoilers ahead!

Joining (Confirmed): Chester P. Runk; Leaving (Speculated): Cisco Ramon

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Speculation that Carlos Valdes will be leaving the show came immediately on the heels of the announcement that Brandon McKnight would be a series regular next season. To be fair, fans have speculated that Carlos is on his way out the door for at least the past two years, but it’s not without cause. The character hasn’t had a really substantial plot for some time, and the actor has apparently requested a lighter filming schedule, missing several episodes in the last two seasons.

Meanwhile, in Chester’s most recent appearance, he stepped rather easily into at least the techno-babble void Cisco left behind in his absence. The show even took pains to establish that he’s smarter and better at science than Barry – having Barry claim that Chester figured out in seconds what Barry couldn’t figure out in weeks. Since the first season, the show has insisted on dumbing down their titular hero to justify the presence of a team in S.T.A.R. Labs, so this seems to be setting the groundwork for Team Flash 2.0.

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Still, while many speculate that this casting announcement foretells the end of Cisco’s character, this could be a case where the show can have its cake and eat it, too. If Carlos is happy to continue filming a handful of episodes a season, the show runners could be perfectly happy to maintain the status quo—with Chester assuming the bulk of Cisco’s S.T.A.R. Labs tech duties and Cisco continuing to make the occasional appearance.

Joining (Confirmed): Allegra Garcia; Leaving (Speculated): Nash Wells

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Given that the character of Allegra was created by show runner Eric Wallace, the announcement that she will be a series regular next year probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unlike with Chester Runk, it’s a little less certain what her role will be on the show. Since her first appearance, she joined the Central City Citizen crew as Iris’s protégé/intern – a role which has been more or less unceremoniously abandoned the last few episodes, as Iris has been trapped in a mirror.

She was offended when she discovered her boss of a few weeks hadn’t immediately divulged the massive, life-threatening secret that her husband was the Flash. Bonded briefly, if inexplicably, with Killer Frost about love on Valentine’s Day. And then threw a temper tantrum when she realized Nash had some connection with her on another Earth because…I don’t even know. Because this show likes writing grown women like they’re twelve much more often than they should.

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Throughout the rest of the season, I’m sure that the connection between Allegra and Nash will be explored. The question for fans has become whether this will be Cavanagh’s last season on the show. In part, the speculation stems from the fact that the elimination of the multiverse means – ostensibly – no more Wells from other Earths. However, this speculation was helped along when it was discovered that episode 20 will supposedly be titled “All’s Wells That Ends Wells.” Of course, there has been no announcement confirming that this will be the end of the character, and the show runners would certainly prefer to keep that revelation under wraps for a while longer even if so. Still, the title is suspicious, to say the least, leading fans to wonder if the show is setting up a connection between Allegra and Nash so that she can pick up his mantle upon his exit.

Joining (Presumed): Sue Dearbon; Leaving (Half-Confirmed): Caitlin Snow

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It isn’t a question of whether Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost, will be leaving the series. The question is whether her exit will be permanent. Panabaker’s last confirmed appearance prior to taking maternity leave is the upcoming episode 16, “So Long and Goodnight.” Given that the show is currently filming episode 20 and Panabaker announced she was due in May, it seems unlikely that she will appear in any more episodes this season. The question remains, however, whether she intends to return to the show in season 7. I expect fans won’t get an answer on this question for quite some time. While we know nothing about her exit—and no episode description has yet been released for her last episode—I would bet that her exit will be open-ended, leaving open the possibility that she may return in future. Perhaps in giving her life over to Killer Frost, Caitlin realized it has been years since she’s had a life of her own and decides to take her own voyage of self-discovery? Only time will tell.

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Meanwhile, there has been no official announcement that Sue Dearbon will be a series regular next year, but most fans seem to expect that the announcement is coming. After spending most of the season foreshadowing Sue’s appearance, her first episode with Ralph was generally well-reviewed, leaving many fans hoping to see more. Certainly the show will explore more of this relationship over the remainder of the season, but it’s highly unlikely that this plot will be fully developed over the few remaining episodes. More likely, Ralph and Sue will come together to take down Black Hole, with the show positioning a deeper exploration of their romantic relationship next year. As for who will step into Caitlin’s role as team doctor, should Panabaker’s exit be permanent? It might not be Sue, but given the number of characters who have filled in for that role over the course of the show with nobody batting so much as an eye, I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

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