Barry Allen’s loyal team at Star Labs on The Flash has expanded in recent seasons… but is it starting to get overcrowded in the Cortex?
Ever since The Flash first premiered on The CW in 2014, the Scarlet Speedster has not protected Central City completely on his own.
The Flash, otherwise known as CSI Barry Allen (portrayed by Grant Gustin) has consistently had a dedicated team of cohorts in their Star Labs headquarters – a facility owned by Barry since Season 2 of the hit superhero.
Over the course of seven seasons, “Team Flash” has had a revolving door of members joining and leaving. The longest-tenured members since the first season are mechanical engineer and Barry’s best friend, Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Barry’s foster father/father-in-law, Police Captain Joe West (Jesse L. Martin).
For perspective, the original team only had five core members: Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, Joe and then-Star Labs owner Dr. Harrison Wells, who was really Eobard Thawne in disguise.
Have the later additions to Barry Allen’s most trusted allies helped or hurt The Flash? Are characters ending up under-utilised or underdeveloped, as there are simply too many stories to manage in a season?
In Season 5, there was a total of nine Team Flash members, all of whom were played by series regulars. Now, in Season 7, there is still around the same number. However, there are also recurring characters who are aware of The Flash’s secret, but not full-time members of the team.
Some notable additional members throughout The Flash to date include Wally West/Kid Flash (Keiynan Lonsdale), Nora West-Allen/XS (Jessica Parker Kennedy), Julian Albert/Alchemy (Tom Felton), many versions of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) and the recently departed Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man.
The latter was written out between seasons six and seven, owing to real-life drama with Hartley Sawyer, the actor who played the role.
It is important to note that there have been several showrunners on The Flash throughout its seven seasons and counting. Therefore, a character championed by one Executive Producer may be less valued by their successor, and so on.
Extroverted scientist/online streamer Chester P. Runk (Brandon McKnight) was introduced as a recurring character in Season 6 and became a regular for the following season.
Chester’s backstory, including his troubled relationship with his late father, was explored in Season 7, episode 6, “The One With The Nineties”, no fewer than 23 episodes after his debut.
For effectively his entire run on The Flash up until this point, Chester had been little more than quirky comic relief. Now, the show offered an insight into the man’s emotional core.
Fellow new regular Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) has been absent for two episodes in a row as of writing, following the departure of her main scene partner, Harrison ‘Nash’ Wells (Tom Cavanagh).
Allegra’s main connection left on the show is through Iris and the Central City Citizen, which has not been emphasised as much during Season 7 so far. This makes it difficult for the character to have a purpose in the already crowded Team Flash scenes.
Even The Flash’s own title character, Barry Allen, was sidelined during most of episode 706 in favour of developing Chester’s story, with Cisco as emotional support.
Eric Wallace, who has been the showrunner since Season 6, has an established, proven and solid track record as a writer across television and comic books. Arguably, the show could not be in more capable hands.
However, he may need to look to ‘trim the herd’ going forward and maintain a more precise focus on a smaller cast of characters