NOTE: This post contains SPOILERS for season 1 of The Flash.
For years, Smallville ruled the superhero genre on TV. The series waned in quality over its 10 season run but there's no question the Superman origin story paved the way for episodic superhero TV - especially on the CW. Nevertheless, when it was first announced that Warner Bros. was developing a show based on Green Arrow that wasn't a spinoff of Justin Hartley's hero on Smallville, fans were understandably skeptical. Now, three years later, the DC shared TV universe is one of the strongest brands in primetime - spawning spinoffs, crossover events, and a greater interest in comic book TV adaptations.
Still, even after Arrow's grounded Batman Begins-style approach to the Emerald Archer found ratings and critical acclaim, fans were still unsure if the CW could find the same success with their first spin-off, The Flash. The super-powered speedster would, no doubt, require a much larger special effects budget - while also challenging the "realistic" tone established in Arrow - making it a risky prospect, in spite of the character's appeal. However, in its first season, The Flash defied all expectations and won-over skeptics with a likable lead, slick storytelling, cool super-speed set-pieces, and a genuinely entertaining supporting cast - especially Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdez).
For the majority of season 1, Cisco was a support character, sitting on the sidelines and advising Barry Allen on crimes in-progress, super villain weaknesses, as well as pushing Flash's speed to the limit. Still, The Flash season 1 finale opened a new direction for Cisco going forward, revealing that Cisco is a metahuman - capable of retaining memories from alternate timelines.
Of course, the news wasn't a complete shock to longtime comic book readers - who already recognized Cisco's name as the alter ego of DC hero Vibe.
Carlos Valdez, who portrays Cisco on the CW show, opened up to us about the character's season 2 (and beyond) development - specifically that the tech-wiz will begin to see further changes early in the season:
"I think as people saw near the end of Season 1, there are biological changes that are happening to Cisco, specifically with like the dreams and the memories. So, fans can definitely expect more of those biological changes to sort of take effect, especially at the beginning of Season 2."
The actor also took the time to comment on praise that he's received for representing diversity on the small screen:
"It’s super dope. It’s sort of weird to perceive this opportunity as a unique opportunity to represent Latinos on television and stuff like that. I’m just trying to play a character. There’s really nothing that makes me different than my culture. So I think it’s fitting that we would have somebody from this culture be represented the way that they are, because we’re trying to make a show that represents the world that we live in. And so, it makes total sense to me. It’s a no-brainer."
Arrow and Flash have taken liberties with certain characters from the source comic book series, so there was never a guarantee that Cisco would take on the Vibe mantle as well as the character's signature sonic vibration power set. Still, Reverse Flash Eobard Thawne indicates that Cisco has yet to discover his full potential - hinting that Cisco's ability to retain events from different timelines is only one part of his full super-powered arsenal.
No doubt, the show will find a pseudo-scientific explanation that explains Cisco's memories within the context of Vibe's power to manipulate molecular vibrations. That said, with a similarly gifted Inhuman already established in a starring role on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, The Flash must find ways to differentiate Vibe, and his onscreen effects, from the MCU's Quake. The full reveal of Quake and the care put into depicting the character onscreen was one of the best elements of Agents of SHIELD season 2 - meaning that the bar for seismic powered heroes is already high.
Still, defying expectation has been The Flash's modus operandi ever since the series premiere - both in terms of storytelling and effects work. Memorable time-travel moments and a full-on CGI Gorilla Grodd prove the CW showrunners aren't scared of a challenge - especially if the extra work means they get to surprise their loyal audience.
As for what changes, exactly, will be coming to Cisco at the begging of season 2, fans will have to wait until the season premieres October 6, 2015. With Cisco confirmed to take-on a heroing role, viewers will likely be more curious than ever to find out when his fellow scientist friend, Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), will embrace her villainess role as Killer Frost (a possible future that was teased in the season 1 finale).
The Flash season 2 begins airing on The CW in Fall 2015, along with Arrow season 4. Supergirl will debut on CBS in November 2015. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will air on The CW during the 2015-16 season. Titans is expected to debut on TNT during the first half of 2016.