Jesse L. Martin will take a temporary break from episodes of The Flash due to medical reasons. Martin plays Joe West, a detective with the Central City Police Department. Joe has also served as Barry Allen's father figure and mentor since the latter's childhood, before becoming his literal father-in-law when Barry ultimately married Joe's biological daughter, Iris. As such, the character has been a mainstay on the show, and constant ally of Team Flash, since the first episode debuted in 2014.
The Flash, which just recently kicked off its fifth season, has seen Joe's family life become even more tangled. As well as raising a new child he conceived with his new partner, Cecile Horton, he has joined the team in dealing with the arrival of his granddaughter, Nora, from the future. With things gearing up towards the yearly Arrowverse crossover - which will not only feature the first appearance of The Monitor but also see the heroes battle a black-suited Superman - and the landmark 100th episode looming, it would be a tiring time for most people. It's understandable, then, that fans have noticed more and more that Martin has been playing his role from mostly a seated position.
According to TVLine, however, the reason for this is very much based in the real world. Martin reportedly suffered a back injury at some point while the show was off the air. Nothing specific is offered regarding how the veteran actor earned the injury or what treatment is required. Although it didn't preclude him from taking part in season 5's early episodes, it did, however, restrict his presence on the show and is clearly an ongoing issue. As a result, the actor will be taking a leave of absence for the foreseeable future. It's unclear what the circumstances of the departure will be. Similarly, it's unknown how long the character will be away. The show will, however, address the departure directly at some stage.
With Central City filling up with more and more superheroes, it's hard to imagine what Joe West will be able to contribute to the coming threats. This goes double for the recent announcement that the 100th episode will see the return of the most formidable villains. That being said, it's even harder to imagine a show without the moral and emotional support that Joe provides, not to mention the added warmth that Martin's performance offers.
Numerous characters have come and gone from the show over the years. Many of them ultimately met grisly fates. Thankfully, that doesn't appear to be the case for Joe West. Although his death would be deeply impactful, given the history and all the familial connections, the show would run the risk of losing something intrinsic to the established core. As such, fans will be glad that Martin's absence is only temporary and will surely root for him to recover before the season finale rolls around.
The Flash season 5 continues with episode 5, "All Dolled Up", on Tuesday, November 13th at 8 PM on The CW.