To this point fans of DC Comics' most well-known speedster have had a solid handle on the overall story being played out in The Flash; even if the showrunners promised a brand new taken on Barry Allen, and his adoptive family is a new creation of The CW, the basic elements and story of Allen's rise have been faithfully adapted. That's all set to change, thanks to the brand new love interest announced for Central City's guardian angel, pulled straight from the pages of "The Flash" comics - with major changes.
The bombshell dropped by THR is possibly the most fan-pleasing casting announcement yet - on the side of the good, at least - revealing that actress Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries, Star Crossed) has been cast as Linda Park, "a quick-witted reporter for the Central City Picture News." Although that description reveals Linda will closely resemble her comic book counterpart, her pivotal role within "The Flash" mythology centers not on Barry Allen, but the second 'Flash,' Wally West.
According to the outlet, Linda Park will be introduced as a co-worker to Iris West (Candice Patton) when Barry's adopted sister turns her curiosity about 'The Red Streak' into a career in journalism (aided by her CCPN mentor, Mason Bridge). But when Park encounters Barry (Grant Gustin) outside of work, a spark ignites, making the young reporter an immediate love interest.
Eagle-eyed viewers will have noticed Linda Park's inclusion in the show's pilot episode, but has been re-cast with a younger actress, likely to make her a more direct peer of Iris'.And just a few weeks into existence, Barry Allen's romantic life is becoming increasingly complicated.
To those who may not be versed in the realm of comic book adaptation, or that of The Flash in particular, this announcement carries far more weight than one might assume. As one of DC Comics' few headlining 'legacy heroes' - a title and super-identity passed down from one person to the next - Wally West has become just as, if not more well known than his predecessor (thanks to WB and DC's animated universe). But in the comics themselves, the enduring romance between Wally and Linda didn't just make them one of the most beloved couples of DC's universe, but their marriage, children, and family unit ultimately came to define Wally as a whole.
DC's recent New 52 reboot changed all that, introducing a brand new take on Wally West, though remaining the nephew of his aunt Iris West. The Flash producers have hinted that they may intend to bring Wally West to their TV series, but with Linda Park's future in the New 52 comic universe still unclear, the writers have some room to craft their own take.
If nothing else, the casting of Linda Park as a love interest for Barry should provide fans with yet another major hint that if Wally appears, it may not be in a form that older comics fans will expect. On the bright side, the show's writers are already making it possible to roll the best parts of both Barry and Wally's runs into their series; and with well-received roles on previous CW series, Jow is another strong addition to a show already off to a strong start.
What do you think of the casting? Does the possible impact on a future version (or versions) of Wally West seem disappointing, or have the showrunners earned the benefit of the doubt? Share your thoughts in the comments.
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.
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