The following contains spoilers for The Flash
The Flash Season 8 Episode 8
The Flash’s “The Fire Next Time” is another of what showrunner Eric Wallace likes to call “interlude” episodes, standalone hours that won’t necessarily directly involve the larger arc of the back half of the season (which we’re all assuming will focus on Iris’ continuing time sickness and what that means for her and Barry.)
But, despite its more low-stakes feel, “The Fire Next Time” does repeatedly touch on themes that are still prevalent throughout the world of the show, namely, the power of second chances, fighting for those who are marginalized or left behind by the justice system, and lifting up the voices of those who might otherwise not be heard.
And while Allegra Garcia might be one of The Flash’s newest team members, the show has worked hard to establish her as an important and necessary perspective within the group. As one of the few Team Flash members with a criminal past of her own, Allegra has seen firsthand the way that the justice system can often feel anything but just. Her experiences have given her a perspective that no one else on Team Flash shares and, as a result, she is uniquely positioned to help make a real difference as a hero. (And hers is an important point of view that’s often lacking in the superhero genre.)
“She’s been involved with a gang, she’s been in juvie, she was introduced as a criminal,” actress Kayla Compton, who plays Allegra, tells Den of Geek. “But then she makes this transition and enters Team Citizen and Team Flash with new eyes.”
According to Compton, her background has given Allegra a particularly in-depth understanding of the way our systems can often fail or forget those who fall through its cracks.
“I think she fights really hard for people who maybe have been overlooked,” she explains. “She always wants justice and she’s going to defend the weak. And she’s a real true hero at heart, regardless of if that’s at work as a reporter or as a superhero or just walking down the street. She really, really remains true to staying out of her past crime life and moving towards defending people, being there for people.”
And that’s true even when it comes to the people that some members of Team Flash might consider enemies. During Season 8’s Armageddon event, Allegra was one of the most strident voices pushing to save Eobard Thawne’s life, despite his long history of terrible actions and repeated attempts to kill Barry and friends.
“She brings a new perspective [to the team]. A younger perspective, and one that reminds people of where they’ve come from because she’s closer to having just come out of the crime life and is just stepping into the hero life,” Compton says. “And so I feel like it’s really easy for her to be like, ‘Hey, no, remember this is what we do. This is who we are’.”
Eric Wallace told us a couple of weeks back that much of the remainder of Season 8 would be about our favorite characters “leveling up emotionally,” and he specifically touted Allegra’s “very interesting emotional arc” that “plays out in the back half of the season”. And in the wake of “The Fire Next Time,” it seems safe to guess that arc will likely involve the growing tension between Allegra’s desire to help the marginalized and overlooked in Central City tell their stories and her desire to mentor the young reporters at CCC Media, who may not be focusing on the sort of subjects she sees as valuable. (Welcome to the media industry, girl.)
“This episode begins, I think, to introduce [the story] that will continue to go on with Allegra, which is she’s stepping into more of a leadership role at CCC Media. She’s fully stepping into her hero mode with Team Flash. But those two worlds are still pretty separate,” Compton says. “She’ll just have to continue to grow—[how to balance] being] an employee and a leader at her job, but figure out what that all means in terms of her superpowers and being a hero. I think she has a lot of room to grow in both those [areas] and trying to maybe combine the two.”
Part of that growth is going to involve figuring out how to learn to wield her new responsibility wisely, to not only help make sure that the Citizen is telling the stories its readers need to hear but to accept that her perspective isn’t the only one that has value. And it means being a real mentor to young women like Taylor, even when she may not always agree with them. That’s all part of what being a leader means.
The Flash smartly allows Allegra to recognize that her behavior—replacing Taylor’s admittedly fluffy social influencer profile with a more serious piece about a former prison inmate’s struggle to establish her life post-release—might have had good intentions behind it but was the wrong choice as the other girl’s boss and supposed mentor. And though Taylor’s reaction, which includes mocking Allegra for her own time in jail, is incredibly rude, the young woman’s anger is understandable.
“[Allegra] messed up,” Compton admits. “But I think maybe in the past she would have dealt with that situation differently. Now, because she is trying to embrace her role and be a mentor and be a leader, she realizes she has to carefully navigate these waters.”
According to Compton, Allegra looks to Iris as a professional North star of sorts in these situations.
“I think the way [Iris] handles Allegra is how she hopes to maybe handle Taylor one day,” she says. “I think she looks to Iris to see how she’s dealt with things. [Because] she has seen a lot more and she’s been in the business a lot longer.”
Plus, Iris has lots of experience working with a junior employee who doesn’t always listen or do what she’s told.
“She has such a good head on her shoulders,” Compton explains. “Even if Allegra is wrong or makes some mistakes along the way, [Iris] keeps it together. [It doesn’t] strain their relationship. They stay professional, they both grow. I think [Allegra] will want to follow in Iris’s footsteps, but it’s a journey she’ll have to go on herself.”