Barry Allen’s confrontation with Ramsey Rosso, a.k.a Bloodwork, in The Flash’s ominously titled two-part midseason finale, “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen,” won’t be your typical hero-vs.-big-bad clash.
“The next two episodes is one long conversation between Barry [Grant Gustin] and Ramsey,” Bloodwork actor Sendhil Ramamurthy tells EW of the finale, which sees his character infect Barry with a hallucinogenic contagion. “It’s actually a very talky episode. It’s a back-and-forth between the two of them, with Ramsey just trying to make Barry understand exactly why it is he can be doing what he’s doing. It’s Ramsey trying to make him understand what’s happening to him, and therefore maybe it can be of use to Barry and what he’s going through.”
Below, EW chats with the Heroes alum about what’s to come in the last two episodes before “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The final scene in the last episode was the most Bloodwork-esque we’ve seen Ramsey so far.
Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet. We’re going to go much further as these episodes go on. Bloodwork’s look kind of evolves all the way through the next two episodes, which is really cool. It was really cool to see. It wasn’t really cool to do at all; it was very not fun to do.
Showrunner Eric Wallace describes these episodes as “cuckoo crazy dark town.” Do you agree with that assessment?
One hundred percent. I was texting him, “How far do I go? What would you say is too far from this?” He’s like, “You can’t go too far. This guy has lost his marbles at this point, so go with it and have fun.” And he’s like, “I trust you enough as an actor that you’re going to keep it grounded enough to where it’s not going to be just so out there that it’s not going to be believable,” which gave me (A) confidence, and (B) just the fact that there are no parameters, really. I was given free rein, which is pretty rare for an actor. They’re usually trying to rein us in, and Eric just gave me the freedom to go for it.
How did you keep it grounded?
It really all has to do with his motivations and the circumstances that he finds himself in. Anytime I was doing anything that anybody in their right mind would be like, “Oh my God, what is wrong with you?” for him, it was just like he’s dying and unless he does this, he’s going to die. Everything is literally life and death with this character. His kind of unnatural, unhealthy obsession with death is brought on by something very real, a cancer that he has, that his mother had. Even though you go to crazy places with the character, that’s where the groundedness came in from. You know where it’s coming from. Whether it’s right or wrong, you can kind of say, “This is why he’s doing this,” or “This is how he’s justifying this to himself.”
Eric also said that Bloodwork may have a point. How convincing did you find whatever he’s offering Barry?
Oh yeah. I think you’re going to see a lot of that in tomorrow’s episode. He actually does make a compelling argument for what he does, for why he’s doing what he does. I think his hope is that Barry can at least try to understand where he’s coming from because they find themselves in the same situation in that they’re both destined for death. Everybody knows that Barry is going to die in “Crisis.” It’s been coming for a long time, so there’s that kind of inevitability of death that they can both relate to. It’s an oddly touching connection between the two of them.
It sounds like this episode is really heavy on Barry-Ramsey scenes. What was it like working through the material with Grant?
It was really great. We just kind of clicked from the beginning, Grant and I. In this episode, it’s heavy. It’s heavy emotionally for Barry. Grant had a lot of heavy lifting to do. We were really helped, quite frankly, by the director of the episode, Chad Lowe. To have an actor being the director — for the past two episodes actually because Danielle [Panabaker] directed last week’s episode — and know what you’re going through and how to talk to you and talk you through those scenes, it was certainly very helpful for me. And I know it was very helpful for Grant too because he goes through the emotional ringer in tomorrow night’s episode. Chad was a big help to the both of us in all of those scenes.
It sounds like this is a different kind of hero-vs.-villain final battle, especially given that you said these episodes are basically a long conversation between Barry and Ramsey.
It is. When I was up in Vancouver, everybody kept saying, Grant in particular, “This is really different for the show. We’ve never really done things like this before.” First of all, having a villain for each half of the season is a new thing for The Flash. But the way in particular that this hero-villain relationship is approached in the first half of the season, I think, is new for the show, and I think that’s always fun for actors who have been on a series for a while. Grant was really into it, and I think he does an amazing job in tomorrow night’s episode. It was a really difficult episode to film for him in particular, and he kind of knocks it out of the park.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think there’s going to be a really nice payoff for those who have been watching this season. It’s a really great, unexpected lead-up into the crossover, which starts right after Bloodwork’s arc ends. There’s some great stuff that happens with Wells [Tom Cavanagh], in particular, that I think the fans are really going to dig and they should really look forward to.
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the CW.