Fans have been waiting for Danielle Panabaker to go full Killer Frost since she cast in the series as Caitlin Snow. But after two seasons of “The Flash,” it appeared that Earth-1's Caitlin might never get powers -- until Barry created Flashpoint.
Now, Caitlin is officially a metahuman, and has the opportunity to follow in her comic book counterpart's frozen footsteps and become a villain who wields deadly ice powers, just like her Earth-2 self. But the question remains, will she? Better yet, should she? And if Caitlin does embrace her dark side, will her character simply fall into the developing Arrowverse trope that (virtually) all metahumans are evil?
RELATED INTERVIEW: The Flash’s Panabaker on Caitlin’s Chilly Transformation into Killer Frost
A few weeks ago, Caitlin went to see her mother, whom she hadn’t spoken to in years. During their reunion, her mother confessed and apologized for being cold and distant from Caitlin, explaining that she grew distant from her daughter after Caitlin’s father died, something Caitlin could never understand. Of course, viewers know Caitlin has experienced that kind of loss twice -- first when Ronnie disappeared in the particle accelerator blast, and again when he died saving Central City. If that kind of loss made Caitlin’s mother “cold-hearted,” how much more cold, resistant and alone could Caitlin be feeling right now? All of those tragedies give Caitlin more than enough reason to shut down from the world and embrace the world-hating killer within.
When Cisco outed her powers to the team, Caitlin was furious. Her default response was to hide, to be afraid that her friends would send her away. Barry even apologized to Caitlin, taking the blame for her powers manifesting, essentially admitting that if he had not have caused Flashpoint, Caitlin likely wouldn’t be a metahuman, nor would she be dangerous. Based on the teaser for tonight's episode, it looks like Caitlin is targeting Barry and taking vengeance out on him for turning her into a metahuman. If she harms him, that could be her final straw in leaving the team and embracing her inner darkness.
While it would be exciting to see Panabaker play a whole different side to Caitlin, is her becoming Killer Frost the right choice for her character? Making Caitlin a key part of Team Flash for two seasons, to then turn her into a villain, feels like a bit of a contrived set up. It wouldn’t be the first time a team member turned out to be evil, though Caitlin has more reason to go dark than most. After Season 1 Doctor Wells (who turned out to be Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash) and Earth-2 Jay Garrick (who was really Hunter Zolomon/Zoom), Caitlin's would be the most personal team betrayal yet.
Let’s say Caitlin does go rogue and embraces the “monster” within. What does that say about the other metahumans on the show? So far, nearly everyone who becomes a metahuman becomes evil. Mist, Mirror Master, Peek-a-boo, Shade, Weather Wizard and more are all evil, as if becoming a metahuman automatically activates an evil gene. This didn’t happen to Barry, it didn’t happen to Firestorm or Cisco, so why is Caitlin apparently getting stuck with this trope? Even Magenta’s default metahuman setting was set to evil. That doesn’t seem fair, nor likely, considering how many people were hit by the particle accelerator blast. Is “The Flash” falling into a rut that all metahumans (except Barry) are evil? Do metahumans even get the choice to use their powers for good? Julian voiced precisely this theory when he noted that metahumans are often gifted with extraordinary abilities, only to squander them robbing banks or terrorizing Central City.
Thus far, Jesse Quick has been the only female exception to this rule, as she is a metahuman, a woman, and is naturally inclined to use her powers for good. Will Catlin get the chance to use her powers for something heroic? Is her fate already sealed, since she was a villain in the comics? Caitlin Snow is a good person, a doctor who has vowed to save lives and to do no harm. Is becoming Killer Frost her destiny? And if she didn’t become Killer Frost, would there be a fan outcry?
If she does overcome the homicidal tendencies we've seen, and manages to become part of Team Flash’s line up of heroes, should she take on the identity of another DC Comics hero -- perhaps Ice? The fan-favorite member of the Justice League, like Caitlin, was a scientist and had a difficult relationship with her mother. Or could we see Caitlin adopt a new identity, dropping the "Killer" of her Earth-2 counterpart's identity to be known simply as Frost?
This week’s episode, “Killer Frost,” looks poised to answer many of these questions, and more. Perhaps Cisco will help her harness her powers so they don’t cause too much damage. Maybe, if Barry can reset the timeline properly, Caitlin won’t have powers at all. Or maybe something will happen in this episode that will push Caitlin over the edge for good, creating a deadly nemesis to fight both The Flash and Vibe. Only time will tell how Caitlin will choose her fate, and if she even has a choice at all.
Starring Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster, “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale and more.