The showdown The Flash fans have been waiting for will finally come to fruition during Tuesday’s episode: Vibe vs. Killer Frost.
With Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) on death’s door, Team Flash was recently forced to unleash her villainous alter ego, Killer Frost, thus turning their former ally into an icy foe, hell-bent on making them all pay. “Obviously her meta powers have severely messed with her mind, so it’s not like Barry Allen, who is still Barry Allen even though he got super speed,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg explains. “Her brain chemistry has been severely altered.”
“It’s now a question of: Is there a way to eliminate these powers and get Caitlin back?” Kreisberg continues. “Is there a way to get Caitlin back and leave her with these powers? We say these last few episodes are about them trying to save Iris’ [Candice Patton] life, but they’re also trying to save Caitlin’s soul. What is Cisco [Carlos Valdes] willing to do to save his best friend? What is Julian [Tom Felton] willing to do to save the woman he loves?”
Suffice it to say, Killer Frost won’t go down without a fight. “Team Flash has thrown everything they can at her, whether it was the metahuman cuff or the necklace, to keep Killer Frost suppressed,” Panabaker says. “Now that Killer Frost is free, I don’t think she’s interested in going away nicely.”
Unfortunately for Barry (Grant Gustin) & Co., Killer Frost also subsequently and swiftly aligned with Savitar upon learning the speedster’s identity during last week’s episode. “There’s a relationship that exists there that prompts Killer Frost to turn her loyalty to Savitar very quickly,” Panabaker teases. “Once it becomes clear who Savitar is, you start to understand why Killer Frost aligned with him so quickly. Killer Frost’s quick alignment with Savitar informs a lot of the decisions that she makes.”
But Savitar hasn’t called upon Killer Frost just to be an ally, instead looking to her for very specific reasons. During Tuesday’s episode, that means Killer Frost attempting to find Tracy Brand (Anne Dudek), the physicist who goes on to help Barry trap Savitar in the Speed Force. “How lost is Caitlin that she’s willing to do what Savitar needs her to do?” Kreisberg notes. “She plays a unique part. He’s not just looking for an evil cohort; she’s actually necessary for him to pull off his plans.”
Her mission will pit her directly against Team Flash, specifically Cisco as the duo’s face-off has been prophesied since early in season 3 — and ends in Cisco losing his arms (and his powers) if Killer Frost gets her way. “The relationship between Cisco and Caitlin is so pure, and it’s one of my favorite relationships on the show,” Panabaker says. “It’s completely platonic. It doesn’t feel that either one wants more from the other than the deep sibling-like love that they have for each other. It’s going to be very taxing on Cisco, in particular, because Killer Frost doesn’t care about Cisco the way that Caitlin Snow did.”
The same can be said for Julian, whose relationship with Caitlin has only grown as she’s faced her Killer Frost future. “I really like that it took Caitlin Snow a long time to warm up to Julian,” Panabaker says. “Her initial instinct to bring him to Team Flash, she didn’t look at him as a romantic interest. I’m glad that they’ve taken their time with this relationship versus previous relationships that Caitlin’s been in, like Jay Garrick. I don’t know what their future looks like. In last week’s episode, you get the sense that Julian is willing to do whatever he can to bring Caitlin Snow back. It’s just going to be this struggle of Caitlin Snow vs. Killer Frost, who’s going to win out?”
The silver lining? Killer Frost’s increased presence will make for a powerful — quite literally — finale. “It’s going to be great,” Panabaker says. “Obviously I am involved a little bit more in the finale this time than I have been in years past. From a totally biased perspective, it’s great to see a lot more of the familiar faces. Last year, it was Barry vs. Zoom, and obviously this year there’s a lot more speedsters, there’s a lot more powers, so invariably, I think you’re going to get to see a bigger, better battle.”
However, there may also be no quick fix to wait ails Caitlin, meaning this storyline could draw into next season. “For me personally as an actor, it’s been fun to play Killer Frost and I hope that it lasts a little while and we don’t necessarily tie it up in a bow right away,” Panabaker says. “I’m enjoying getting to play her.”
“Obviously Danielle Panabaker is not going anywhere,” Kreisberg adds. “How and if she becomes Caitlin Snow again, or she remains Killer Frost or a version of Killer Frost, into season 4, you’re going to have to tune in.”
Whatever happens, Panabaker believes if and when Caitlin does return, she will come back a changed woman — possibly even suffering PTSD from what Killer Frost has wrought in her place. “I don’t know if we’ll even be able to see Caitlin again, but as you’ll see in episode 21, it becomes clear that Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost do occupy the same body and that they have the same memories,” Panabaker says. “The things Caitlin remembers, Killer Frost can access as well. It’s more a question of if she chooses to and how she feels about Caitlin’s memories. I do think it will be difficult not only for Caitlin but all of team flash to reconcile Killer Frost’s bad behavior under the guise Caitlin Snow’s face.”
The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.