The Flash: How Frost’s Emotional Sacrifice Changes Everything for Caitlin
The Flash star Danielle Panabaker weighs in on Frost’s sacrifice, Caitlin’s future, and why it was so much fun to see Robbie Amell again.
The following contains major spoilers for The Flash
The Flash Season 8 Episode 13
The Flash season 8 has been one of the most emotional runs in recent memory, from the returns of fan favorites like Ray Palmer, Jefferson Pierce, and Mia Queen in the Armageddon event to the “reappearance” of Ronnie Raymond in the current Deathstorm arc. Now, viewers already know that the being we believed to be Caitlin Snow’s resurrected dead husband is actually Deathstorm, a monstrous cosmic being known born of the singularity that killed Ronnie. (And sparked his determination to essentially make Caitlin his death bride.)
But if that wasn’t enough for Team Flash’s resident scientist to deal with, she also suffers an enormous emotional blow this week, when Frost—her sister, former alter ego, and sometimes dark twin—-passes away after dosing herself with transdimensional particles in order to fight Deathstorm and Caitlin is unable to stabilize her.
Given that this episode is titled “Death Falls,” perhaps we all should have guessed that something like this was coming and not everyone was going to make it out of this episode in one piece. But coming on the heels of her triumphant face-off with Deathstorm, where she fully claims her power as (the admittedly terribly named) Hellfrost and it feels as though Team Flash has once again somehow averted disaster by the barest of margins, Frost’s death is a particular gut punch.
Especially because this is a The Flash death that isn’t going to be rewritten.
“Yes, it’s a real death and she is really gone,” Danielle Panabaker who plays both Caitlin Snow and Frost, tells Den of Geek. “I know it’s devastating. It’s shocking, which is kind of why I love it.”
Given that this is a superhero show, you might be forgiven for feeling a little suspicious about that statement—most of us have lost count of how many times genre characters like Eobard Thawne have “died” onscreen after all—but according to Panabaker, Frost’s death has been in the works for some time.
“This is something Eric [Wallace, The Flash showrunner] actually pitched me last summer when he was talking about season 8 as a whole,” she says. “And when we talked about it, my biggest concern and the real question was: are we actually killing Frost off? Because it doesn’t feel fair to the audience, to Team Flash, to anyone, if it’s a fake-out.”
For Panabaker, who “went into the season” knowing Frost’s ultimate fate, her death helps “shaps and inform” the Deathstorm graphic novel (Wallace’s word for standalone arcs within a season) in important ways and provides the story with real stakes.
“I’m really proud of the character of Frost and grateful to the writers for all the material they’ve given her,” Panabaker says. Obviously, we’re sad to see her go. [But] it’s been wonderful to tell her story. I’ve had so much fun with it over the last couple of years.”
For a character who was initially introduced as a villain with the adjective “Killer” in front of her name, Frost’s tragic sacrifice highlights just how far the character has come over the course of her time on the show.
“From Season Five onward, [the writers] have done such a great job of giving her a substantial arc: she got to go out and explore the world and make mistakes,” she says. “And then, in season 7, she got to own up to some of her mistakes and take responsibility for them. She really showed a lot of maturity and growth. And here she is in season 8, and now she’s giving [the one] advice to various different characters, Caitlin included.”
While it does seem awful that The Flash would reward Frost’s growth with a tragic death, such is the nature of life in a superhero world. And, as we all know, Caitlin herself is no stranger to loss, having seen her husband, her father, and several subsequent romantic suitors killed or turned evil over the past few seasons. But just because Caitlin is familiar with these feelings, doesn’t mean that will make the loss of Frost any easier for her to bear.
“You know, Caitlin has a lot of experience with grief,” Panabaker says. “But as we’ve seen with her—and with various other characters on the show, grief doesn’t always follow a straight line. So I don’t know that it’s possible to predict exactly how she’s going to respond to this. I think there’s going to be denial, there’s going to be anger, there’s going to be resentment, maybe even some bargaining.”
Because in Panabaker’s mind, Caitlin’s relationship with Frost has been one of the defining connections of her life.
“I think their [relationship] has shifted Caitlin dramatically,” Panabaker claims “Frost has a line, where she makes a choice to take Caitlin’s side, and she says ‘they’re family but you’re blood’. And I think that sums up nicely how she feels about her and how they feel about their relationship because, at the end of the day, they’ve got each other’s backs no matter what.”
The two had grown to emotionally depend on one another in a very real way even before they were split into two separate bodies early on in season 7 and that bond has only increased since.
“Since she lost Cisco, she’s needed that friend, that partner in crime, and Frost really stepped up,” Panabaker says.”And now that she’s gone, Caitlin’s going to have to learn how to do [things] on her own for a little bit.”
Unfortunately, for poor Caitlin, Frost’s death isn’t the only loss she’s going to have to process in the coming weeks and months. Despite the seeming impossibility of it all, she was convinced that her dead husband Ronnie was alive again. and now she’ll have to mourn his loss for a second time, even as she processes her guilt over believing Deathstorm’s lies. (And subsequently freeing the being that ultimately killed her sister.)
Despite the ultimate sadness involved, Panabaker did relish the opportunity to revisit Caitlin and Ronnie’s relationship in a series of flashbacks.
“I”m never [getting] over them,” Panabaker laughs. “To me, Ronnie is the person that Caitlin was always supposed to be with. And it’s devastating that they’re not. And I love that we finally got to see a little bit more of that [relationship]. Because even in season 1, as much love as there was between them, it was obviously a tumultuous, and not a particularly happy time [for them]. So to get to see their love was really nice.”
Unfortunately, Caitlin’s romantic track record since Ronnie’s death has been something less than stellar, likely because “none of the [men] can compare” to the husband she lost. Her most recent relationship, with the nice but generally nondescript Marcus, seemed to be getting serious but was derailed by what Caitlin thought was the return of her long-dead spouse.
“Maybe there’s still hope for Marcus,” Panabaker laughs. “I like that Caitlin was following Frost’s advice and trying to invest in a relationship and make herself vulnerable and go all in. I think that’s important [for her] because as Frost said, I don’t know that she’s really given love a chance since Ronnie.”
While it seems unlikely that Caitlin is going to be interested in any kind of relationship any time soon, Panabaker does look forward to telling more stories with some “levity” and “a little less crying” in an ideal world.
“What I enjoyed about the Marcus storyline was the opportunity to be a little bit lighter,” she says. “don’t know that that’s coming anytime soon [for Caitlin] on the heels of the loss of Frost, but maybe someday that’s out there for her.”