By now, fans of DC and The CW's superhero universe have gotten used to the idea that if you want to give a character a brand new arc, make them a superhero (or a vigilante, at the very least). But after The Flash gave Barry Allen a few metahuman friends to help him fight crime, something even more devastating has developed: one of his closest friends seems set on her path to becoming a supervillain. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) had enough tragedy for a lifetime in just two seasons, but the sudden emergence of superpowers has destined her for a future as the supervillain Killer Frost.
Fans have had a few weeks to warm to the idea of Caitlin possessing superpowers, and with director Kevin Smith's "Killer Frost" episode, there's really no going back. With no cure in sight, and the promise that she will eventually look the part of the classic supervillain, the S.T.A.R. Labs team is out of options... but the writers aren't. We've been watching this story develop since the show's first season, and now that Killer Frost has truly arrived, we've got a theory on how a cure might actually arrive.
And if it does, it won't just elate fans - it will cash in on three seasons of The Flash so far.
The Rise of Killer Frost
Fans of The Flash got their first dose of Killer Frost when Barry Allen took his first trip over to Earth-2, and discovered just how different the doppelgangers of Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond turned out to be. Ronnie still acquired the powers of Firestorm-- sorry, Deathstorm, but had a metahuman wife alongside him. Fans of the comic books got a chance to see the version of scientist-turned-supervillain Killer Frost that they had hoped for since Panabaker's casting, and Barry and Cisco saw a close friend in a whole new light.
The day was saved in the end, and our humans returned home... while Deathstorm wound up facing a similar fate to the original Ronnie Raymond, and Killer Frost wound up in Zoom's prison. But the suspicion about the non-powered Caitlin Snow spread, as Cisco Ramon was tortured by the secrecy, eventually spilling the beans. Hearing that an alternate Earth version of yourself is a supervillain must be difficult (but plenty of the cast has been faced with the same already), but Caitlin took it in stride, certain that she was still an everyday human being, with only a super-intellect to speak of.
That all changed when Barry Allen returned to the past, creating a new timeline - dubbed "Flashpoint" - then traveled back to try to reset the original. The folding and re-folding of time and possible futures seemed to have some secondary impacts, but the status of our core cast remained the same... mostly.
It didn't take long for Caitlin Snow to reveal to the audience that she was developing the superpowers her friends feared she might. Having seen the result of such powers when she came face-to-face with Killer Frost during her time in Zoom's Earth-2 prison, it's understandable that Caitlin should fear the worst (after all, the villain doppelganger had plenty in common with her). Keeping her powers a secret from even her closest friends, Caitlin wasn't afraid to use them when necessary, freezing a mirror to absolute zero so Barry could escape the Mirror Master's trap (read up on the actual science behind that trick HERE).
The heroic act came at a price, however, with Caitlin's skin and hair whitening before her eyes that very night. After seeking out help from her similarly-brilliant mother, Caitlin discovered the true extent of her powers: her ability to drain thermal energy is seemingly limitless - but the more she uses that power, the faster it will change her physiology and appearance. And in the world of The Flash, characters who can go wrong, do go wrong. Meaning that same episode saw her come close to killing somebody just for standing in her way.
In the most recent episodes, Caitlin has had her secret exposed, with Team Flash still unsure of how to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the episode "Killer Frost" showed that Caitlin's powers, and control of them, could take her to a much, much darker place than she ever intends. While her scientist friends may not have deciphered a solution just yet, comic book fans know of one that's guaranteed to work... and would also mean Caitlin gets the happy ending fans have been hoping for.
Is Ronnie Raymond The Cure?
It' may be hard to think back to the days before The Flash ever debuted on The CW, but at the time, the announcement that Ronnie Raymond would not only be joining the network's team of DC superheroes, but play a pivotal role in the story stunned fans. The showrunners made good on the claims, re-imagining Ronnie (Robbie Amell) as Caitlin Snow's fiance whose 'death' during the particle accelerator would define her character, and his own, for the first season. Later episodes would honor the rest of the Firestorm mythology, pairing Ronnie and Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) as the nuclear superhero, unable to exist without fusing together periodically to keep from 'going nuclear' on their own.
The duo realized the demands of their new nature, and set off to understand the depth of the changes (and to allow the action to turn back to the show's title hero). But Ronnie would return to give Caitlin her happy ending after all, dedicated to figuring out a life together as so many superheroes must be. But the wedded bliss was short-lived, as Ronnie and Martin were called back into action to prevent the spread of a wormhole threatening to consume Central City and the planet long with it.
In a tragic twist, Ronnie and Martin separated without the safety of the Splicer, detonating a nuclear blast at the heart of the wormhole that sealed it instantly... but at the cost of Ronnie's life. It was heartbreak all over again for Caitlin, and a death sentence for Martin until he found a new partner with whom to share the power of Firestorm (and a credit on DC's Legends of Tomorrow). But in the light of Caitlin's new changes... well, the relationship she once had with Ronnie seems a lot more relevant.
Fans of the TV show shouldn't feel too guilty about a limited familiarity with either Firestorm or Killer Frost, since both are firmly placed in the second-tier of DC's heroes (some might even consider that a bit generous). But they both have devoted fan followings thanks to compelling powers, character designs, modern updates, and adaptations into other animated films and TV shows. But there's one thing fans need to know, and that's the fact that Firestorm and Killer Frost are firmly connected in their comic book roots - and for reasons the show has already adapted faithfully.
The origin story of Killer Frost has changed from version to version over the years (read our breakdown of what The Flash has and hasn't changed), but one need only look to the modern incarnation - coincidentally also the 'Caitlin Snow' version - to see the point we're driving at. After a science experiment gone wrong (not unlike that of The Flash) Caitlin Snow is transformed into a 'heat vampire' - meaning she hungers, craves, and requires the thermal energy of living things to survive. That instinct is what makes her a villain to begin with... until she runs into a superhero able to generate near-infinite levels of heat on command.
Killer Frost has never been portrayed as an... un-sensual femme fatale, and the fact that battling Firestorm feels good has turned their rivalry into an unusual one. While other villains may refer to Firestorm as a 'boyfriend' to Frost's face, the fact remains: Firestorm possesses exactly what Caitlin Snow needs to not just feel like the person she was before the accident, but actually change her physiology, erasing the heat-craving affliction.
That fact may not have seemed all that relevant when Caitlin Snow was just a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs... but now that she's cursed with cold, and with no cure in sight, it seems a bit more pertinent.
Connecting the dots, we're left with Caitlin Snow facing a descent into supervillainy unless some miracle cure for her chilling abilities suddenly appears. We're also left with the fact that Ronnie Raymond is only presumed dead - and the circumstances around his disappearance are a total mystery. Martin Stein survived, so the detonation didn't kill either man (they both survived a separation without the Splicer in the past). If that means Ronnie Raymond is still alive, then he may have been sucked into the wormhole itself... a wormhole later revealed to be a breach between the show's world and Earth-2.
If - if - Ronnie Raymond were to suddenly re-appear (discovered and recovered by the Harrison Wells who just returned to his Earth-2 home, for instance), he's got a problem on his hands. Without Martin Stein, Ronnie would be facing a nuclear meltdown if he couldn't find a permanent solution or partner. Or, you know, something able to constantly pull the excess heat energy out of his body to keep him and her alive.
We have to hand it to the writers, should they actually pull off this twist that has been slowly developing over three seasons. Pairing Ronnie and Caitlin as two people turned into metahumans slowly building towards their own demise is one thing, but making each of them the answer to the other's affliction is a work of art. Fans have been hoping that Caitlin may one day find the happiness and bond she shared with Ronnie Raymond - revealing them to be exactly what eachother needs to survive would be rewarding, and completely faithful to the comic book mythology.
Of course, that's just what could happen. Let us know if you think it's the direction the showrunners should take, or if you have another solution in mind!
The Flash airs Tuesdays @8pm on The CW.