Across eight seasons of television, it’s inevitable that the cast of a show will change. Throughout the Flash, we’ve said goodbye to a whole bunch of allies and enemies. This week, it’s time to let a member of Team Flash go. Spoilers follow for The Flash Season 8, Episode 13, “Death Falls.”
Team Flash is under attack, and each must fight to save not only themselves but each other.
Danielle Panabaker has been with the cast of The Flash since the very beginning. She’s played Caitlin Snow, the team’s resident medical expert, offering up medical gibberish whenever Barry runs too fast or whatever. Throughout the show’s run, though, she ultimately became too dependent on her relationships with the male characters; whether it was Caitlin’s fiance Ronnie, Hunter Zolomon, or Julian Albert, she was always playing the girlfriend character.
My Evil Twin
One of the smartest things the writers did with Caitlin was to take her evil alternate universe character, Killer Frost, and make her an alternate personality, eventually separating them into two separate, physical people. This gave Panabaker access to her own storylines, her own development independent of whatever the men around her were going through.
Despite the fact that Panabaker was playing both Snow and Frost, she’s done an excellent job over the course of the series playing the two characters very differently. Kind of like Tala Ashe’s two incarnations of Zari on Legends of Tomorrow (R.I.P., Time Idiots), Panabaker gave the character different but equally believable voices, and the two very different looks for the characters certainly helped.
Frost’s arc as a character came to a climax when she was on trial for crimes committed before she reformed and stepped up to face her fate instead of running from it. When she was later freed and got back together with Chillblaine, the show was able to pair Panabaker with a male counterpart that her character didn’t feel dependent on.
Every story has an ending
This week, however, brings Frost’s storyline to an end. To fight Deathstorm, the team has the idea to power her up with the same particles that give Deathstorm his power (it’s always particles on this show, isn’t it?). Frost becomes Hellfrost and defeats Deathstorm, but ultimately succumbs to the damage done by the interdimensional particles that powered her up.
On the one hand, it’s great to see a character like Frost get what feels like a complete arc that rehabilitates her from an evil alternate personality to a beloved sister and ally. On the other, I can’t help but wonder if the show is going to know what to do with Caitlin Snow from this point forward. It’s unclear whether or not Panabaker will return for The Flash Season 9; Jesse L. Martin, who plays Joe West, is the only confirmed exit for Season 9. Hopefully, the show will find something interesting for Snow to do with her grief.
Where’s everyone else?
This really is Panabaker’s episode, and everyone else kind of takes a back seat, though much of the cast gets a chance to show off some emotion as Deathstorm tries to drain their lifeforce through their grief. Allegra and Chester end up stuck in his lab while the temperature skyrockets up past 140℉, haunted by Allegra’s cousin and Chester’s father. Barry is stuck in the time chamber with Gideon as his mother taunts him. Across the city, Iris is being haunted by Eddie Thawne–at least they didn’t just bring Rick Cosnett back for that one flashback episode.
It’s also still unclear what’s going on with Iris’ time sickness. The show has been drawing this storyline out all season, making the most incremental of moves forward without giving us any resolution. The end result is that Iris mostly sits around doing nothing with Sue Dearbon, leaving two of the show’s actors basically unused. If Patton decided not to return for Season 9 at this point, I would totally understand why. The writers clearly have no idea what to do with her, or really any character without a special ability.
Focusing back on the main thrust of the episode, though, Frost’s death is handled well, and Panabaker’s acting especially stands out. When it comes down to it, she can pull her weight dramatically, and her response to Frost’s death makes the whole thing land so much more believably. It makes for a strong episode and a good–but sad–end to one of the show’s better characters.