It's been a long time coming. Ever since the very first episode of The Flash, fans have been waiting for Caitlin Snow to finally transform into the villain Killer Frost — her alias from the comics. And yet, after six episodes (and arguably two seasons) of build up, the payoff in the Kevin Smith-directed episode "Killer Frost" seemed just a tad lackluster.
Don't get me wrong — there were some fantastic elements to Caitlin's characterization in this episode. She wasn't totally villainous, and Danielle Panabaker balanced Caitlin's malice with just enough uncertainty to make it believable. When Barry finally confronted Caitlin, she spat truths like ice shards, calling him out for playing with all of their lives after Flashpoint.
Caitlin's almost-transition into Killer Frost was almost as quick as how she returned to her former self, leaving us questioning whether this is the end of the story, or the beginning. After all, Killer Frost is far more interesting as a season villain than another cookie-cutter speedster bad guy and his creepy cult.
Killer Frost Deserves To Be The Big Bad
Although this episode was titled "Killer Frost", Caitlin never really became her villainous persona, and her mission was far from immoral. Sure, there were some moments where her potential for evil shone through — my personal favorite was when she used her medical knowledge to injure Barry in just the right way to incapacitate, but not permanently harm him. But ultimately Caitlin was just scared, hunting Doctor Alchemy down so that she could have her powers taken away.
We're left wanting much, much more from Killer Frost. This version of the character has the potential to be awesome, and it's still possible to draw Caitlin's slow descent into villainy out for the length of the season. And we're hoping this is what happens, because there seemed to be a huge leap in logic between Caitlin getting powers and becoming the villain Killer Frost.
Powers don't automatically mean you turn evil, and even though Barry said as much in this episode, it still felt like we haven't had enough of an explanation of why Caitlin went bad.
"I know that you think that getting powers is this binary game, that you're either good or evil... but life isn't like that, even for metas."
If you look for them, all the reasons are there. Caitlin is still wracked with grief over her husband's death (two deaths, technically); she has plenty of control and anxiety issues; her time as Zoom's captive probably gave her some serious PTSD (remember her hallucinations from last season?). And yet, none of this was dealt with.
Caitlin's Path To Villainy
We shouldn't have to go looking into Caitlin's backstory to explain why she went off the rails so quickly. That scene with her mother's lab assistant was fantastic, but there's no reason to manufacture situations where Caitlin feels trapped and lashes out.
Instead of teasing her powers each episode, it would have been far more interesting to deal with Caitlin's existing problems. Show Caitlin waking up in a cold sweat after dreams of Zoom, to find her room coated in ice. Have her argue with Iris over the Flashpoint reset, and how they're letting Barry off the hook. Just give her any kind of character development that would set up Caitlin finally snapping and becoming Killer Frost — and heck, maybe she could even think that she's doing the right thing at first.
Of course, it's entirely possible that the episode "Killer Frost" is just a taste of things yet to come. It felt a little unrealistic for Caitlin to go from wanting Alchemy to remove her powers, to full-on threatening Barry's life. Yet this was a fantastic scene, because it proved that she isn't a villain yet. Caitlin still cares about her friends, and she was soon helping them again, back in those power-suppressing cuffs.
Clearly that's not a long term solution. According to the acolyte, Savitar has big plans for Killer Frost, so it's probable Caitlin will eventually follow Savitar to the Dark Side. But that's not enough: Just making Killer Frost a lackey of a one-dimensional villain would be a disservice to Caitlin, after her years of being sidelined on this show.
We're hoping for a major twist: For Savitar and Alchemy to fall away, revealing that Killer Frost was the main villain all along. Hell, maybe Killer Frost will even kill them herself as she gains more and more power. This would be a fresh take on The Flash's now tired season structure, giving us an antagonist we genuinely care about, pulling at our heartstrings as Caitlin finally becomes the villain she was always meant to be.
The possibilities for this are exciting, as Barry, Cisco, and the rest of Team Flash are forced to take down one of their own. Killer Frost really would be a villain of Barry's own making, and if the latest episode proved nothing else it's that Caitlin is fantastic at revealing Barry's hypocrisy.
But would this be it for Killer Frost: Are Caitlin's only options to become a villain, or lose her powers and go back to being a mild-mannered doctor? Not necessarily. There is always the chance for redemption, and we know that Caitlin is a good person at heart. And who knows, maybe there's a chance yet for Killer Frost to become just Frost, a super-powered hero on Team Flash. Here's hoping.