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'The Flash' star opens up about devastating character death and what's next: 'All of the emotions'
Team Flash said goodbye to one of their own this week.
Eight seasons into its run on The CW, and The Flash has lost none of its ability to wring every last emotional moment out of its storytelling. This week, we saw that once again when the return of a Season 1 co-star left a beloved member of Team Flash dead. Now, the star who lost their character is weighing in one what it was like to say goodbye.
SPOILERS AHEAD for this week's episode of The Flash, "Death Falls."
For the last few weeks, certain members of Team Flash, particularly Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) have been manipulated by the arrival of The Black Flame, and in Caitlin's case that meant the apparent re-emergence of her long-lost love Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell). For a while, it seemed to Caitlin like Ronnie really was back in some form, but then he revealed his true form as the deadly Deathstorm, leaving Team Flash scrambling for a solution to get Caitlin out of the villain's grip.
In this week's episode, "Death Falls," the team hatched a daring plan to transform Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) into an even more powerful version of herself who would be capable of defeating Deathstorm. Fully aware that it could cost her life, Frost says her goodbyes to everyone on the team, including Caitlin, who used to share a body with her. It's this parting grief that sparks Frost's full transformation, and she heads off to battle as the powerful "Hell Frost." Hell Frost is able to defeat Deathstorm, but a terrible cost.
Frost herself dies in the wake of the battle, laving Caitlin without her sister, and Team Flash without one of their own.
"I knew this was coming," Panabaker said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "[Showrunner] Eric [Wallace] had pitched this idea to me between season 7 and 8, and my biggest concern was making sure that Frost was actually going to die. I didn't feel like it would be appropriate to fake this one, and have it be a, 'Oh, just kidding,' so it's very powerful. The whole second graphic novel was extremely busy for me, but a great opportunity to tell this story."
Fortunately for Panabaker, the death of her character doesn't mean she has to leave The Flash behind, as she's of course still there to play Caitlin, who collapsed with grief as she and Barry (Grant Gustin) had to break the news to the rest of Team Flash. Still, despite being newly freed from the logistical difficulties of playing two characters, it was tough to say goodbye to one of the show's most recognizable figures.
"All of the emotions," Panabaker said when asked how the loss felt. "When I signed onto the show, now eight plus years ago, playing the character of Killer Frost was something that had always been teased to me, so it was something that I was thinking about from the very genesis of the show. I loved getting to play her and all the different variations of her, the evil version, and then particularly these last couple of seasons, getting to see her really come into her own and have experiences and grow up and mature and take responsibility for her actions, I've enjoyed that immensely. So obviously it's a loss, but it did make for some great storytelling, in my opinion."
Next week's episode of The Flash has already been dubbed "Funeral for a Friend," so you can probably guess what Team Flash will be dealing with there with there as the second "graphic novel" (Wallace's term for arcs of each season of the show) wraps up. After that, it's a race to the season finale.
"As we close up graphic novel No. 2, there's a little bit of an interlude before they head into graphic novel No. 3, and you will see a little bit less of Caitlin," Panabaker teased. "I directed episode 17, and I kind of take a step back when I'm directing and you won't see me on camera as much. But by the end of the season, you'll see where Caitlin is headed. And there's a big cliffhanger at the finale. Of course, you would expect nothing less."
The Flash airs Wednesdays on The CW.
Looking for more sci-fi TV? Check out shows like Resident Alien, Brave New World, Project Blue Book, Eureka, Heroes, Intergalactic and more streaming now on Peacock.