Over the course of The Flash's six seasons to date, few characters have been on as complicated a narrative journey as team scientist Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and her icy, occasionally deadly alter ego Killer Frost (also Panabaker). Originally introduced as a dark doppelgänger from a parallel Earth, Killer Frost slowly evolved from a dangerous villain into an unstable asset and finally to a hero in her own right, complete with her own snazzy super suit and a firm place on Team Flash.
Her road to this point certainly hasn't been an easy one, and The Flash has made some fairly significant missteps with both her and Caitlin's characters. While she's been a part of Team Flash since the series began in 2014, Caitlin often found herself with little to do beyond spout science jargon at STAR Labs and fall in love with men who either died tragically (Ronnie Raymond, in multiple realities) or turned out to be evil (Julian Albert was secretly Alchemy; the false Jay Garrick who was really Zoom). Meanwhile, the erratic explanations for Killer Frost's origins often made it difficult to really get to know the character — was she meant to be an extension of Caitlin's psyche? Her own person? Or something in between?
As we head into the show's seventh season, The Flash finally seems to have settled into a groove with these two women, and the future for both characters feels wide open. Yes, it's true that no one seems to be able to tell us precisely what happens to Caitlin when Frost is in control of their shared body, and someone should really get to explaining that in Season 7. But the story of these two women discovering their own identities — and embracing the power they share — is more compelling now than it has ever been before.
The Flash has stopped trying to force dreadful love interests on Caitlin, and Frost, having dropped the "Killer" sobriquet from her name, is now positioned as a key member of Barry Allen's team of superfriends. Both women are consciously exploring their past together, and Frost is finally able to take an active role in determining her own future, rather than just showing up whenever Team Flash needs some extra superpowered muscle.
Season 6 worked hard to establish Frost as her own person outside of Caitlin's shadow, dedicating significant screen time to building her own relationships with the members of Team Flash. While Frost's original connection to Ralph may have been played for laughs — he volunteered to be her "life coach" — the two did develop a genuine friendship based on their troubled pasts and occasional feelings of isolation. And her charming bond with Allegra has helped both newcomers to feel more accepted in Team Flash. Best of all, these budding friendships manage to feel both meaningful and earned on their own terms, and not simply extensions of existing relationships with her other half.
The show has smartly left Frost's relationship with Cisco a bit prickly, likely out of deference to his longtime BFF Caitlin, and she's embraced Barry as something of a mentor in her journey to becoming a superhero. (Their training sequences together feel as natural as his heart-to-hearts always have with Caitlin, and serve much the same purpose in a strange way.)
Furthermore, the show's decision to fully embrace Frost as a character has come as a natural extension of Caitlin's own arc, one in which she first attempted to suppress and then remove this seemingly dark part of herself. In a positive twist on the classic Jekyll and Hyde trope, recent seasons have given Caitlin the agency not just to see Frost as an intrinsic part of who she herself is, but to establish a real relationship with her. And, in doing so, it's allowed viewers to see a legitimate bond develop between these two women who happen to share a body.
While Panabaker may occasionally look ridiculous while essentially talking to herself in various scenes, The Flash's decision to show us Frost and Caitlin working out disagreements and discussing their shared past rather than having it all happen offscreen provides an important window into their connection. They're not just two entities that happen to trade off a body every now and then; each of these women genuinely cares about and is willing to fight for the other.
In turn, this relationship makes it easier to see why the show chose to keep these characters as two separate beings, rather than aspects of one personality. (As it hinted multiple times might be the case.)
At the moment, Frost is a more complete and layered character than ever before. Season 6 ended with her departing Central City alongside Dr. Carla Tannhauser, determined to build a relationship with the mother who never acknowledged her presence and heal from previous injuries in more ways than one. Given Caitlin's already rocky past with her mother, perhaps this will lead to some much-needed family bonding for all the women of the Snow clan.
As we look to Season 7, one thing seems clear: There is space for both Caitlin and Frost on The Flash canvas, and both women can carry arcs of their own. Those stories, naturally, can and should intersect and involve each other, and their relationship will remain more complicated than that between any other pair of characters, be they siblings, friends, or significant others.
Does The Flash still have work to do with both these women? Yes, absolutely, and discovering a balance that allows both to be equal parts of the larger story the show is telling should be a priority for the series' writers. Because as enjoyable as Frost's long-awaited step into the spotlight has been, it also often left Caitlin with little to do and not much in the way of an arc of her own.
The Flash has dedicated the better part of the past two seasons to figuring out a way for these two women to peacefully and happily coexist within the world of Central City. Now that the show has finally committed to answers to questions about these two characters that have lingered for years, it's time for them to figure out what's next.
Whether that means increased hand-offs between Caitlin and Frost within STAR Labs and out in the field with the rest of the team, or Caitlin studying combat while Frost brushes up on medical techniques, there are simple ways for these women to both be part of the everyday fabric of the show in an organic and meaningful way. We don't need to lose either of them for both characters to thrive, and hopefully, The Flash will give both women the space to continue their hero's journeys — separately and together.