Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Flash: Danielle Panabaker and Andrew Kreisberg Talk Firestorm and Killer Frost

This week’s episode of The Flash is called “The Fury of Firestorm.” As the title hints, the issues facing Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) are at the forefront, as Barry Allen and his team search for a new match for their ailing friend, who has been showing increasing physical side effects since the death of his “other half”, Ronnie Raymond.

“The Fury of Firestorm” introduces Jefferson "Jax" Jackson (Attack the Block’s Franz Drameh), who will be a part of the upcoming spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow (as will Garber). However, while Jax seems like a candidate to merge with Stein to become Firestorm, Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) has some notable reservations.
This is highly personal for Caitlin, of course, because she was married to Ronnie, and Panabaker remarked, “I think that’s what’s especially hard for Caitlin, and maybe ultimately cathartic about this experience, is she’s so connected to Stein and cares so deeply about him and for him because he is this last connection to Ronnie. So she’s particularly invested in taking care of him and getting it right and not messing this up and making sure that his next partner is just as good, if not better, than Ronnie was.”

The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg had high praise for Panabaker, saying, “I thought she was amazing in this episode. As always in any ensemble, some shows are more about one character than the other, and even though we did have the episode where Ronnie died and moved past it, as Danielle said, this was the episode where she kind of dealt with it.”

He added, “Because it’s The Flash and it’s science-fiction, she can grieve through wanting to protect her dead husband’s co-superhero. And we thought Danielle was just… this episode makes me cry, especially at the end.”

Panabaker in turn spoke very fondly of Garber, who is now filming Legends of Tomorrow. “I have such love for Victor and we’re so lucky to have him; saying goodbye to him - I’m gonna tear up right now! - knowing he’s going off to do [Legends], it’s sad. We miss him!”

Said Kreisberg, “That’s the thing that you can never count on about a show, about why it works or why it doesn’t - all those scenes, it’s all genuine." He added, “I think that’s what’s really special about The Flash. Everybody on the show, the characters really care about each other but the actors do too and that really shines through, and I think that’s why the audience has become so invested in them.
It’s also why the audience is willing to go on these Earth-2s and doppelgangers and all that nonsense - it’s not nonsense, I love it! - but it’s because you’re so invested in the characters you’ll watch them go through anything, because you know you’re experiencing with them emotionally.”

Danielle Panabaker as Killer  Frost in The Flash.

Danielle Panabaker as Killer Frost in The Flash: Season 1 finale.

Of course, Flash fans are eager to see how and when Caitlin will transform into her comic book alter ego, the villain Killer Frost - especially after we got a glimpse of Killer Frost in The Flash: Season 1 finale, as Barry ran through his past, present and future.

Matching, if not surpassing, fan enthusiasm is Panabaker, who exclaimed, "I’m so excited for Killer Frost! I can’t wait!" Kreisberg laughed, noting how happy Panabaker was the one day she was in costume for the finale and recalling, "She looked so incredibly scary and she was going ‘Don’t I look great? Don’t I look awful?!’"

That being said, it didn't sound like Killer Frost is going to be directly introduced very soon - but Kreisberg stressed that didn't mean they don't have a plan, noting, "Greg [Berlanti] and I and Marc Guggenheim and everybody who works on both shows [Arrow and Flash], we’ve been so blessed with the success that we’ve had that we’ve been able to… A lot of things we’ve done, we’ve rushed and we’ve rushed through them and we’ve gotten to them very fast. But because of the success that we’ve had, we’ve been able to know that we’re going to be on for a years and we were able to play some things the sort of slow con [way] on some of these things. Just because one thing is happening fast, it doesn’t mean that something else is never going to happen, it just means that it’s being platformed. Sometimes you guys realize that these things are being set up [or] it’s only in hindsight that you look back and you go, ‘That thing in episode whatever from early Season 2, that tied to the thing that led to the other thing’ There are plans for a lot of this stuff."

'Flash' EP and Danielle Panabaker Talk Firestorm 2.0, Killer Frost, and More

the flash season 2 firestorm preview
If you've seen trailers for Tuesday's all new episode of The CW's "The Flash," then you already know the flame-spewing superhero Firestorm is getting a sizzling makeover.

When Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) falls ill, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and his S.T.A.R. Labs scientists must find a replacement for his metahuman partner Ronnie Raymond (Robbie Amell), who died last season saving the city.

After a screening of the flame-filled, emotionally charged episode -– titled "The Fury of Firestorm" –- Moviefone spoke to "Flash" co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg and star Danielle Panabaker, who plays Dr. Caitlin Snow, Ronnie's crestfallen widow. The two of discussed the new-look Firestorm and also teased several big moments from later on in the season, including the emergence of Killer Frost, the upcoming "Arrow" crossover, and the return of everyone's favorite villain -– Grodd.

1. Firestorm 2.0 Will Be Hilarious
When Ronnie died saving Central City, he left behind a grieving bride in Snow and an incomplete superhero in Dr. Stein. This week, Stein's needs are more pressing as his health fails him and we learn he must "merge" with another metahuman to survive. Flash and friends sift through several candidates to replace Ronnie, including an ambitious scientist Henry Hewitt (Demore Barnes) and a former athlete Jefferson "Jax" Jackson (Franz Drameh).

Mild spoiler alert that has already been widely reported: Jax will win the job.

Dr. Stein and Jax have zero in common, but as Kreisberg explains, that's by design. Juxtaposing the "radically different" characters "leaves more room for comedy with the Firestorm character," he said. Now we can look forward to more quip-based humor from Firestorm, especially after the character migrates over to The CW's upcoming spinoff "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

2. What Does Ronnie Getting Replaced Mean for Caitlin?
Dr. Snow is a focal point of Tuesday's episode because the search for a new Firestorm is essentially a quest to close the book on Ronnie. As sad as that sounds, Panabaker believes it could be an important step forward for her character.

"What's especially hard for Caitlin, and maybe ultimately cathartic about this experience, is that she's connected to Stein and she cares deeply about him because he is her last connection to Ronnie," she explained. "So she's particularly invested in taking care of Stein... and making sure his next partner is... just as good if not better than Ronnie."

"This was really the episode where [Caitlin] kind of dealt with [Ronnie's death]. She can grieve through wanting to protect her dead husband's co-superhero," Kreisberg added. "This episode makes me cry."

3. Does This Have Anything to Do With Her Killer Frost Transition?
Panabaker owned the Internet last week after The CW revealed the first image of her playing the villain Killer Frost. But clearly something has to happen for Dr. Snow to become a cold-hearted baddie, because right now she's one of "The Flash's" warmest characters (all puns intended).

So, will she suffer another tragedy? Is Killer Frost actually Caitlin Snow's doppelganger from the alternate universe that has come into play this season? Universe? Or is there some other explanation? Kreisberg wouldn't say for certain, but he did imply that he and co-showrunner Greg Berlanti has been laying a foundation for Killer Frost's arc for quite some time:

"We knew we [the show was] going to be on for a few years, [so] we were able to play the slow con on some of these things," Kreisberg said. "It's only in hindsight that you look back and go, 'Oh, that thing in episode whatever from early Season 2, that tied into the thing that led into the other thing."

Hmmm. Mystery still unsolved.

4. Dr. Stein Gets a Weird 'Vibe' From Cisco
Last season Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdez) was revealed to be Vibe, a metahuman who sees visions of alternate universes. He has been trying to hide his powers from Barry and Dr. Snow, but on Tuesday's episode Dr. Stein discovers his big secret and advises Cisco to share it with the group. But will he listen?

"[Cisco] has seen what happens to the other metahumans," Kreisberg said. "Good or bad intentions, they all go nuts and get locked up. So Cisco is really scared."

Furthermore, Cisco must deal with his disappointment over the nature of his vague powers: "It's not like he woke up and can fly," Kreisberg said. "So he feels like he drew the short straw. 'Barry gets super-speed, Ronnie gets to fly, and I get these blinding headache and nightmare visions of people being killed?' It's not, at first blush, the most heroic way to step into the world."

5. Looking Ahead... Is Jaytlin Really a Thing?
Dr. Snow's heart was broken after Ronnie sacrificed himself at the end of last season, but over six months have passed since his heroic death and already we're seeing signs that she may soon be ready to move on. We've seen sparks between her and newcomer/alternate universe Flash Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) – could there be a legitimate romance in their future? All signs point to yes.

"Obviously there's something going on there," Kreisberg said.

Panabaker is shipping Jaytlin, too: "He's a fellow science nerd. What could be better for Caitlin?"

6. The Mother of All 'Arrow'/'Flash' Crossovers Is Coming
When "Arrow" and "The Flash" crossover this winter, they won't just be trading characters for a week, they'll be setting the stage for "Legends of Tomorrow."

Panabaker revealed that, because of the new show, this season's crossover episodes would be "exponentially bigger." Kreisberg agreed: "We looked back and thought those 'Flash'/'Arrow' episodes were the biggest things we'd ever done, but now we have more heroes, more villains, more mouths to feed – it's really exciting."

It won't just be the character pool that changes, either -– fans can also expect a shift in tone. "The 'Flash' episode plays more like an episode of 'Arrow,' and the 'Arrow' episode plays more like an episode of 'Flash,'" Kreisberg added.

7. Grodd's Return: Caitlin Will Be His Fay Wray
Gorilla Grodd, a fan favorite villain from "The Flash's" freshman season, is coming back this year in a big way. According to Kreisberg and Panabaker, the telepathic primate's return may inspire comparisons to the 1933 film "King Kong".

"Caitlin plays ['King Kong' starlet] Fay Wray to Grodd's Kong," he explained.

"[Grodd] has some unfinished business with her," Panabaker added.

8. The Big Regret Form Season One
"The Flash" scored big with both audiences and critics last season, but Kreisberg admitted there's still one thing he wishes he could go back and change: "The one thing we didn't do last year on ' The Flash,' and I keep kicking myself for it, is when Oliver got exposed as the Arrow. There was no mention of Flash for all those episodes about everything Oliver Queen was going through," he said. "For me, it's like they're all friends, they all know each other's secret identities, and they all care for each other – you'd think somebody would've said something about it."

However, this season the writers have been more vigilant about "honoring the fact that they're all in each other's life." "That's why we acknowledged Oliver's change into Green Arrow on 'The Flash,'" he said.

9. Batman Who?
Green Arrow and the Flash are a part of the Justice League, a crime-fighting super group that includes Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. DC Comics fans are naturally fond of speculating when and where those other big named heroes might rear their heads, but Kreisberg says the writers aren't focused on shoehorning them into their shows.

"We've gotten to do Green Arrow, Ra's al Ghul, the League of Assassins, Deathstroke, Flash, Killer Frost, and Vibe; now we're doing 'Legends' and Rip Hunter; we have Constantine coming on to 'Arrow'; and we have 'Supergirl.'" he said with a laugh. "So it's not like we're sitting there saying, 'God dammit, why won't they give us Batman?'"

In fact, he said the writers prefer developing lesser-known characters: "It's a lot more fun to show people that [viewers] haven't constantly seen."
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