Ralph Dibny may not have all the smooth moves of that other famous globe-trotting secret agent, but as Flash fans are about to discover, he can certainly rock a tuxedo. Tonight’s episode, “License to Elongate” features the Elongated Man teaming up with Barry Allen to hunt down Sue Dearbon, the ever-elusive woman at the center of the missing persons case Ralph has been working on all season. It’s also the second episode to be directed by Danielle Panabaker, who cut her directorial teeth filling in Nora West-Allen’s backstory and introducing the villain Godspeed to the popular DCTV series. In that memorable episode, Panabaker demonstrated a real skill at directing scenes filled with unforgettable and often side-splitting banter between characters—something that will be on full display in tonight’s often humorous outing.
After talking to Panabaker for her first episode as director, we thought it would be fun to check in with her again now that she’s finished her second. The result was a lively conversation with a talented actor who has clearly also fallen in love with directing. But then again, who better to juggle two separate personas than the woman who plays both Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost on screen?
So far, you’ve been playing Killer Frost for most of this season. How does it feel to let your frostier side come to the forefront?
It’s been a lot of fun to play Killer Frost this season. I think it was such a nice opportunity. We’ve seen a lot of Caitlin over the years, and it’s great for Killer Frost to be able to take the driver’s seat and make choices. Particularly as an actor, it’s fun because she makes mistakes and she’s imperfect. It’s been nice to explore that.
It’s been a challenging season for Caitlin and Killer Frost in that this season’s villain, Dr. Rosso, was a colleague of Caitlin’s. How do you think it feels seeing a friend of yours become a villain?
I think it’s really difficult. Killer Frost has her instincts about Ramsey, which are very different than Caitlin’s instincts. Obviously, Caitlin has a history with Ramsey. She wants to believe that there’s still good inside him, and that she can affect change in a positive direction. But Killer Frost is a little bit more skeptical and instinctually doesn’t trust Ramsey. So, it’s interesting to see these two people have such different takes on Ramsey Rosso. I think it’s probably hard for Caitlin to not be able to change him.
What does it create when Killer Frost and Caitlin have that sort of fundamental disagreement?
We don’t see it much on the show, but I do think there are conversations that are probably had between the two of them off screen.
It’s also hard because you’re dealing with Barry’s looming death. Do you think Killer Frost and Caitlin have accepted it, or are they still trying to figure out a way to prevent it?
I think they’re still trying to figure out a way to prevent it. I don’t think Team Flash is particularly good at accepting any fate, quite frankly, as you see them also continue to struggle with “Crisis.” Barry’s upcoming death is the same. I don’t think they’re just laying down and accepting it, they’re fighting as much as they can.
This week’s episode, “License to Elongate,” is your second episode as a director. Can you tell us what it’s about?
“License to Elongate” is a breath of fresh air before we get into two really dark episodes. Barry has been preparing the different members of Team Flash for life post-Crisis. Recently, we saw him take Cisco aside and really prepare him to be the team leader, and he’s trying to teach Killer Frost how to channel her anger. This episode is really about Barry and Ralph’s relationship—they go off on an adventure to find Sue Dearbon. It’s a bit of a James Bond episode for the two of them. They put their tuxes on and they go to a fancy gala. They have a lot of fun and they also learn and grow along the way.
You mentioned it’s James Bond influenced. Are you a Bond fan?
I’d seen a couple movies prior to this, and over the last few months I’ve seen quite a few more. That was really fun. When you go back and watch the James Bond movies from the beginning, they’ve changed so much from the Sean Connery and Roger Moore ones to the Daniel Craig ones. It’s fun to see how much has evolved and along with things like the updated special effects.
Do you have a favorite Bond?
I have to be honest, I feel like Daniel Craig is a great Bond. I think the last couple of movies have been really spectacular.
Was directing your second episode of The Flash easier than directing your first? Were there any unanticipated issues that came up this time around?
I wouldn’t necessarily say directing my second episode was easier. Every episode presents its own challenges. What’s fun for me is that I’m still learning, and it’s great to get to stretch different muscles. “Godspeed” was much more visual effects heavy than “License to Elongate.” It wasn’t necessarily easier. I certainly had more confidence because I had the first one under my belt and I felt like I knew what I was doing a little bit more—how to communicate and how to get what I needed.
I love it. There are so many talented people who work on our show. Getting to collaborate with them and hopefully elevate them to bring their best work is a lot of fun for me.
Do you think Ralph’s superpower would be more beneficial to an actor or to a director?
The ability to stretch?
Yes, but he can also change how he looks, right?
Yeah! It’s hard to say. I can see as an actor how useful it would be to be able to transform yourself, but also as a director, a lot of what you do is about your ability to communicate with people in a way that they can hear. It’s a lot of people skills, and there’s a certain element of stretching that goes into that as well. It’s less physical, but it has an element of adapting your working process to whoever you’re working with.
So, you think it would equally benefit both?
It’s always fun to see you direct The Flash, but do you have interest in directing other things going forward? Maybe a film or a different TV show?
I love directing, and I can’t wait to direct something else. It can be a little challenging because our hiatus is so short, but I’m really looking forward to directing something else. What I love, in terms of television shows, are often shows that are a little more relationship-based. I loved You, so if it turned out that I could direct an episode of that, it would be so great. But I also feel like I’ve been lucky in terms of working on a show with so many special effects. That’s a particular skill set, so I’d like to keep using that, but in a different capacity.
Without spoiling anything, how much fun was it shooting “Crisis on Infinite Earths”?
I truly don’t know how they pull these crossovers off. It’s an incredible feat. We do it for the fans because they love it so much. I’m just excited for the fans to see everyone. Obviously, it’s the biggest one we’ve ever done—five shows. We’re even bringing Cress over from Black Lightning, so it’s pretty epic. I’m excited for fans to see it and hopefully they enjoy it.
"License to Elongate," directed by Danielle Panabaker, airs tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW's The Flash. Visit our Flash page for more exclusive features, news and articles on the hit DCTV series.