Barry and Caitlin. The Flash and Ms. Snow. SnowBarry, as the Tumblr-folk call it. No matter how you choose to label this left-of-canon couple or who you 'ship, there's one question all fans must consider this summer: Is there any hope for Caitlin and Barry in The Flash Season 2?
The way I see it, the people who bring me the TV that fills my days and enriches/ruins my life have a laundry list of duties to perform that all boil down to one essential goal. No, not to make sure that Ryan Seacrest still has 7,000 jobs after Idol ends. Their job is to move story forward in an organic, character-driven way without painting themselves into a corner. It's easier said than done. I've given up on many a show that's failed on one or both of those counts. Of course, what can really aid a writer in keeping a story fresh is the added element of time travel. Not appropriate everywhere, sure. (But what if Peggy Olson could've hopped in a machine and told her young, pony-tailed self never ever to sleep with Pete Campbell? What if?)
Time travel can provide a loop-hole; it can allow writers to take viewers all the way to the edge, knowing that they have a device to bring them right back. But it can be frustrating too. If consequences are constantly being erased, there are no stakes. And nothing frustrates me more than when my engagement as a fan is rewarded with outcomes that don't stick, because hey, we fixed it! I even give permission to hurt my favorite characters, so long as what they do means something.
Fans guessed that The Flash finale would come down to time itself, with Eobard Thawne's goal of getting back to the future and Barry's hopes of rewinding the clock to save his parents. Barry's bid failed; Thawne's was about to work. But it turned out that not even the scientists present understood the circular nature of time as well as Eddie. Eddie sacrificed himself to erase Eobard from time.
The fallout from this choice is going to pervade all of Season 2. Eobard created The Flash. He blew up the particle accelerator. He killed Wells and Tess. If Eddie's actions make it so that none of these scenarios ever occurred, the audience will be meeting up with a much altered Team Flash next fall. Can I even call them "Team Flash" anymore?
That re-write would open a lot of doors. It'd let the writers took a Mulligan, even though Season 1 was essentially flawless. With all this tumult in mind, where does that leave SnowBarry shippers? If Ronnie never became a metahuman, chances are that he and Caitlin would have married earlier and started their lives together. But maybe not. Maybe they broke up, for any number of reasons. Maybe it was Ronnie's apparent death/reemergence as Firestorm that strengthened Caitlin's feelings for him. (Also interesting to note that Robbie Amell has not been announced for the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff, though Ronnie's partner-in-crime Dr. Stein is a main ensemble member. Hmm...)
Caitlin herself might not be a good guy for much longer, as was awesomely hinted by that rad Killer Frost cameo. And who even knows where Iris and Barry will be when the show comes back from hiatus? So much of Barry's identity is based in his work as The Flash. It gives me a headache to consider how different he might be if Eddie killing himself truly eliminated everything that Eobard ever did. Would Barry still be crazy about Iris in this world? Would she know?
Is it possible that Caitlin and Barry could find each other in Season 2? Thanks to Eddie's death and all the paradoxes it might have created, I say yes. It's possible. But it's not likely. The Flash can be an emotionally draining show. (When Grant Gustin cries, I cry.) But it is not a cynical one. After laying so much groundwork for both Ronnie and Caitlin and Iris and Barry in Season 1, to negate that development would feel like an insult to the audience — even if the writers were technically playing by the rules.
The kiss between Hannibal-as-Barry and Caitlin in "Who Is Harrison Wells?" was a nod to SnowBarry fans — a "we see you" from The Flash's creative team. But I don't expect to see any sparks between their real selves in Season 2. Alas. This is an OTP that can always live free on the internet.