‘The Flash’ 3.18 “Abra Kadabra” Review – Magic Provides No Answers


Last week’s musical episode was magical, so it’s fitting that this week’s episode, aptly titled “Abra Kadabra,” is about a meta (or a man with micro-technology infused to his body) who performs magic as part of his criminal act. The episode, while enjoyable to an extent, didn’t really bring us any closer to discovering Savitar’s identity and there were so many obvious plot holes that it was sometimes hard to see past that. But we got some strong character moments, a memorable villain, and something to look forward to with Barry’s decision to run to the future. However, the episode’s conclusion didn’t have as big an impact as it should have and there was no real forward movement with the plot.

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

There were a lot of things in “Abra Kadabra” that worked and then other things that didn’t. There was a lot of techno-babble and a lot of question marks when it came to Abra Kadabra’s character. He was a fun villain, but one filled with darkness and it kind of clouded the episode. The question ultimately becomes whether Team Flash should let him go to gain information about Savitar’s identity, or hand him over to Gypsy so she can take him back to Earth-19 to be punished for his crimes. Barry flirts heavily with the idea of letting him go and very briefly, so does Iris. But she quickly reminds Barry that they’d be letting a murderer go and that isn’t worth it. Joe has other ideas and is desperate enough to see the possible light at the end of the tunnel in saving Iris. So he lets Abra Kadabra go in exchange for information, but of course, he gets away. The episode doesn’t always flow well, and it’s easy to tell that the writers are stalling with the reveal of Savitar’s identity, but by not even providing more clues as to who he is does the episode a disservice and throws it off-balance. And where is Savitar? Is he hiding out? Plotting? What is his endgame besides trying to kill Iris? Does he know Barry will defeat him regardless as per Abra Kadabra?

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

One thing that really struck me is Abra Kadabra’s constant talk about how powerful Barry essentially is in the future. He mentions it a couple of times in regards to Barry’s ultimate defeat of Savitar, how he didn’t expect him to be so young, and then how Abra Kadabra himself has tangled with the speedster often and lost. There’s a hatred there, you can see it burning in his eyes. He takes great joy in Barry’s pain. Basically, though, the magician was alluding to the idea that Barry is so formidable in the future that to break him, they’d have to take what’s most important to him: Iris. By doing so, the metas will be in celebration knowing that they have won. I mention this because this episode once again has Iris basically saying that letting a murderer go isn’t worth it to save her. But whether she believes it or not, and I need someone to tell her that her life is worth it aloud, Iris is far more powerful than she believes she is. So powerful when alive and on Barry’s side that other metahumans know that to take her out of the equation would mean the loss of that which helps power Barry. This isn’t simply killing her to hurt Barry, but it’s removing his core and stopping him from continuing on the path to becoming such a powerful metahuman.

When you were a baby, I was terrified that you might die in the middle of the night. I just didn’t sleep. I would just sit in your room and watch you sleep. I’d put my hand on your chest just to make sure you were breathing in and out. I would just sit there praying you’d just keep breathing. That’s how I feel right now. I don’t know what I can do to save you.”

screenshot_2017-03-30-10-26-25.pngWith Joe this week taking a more active role, I’m convinced that each member of the West family will do so moving forward. As the date draws closer, I do hope to see more of Iris up front and center and hear more on what she’s thinking, how she’s coping. Will she continue to put on a brave face? Will she finally break down? Will she play an active role in the final plan? Has she given up hope and is looking at the situation realistically like she always does? Throughout the episode, it’s easy to tell she was devastated and Candice Patton’s expressions deserve an applause. It was heartbreaking to watch Barry hug Iris to him and see her face fall in hopelessness while Abra Kadabra is led back to Earh-19. The emotion was also palpable in the scene with Joe (props to Jesse L. Martin), and it was all so very moving. The West family always tugs at the heart strings and this episode was just filled with so much emotional weight that it was hard not to feel at a loss.

As of right now, however, it has become a bit tiring to see the team lose week after week in their efforts to stop Iris’ death (I also don’t know how many more times I can watch the future scene). Barry needs to come full circle and save Iris so that this season can look to the future with hope instead of sadness and defeat. I’m also hoping that the writers will use the whole “love is all you need” again at some point. Abra Kadabra’s plot to build a time machine didn’t necessarily make sense and posed a lot of questions. How did he get back to the past to begin with? How does he know all of these things about Barry losing Iris? Is he from the future where Iris dies or is he able to see multiple timelines? How much time travel and dimension-hopping has he done if he’s from the 64th century? These are questions that will never get answered, but at least Abra Kadabra was a smarmy asshole and really struck a nerve. Watching Barry plead to his humanity and then be shut down solidified Kadabra’s role as a villain and Barry’s final decision to travel to the future for answers.

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

But besides Barry realizing that the only way to get answers is to go the future and Caitlin becoming Killer Frost, there was no real forward movement in an episode that should have hinged on the reveal of Savitar’s identity to the characters, or at the very least to the audience. It would have been more of a game changer than the final scene we’re given, which I know was meant to be shocking, but I felt a bit numb to it. Perhaps because I’m no longer invested in the Killer Frost storyline, but I will say that it was at least a pretty killer (ha!) entrance. I did not expect for Caitlin to die and be turned into her alter ego so permanently. If the Caitlin part of her is truly dead and she’s just simply Killer Frost, then it’d be nice for the show to stick to something for once and not backtrack. Her new transformation doesn’t completely erase the sloppy and plot hole-riddled writing of her storyline, but at least it gives Caitlin something more interesting to do.

I have nothing to offer you. No reprieve, no escape from what you’re facing. But you are still a man. Somewhere inside of you, there must be a glimmer of light, of hope. It’s that part of you that I’m asking. I’m begging. Help me save her.”

Having the two-sided personality aspect of Caitlin’s storyline disappear makes the whole Killer Frost thing a bit better because the show flip-flopped too much. However, I didn’t appreciate how unconcerned and unapologetic Caitlin still was about her actions regarding the stone. Based on this episode and “The Wrath of Savitar,” she doesn’t think she did anything wrong and this is troubling. Perhaps it’s the combination of that and the lack of overall character development for her, but the final scene didn’t have as big of an impact as it should have and was used more for shock value than a decent farewell. It was Carlos Valdes, though, who really sold the scene and was a standout. He and Caitlin have always had a cute friendship and the long scene and back-and-forth between them meant something was up. Then, Valdes absolutely nailed Cisco’s shock and sadness with his very emotional delivery as Caitlin was dying.

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

“Abra Kadabra” was enjoyable to a degree and the emotions were certainly high, which made the episode more impactful for certain characters, but it was a missed opportunity to not have had more development on the Savitar front. If nothing is revealed by the next episode, then the writers will be dragging this whole thing out for longer than they should and it’s already starting to feel that way. The sooner Team Flash figures out Savitar’s identity, the more confident they’ll become, which in turn will bring back some light in the dark that this episode had in spades. After last week’s very light-hearted musical, this episode was a bit jarring. The plot needs to move forward and the show needs to focus less on what’s already been reiterated in past episodes in order for the season to soar to new heights. I hope that for next season, “The Flash” will think twice about bringing in a villain whose identity is a secret. Where the show currently stands, the Savitar mystery is holding back the plot and its development.

So… “The Flash” isn’t going to be back until April 25. Are we going to discuss this date? Because it’s also the date that Barry disappears in the future newspaper headline.

Random Thoughts:

  • That Iris and Joe scene made my chest ache. It was so heartbreakingly beautiful.
  • I need more Wally.
  • Cisco’s crying eyes? Just let me hug him.
  • I didn’t even realize H.R. was missing until he came back. Whoops. His disappearance is suspect, no? He’s probably not Savitar, but there’s something up with him.
  • Those pictures in the West house… just, I love them so much.
  • Does Cisco eat all of Caitlin’s food?
  • Nothing like getting injured to cure any and all angst between two people, am I right?
  • I have thrown out the different/future version of Barry is Savitar theory. Is a twin brother he never knew about too much of a stretch? Maybe it’s not even a man at all.
  • Can we keep Gypsy forever? Can they also start using another name for her?
  • They should have listened to Iris and taken Caitlin to the hospital. They explained why they couldn’t, but she walked right into CCPD to convince Julian to join the team and that wasn’t an issue.
  • Wally or Barry could have also used their phasing powers to pull the shrapnel out. Also, where was Julian doing the chest compressions, her stomach? So much medical nonsense, I can’t even tell you how high my eyebrows rose.
  • Cecile! I need to see this double date as soon as possible. I also need her and Iris to interact more!
  • Barry blushing when Iris said that he sang to her and her smile. They were glowing and this episode crushed them and now I’m sad.
  • I forgot to mention that the effects were really awesome in this episode. Also, Barry executing a plan and taking down a meta without the team telling him what to do, rejoice!
  • Now we know why Barry and Iris were at Joe’s during their first one-on-one conversation, because episode 19 has trashed their loft. I cry!
  • I would like someone to give me free Hamilton tickets.
  • Despite my not knowing who Savitar is, I still think Barry will sacrifice himself to the speed force or something to save Iris.
  • If Savitar is Eddie, it would make sense and even come full circle with his semi-obsession of wanting to be seen as a hero and having Barry get everything he thought he’d have. Thoughts?

The plot needs to move forward and the show needs to focus less on what's already been reiterated in past episodes in order for the season to soar to new heights. I hope that for next season, "The Flash" will think twice about bringing in a villain whose identity is a secret.


About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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