The Flash Season 3 Episode 18 Review: Abra Kadabra

The Flash met the villainous Abra Kadabra this week in a less than magical episode.

This The Flash review contains spoilers.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 18

“Abra Kadabra” was such a thoroughly bland piece of TV that I’m not sure I can get too worked up about it one way or the other. There was one major event here, and I guess it shouldn’t be discarded, but it just felt like a cheap payoff to make an otherwise inconsequential episode feel important.

The problem is that this episode shouldn’t have been a problem. There’s nothing wrong with the basic premise: Barry needs answers from a villain from the future in order to help solve his Savitar problem. That’s totally cool. Abra Kadabra is, despite his paper thin story this week, potentially much more than a villain of the week. This is a character who could potentially be a season-long big bad if done properly. David Dastmalchian was really terrific as Kadabra, too, striking the perfect balance of goofy stage magic based villain and genuine menace. I’d sign up for more of this.

So what’s the problem? I dunno. Maybe I feel like they wasted the potential of Abra Kadabra (I can’t believe I just typed that). Although it’s not like the character is broken or off the table forever or anything. It just felt like Kadabra was just here to throw a few stones in our heroes’ paths, let everyone run around and ultimately accomplish little/nothing, and talk at each other about the overall plot and how frustrated they are.

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I’ve been a huge booster of the whole “saving Iris from future events” thing since they sprung it on us around midseason. But hoo-boy, it’s starting to look a little threadbare, ain’t it? At this point, I have almost zero doubt that Iris will survive. But as we’ve seen so many times on this show, we know that time is going to make you pay the bill one way or the other. So at this point, the only question is: if Iris isn’t gonna croak, then who is?

It has to be someone extraordinarily close to Barry, based on Kadabra’s cryptic “none of them hurt you like Savitar did.” So, it is with a heavy heart that I must prepare myself to bid the fondest of farewells to Joe West at the end of this season. Seriously. Kadabra pointed out that Joe is the only one willing to do “anything” to save his daughter, and you know he’ll happily croak to make sure Iris lives. And, of course, the fact that Joe’s death will (at least temporarily) cause Iris and Barry to call off their engagement again, well, yeah. When we add in the fact that Savitar is likely going to end up being someone we know, adding an additional element of betrayal to the proceedings, that’s gonna hurt even more.

I’m not sure I’m exactly endorsing this outcome. I’d rather everyone make it out of this season alive, myself. But it just seems like the one we’re headed towards, so I’m trying to make my peace with it while I can.

So couldn’t we have had a more interesting story to get those two key pieces of information out of Abra Kadabra? Couldn’t there have been a more interesting secondary conflict than bringing Gypsy in to screw everyone up? Don’t get me wrong, I think Jessica Camacho has been terrific, but this just felt like the wrong place to deploy her, and the wrong place to try and move the Cisco/Gypsy thing along.

I knew early on things were going to go very wrong for Caitlin Snow tonight. They telegraphed it at every turn, like someone in some period drama piece coughing in the first act and saying “oh, it’s nothing,” you know they’re gonna croak before the credits roll. I almost wondered if the big reveal would be that Killer Frost has actually been in control for weeks/months, and she really is just manipulating poor Julian and everyone else around her until the time is right. No such luck.

Danielle Panabaker was great, though, particularly in the “directing my own surgery” scene. So then why does the big Killer Frost reveal at the end feel so unsatisfying? The whole, “I’m hurt, but I’ll be ok, let’s have a nice moment before I have mystery seizures and die” thing felt an awful lot like Laurel Lance’s exit on Arrow last year, and I’m not sure I remember the Killer Frost healing factor ever getting a mention before tonight. Maybe I could have excused this if it was placed organically in a better overall episode, but here? It felt like it was there solely to fill those final five minutes. It felt less like a cliffhanger than it did a cheap, manipulative effort.

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As you can see, I didn’t love “Abra Kadabra.” It didn’t drive me absolutely bonkers like season 2 episodes did around this time last year, so that’s good. And it wasn’t completely without merit. In particular, I enjoyed Barry’s confidence that they would indeed make it to that Hamilton performance in July, as well as his appeal to Abra Kadabra to do the right thing. And again, the fact that Kadabra didn’t budge here is a sign of how deep this guy’s villainy runs. Don’t underestimate him, because I think if he comes back, armed with a better script and at a time in the season where there aren’t bigger fish to fry, we’ll have a little more fun.

Flash Facts!

– Like most great Flash villains, Abra Kadabra was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. He’s been kicking around since The Flash #128 in 1962. He once turned Barry Allen into a frakkin’ marionette.

No, for real…

“No puppet, no puppet.” YES puppet. Total puppet.

(ahem) Anyway.

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But in recent years, Abra Kadabra has had his most fame/fortune as a Wally West villain. It would have been cool to see them play with that a little here. Wally could have been more instrumental to his defeat, which could have set up some other possibilities down the line.

We have an entire article about Abra Kadabra right here if you want to learn more.

– Holy moley, when was the last time we saw Stagg Industries? Season one?

– But more importantly, we went to a Kord building tonight! Any time there’s even a hint of anything Blue Beetle related on these shows, I start rubbing my hands together like a third rate supervillain. I dug the blue couches in the lobby, too.

– “Devoe.” Yep, I’m pretty sure that they just revealed the name of The Flash Season 4 villain. I put this info in a different article in case you don’t want to be spoiled.

I ramble about all things Flash (and more) over on Twitter.

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2.5 out of 5