The Flash Review: Abra Kadabra (Season 3 Episode 18)

The Flash (Grant Gustin) battles Abra Kadabra (guest star David Dastmalchian), a villain from Earth-19, who makes him a tempting offer – release him and Abra Kadabra will reveal Savitar’s true identity. Desperate to save Iris (Candice Patton), Barry considers taking the deal but Gypsy (guest star Jessica Camacho) breaches in to capture the villain for her own reasons and during the melee, Abra Kadabra manages to escape.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 18 “Abra Kadabra,” was both enjoyable and frustrating at the same time. The positives of the episode come from the cast, once again giving strong performances during some emotional scenes and the moral dilemmas several of the characters faced.

However, that’s largely where the positives end. The debut of Flash villain Abra Kadabra should have been a story all in itself. While Abra was prominent in the episode, the conflict resided more in his knowledge of Savitar and what Abra could tell Flash about the speedster villain if they set him free.

Wrapping Abra’s introduction around the main Savitar plot unfortunately drew attention away from the magical/technological wizard. It was even more frustrating when the same conversation kept happening over and over again as various characters went to Abra to convince him to spill Savitar’s secrets or conferred with themselves on how best to do it.

As said, the episode’s main strength came from the cast, especially Dave Dastmalchian in his role as Abra. He did appear quite menacing and a good foil to Flash and his chemistry with Gustin showed off their chemistry. Dastmalchian is already one of The Flash’s most memorable villains-of-the-week, but hopefully he’ll return sometime next season.

The rest of the cast gave strong performances as they dealt with the possibility of letting Abra go for his crimes in exchange for how to save Iris. Gustin showcased his emotion range, but Jesse L. Martin unsurprisingly stole the show emotionally as a father willing to do whatever it takes to protect his daughter.

Their difficult choice regarding Abra wasn’t the only moral dilemma they faced, however. Tom Felton and Danielle Panabaker shared some good scenes together as they reconnected. Felton’s Julian, and even Cisco, had to struggle with letting Caitlin die and respecting her wishes or saving her life and bringing out Killer Frost, perhaps permanently.

This was actually another problem though with ‘Abra Kadabra’, but its more a fault of the season at large rather than the episode itself. Caitlin’s turn to Killer Frost seems more due to a split personality, or at least a severe loosening of Caitlin’s inhibitions, rather than an actual result of a character’s arc.

Take Lex Luthor in Smallville, or even his sister Lena in Supergirl: Lex started as a genuinely good person, gradually turning to evil as he kept slipping further into darkness in his bid to ‘protect’ his friends and the world. Lena is on a bit of a similar path, having to deal with people’s prejudices to the Luthor name and carving a path for herself instead of succumbing to her family legacy.

Caitlin’s powers simply releasing a dark side is a bit of a cheat and lacks any true character arc or hint of redemption.

The Flash Season 3 Episode 18 was still an enjoyable episode, but it would have been better had it been its own thing instead of largely dealing with who Savitar is – especially since it revealed absolutely nothing, not even a hint, as to his identity. The fact that we have to wait a month for The Flash to come back only heightens that frustration.

Hopefully Flash’s next encounter with Abra will be much better.

The Flash continues Tuesday, April 25 at 8/7c on The CW.

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