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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The Flash S3E18: Abra Kadabra


The Flash
Series 3, Episode 18
Abra Kadabra



Before we talk about this episode, let's quickly talk about Legends of Tomorrow again, because its problems writing Thawne in a way that even slightly resembles the version of the character from Flash's first series have really reached a head. I realise that they are responding somewhat to the different skills of their actors: Tom Cavanaugh is very good at subtle, quiet menace, while Matt Letscher is not, but this has reached the point of absurdity.



The most recent episode of Legends involves Thawne, Darhk, Merlyn, and Leonard Snart having rewritten the world to their liking, and without going into too much detail, Thawne's life has him as a rockstar scientist, adored by everyone, with a cowed Martin Stein and a Jax twisted into being a cruel, unpleasant human being working under him. This seems completely counter to Thawne's character as it was established early on, because Thawne had the opportunity to shape a life for himself as Harrison Wells -- and while he treated himself to a few lavish things like that huge, designer house with the big skylight, what he mainly did was engage in scientific research alongside a small group of people who he respected, and whose talents he wanted to foster. He also obviously had huge respect for Stein. For him to be a cackling 'fate worse than death' megalomaniac this time around is baffling to me.

Anyway, while that's relevant to The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow isn't what we're reviewing today. After the surprisingly good musical episode last time, this one was set up as an opportunity for us to possibly learn Savitar's identity (hint: It's HR, c'mon, we all know it's HR), through the use of a silly but nevertheless pretty effective villain, which is a pretty solid foundation to build an episode on.

You look absurd.

This week's episode sees Central City threatened by Abra Kadabra, a man with a striking resemblance to the child of David Blaine and Derren Brown, who uses advanced nanotechnology to simulate magic. As Gypsy arrives from Earth-19 to take him in, the team starts to fracture when Kadabra reveals that he knows Savitar's true identity, and will give it to them if they allow him to go free -- something which Gypsy won't allow. 

So, we've got our central conflict set up, and it actually works out pretty well. Gypsy's angle is understandable, as is Joe and Barry's, and since Kadabra cannot be reasoned with -- his deal hinges on him going free, and he won't take anything less, especially as, as it's revealed later, he gets some degree of personal satisfaction out of being involved (even tangentially) in Iris dying.

Kadabra even manages to be a pretty interesting villain. His magician schtick actually works pretty well, especially when combined with more subtle powers like 'being able to hide from Cisco's vibing.' But I admit, I'm fascinated by his origin story here. So, he has access to 64th Century nanotech, and he decides to use this tech to -- impersonate a stage magician? A line of entertainment which is already dying out, and so must surely be gone entirely in the time he's from? And then, armed with advanced technology and a magician persona, he commits robberies?

I can't decide if I like or hate Wally's costume.

How does a person end up doing that?

Incidentally, don't think I didn't notice that the show avoided HR having any interaction with Kadabra, who might well have recognised him on sight. I did notice that.

Anyway, this episode isn't perfect, not least because it has a massive, easily avoided plot hole in it. Caitlin gets all shrapnel'd up after an attack by Kadabra, and one of the pieces is embedded deep inside her, forcing her to talk Julian through performing surgery on her. Except we saw both earlier in this series and last series when Wells was shot that speedsters can phase their hands into a person's body and put in or remove objects without harming anything else. Caitlin was there when Jay did that, so she knows it's possible, and Barry is right there when Caitlin's bleeding out.

It wouldn't even change the end result of the story -- that Caitlin later goes into shock from a blood clot and Julian removes her necklace, forcibly transforming her into Killer Frost -- all that much. You could still have the blood clot, the shock, and the Killer Frost-ing.

Still can't decide.

The episode closes with Barry deciding to go to the future and find out exactly what happened to Iris, which is actually not a terrible plan, since by definition he can't accidentally change the past in the process. It looks like this trip to the future will also involve a ruined Star Labs, a bitter Cisco, Wally in a wheelchair (?), and Barry with stupid hair. So, darkest future, I guess.

This should mean we'll find out who Savitar is, too (it's HR), unless Barry in the future doesn't know either (it's HR).

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