Whenever Eobard Thawne is mentioned on The Flash, I can’t help but reminisce about season one. This isn’t a good thing: It highlights everything The Flash has been lacking recently. “Abra Kadabra” has a few bright spots, particularly the return of Gypsy, who brings a much-needed jolt of energy to a story arc that feels like it is coasting on autopilot. But even she can’t completely distract from how terrible the episode’s titular central villain is.
Abra Kadabra (David Dastmalchian), a villain as annoying as his name would imply, is introduced stealing technology from Stagg Industries and leaving two dead security guards in his wake. But he can’t just shoot them. Abra Kadabra is too infuriatingly over the top for that. He teleports them into a glass container and fills it up with water, leaving them to drown with barely a flick from his wrist as if by magic. Abra Kadabra quickly gets the attention of Barry and the rest of the team since he’s going around Central City robbing tech industries for equipment. He stops Barry in his tracks by saying his real name and that he knows all about Savitar. Gypsy crashes the proceedings through a breach before Barry can ask much else. But neither is fast enough to get Abra Kadabra before he disappears in a swirling vortex of playing cards. The man isn’t subtle.
Gypsy is back to capture Abra Kadabra because he got a lot of people killed on Earth-19. She also knows a lot about him. He’s from the future — the 64th century to be exact. While it seems he has magical abilities, in actuality it’s just future nanotechnology that’s just so advanced it seems like magic. He tricks the entire team into thinking he’s in one place, leaving S.T.A.R. Labs wide open for his attack. But Barry races back, handcuffing him and throwing him in the pipeline.
“I cannot wait to see you be put to death,” Gypsy exclaims to the captured Abra Kadabra. It’s obvious early on that Gypsy’s quest to take him down is personal. While Cisco is eager to continue where things left off between them, once Gypsy reveals that Abra Kadabra killed her old romantic/work partner, their relationship quickly falters. I’m going to be honest, I don’t get why Cisco is so hurt by that. Does he think women he’ll date won’t have exes? It seems like unnecessary drama to make things between them difficult when the fact that they’re on different Earths with demanding work is enough.
In hopes of escaping his death sentence on Earth-19, Abra Kadabra offers Barry the one thing he wants most: the truth about Savitar. Would Barry really let a mass murderer go free just for some information that may save Iris? That he’s considering this shows how desperate he is when it comes to Iris’s potential murder. Thankfully, Iris remains the voice of reason and refuses to let Barry make a mistake he’d definitely regret. “Life doesn’t keep score, Barry,” Iris warns when he suggests they deserve to break the rules just this once. It’s pretty clear that Barry wouldn’t be a great hero if it weren’t for Iris guiding him. Iris also makes a good point. How can they trust Abra Kadabra? Nothing he’s said up to that point is anything new and he doesn’t seem like the kind of man to keep his word. Unfortunately, there is someone else desperate enough to open Abra Kadabra’s cell in exchange for information on Savitar to save Iris: Joe.
Of course, this proves to be a very bad idea. Gypsy interrupts Abra Kadabra before he can say anything. This gives him the opportunity to escape and swipe the power source of Thawne’s old Time Vault, which he used while masquerading as Harrison Wells in season one. (Whenever the Time Vault is brought up, I can’t help but wonder what happened to Gideon, since she’d be so useful this season. At least she’d question how Future-Barry can be so intelligent when the one we’re witnessing currently makes the same mistakes ad nauseam.) Even when Joe corners him, Abra Kadabra won’t give up Savitar’s real name. Why did Joe believe he’d ever reveal that? He’s obviously not meant to be trusted. Abra Kadabra causes an explosion to make his exit, leading Caitlin to get impaled with a metal rod through her abdomen. This leads to the most nonsensical, unbelievable development of The Flash in recent memory. Yes, more implausible than a man with super-speed. More implausible than alternate universes with superpowered aliens. Caitlin staying conscious without any pain medications during her own surgery that she advises Julian on is too much even for me to believe.
Caitlin refuses to take off the necklace that protects her from becoming Killer Frost, even though that would lead her to regenerate and have no need for the surgery to remove the shrapnel. She also balks at Iris’s suggestion she be taken to the hospital since she’d get the attention of the police department. So she talks Julian through operating on her while she’s fully awake with Iris offering assistance. This warms Julian to her, breaking down the defensive posturing he put up since he’s been angry about Caitlin keeping a piece of the philosopher’s stone.
With Caitlin on the mend, everyone turns their attention back to Abra Kadabra. Gypsy surmises he’s building a time machine to return to the 64th century. Why did he even come to the past? To cause havoc? To steal things? The chase sequence between Barry and Abra Kadabra flying in his time machine through Central City does have a spectacular finish. But it is a bittersweet victory for Barry. “Somewhere inside of you there must be a glimmer of light,” Barry says, trying to appeal to Abra Kadabra’s humanity so he’ll reveal the truth about Savitar. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any humanity. He smiles and says something to the effect that by withholding this information he’s killing Iris too, making a mark on The Flash’s history like his greatest villains. Oh honey, you can’t hold a candle to how fascinating and terrifying Eobard Thawne was.
Abra Kadabra ultimately leaves as Gypsy’s prisoner, heading to his execution on Earth-19. What can Barry do now to save Iris since nothing else has worked? “It’s all just history to them. They’re armed with the future,” Barry says about his foes. So, Barry decides he’ll do something a touch reckless: travel to the future. This may lead to some problems, but it does open up an interesting story line.
Back at S.T.A.R. Labs, I didn’t even realize H.R. was missing until he sauntered his way back in near the very end of “Abra Kadabra.” Apparently, he left without telling anyone to have a romantic tryst with some woman who needs to rethink her priorities. There’s something odd about anytime H.R. goes missing. First off, I don’t believe him. I don’t necessarily think he’s evil — that would be a retread that even this show is wise enough to avoid. But something is going on that he isn’t telling the rest of the team. The problem is that The Flash isn’t setting this secret up properly. No matter how good of an ending H.R.’s story line gets, it won’t erase the problems that have been built into the character. (Namely, that he’s pointless.) But for now, H.R. is just a tertiary concern.
He shows up only to lend a helping hand when Caitlin goes into a seizure. Everyone should have just listened to Iris about taking her to the hospital. Soon Caitlin isn’t breathing and everything Julian tries doesn’t work. This includes some very unconvincing chest compressions and using a defibrillator over clothing, which also broke my suspension of disbelief quite a bit. No matter their medical expertise or the tears shed by Julian, Cisco, and H.R., Caitlin is dead. So Julian does the one thing he knows will save her despite her clear wishes: He rips off the necklace that blocks her meta-abilities. It works. The machines read a heartbeat. The wound on her abdomen heals instantly. Her lips grow cold. With a mist of icy air, she pushes everyone away and reveals herself to be full-blown Killer Frost.
“Abra Kadabra” may have had one of the worst villains in The Flash’s recent history and more plot holes than I could keep track of. But Barry deciding to go to the future and Caitlin becoming Killer Frost opens up some fascinating narrative possibilities. Let’s hope The Flash fully takes advantage of them.