‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3, Episode 18: ‘Abra Kadabra’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recappers Dylan Todd and Ziah Grace break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
This week, the Flash is good, but Abra Kadabra? He's magic. Also, Caitlin goes into surgery, and Joe deals with a moral dilemma. "Abra Kadabra" was directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado, with a story by Andrew Kreisberg, and teleplay by Brooke Roberts & David Kob.
Ziah: Well, Dylan, Abra Kadabra happened. And after two full seasons of hoping that either him or the Mirror Master would be a season-long big bad, I have to say I’m okay with him going off to his death. Just not a whole lot going on with this iteration of him.
Although! I looked up some of his info on Wikipedia so we would have something to talk about, and it turns out that this episode’s storyline was based on a Flash comic in which a bounty hunter from another earth arrests Abra Kadabra for crimes, and plans to execute him! The bounty hunter was a character named Peregrine (Not She-Cisco), and I have never heard of this character in my life. Have you?
Dylan: I have no idea who that is. And yeah, I feel like David Dastmalchian did the best with what he was given, but in the end, this version of Abra Kadabra is just… what the heck was going on with this dude? He’s from the 64th century, but also fights Barry Allen in some vague future? He’s got a magic gimmick, but it’s all nanotechnology? It feels like there’s like two too many things in the mix for this dude, right?
Ziah: Yeah, for real. Apparently that was the deal with the original Abra Kadabra, but I don’t remember any of that nonsense. Just make him a magic man that does those devious tricks! Like the one with the ace, but it’s not an ace, it’s a two of hearts, but you only show that card if it’s a couple, otherwise it’s a five of diamonds, you know?
Dylan: I will say that the 52 card pickup trick with the multiplying cards looked pretty cool. But like, the water thing in the beginning was so gloriously on-the-nose. And I’d be fine with the sci-fi stuff if they’d managed to give Kadabra some sort of personality beyond “generically devious.”
Ziah: Forget what we were just talking about, it’s Jesse L. Martin time. Jesse L. Martime. We are constantly talking about how good he is, for good reason, but he knocked this episode out of the park. I really liked that he was willing to take Kadabra’s deal, and I also really liked that he got so attached to the future Cable gun that he was holding it in scenes when he was just hanging out at the lab. Isn’t Jesse L. Martin the best?
Dylan: He’s great, as per usual. I do love that Joe’s entire deal is making really bad deals and doing really dumb things in service of some idea of protecting his kids but it always just winds up going real wrong. I also enjoyed that we finally got Joe’s Protocols laid out plainly: he’s a cop who’s sworn to bring swift justice to those who violate the law, unless that interferes with him protecting his family, then all bets are off. He’s like Robocop but a dad and also a regular cop.
Ziah: Dadcop! You can’t violate the Prime Directive, which is keep the cartoons down on Saturday mornings, don’t you know how hard I work all week to provide for you kids.
Dylan: So I guess we gotta pull together a “Dad-Bot-Cop” pitch immediately.
Ziah: He’s only got two rules! If you ever need me to pick you up, no matter what, just call me and I’ll be there, and also, no doing crimes.
Ziah: So Caitlin got impaled through the stomach by a pipe! Because we really don’t have enough graphic penetrations of women by phallic objects in the media we consume already. Still, her talking Julian through her own surgery was the rawest thing I’ve seen anyone do in this show in like five episodes, and probably the most I’ve liked her this whole season. What’d you think of Barry’s Allenatomy (like Barry Allen but also Grey’s Anatomy).
Dylan: It was gross! But it was also a nice way to illustrate the Caitlin and Julian (I feel like maybe they need a cute combo name like Brangelina --- RIP. Maybe CaitJul? LinLian?) dynamic.
Ziah: Julin! Jaitlin. Cold Malfoy. Killer Baldy. Caitlin Frost and the Philosopher’s Sucker.
Dylan: Uh, well, we can workshop this. In the meantime, let’s get back to the main plot: so Abra Kadabra is robbing technology firms --- Stagg and Kord Industries, naturally --- in an attempt to build a timeship and get back to his own time, which is maybe the 64th century, but also maybe whatever future where he is one of Barry’s top enemies? Again, too many things.
Ziah: Wait, you actually just reminded me. How’d he get to this time then? Man, the time travel on this show makes me scratch my head to the bone.
Dylan: This is a good question, Ziah! And one that the episode inadvertently brings up and never answers even a little! And it’s not like they don’t also produce a TV show on this same network that deals with time travel on a weekly basis. But yeah, She-Cisco is there from Earth-19 to bring him to justice, and then he’s in meta-jail, and then he’s out of meta-jail, and then they have to chase him through the streets. This part of the episode only takes about five minutes, padded out by LinLian drama, and, our next topic: Cisco’s amazing thirst for She-Cisco. It’s bad, right?
Ziah: I love that the STARios literally call him on it while he's talking to She-Cisco. Incredible. Hornt-up Cisco is my favorite Cisco. Cis-ready-to-Co.
Dylan: He has a girlfriend, but you wouldn’t know her. She’s from another universe and she also had Breach powers and also, uh, she’s a model.
Ziah: Cisco all telling people that he’s dating a bounty hunter, but like, a sexy one. She’s got her own Discovery channel show.
I will say this episode made me feel a bit of sympathy for the writers, in that it must be tough writing arcs for characters when you have such a giant cast and have to explain all this nonsensical science stuff. Thrells was off-screen almost the whole episode, and Wally was so quiet I honestly thought it would be a plot point of its own, but there was just too much going on. No wonder they stuck Jay in the Speed Force and sent Jesse on a vacation. Lot going on.
Dylan: Wally had, what, two lines? If that? And yeah, I’m not complaining, but Thrells being gone was kind of glaring the entire time. And then they had to kill off Caitlin! (Only for her to go full Killer Frost.)
Ziah: Killer Frost is in Justice League comics, so I’m sure she’s got a redemption arc. It’s funny, if you’d asked me a few months ago if I would’ve been excited for this, I’d have said yes, cause Danielle Panabaker hams it up as Frost, but I actually liked her this episode! Her bits with Julian were starting to really gel, so I’m a bit disappointed, T B H.
Dylan: Yeah, after having to work real hard to have her in a spot where she’s engaged in the plot, it’s kind of a bummer to see her and Julian put on hold for a bit, but I can’t fault them for wanting to give her something to do.
Ziah: I did really like Cisco reminding everyone that no one could operate on her because she’s the only doctor! It’s nice when I remember that the STARios all have different skill-sets and such.
Dylan: Yeah! It was cool, and her no-nonsense talking Julian through it was, as you said, super cool. And you have to admit, it’s a nice cliffhanger to leave us on while the show takes a break for a month. (I’m gonna miss you, Z.)
Ziah: We can still chat once a week for a few hours! We’ve got our Dad-Bot-Cop pitch to work on! Plus, we’ve got three weeks to bug Andrew about letting us review Crazy Ex-Girlfriend next year.
Dylan: I feel like we should have more to talk about, but the sad fact is that there was a lot of real tedious wheel-spinning this episode between the very few actually-interesting things that happened in this episode. Maybe I’ve seen too much of this show and just I’m being mean? Or was this sort of a dull one?
Ziah: Man, for real. I’ve actually been kind of annoyed at how good some of the character work has been, and how much individual actors (Jesse L. Martin this episode, Keiynan Lonsdale in that speed force episode, Tom Cavanagh every week)...
Dylan: Let the record show that Dylan is rolling his eyes at this last one.
Ziah: ... bring to the table, and how much the overall plot writing has failed them. It’s a real push-and-pull, and when Abra Kadabra (a villain I’ve been looking forward to for months!) showed up, I was just bored until the STARios stuff.
Dylan: Even a lot of the interpersonal stuff was just dull. The Caitlin/Julian stuff was dragged out, the Joe stuff was unnecessarily dwelled on, the Cisco/She-Cisco stuff was beat into the ground, the mystery-solving was just obvious --- golly, maybe the future man is robbing tech places to build a time machine! --- I don’t know. The lack of economy is really frustrating at this point. Anyway, next episode we’re going… to the future! Are you stoked?
Ziah: I guess! As long as all the cast plays descendents of themselves, and we get a new Joe West (or since it’s the future, J0-E West-Allan) job, I’m at least a little interested. I guess the time travel stuff just bugs me, because they’re never going to actually have a consistent take on it, with this show, Legends of Tomorrow, and just past seasons of The Flash, so I wish they’d stop acting like knowing the future helps in any way, but whatever. That’s just a personal hang-up.
Dylan: Oh man, I hope this means we get some super-dodgy old person makeup. It is literally my favorite thing on these shows because brother, it is Very Bad.
Ziah: Dylan, that’s what we’ll all look like someday. It might not look good, because aging is terrible, but four out of five dermatologists agree.
Dylan: And who am I argue with four out of five dermatologists? Anyway, see you in a month! Keep on Flashing, folks!