This is the episode in which we finally learn Savitar’s true identity…until it isn’t. After all, it’s already Flash tradition that the big reveals arrive in episodes immediately preceding an extended hiatus, and with the show vanishing from the CW schedule for the next month before returning with the final run of the season, this should have been the perfect time. That’s especially true since the “previously on” segment reminds us of Savitar’s claim to be “the future, Flash” (or “the future Flash”), and guest villain Abra Kadabra possesses the crucial information and holds it over our heroes’ heads for nearly the entire hour. Instead, the anticipated unmasking never materializes, and the big cliffhanger turns out to be the apparent death of a beloved character, followed by her immediate resurrection as a supervillain.
We’ll get to that later, but first let’s deal with Abra Kadabra, one of the classic Silver Age Flash villains only now making his belated debut on the series. Originally a resident of the 64th century, Kadabra is the embodiment of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law (with which Caitlin and Cisco are both familiar, natch): “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Kadabra has arrived in present day Central City and is making the rounds of various tech companies, rounding up gear he will use to building a time machine to return home. As played by David Dastmalchian (who has previously appeared as a Joker henchman in both The Dark Knight and Gotham), Kadabra has a vaguely creepy look and a scenery-gnawing delivery out of the Wentworth Miller playbook (though nowhere near as entertaining). As with Mirror Master earlier this season, the writers haven’t quite figured out how to fit him into this world; a couple of his tricks are fun (the spray of playing cards Barry runs through is very much a comic book panel come to life), but that aspect of his character is underutilized.
Instead, ”Abra Kadabra” is more concerned with his knowledge of the future; specifically, his awareness of the details of Iris’ death and Savitar’s true identity. Since Kadabra has also caused mayhem on Earth-19, Gypsy breaches into STAR Labs with the intent of taking him back to be executed for his crimes. Because those crimes include the murder of her partner, it’s personal for her, which is bad news for Cisco. I confess I’m not a big fan of the Cisco/Gypsy dynamic at all. His behavior whenever she’s around is kind of gross and overbearing, and if she’s attracted to him at all, Jessica Camacho is doing an almost subliminal job of conveying it. Her performance in this episode is particularly one-note, as Gypsy’s thirst for revenge renders her an unpleasant presence.
Humor is in short supply all around this week, mainly because we don’t see HR until the closing minutes. The major subplot concerns the Caitlin/Julian relationship, which is a source of very little interest. He’s lost trust in her since she took a piece of the Philosopher’s Stone in hopes of ridding herself of her powers. She proves her trust in him after she’s impaled during Kadabra’s escape from the vault and is forced to direct Julian as he performs meatball surgery on her wound. This greatly impresses Julian and they appear to be on course to happy coupledom, but this is Caitlin Snow, after all. Instead of the man she loves dying, however, she succumbs to her wounds and Team Flash is unable to revive her. That is, until Julian pulls off her power-dampening necklace, allowing her inner meta to run wild. She’s Killer Frost, and no matter how many times her friends tell her she doesn’t have to be evil to use her powers…well, she sure looks evil.
The highlight of the week is the capture of Abra Kadabra, which features some of the best speed effects we’ve seen in a while. In particular, there’s a building-hopping sequence that’s delivers vertiginous first-person thrills without feeling too much like a video game. Once he’s caught, however, he keeps his mouth shut, content to feel partially responsible for Iris’ impending death even as Gypsy leads him to his doom. His time machine has given Barry an idea, however. (Yep, buckle up because ol’ Barry is using his think-bone again!) He’ll travel to the future, past Iris’ death, to gather information about what will be, by then, history. Messing around with the timeline: It’s what he does best!
- In case you were hoping to see Iris murdered for the fifteenth time, Cisco vibes to the scene of the crime yet again to see if anything has changed.
- Did Abra Kadabra tip the season four Big Bad? In name-checking Barry’s biggest foes, he mentions Thawne, Zoom…and DeVoe. Would that be Cliff DeVoe, a.k.a. The Thinker? (By the way, Thawne, Zoom & DeVoe is my favorite ‘90s R&B group.)
- Jesse L. Martin praise where it’s due (which is almost always): he really sells Joe’s helplessness at knowing his daughter’s fate but having no idea how to stop it.
- I was so convinced this episode would end with the revelation that Savitar is Barry that I now think there’s no way Savitar is Barry. Maybe that was the plan?
- Of course Barry wants the Hamilton tickets. If Iris dies, at least he can sell those for big bucks!