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The Flash season 3 episode 18 recap: trying to rekindle the magic

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It’s another interesting week for Team Flash

CW

This week, we open on the Flash family having to deal with too many Hamilton tickets, but they can only be claimed if everyone in the family is still alive in two months. I, too, love to start the evening on an overwhelmingly dark note musical theater note. Meanwhile a new baddie, Abra-Kadabra, has drowned two men through the use of a magic trick. It appears to be a beacon to summon Barry, and indeed Abra-Kadabra knows the identity of our hero right off the bat. Luckily, Gypsy returns from Earth 19 to come hunt the evil magician, and maybe rekindle a romance with Cisco.

For the second week in a row, we wind up with a multi-dimensional prankster who can just appear in Team Flash’s Central Command Center and make everything into a joke.

Turns out Abra-Kadabra is from the future where Barry has been at his throat for years. Right off the bat, this seems preposterous because Abra-Kadabra is one of the most obvious and quickly defeated villains in the show’s history. He literally tries to deflect Barry with a fake arm and a deck of cards. As if to retroactively take a dump on my good time, this villain feels like a less clever version of Music Meister — not to mention less threatening, present and interesting.

Abra-Kadabra pulls off half of an attack before surrendering immediately to Barry. He promises the gift of Savitar's defeat if Barry refuses to hand him over to Gypsy and certain death on her planet. Gypsy doubles down on this bounty on account of Abra-Kadabra being responsible for the death of her unnamed former partner. Cisco is hurt by this, but not nearly as hurt as Caitlin, who winds up in the emergency room after taking taking a pipe through the body as a result of Abra-Kadabra's escape attempt.

The result is another ethical dilemma between Barry and the future. This time, Joe is the one who blinks. He tries to make a deal with Abra-Kadabra for his daughter's life and that nukes everything in Team Flash. Caitlin winds up having to lead Julian through her own surgery while awake, which goes well at first, but winds up leading to her death -- and rebirth as an unbound Killer Frost.

Meanwhile, Barry makes the adult choice for once, and allows Gypsy to take Abra-Kadabra back to her world instead of freeing a bad dude for the sake of possibly off-setting Iris' impending doom. Abra-Kadarba taunts Barry with the knowledge that he is now complicit in Iris' death, but honestly, how long will it be until Barry decides to dive head-first into changing the future?

Two minutes. Two minutes later, Barry announces he's going to run into the future and tackle the problem head-on. No one here ever learns from their mistakes, do they?

There's a point in the episode where Abra-Kadabra taunts Barry for being the fastest man alive but still too slow to save Iris. The weirdo pan-dimensional magician may not be a threat, but his evaluation of Barry's failings is shockingly present. If no one in this show ever evolves, they'll always wind up in the same disasters. Barry can run into a different age but he can't run into maturity — and that's a risk Barry and the show itself are willing to risk again.

This episode leaves a few threads undone, and a future completely untethered. At the very least, this is an opening for something genuine to occur in the weeks to come. Give us stakes, give us a chance, give us destruction and the possibility for re-engineering the dynamics of this show. The Flash is meant to run, and we've never seen the rest of the team try to catch up on this scale. Challenge everyone and let a few fall. That's the best we can hope for.