"Please oh please won't somebody save me?!"
- Iris West
For all its progressivism and forward-thinkery, The Flash still has a glaring Iris West problem in that it won't just let the poor woman take a front-seat role in the plot to save her own life. We've seen how strong, capable, and take-no-bullshit she can be, which is why it's troubling to see her sitting around doe-eyed while her boyfriend and dad figure out what they can do to take matters into their own hands. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself.
"Abra Kadabra" finds Team Flash dealing with an eponymous villain who has magic powers that the show legit doesn't even bother to fully explain. He's from the future, that's all you need to know; Arthur C. Clarke reference. On the whole, he's a completely uninteresting villain with a completely boring motivation (he wants to return to the future from whence he came!), but Flash gives him an interesting detail that is supposed to make him worth an entire episode's runtime, even if they fail to wring any payoff whatsoever out of it by the time the credits roll. See, Kadabra apparently knows exactly who Savitar is, because he's also from the future. That's it. He has no other connection to the team or what they're going through, he is simply from the future and knows exactly who Savitar is apparently by virtue of just being aware of current events and world history. So our bad guy has a tangental relation to the plot, facilitated entirely by coincidence, but his decision to hold Savitar's identity over Team Flash's heads means we have to spend an entire hour with him.
This creates all kinds of complications as Gypsy shows up from Earth-19 fueled by both a personal and professional vendetta, demanding that Abra Kadabra be remanded to her custody. This idea causes Kadabra to panic immediately, and he quickly makes a bargain to share Savitar's identity in exchange for being spared Gypsy's wrath. Not only do we straight-up not learn this information, but towards the episode's end Kadabra's fear of Gypsy appears completely gone, and when she catches him he's instead just really glad that Iris is going to die and he didn't have to tell anyone who Savitar is.
And so, The Flash serves up roughly an hour of hand-wringing about whether or not trading Kadabra's freedom for Savitar's identity is the right thing to do, but in the end...it doesn't even matter. In fact, at one point Joe West offers to break Kadabra out of his STAR Labs prison, holding him at gunpoint and making it clear that he'd do anything for his daughter., which brings me up to that point I was making back at the beginning. Can you imagine how much more effectively this scene would have landed if Iris had been the one to hold Kadabra at gunpoint and demand to know Savitar's identity? If she had effectively gone behind the team's back as a last resort, giving a speech about how there is no way she'll let herself be used as a pawn in a personal war between two speedsters?
But no. Iris sits by and gently coaches the oh, so magic men in her life as to how they can go about saving her and fixing the world in the most ethical way possible, and my head doth continue to bang against this desk.
Oh, and also...
• On the whole? This season is a bit uneven, but is definitely an improvement on the one before it.
• Caitlin's seizure acting. Oof.
• Can we maybe get a limit of like...just four geek/pop culture references per episode?