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Trauma, Crisis fallout and Abra Kadabra’s redemption (?!) in the latest Flash

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Mar 23, 2021, 9:41 PM EDT

With the Mirrorverse saga finally in the rearview, umm, mirror, Team Flash and all of Central City started looking toward the future and healing this week. But first they have to deal with the lingering trauma of having half the city ripped away into the nightmarish Mirrorverse.

Spoilers ahead for “Central City Strong,” the latest episode of The CW’s Flash, which aired Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

This is a series that often wears its main theme on its sleeve, but this week that earnestness worked to its favor. Iris is struggling to process the pain of the three months she spent in the Mirrorverse, which manifests in her inability to tell her story for the Citizen while reporting on the attack. Barry is still processing his own failure to realize he was spending all that time living in the same house as a mirror version of his wife, which he is trying to make up for with elaborate surprises thanks to his Speed Force powers.

And even the baddie of the week is dealing with trauma, which makes for a surprisingly personal exploration of grief in a post-Crisis world. Abra Kadabra returns to Central City and starts assembling these mysteries disks to create an antimatter bomb designed to destroy the city. He also murders an innocent bystander, which as Joe points out, is a pretty massive escalation for the typically gimmicky sci-fi magician from the future.

It turns out Kadabra’s motivations tie back to the events of Crisis. After he faced the Flash a few seasons ago, Barry urged Kadabra to find what he loves in his own life. Turns out, he did — and he had a loving wife and a sone he adored. But all that changed in the wake of the Crisis on Infinite Earths. While living his life in the 64th century, Kadabra starts having dreams about a life he never lived, so he raids some ancient Team Flash tech from the future Flash museum — specifically the martian memory-restorer ring used to bring back original memories from the pre-Crisis world.

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Kadabra realizes the life he’s lost, and yeah, it is kind of The Flash’s fault in a roundabout way there. So he does everything to figure out a way to set that original timeline back, but nothing works. So he finally just comes back to the present day to try and blow up Central City, just so the Flash could feel the loss that he’s feeling. It’s one of those stories that we haven’t seen explored all that much in the fallout of Crisis, but it rings true. Millions of lives were altered by this multiversal shake-up, and we got to explore that here in a nuanced way.

Barry appeals to Kadabra’s humanity, and convinces him that this is no way to honor the wife and child he loved. He tells him that he also lost loved ones in Crisis, most notably his brother: A friend named Oliver. The two reach an uneasy alliance, just in time for a mysterious killer monster — which looks like a zombie hulk in some ways — to kill Kadabra (though, who knows, maybe he'll return again thanks to that nifty magic of his) and almost kill Barry, before jumping away into the night. It absorbs the full weight of that antimatter bomb, plus a lightning toss, and takes it in stride. Yikes. So yeah, that certainly looks like a big ol’ mystery for the first half of this season.

Everyone else’s trauma, big twists

As for Iris, she spends much of the episode staring at a blank page, trying to avoid dealing with her own trauma. We get a look at how Central City as a whole is processing the fallout from the Mirroverse attack — remember, thousands of citizens were abducted by mirror versions during the assault — and that has taken the form of survivor groups (not unlike the ones seen in Avengers: Endgame, as survivors of The Blip try to make sense of their pain). Iris finally tackles her own pain, taking the time to speak at a meeting about how they all have a long way to go, but together the city can heal.

That mysterious multi-colored lighting glimpsed at the end of last week’s episode is still around. Could that be part of what brought about the hulk-like mystery baddie? Only time will tell.

So Frost and Caitlin are no longer stuck sharing one body. After dealing with a headache all episode, we finally realize what was causing all the problems — the two were getting ready to somehow split apart. Yeah, that’s right, we now have a Caitlin and a Frost. Two separate members of Team Flash.

Next week: This looks like a scary one, as nightmares come to life and start causing problems for Team Flash. Judging by the teaser, there will also be blood.