"Magenta" - The Flash S03E03 Review

"Magenta" made me super happy for a number of reasons, the primary one being that it was very female-centric. Plus, the episode had good pacing and all-around good action and dialogue. Even the freak-of-the-week element was well done, and more than just background noise like these one-off challenges to Flash usually are. Overall a really strong showing as The Flash gets back to what made it a great and fun show way back in season one.

(spoilers below the fold)

The episode starts with Barry and Iris going on awkward date as they try to make that whole thing work. But because superheroes, it gets interrupted as they need to run back to deal with a breach at STAR Labs. 

It's not just any breach though! Queue my happy dance, because Harrison Wells (of Earth-2) is back, and so is badass daughter Jesse, who, the team discovers, is now a speedster. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am to finally have Quick on the show! Jesse is such a fun character to begin with and watching her happily zoom around was such a pleasure. Bonus points for having a female speedster that doesn't get disintegrated within 30 minutes (like last season). Having Jesse help out Barry in the end fight, and hearing Wells speak the magic words ("Run, Jesse. Run!) made my heart skip a beat, no lie. 

I would be super psyched to have super speed too, Jesse!
Besides Harry spending the episode being a somewhat annoying "dad" as he tries to quell Jesse's desire to be super, Wally was kinda depressed to see that Jesse got speedster powers and he didn't, even though they were zapped at the same time by the particle reactor last season. Wally spends the episode moping about his lack of powers. While I really want to see him take on his role as Kid Flash, I maybe could have done without the mopey dude routine. 

One can see his incoming idiocy a mile away though. His character arc this season is predictable as hell. He desperately wants powers, he seemed to allude to having dreams about being a speedster, and he was willing to try something crazy to activate his powers after Jesse tells him how her powers came to be. 

Yeah, dude, no. I'm pretty sure that won't work...
After getting more details on how Magenta, this episode's freak-of-the-week got her powers from Doctor Alchemy, well I'm sure we can all see where this is going to end up. Wally, dude... don't make deals with the devil. 

This can't be good...
Let's talk about what I thought was a real strong point of this episode. Magenta is another meta made by Doctor Alchemy after she has dreams of her alternate flashpoint life. She's a foster kid who has spent most of her life going from one bad foster home to another, and is currently in a really bad place with an abusive-as-fuck foster dad. Doctor Alchemy manipulates her inner pain and rage by promising that she'll have the power to never be hurt again. And indeed, Magenta, who seems to be rather Magneto-like in power, attacks her foster father John after he comes home acting like an asshole. No sympathy from me, tbh.

But Magenta, the rather malevolent meta human, hasn't completely overtaken over the scared, hurting girl, Frankie Kane.

Despite Magenta nearly dropping a freaking tanker ship on a hospital just to kill John (and you know, like everyone else in the damn place), Frankie doesn't die at the end of the episode, and actually Team Flash lets her go after a solid pep talk about how she can remain in control of Magenta and that the Flash believes in her. Caitlin even finds her a good foster home with loving people, which is what this poor girl actually needs.

Don't piss this chick off, or she'll go Magneto on your ass...
I love Frankie and hope we see her again sometime. In the span of a single episode, we got her background, origin story, and her pain. And while her foster dad was one-dimensional as hell, it was nice to see tv address an invisible problem in this country: there are a ton of abused, scared, lonely kids shuffling around our foster system, and a lot of times they end up with abusive parents. The Flash never sought to suggest a fix for this systematic, realistic, and massive issue. But the fact that it was brought to light at all was a nice touch. 

We all have that one co-worker...
 Julian was around in this episode just enough to annoy the piss out of Barry, which is always fun. He was also a huge asshole to Frankie and shouted at her, which brought out Magenta, who decided to redecorate the CCPD a bit. The obvious fan theory floating out there is that Julian is Doctor Alchemy, but I'm not buying it. Julian is somewhat obsessive with figuring out the human husks left behind when Alchemy creates a meta, so if Julian was Alchemy, why would he be doing that? A clue to Julian's true identity may have come from the episode opener, where he seemed obsessed with making sure Barry didn't leave the office until the exact time he's supposed to, and not a minute sooner. There are supervillains in the DC multiverse that are obsessive about time. I'm more inclined to think Julian is one of them.

Bons points for Barry mimicking Julian's accent just to annoy him. I'm enjoying the adversarial nature of their relationship.

There was a second mildly awkward date between Barry and Iris which had a sweet moment, but then he had to run back to work, because of course he did. And he stranded her out in the middle of nowhere in the process. What a gentleman!

Those bedroom eyes, though... Barry stop fucking this up, seriously. 

It was fabulous to have Harry back, which brought some much-needed levity back to the show. As usual with The Flash, there were some touching moments as Harry and Jesse try to understand each other in this strange new world of Jesse's powers. There was also Joe and Wally bonding as Wally struggles with his desire for powers. Iris was once again relegated to romance fodder, and it was once again a total waste of Candace Patton. And Caitlin had a role in reluctantly trying to talk Jesse out of using her powers after Harry begs her to do so, but ultimately Caitlin blowing up at Harry about being a jerk and not trying to understand Jesse fixes the problem between dad and daughter. Lordie, when are Caitlin and Iris going to get to do something besides fix emotional problems for all the men? FFS...

Besides the obvious incoming birth of Wally into Kid Flash, this episode gave us knowledge of something really, really important to the wider Berlantiverse. You might have blinked and missed it.

When Harry and Jesse arrive from Earth-2, they start seeing things--like Caitlin's new speedster test area--that they hadn't seen before. That's when they find out that Barry has made changes to the timeline (which Harry rightfully growls at him over).

In other words, Flashpoint didn't make any changes to the timelines of other Earths. Earth-2 was completely unaffected, which means that Earth-S, Supergirl's universe, is also unchanged. Only Arrow is actually going to have changes in its timeline, since it exists within Barry's world.

This may also explain why the Legends of Tomorrow might be unaware of the changes Barry has made. Even though they all came from Barry's world, they exist out of time (and therefore not on the same plane of existence at Barry) while on the Waverider, so Barry's mucking around may not be immediately noticeable. I'm not entirely sure this explains why Gideon wouldn't pick up on it anyway, since it should blip as an anomaly in time. Of course, the Legends don't realize it yet, but they do have a speedster mucking around with time. Reverse-Flash is zooming around out there, thanks to Barry bringing him back to the present. We'll see where this leads...

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.