The Flash S3: E3 – 'Magenta'

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Television
3.5

The Flash got off to a very rocky start acclimating Barry and the rest of us to a brand new Flashpoint universe, which now appears to be set in stone. With that in mind, perhaps the best strategy for episode 3 is to focus it less on Flashpoint and let some other Season 2 loose ends get tied up.

As such, Magenta answers the call by letting the second Harrison Wells and the first Jesse “Quick” Wells come back from last year’s big new universe in Earth-2, which now has one new potential hero

WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW

After two episodes, the Season 3 credits are introduced for the first time, as Grant Gustin's opening narration is ironically getting more solemn while Stephen Amell's gets brighter on Arrow. This intro is also the most wordy of the bunch so far, and the fact it ends on the same "I introduced our world to new threats and I'm the only one fast enough to stop them" line is either a sign of repetition for the credits, the series as a whole or both.

One thing different is that Barry and Iris have officially started dating, although their beginning isn't exactly a fast one. Given that Barry was villainized for enjoying the benefits of a new time line while others suffered in Flashpoint, it is a bit hard to shake that feeling in this revised and permanent Flashpoint-esq world too, even with several major personal issues resolved last week.

But there are a few issues still bursting towards the surface, and they get closer with the return of Harry and Jesse. The latter has finally lived up to the nickname of Quick with her new speedster powers, and the former is doing a poor job of disguising his fear about it by insisting on tests. What's more, it is the worst time for Wally to see that the only other person hit by a particle accelerator blast months ago has powers and he still doesn't.

This is also a good time to point out Barry knows Wally had Flash powers in Flashpoint and still hasn't told him, Joe or anyone else. It's fair to assume this won't be the last time Barry should get nitpicked for such a lie of omission, especially as Dr. Alchemy keeps giving other people their Flashpoint powers back and surely has Kid Flash on his list.

But with Wally's rather reckless stunts in trying to trigger any powers, maybe the show thinks it justifies Barry's lying, even more so than Flashpoint Wally almost dying with powers. After all, the Wally in Magneta would probably rush off to find Alchemy himself if he knew the truth, if he hasn't thought of it already. At the least, these mental gymnastics are a tiny bit more plausible than the ones used to justify Oliver keeping his son a secret last season. Still, the price will surely be high when Alchemy likely exposes the truth in painful fashion first.

For now, Alchemy has others in his sights first, such as a foster kid who had a split personality even before she got powers. Thanks to Alchemy's magic stone, this dark side of little Frankie comes out as a powerful metal controlling meta called Magenta. And it is probably no coincidence that she also shares the first three letters in her name as Magneto, can rearrange the next three letters in her name to spell net, and has a vowel to end her name that's A instead of O.

Magneto was shaped by the pain of the Holocaust, whereas Frankie's is shaped by a life in the foster system and an abusive foster parent. As it turns out, this is the second Flash season in a row where the third episode involves a villain who was abused by a parent. Last year it was Captain Cold and his sister, but Magenta/Frankie isn't that far gone yet, despite both Magenta and Alchemy pushing to make that happen.

Jesse is all too eager to help do something about it, all as her father panics and keeps recruiting people to talk her out of it. Since his overprotectiveness manifested in murder and in serving Zoom for a time last season, this is technically an improvement for Harry. Tom Cavanagh certainly gets a fair share of comedic rambling in his return to the show, albeit with a few more "Not" gags than probably needed.

Caitlin turns out to be less helpful for Harry, and not just because Jesse plays the gender card on her. Now that we know she has hidden Killer Frost powers thanks to Barry's mishaps, she is the second Flashpoint related ticking clock on a countdown towards disaster. Yet here, she actually does push Harry to nurture Jesse's powers in the end, although it's revealing that she says Jesse would be better off being helped by someone who doesn't think her powers will lead to doom, since it seems she isn't ready to seek that out for herself.

For his part, Harry is also held back by his own residual guilt, something he and Barry clearly relate to midway through. Considering how everyone quickly forgave Barry for altering their lives at the end of last week, even the formerly bitter Cisco, maybe it's only fitting that Barry still can't forgive himself yet. But doing so becomes a key theme in getting through to Magenta, whether or not Barry has really earned it at this early point.

The show itself still has some ways to go in proving it has earned trust back, and in proving that the Flashpoint twists and permanent changes will yield a real long term good. Magenta does get the process going in being the first Season 3 episode to go back to basics, and not get drowned out by time line antics and screw ups. It also settles back in with elements like Cavanagh, moments like Joe explaining the concept of a "cop dad", the old "Run [name here], run" catch phrase making a comeback, big metal special effects and a moving guest turn from Joey King as the troubled Frankie/Magenta.

The WestAllen shippers also get a big ending for the second week in a row, despite the hiccups of their first real attempt at dating. It also seems they're barely waiting to drop the anvil/red herring of suspicion that Tom Felton's Barry distrusting CSI could be Alchemy. Julian does prove to be good at his day job in figuring out Frankie's other half, although his lack of tact afterwards nearly costs him, if his triggering of Frankie was indeed unintentional.

Those answers could still be a half-season away, as The Flash is mainly getting back on its feet right now and settling into a post Flashpoint world. It should aim to go smoother than the process used to create that world, with Magenta being the first step in the right direction, and hopefully not just for Jesse, Harry and WestAllen.