NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of “The Flash” are present in this review
Now that the founding seasonal glue of Flashpoint and its fallout seems to be fully set, The Flash fell back on its usual formula for this week’s episode, “Magenta.” Fortunately, this actually seemed to work in the show’s favour, as Season Three started to hit a more confident, consistently entertaining stride, introducing a great metahuman-of-the-week, as well as finding a solid incentive to bring back Harrison Wells and Jesse Quick from Earth-Two.
That latter point is especially important, since Jesse has manifested speedster abilities, after coming into contact with the dark matter wave during the events of Season Two, which seems to have been undisturbed by the Flashpoint mess. Wells takes Jesse back to Earth-One to have tests run on her at S.T.A.R. Labs, though before long, his motive becomes very clear; Wells wants Caitlin and Cisco to talk Jesse out of taking up The Flash’s mantle and becoming a speedster superhero on her parallel Earth.
Wells worrying about his daughter is only natural, though this did serve as an interesting opportunity to see some of Caitlin’s discomfort when addressing powered people. As we know, the fallout of Flashpoint has given Caitlin Killer Frost-esque ice powers that she’s now hiding from the rest of the team, and this makes her a strangely fitting confidant for both Jesse and Wells, who don’t see eye-to-eye about Jesse having powers. Caitlin eventually convinces Wells to give Jesse’s heroic urges a chance, especially when the episode’s climax really calls for it, but the real interesting point is when she starts shouting at Wells as if he were her own parent that was shutting her out. Has Caitlin tried contacting one of her own parents, likely also a scientist, to try and deal with her manifesting abilities? That would surely be an interesting turn for her character’s development later in the season.
Another strong point in this episode was the latest metahuman threat, Magenta, our latest C-list DC Comics character from the New Earth catalogue of largely unknown metahumans. Magenta is a lesser-known heroine that served as a girlfriend to Wally West and a member of the Teen Titans in DC Comics lore, and she also serves as another particularly appealing metahuman-of-the-week this week, having an interesting and conflicted character that presents another complicated foe, rather than just another Alchemy-powered thug. This continues The Flash’s strange pattern of the female metahumans constantly being the best ones, but in any case, it still made Magenta a very interesting threat, especially when it comes out that Magenta’s metahuman abilities are the result of a volatile alternate personality that is fighting for control of her mind, after Alchemy empowers it.
Magenta having an abusive foster father also complicates matters further, motivating her to eventually put him in the hospital, and, after leading the CCPD and The Flash around for a bit, she uses her metal-manipulating abilities to hold a tanker over Central City Hospital, threatening to drop it so she can kill her father, even if it means killing everyone else inside as well. Barry manages to suspend the tanker with a wind funnel, but he can’t stop Magenta and suspend the tanker at the same time, which is where Jesse has to come in and help save the day. This use of Jesse and Barry was very clever, and fortunately, they manage to save the day without anyone getting hurt, safely leading Magenta’s kindly good side, Frankie Kane, to a better life in Keystone City. Job well done all around, especially when Jesse gets to glimpse her familiar outfit from DC Comics lore at the end of the episode, which Cisco and Caitlin apparently put together for her off-screen.
The episode worked well where it counted, though The Flash isn’t fully up to its A-game yet this week either, since this week’s episode still suffered from a couple of faulty subplots. Chief among these was Wally bellyaching about not manifesting speedster powers of his own, going as far as to step out into traffic like a dope to try and trigger them, which feels stupid, even for him. The Wally storyline was largely tedious unfortunately, and it felt resolved strangely easily with a few talks from Detective West, which made it feel like it was hardly worth kicking up a fuss about.
Similarly, a strained effort by Barry and Iris to have a proper first date also didn’t really work that well in the end. The two find that a first date effort is weird, only to be called away to their respective duties, then Barry tries a more interesting second date in what is probably Coast City (at least the show was kind enough not to tease us about Green Lantern again this time), only to speed off when he’s needed, again. That was the whole subplot, and to add insult to injury, it concluded the episode’s main events and led into the epilogue, where Barry, Julian and Detective West see the security footage of Alchemy murdering Edward Clariss/The Rival. This date subplot just felt really half-baked and pointless, unfortunately, and it might have been better if the show had just put Barry and Iris’ dating efforts aside for now, to be saved for an episode where they could be better fleshed out and more entertaining.
All in all though, now that we’ve gotten the obligatory Flashpoint setup and fallout out of the way, The Flash is starting to move up to its regular speed and quality again. “Magenta” managed to show the best side of this show’s long-running, metahuman-battling traditions, while also providing a sharp introduction for the new and improved speedster rendition of Jesse Quick. The subplots with Wally and the Barry/Iris romance were duds for the most part, unfortunately, but at least we’ve got promising developments on the horizon that are hopefully better. It’s enough to make one wonder; Who are the Rogues in this new timeline, and why haven’t they shown their faces yet?
The Flash leaned more on tradition this week, presenting a great metahuman antagonist amidst a couple of less impressive subplots.