This The Flash review contains spoilers.
The Flash Season 3 Episode 3
For the second week in a row, The Flash opens with some absolutely perfectly, well, “Flash” moments (last week it was the “oh, look I just disassembled your motorcycle” thing). The first is Barry’s unfortunately shifted perceptions when he gets bored, which is touched on occasionally in the comics, but if I remember correctly it’s the first time they’ve done it here. The other was him trying to be romantic at super speed…and no, I don’t mean it that way you animals.
Anyway, “Magenta” was an inoffensively mediocre episode of The Flash. The good news is that they still managed to advance a couple of key stories along the way, and there were some truly impressive visual moments (the mid-air cop car rescue and the floating oil tanker looked really cool) which helped elevate things. This isn’t latter-half of season two bad or anything, it’s just a little disposable. I guess that’s to be expected. I feel like I can almost predict the rhythms of these seasons now. We opened with two exceptionally strong installments, so it’s only natural that we get stuck with a fairly pedestrian villain-of-the-week in Magenta this time around.
There are bright spots, though. Tom Felton continues to be one of them, and I can’t imagine that Julian is going to turn out to be as much of a dick as he appears to be here. It would just be too easy to make him Doctor Alchemy or whoever. I’m looking forward to learning more about this character. If he is indeed this season’s Eddie Thawne, it should be an interesting journey.
The return of Tom Cavanagh is certainly welcome. I still haven’t warmed to “Harry” Wells quite as much as I did to Harrison in season one, but I expect that will change this season since there’s far less baggage to be had. I love that Harry figured out that Barry was messing around with the timeline in like, two seconds. It also made for a nice in-story explanation for why Flashpoint didn’t affect the universe Supergirl takes place in. And yes, just like you, I was hoping Flashpoint would be the explanation to actually merge these universes, but that ain’t happening…at least not yet. Let’s just not overdo the “not” jokes. I lived through the ’90s and that was tiresome then.
I’m enjoying Wally’s “speed envy” angle, but they need to be careful not to beat us to death with it every week. Let this simmer in the background. In fact, the best thing this show can do is make us wait all year, or even longer, before they put Wally (back) in the yellow and red suit. When we finally get Wally in a costume again, that moment needs to be one of the biggest, most cathartic moments in series history, and the best way to do that is to earn it. They haven’t earned it yet (and to be honest, I’m not sure they’ve earned it with Jesse yet, either…but that costume looks cool!), but I’m sure they will. I just hope that it doesn’t mean Jesse needs to meet a tragic end or anything, first.
Alchemy, though, like the big bad from every season so far, is a striking visual. But at some point in the next few episodes he needs to step up and do something truly terrifying. Right now he’s just a powerful guy in a creepy plague doctor mask (nice touch), so we need him to shake up the status quo to really establish his presence.
I’m not exactly in love with the Alchemy/Flashpoint connection being the metahuman engine for this season. It just feels like something all of these shows should have moved beyond by now. It’s like the kryptonite freaks from Smallville or something. It just makes the whole world feel smaller when it’s all that intricately connected. On the other hand, I get that it’s the only way to give Magenta any kind of explanation here, because there wasn’t much more to work with in the source material (more on that down below). For that matter, it seemed like a bit of a leap for Barry to look at her and go, “Alchemy did this to you!” didn’t it? As long as this doesn’t pop up in every episode, I can deal.
So yeah, “Magenta” didn’t exactly light me up, but I’m still all in on this season’s mysteries. You know, like why Caitlin Snow is becoming a more assertive badass. Cool, right?
– Anyone notice that Barry’s “perfectly combed for a night on the town with Iris” hair looks more like comic book Barry’s 1950s square-ass crewcut?
Because I sure did.
Who is Magenta?
– So, despite having the laziest codename in superhero/supervillain history, Magenta (or Francine Kane) is a somewhat more interesting character than you might expect. For one thing, she’s been around even longer than I knew, first appearing in The New Teen Titans #17, where she was created by the legendary creative team of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
See? I didn’t know that until I sat down to write this.
For me, my first exposure to Frankie Kane was in the pages of the earliest issues of Flash when Wally West was the headliner. She was Wally’s girlfriend, magnetic powers and all, and most certainly not a superhero or villain at the time. They had a complicated relationship, and he was more keen on taking things to the next level than she was, and it didn’t work out.
So unlike here where Frankie’s powers already seem really well-developed, and she seems to have a full-blown split personality, things were a bit more of a slow burn in the comics. Every time she used her powers, it pushed her a little closer to the edge, and she started popping up in the comics every few years to give Wally a headache, first with a lame costume and no codename, and then again with a lamer costume and an even worse codename.
I feel like there was some potential here with her, but it never amounted to anything more than the superhero/villain equivalent of Wally being able to say “Man, my ex-girlfriend is really frakkin’ crazy,” which is pretty dopey. Oh, well. Maybe the TV version can return when Wally is headlining this show!
Seriously. “Magenta” get the hell out of here with that codename unless we’re talking Rocky Horror Picture Show stuff, in which case, you can stay.
– I’m really looking forward to seeing that Jesse Quick costume in action, though. It’s a different shade of red than Flash’s costume.
I suspect it will be a somewhat more practical (and obviousy Flash-themed) version of this suit, rather than her Golden Age gear.
What did I miss, speedsters? Let me know in the comments or shout ’em at me on Twitter!