The Flash S03E03 “Magenta” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Barry takes Iris on a date where they try to act like a normal couple, and it’s very dull.
- Earth-2 Wells emerges from the breach with daughter Jesse… who’s a speedster now.
- Wally is immediately jealous that he hasn’t developed powers too.
- Wells is here ostensibly to get Jesse tested… but he actually wants Team Flash to try to discourage Jesse from becoming a superhero (which is a bit like going to pub to get help for an alcoholic, but there you go…!)
- Wells also immediately recognises that there have been changes to this time line; Barry fesses up: Wells gets on his high horse.
- Meanwhile, Alchemy has awoken another Flashpoint meta by turning Frankie Kane into the metal-manipulating
Magneto… Magenta who nearly kills Frankie’s abusive dad with a street lamp.
- While The Flash tries to deal with Magenta, Jesse gets fed up with everyone trying to tell her not to be a hero and Wally gets fed up with everyone telling him he doesn’t need powers to be a hero, just qualifications. Yeah right.
- Anyway, when Magenta goes full-on psycho and threatens to drop a ship on the hospital where here dad is being treated the Flash alone cannot defeat her so…
- …Wells tells Jesse to go be a hero. Hurrah!
- So Jesse deals with the ship (by creating a super updraft by running really fast in a figure of eight) while Barry helps Frankie re-emerge to defeat Magenta.
- Team Flash sends Frankie to Keystone city to recuperate and they get her to promise to phone if she begins feeling all evil again (anyone else see a problem or few with this plan?).
- Cisco makes a costume for Jesse – or Jesse Quick as she’ll be known.
- Barry and Iris have a much better date when they agree he can be all super.
- Joe shows Barry and Julian a video of Edward Clariss being beaten to death in his cell by what looks like an invisible meta. The last thing Clariss says is, “Alchemy”.
Whether over protective, abusive or rubbish at communicating, fathers are getting just about everything wrong with their kids in “Magenta” – to begin with at least. Eventually Harrison Wells and daughter Jesse settle their differences, but Joe and Wally only ever reach the point of a pretend understanding while Frankie Kane/Magenta gets to see her foster dad locked up before she escapes to another city to be rid of him.
Parent/child conflict is a staple of American drama. It can also be a crutch. William Hurt spent a whole press tour once trying to convince journalists that Lost In Space was a movie about a father/son relationship, not about robots and space monkeys. No one believed him. But often scriptwriters will lob in a bit of artificially generated generational conflict in an attempt to bring some emotional depth to an otherwise action-driven script. It’s the easy option.
And in “Magenta” we have that times three which should put it on a collision course for Schmaltz Central. But this is The Flash, a show that habitually embraces extreme cheese and turns into the most palatable of TV dinners. And it does so again here with ease. This isn’t an action show masquerading as a relationship drama, it’s a relationship drama that sparks the action.
After all, it’s fun watching Wells get all stressed out because his little girl is growing up; it makes him wave his arms about more wildly than ever before and lash out with extreme grumpiness. And it’s fun watching Wally sulk like a puppy whose had his squeaky toy taken away from him, just as it’s fun watching Joe administer the most hopeless father/son talk. And while Magenta’s plan to drop a ship on a hospital to get revenge on her dad is the ultimate sledgehammer to crack a nut scenario, it’s still good to hear that the abusive oaf has been put away by episode’s end.
Having said all that, while the show does deal with all this emotional stuff (plus Barry’s dating problems with Iris) with its usual slick economy, there’s so much of it in the episode that it doesn’t leave much room for a plot. And while it’s great to have Wells back and as sarcastic as ever, it would have been nice for him to have more to do. Usually with scenarios like these, the fledgling hero has to have a knock-back before proving themselves in battle; instead we just get Jesse going, “I can do this!” and then doing it. It’s fine. It’s entertaining. But it’s just a little skimpy.
The same could be said with all of the plot strands this week. There’s lots of potential in here for some really meaty drama but instead everything is dealt with in the broadest of strokes. It works fine; it just not what you’d call gobsmacking, jawdropping or shocking.
Another solid episode, then, but we’re still waiting for season three to kick into gear properly.
- Wells is back! And he’s as gloriously acerbic as ever.
- Jesse makes a really cute Speedster.
- One of Cisco’s t-shirts is the BEST T-SHIRT EVER (until his next best t-shirt ever).
- The special FX sequence with the floating, upside-down ship hovering over the hospital is pretty impressive for a TV show.
- Julian Albert is still proving good entertainment value.
- Keiynan Lonsdale’s sulky Wally face has a great workout.
- Wally and Jesse still make a great double act.
- The opening scene showing Barry’s own extreme form of clockwatching is a great way of getting across what it’s like to be speedster in a slow-motion world.
- And, of course, Wells saying, “Run, Jesse, run,” is a prime piece of The Flash cheesiness, guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat of all true fans. (Just in case you don’t get it, versions of Wells have been urging Barry to, “Run, Barry, run,” all through the first two seasons.)
- The speed lab may be big, but it’s not the most excitingly designed set on the show. There’s something a bit “Saturday night game show” about it.
- Why would Iris want the date to be “powers”-free? Based on what we’ve seen previously, it’s more likely that it would be Iris going “bring on the powers” and Barry going, “I want to know you can love me for me, not for my speed”. Instead, Iris here comes across a little wet.
- Magenta is another in a long line of barely-fleshed-out villains.
- Did Jesse have to tell everyone that Wally stepped out in front of a truck? That’s hardly teen solidarity!
- Three sets of father/child relationship woes in one episode? That’s not laying it on thick; that’s using a dumpster truck.
And The Random:
- Anybody else wondering how Iris is supposed to get home after Barry whisked her off to (we assume) Coast City then just left her there when Joe called him back to the CCPD HQ to show him something he could have texted him?
- Jesse Quick was first introduced in Justice Society Of America Vol 2 #1 (1992). She was the daughter of daughter of Golden Age heroes Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. She went on to become the a partner of the Wally West version of the Flash.
- Frankie Kane/Magenta is played by Joey King who has already played another DC character; she was the young Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises.
- At the end of the episode Frankie is sent to Keystone City, which in the comics is where Wally West and Jay Garrick operated from.
- Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Magenta (right) first appeared in The New Teen Titans #17 (1982). For a while she was a member of a new team of Rogues. She was a childhood friend of Wally’s and briefly dated him at one point shortly after he became the Flash. When her powers first manifested Wally trained her and she joined the Teen Titans but increased used of her powers sent her crazy bad and she eventually joined the new Rogues. Any similarities between her and Magneto (or indeed his daughter Polaris) are purely coincidental – honest guv!
- If Barry wanted to be super cheesy on his first date with Iris why didn’t he create her name using irises instead of roses?
- When Harrison Wells says to Barry, “You know, I keep making mistakes. I make mistakes, and then I want to make up for my mistakes. Then I just make more mistakes,” he’s talking about Barry as much as he is himself, surely?
Review by Dave Golder