Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Flash Season 3, Episode 3: Magenta

This week's episode of The Flash feels like a throwback to Season 1, complete with an old school "one & done" villain. That's not a bad thing, mind you. I could use a break from all the multiple Earths and ever-changing timelines.

It also features the welcome return of the Earth-2 Harrison Wells and his daughter Jesse, who's now a speedster just like Barry. I'm a bit worried that the show's going to overload on speedsters, if it hasn't already. At this rate the entire cast will all eventually develope super speed. That's why Magenta, this episode's villain of the week, seemed like a breath of fresh air.

For some reason The Flash writers are obsessed with explaining why there are so many metahumans in Central City. In Season 1, the particle accelerator explosion caused a ton of them to emerge. In Season 2, Zoom was importing metas from Earth-2. Now in Season 3 Alchemy is creating them to throw at the Flash. 

Why do we need an explanation for them in the first place? It's a comic book world! It's a given that it would be filled with superheroes and supervillains, plain and simple. There's no need for further justification.

This week's episode isn't Wally West's finest hour, as he spends most of it sulking like a five year old. I guess it makes sense for Wally, who's been obsessed with speed his entire life, to be jealous of Jesse's newfound powers, but his petulant attitude was a bit much. He did everything but stomp his feet and run crying to his room and flop face-first on his bed.

I'm betting Wally's jealously is a setup for a subplot in which Alchemy tempts him with superpowers of his own, giving us a "Fall From Grace/Redemption" 

Lastly, this episode practically pulled a hamstring dropping not-so-subtle hints that Julian Albert is secretly Alchemy. I'm hoping that won't be the case, because it's a bit too obvious.


The Plot:
Barry and Iris go on a date, that's quickly interrupted by Cisco. Superheroes! Dating them's worse than dating a doctor!

Barry (and Iris) zooms to STAR Labs, where Cisco informs him that a multiverse breach has opened in the basement. Weren't all the breaches permanently closed last season? Maybe that's another thing that's different in this timeline. Suddenly the Earth-2 Harrison Wells and his daughter Jesse pop out of the breach.

Harry says he came to Earth-1 because after being bathed by dark matter rays last season, Jesse's now developed superspeed. Again with the speedsters on this show! Harry wants to run tests on Jesse in the Speed Lab, which is apparently in this timeline. When Barry expresses surprise that they have a facility, Harry correctly guesses that he's gone into the past and altered the timeline again.

As they test Jesse's speed, a hurt and petulant Wally looks on, obviously jealous that he doesn't have superspeed as well, since he was hit by the same dark matter energy as Jesse. He leaves the lab in a huff.

Meanwhile, abusive jerk John Kane comes home from work and yells at his wife and foster daughter, Frankie. Terrified, Frankie's eyes begin glowing a bright pink. She turns to her foster father and says, "Sorry, John, Frankie's gone." Suddenly a street lamp crashes through the window and hits John, seriously injuring him.

Later at the Central City PD, Joe questions a confused Frankie Kane, who claims she doesn't remember what happened. Barry tells Joe that only someone with super strength could have bent the lamp post. 

Julian Albert takes Frankie's glass of water and examines it. He says it contains DNA residue similar to the mysterious "skin husks" they found last week. Julian confronts Frankie and begins screaming at her, proving he's not just a jerk to Barry, but an all-around asshole. He accuses Frankie of using her metahuman powers to try and kill her foster father. 

Frankie's eyes start glowing again, and she turns into her Magneto Magenta persona. She uses her magnetic powers to pull a large metal plaque off the wall and try to crush Julian with it. Barry suits up and saves him. Outside he tries to capture Magenta, but she tosses a police car at him and escapes.

Back at STAR Labs, Barry says he's sure that Alchemy gave Frankie her powers. Harry blames Barry's time meddling for this. Jesse finishes her speed tests, and is eager to become a superhero, much to Harry's chagrin. He asks Caitlin Snow to talk some sense into her. Caitlin tries, but Jesse figures out that Harry put her up to it. She confronts Harry, who says he doesn't want her to get hurt. She speeds off, and Wally follows. 

Jesse tells Wally she was hoping he'd get powers too, since they were both exposed to the dark matter. When he asks how her powers manifested, she says she was almost hit by a car and was able to zip out of the way in time. This gives Wally the incredibly bright idea to step into traffic, to try and jump start his powers. Frankie zips him out of the way just in time.

Magenta meets with Doctor Alchemy, telling him she wants to destroy the Frankie part of her personality. Alchemy says if Magenta shows Frankie how powerful she is, she'll never return.

Iris visits John Kane in the hospital, so the writers can place her in danger. She looks out the window and sees an enormous tanker ship flying toward Kane's room. Outside we see Magenta using her powers to lift the boat over the hospital, so she can crush it and kill her abusive foster father. 

The Flash arrives at the hospital and creates a wind funnel on the roof, to keep the ship from crashing down. Unfortunately he can't do that and capture Magenta on the ground at the same time. Harry realizes Barry needs help, and reluctantly tells his daughter to go help, uttering his catchphrase, "Run, Jesse, Run!"

Jesse then takes over for Barry and holds up the ship with her own updraft. Barry speeds down to the street and confronts Magenta. He uses a patented CW Believe In Yourself Pep Talk to convince Frankie she's a good person and strong enough to defeat Magenta. 

Apparently it works, because Frankie gains control, puts down the boat and says, "I'm so sorry!" as she hugs Barry.

So John Kane gets locked up for merely threatening his family (we never actually saw him it anyone), while Joe lets Frankie off scot-free because she wasn't in control of her body when she did all the bad things she did. That... doesn't seem fair. Barry says they've found her another foster home, and if Magenta ever pops up again, he'll be there to help.

Harry tells Jesse he's proud of her, and gives her a superhero costume, calling her "Jesse Quick."

Barry and Iris try to go on another date. Barry whisks Iris off to a pier and they admire the scenery. Just then he gets a call from Joe. Iris tells him it's OK to go, and he zooms off, leaving her stranded miles from home.

Joe shows Barry and Julian security footage of Edward Clariss, aka The Rival, being killed in his Iron Heights prison cell. He screams "Alchemy" as he dies.

 Suddenly there's a "Speed Lab" inside STAR Labs— a room devoted solely to testing and measuring the power levels of speedsters. And it's supposedly something that's always been there, despite the fact we've never seen it before. Chalk it up as another change resulting from Barry's timeline-meddling.

There's been a rash of new sets on all the Arrowverse shows this season. Over on Supergirl (yes, I know, technically she's not part of the Arrowverse), the Department Of Extra-Normal Operations has a brand new, spacious hi-rise headquarters. On Legends Of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter's Waverider timeship has a new library we've never seen. And now the Speed Lab on The Flash.

Are these new spaces all part of this new timeline? Or did The CW just find some extra money in the budget to build some new sets?

 In the preview for this episode, there's a scene of Harry wearing a hipsterish fedora. He uncharacteristically jokes around with the STAR Labs Gang by saying, "Greeting, Earthlings." 

Note that this scene doesn't appear in the actual episode. I'm assuming this is yet another version of Harry that's going to appear at some point in the future. Jesus, how many versions of him have there been now? Four? We briefly saw the actual Harrison Wells in a couple of flashbacks, we spent all of Season 1 with a Wells who was secretly Eobard Thawne, and then in Season 2 we got the Earth-2 version of him. Apparently we're getting a fourth version soon, from who knows where.

• Magenta appeared in The Flash comic, but was a very, very different character there.

The comic book Frances Kane grew up with Wally West (who became the Flash after Barry Allen died). She developed magnetic powers as a teen, and Wally helped her learn to control them. They ended up falling in love, and Frances joined the Teen Titans as Magenta.

The two eventually broke up, and the incident was so traumatic it caused Frances to develop a dark, twisted alternate personality.

Her story goes on and on, but basically she was possessed by the Cicada Cult, whatever the hell that is, and eventually joined the New Rogues, a team of supervillains bent on destroying the Flash.

• Wally leaps in front of a speeding truck, hoping a life-threatening situation will jumpstart his speed powers.

This reminds me a lot of Silver Age Superman comics, in which Lois Lane would jump off the Daily Planet building, in an effort to force Clark Kent into saving her and outing him as the Man Of Steel.

 Tom Felton's horrible "I Just Rolled Out Of Bed" non-hairstyle isn't doing him any favors. Expecto Part-Comb-It!

• Iris visit's Frankie's foster father in the hospital, and calls him "an abusive dick." Wow!

This isn't the first time someone's used the word on The Flash. Cisco said it way back in Season 1 in The Sound And The Fury, when discussing Dr. Wells' protege Hartley Rathaway, saying, "He was mostly a jerk, but every once in a while... he could be a dick."

I don't know why, but it surprises me every time someone says it on network TV. We're very near the end of civilization.

• In the episode's climax, Magenta uses her metal manipulating powers to lift a huge tanker ship, intending to drop it on top of a hospital (and her foster father's head). The Flash manages to talk her out of it, and she tosses the ship back into the harbor (I guess— the way the scene's shot it's not really clear just where the ship lands). 

Barry's lucky that he was able to get the evil and destructive Magenta aspect of Frankie's personality to listen to reason. Magenta's the one who actually has superpowers, not Frankie. If Magenta had weakened and Frankie had resumed control of her own body, then... bye-bye hospital!

• Harry (with Cisco's help) makes a speedster costume for Jesse. I guess we'll have to wait until next week to see her in it though. Nice tease, The CW.

• At the end of the episode, Barry and Iris try to go on another date. He zooms Iris to a pier... somewhere, and they admire the view. Barry gets a page from Joe, and zips away, leaving Iris stranded. What, he couldn't have zoomed her back? Are they even still in Central City? How the hell's she supposed to get back? Is she supposed to just stand there until he's finished and remembers to come back for her?

I'd have paid real money if the episode ended with an indignant Iris screaming, "Wait a minute... Where the hell am I? Is this even whatever state Central City's in? BARRRRRRRRY!!!!!!"

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