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The Flash – Magenta Review

"A return to superhero normalcy"

After the timeline-shattering shenanigans of the past two episodes, a return to (relative) normalcy was in order for The Flash. The primary antagonist for “Magenta” is a Goth girl who can manipulate metal—not exactly on the level of Reverse Flash or Zoom in terms of formidable adversaries. Instead, the focus of this episode is interpersonal relationships and the ways in which characters react to their insane sci-fi surroundings. The result is a relatively unexciting yet emotionally resonant episode of The Flash that seeks to ground its cast in the post-Flashpoint universe while hinting at a few of the changes to the status quo we previously knew.

One of those changes is that Barry and Iris are finally a couple after two seasons of “will they or won’t they?” romantic tension. Unlike the significant others of superheroes who are kept in the dark, Iris is solidly a member of Team Flash. Because she’s so in the loop, The Flash showrunners can sidestep the suspicious girlfriend cliché that has sunk so many a superheroic romance. If anything, Barry and Iris are initially uneasy because they’re not sure how to interact with one another within the bounds of a “normal” relationship. The audience has little doubt that they’ll ultimately figure it out—after all, the series hasn’t been very subtle about the fact that they’re fated to be together. Still, as with all unrequited romances it’s the longing that’s more interesting and not the actual fulfillment of that longing. There’s a very real danger that Barry and Iris will make for a boring couple because conflict is just inherently more interesting, particularly in a superhero universe.

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While Barry and Iris are at peace with the impossible (to borrow Barry’s phrase), Harry Wells is struggling with his daughter’s speedster status. The two of them pop over from Earth 2 under the pretext of studying Jesse’s abilities since her exposure to the black matter explosion in Season 2. While the justification for having Harry appear is a bit contrived, it’s fun to see him be his usually salty self and make the usually friendly Flash folk respond in kind. As with the Barry and Iris relationship, comic book fans have long suspected that the TV iteration of The Flash would stick to the script and give Jesse speedster powers like her superhero namesake.

Similarly, they may be wondering when Wally West will get his as well. As Jesse revels in her newfound abilities, Wally pines for the powers he’s lost. The show writers all but hammer home the possibility that Wally will turn to Alchemy, who has shown a knack for reviving lost power sets. The writers seem eager to establish Alchemy as the Big Bad of Season 3, which could be done if he’s somehow able to turn Wally to the dark side.

Thankfully, Alchemy’s presence is kept at a minimum in this episode in order to focus on Magenta, the aforementioned Goth girl with magnetism powers. The show’s depiction of Magenta hews pretty closely to the version in the comics, in which she’s a somewhat fragile young woman with dissociative split personality issues. The primary difference here is that her Jekyll and Hyde personality split is caused by the PTSD of being in the foster care system. Her most recent foster father is an abusive slob who pushes Frankie (the Jekyll side of Magenta) into revealing her powers, nearly killing him. Under Alchemy’s tutelage, the Magenta personality seeks to assert her dominance by killing her foster father before being stopped by Team Flash. More than anything, Magenta’s role in the plot is to weaken Harry’s intransigence and allow Jesse to become a full-fledged member of the speedster fraternity.

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All in all, “Magenta” isn’t an earth-shattering episode of The Flash, but that’s okay—the quieter moments can be just as valuable. It’ll be interesting to see where the show will go from here now that everyone, with the notable exception of Wally, seem content. Given that this is a superhero universe, that surely won’t last…and why would we, as the audience, want it to? At least we’ll always have Paris (or wherever Barry left Iris at the end of the episode).

Final Thoughts:

  • Since he’s a brilliant scientific genius and all, you’d think Harry Wells would have a greater well of comedic sensibilities than to resort to the shallow waters of the “Not!” comeback. C’mon, man, it’s not the 90s anymore.
  • You could make a pretty good drinking game if you took a shot every time a character said “Let me go talk to him/her” after someone leaves a room in a huff. Surely there’s a reel of all these collected moments somewhere on YouTube?
  • It was a funny gag to have all the members of Team Flash carry locating devices in the (extremely likely) event that one of them gets captured. Gotta prepare for that sort of thing in a superhero universe after all.
  • Frankie’s foster dad seems like pretty much the worst person ever. Never mind sending him to jail for his crimes—how about investigating the system that allowed him to adopt a kid in the first place?
Rating
7.5
Pros
  • A return to focusing on the interpersonal relationships that are a show strength
  • Intriguing hints of the changes to the post-Flashpoint universe
Cons
  • Sympathetic yet ultimately disposable antagonist in Magenta
  • Is Alchemy all he's cracked up to be as the series' Big Bad?

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