The Flash 3×03: Magenta

Or: Find your solid footing.

So I say I’m done writing reviews until I have something good to say, and they give me this. It feels like old times again! So here I am, giving time I can’t spare to writing a review. On the plus side, I have good things to say!

Pretty much every love interest Barry has had so far shows him getting ready for a date with said girl. There have been the usual antics, like flowers and changing clothes and on one occasion being completely blind. But now they have the opportunity to show us how Barry Allen prepares for a date with Iris West. FINALLY. Not only is he so excited that his Olympic-level leg twitching annoys Julian, but time is passing soooooo slowly since he’s been dreaming about this his whole life and being a speedster makes it worse. Thus, he overcompensates a little. Or a giant amount. I must admit, as flower arrangments go, Barry is quite the talented florist. Not only did he speedily take and pay for every flower the street vendor had, he arranged them into a heart for Iris. And when that seemed too cheesy and over the top, he spelled out her name. Because that is so much more subtle. No one can ever fault Barry for how much effort he will put in when Iris is involved. It will always be above and beyond. He’s trying so hard, lol. Calm down Barry it’s okay!

Iris is touched and wants to spemd the evening with just Barry and not the Flash. But when they both agree to leave out any Flash-related conversation they find they have very little to talk about. The date is interrupted by a robbery across the street, and Iris encourages him to go handle it. Immediately after they are both summoned to S.T.A.R. Labs and the date is over.

Before we continue, I’ve seen many differing opinions on this date and its inherent awkwardness, and I just want to put my take on it out there. I really think it was written that way to highlight the different place they are now in. They have been best friends for years, even before Barry had speed powers, and they could talk about any and everything even way back then. So it’s not that they only have the Flash in common now. Also, they had easy and relevant discussions about all sorts of things up to now, even with speed. But before now there has been a barrier that allowed for comfortable talking. One or the other wasn’t aware or expressing their true feelings, it was safely tucked away and left alone. Now it’s out there and in the open for both of them, and with it comes the worry that they could screw up their new and old relationship past repair. They are on an actual date now, romance is front and center. That final barrier coming down leaves them both a little worried and cautious. Barry handles it by overcompensating with flowers and an expensive restaurant, trying to show Iris the sheer magnitude of his love for her. Iris does it by trying to express to Barry that she loves him for who he is and not because he’s a superhero. Both of them trying to alleviate fear and doubt in the other led to a really awkward date because they are tiptoeing instead of embracing. Then the reality that Barry IS a superhero intruded to cut it short. The universe is trying to tell them something I think. It’s telling that Barry makes no move on the robbery until Iris tells him to. He respects the limit they set for the night but she also understands that the city needs him. I also think it is telling that they are both disappointed it was cut short. Despite the awkwardness neither of them was looking for an excuse to leave. They are just trying to find their footing.

Anyway, Barry and Iris arrive in their finery to find a breach open and the team on high alert with guns drawn. Harry Wells pops in, fresh from earth 2 and a with major new development on his hands. Jesse is a speedster now. Also, the team now has a speed lab too which is a new thing for Harry and Barry. Wally is disturbed that Jesse has powers now and excuses himself. Barry is fine with Wally not having them since he may not get skewered this way. Even unaware of flashpoint events, Joe is of the same mind.

I’ve also seen discussion about Wally in this ep. I don’t think he was written as petty so much as severely disappointed. When you’re that let down it’s hard to immediately muster gladness for someone else who got what you wanted. Considering Wally has already had to deal with the fact that Barry got the home and childhood he should have had, I don’t view him unfavorably here. He was unable to fake excitement so he gracefully excused himself to deal with his feelings without ruining Jesse’s happiness. I also don’t think he is necessarily wrong to want speed so badly. He’s been all about speed most of his life, and he has a huge desire to help people. It’s only natural for him to want it with so much fervor. It’s kind of cute and reminds me of comic Wally to have him dream about it and want to be like Barry so badly. When he finally becomes a speedster he is going to be one adorable excited cupcake and I honestly can’t wait for that day.

Speaking of petty downright awful, we cut to a man called John coming home and promptly verbally abusing his wife and foster daughter Frankie. His awful demeanor pushes Frankie over the edge. When Frankie’s eyes go (ahem) magenta colored and Magenta takes over, a streetlamp crashes through the window and severely injures him. I found myself shedding no tears over it.

The next day Iris and Barry discuss their underwhelming date. Barry worries that it’s a sign that they shouldn’t be trying to see where this goes, but Iris vehemently disagrees. Good for you Iris, be honest and direct. Go for what you want! Their slightly awkward and cute sidestepping around each other and Barry’s kiss on her cheek was just so cute. Still trying to find their footing.

Joe interviews Frankie about her foster father’s freak accident and finds that she blacked out during the incident. Barry and Julian spar over forensic evidence and what it could mean, and Julian zeroes in on Frankie. He offers to get her some more water and swabs a DNA sample from her glass.

Meanwhile, Jesse shows off her skills for Caitlin and Cisco, and both of whom are impressed and encouraging. Harry wants “more tests” and when the others call him on his stalling, he reveals that he is very worried about Jesse wanting to be a hero and brought Jesse here so the team could talk her out of that idea. After Caitlin gets very squirrelly when he suggests that she, a non-powered human, talk to Jesse, we all start to wonder how long she can keep her powers secret if she’s that bad a liar.

Joe also approaches Wally and tries to help him understand that being exposed to dark matter is not a guarantee for powers, and using his superior intellect to help build a better world is just as good. He actually has a very good point, but Wally still can’t let go of the desire for speed.

Julian isolates an unknown element in Frankie’s DNA that is also found in the five husks. He immediately rushes downstairs and confronts Frankie, pushing with questions and accusations until Magenta takes over. Since Magenta can control metal, she breaks the wall-sized metal CCPD mural from the wall and attempts to crush Julian with it. Barry speeds in as the Flash and saves him, then rushes after Frankie and confronts her in the parking lot. He mentions Alchemy and she recognizes it, but in the end she refuses Barry’s offer of help and chucks an occupied police vehicle, forcing Barry to save the officer inside so she can escape.

The team discusses Frankie’s dissociative mental health, and how she seems to be a split personality. Iris flexes her journalist muscles and offers to talk to the foster father for more  information. (Yay!) When Jesse offers to load up on carbs and help track Magenta, Harry begs Caitlin to talk to her. Caitlin reluctantly agrees. Barry and Joe discuss Wally and Joe’s own personality disorders, which include good cop, bad cop, and dad cop. And I think he may have called Barry a little girl somewhere in there.

Caitlin is doing about as well talking to Jesse, leading Jesse to think Caitlin is against her being a hero because she’s a girl. (Ouch! Girls have to stick together!) Once she figures out (and it was a pretty easy assumption) that Harry doesn’t want her to have powers, she lets him have it. Harry gently tucks his foot into his mouth when he tells her she’s not Barry, proving that both he and Caitlin need sensitivity training classes. (I get what you meant Harry but man that was the worst way to say it.) Jesse speeds off in a huff. (I would do that every day if I had powers!) So Wally offers to track her down. Now Wally and Jesse have been quietly interested in each other for a long time now (I detect the next will-they-won’t-they after Barry and Iris, and they are cute. But where’s Linda?) and I don’t think Wally was working on purely selfish motives going after her. However, in the course of their conversation Jesse tells him she was almost hit by an car and that was when she realized she had speed. So Wally, in his ultimate youthful wisdom, steps into oncoming traffic hoping for the same result. We all screech at our screens. Thankfully, Jesse saves him. Then yells at him. Then Barry yells at him. We’re yelling at him! Joe figures the message has been recieved. Wally we love you, please don’t get yourself killed. Patience!

Also, Magenta hangs with Alchemy in his lair and they discuss how to get rid of Frankie all together. Kill your foster dad, and Frankie is toast. Also I think Alchemy needs a throat lozenge. Or a big chill pill. Magenta is nothing but solid anger and pain, but I feel bad for Frankie the most.

Harry and Jesse go rounds again. Cisco is quiely judging behind his computer, which I love. When Harry goes after Caitlin and implies she made things worse, Caitlin nails him with and ice cold observation. (YUP, that was a pun.) If Harry would spend time helping Jesse navigate her powers instead of assuming they will destroy her, maybe Jesse would stop shutting him out. Wow Caitlin bit back! But she’s right and I think she’s referring to herself as well. Right now there has to be a lot of worry in Caitlin, wondering if this means she will turn evil without a choice in the matter or if she can still manage to keep her own identity along with her new powers.

Barry and Harry discuss making mistakes despite their desire to help. It’s a vicious repetitive cyle. Please learn guys, break the cycle. Harry says that he was always too good at forgiving himself, and Barry was never good enough. There is something to be said for this but at the same time I do feel that this show shies away from truly exploring the idea of guilt and forgiving oneself. But that’s par for the course.

Iris goes to the hospital and questions foster dad of the year John. Her suspicions are quickly confirmed. John is an abuser and Frankie/Magenta was trying to get back at him with the lamp post. She won’t stop trying to get at him until she manages to kill him. Quick on the heels of that deduction (nicely done Iris) a boat appears outside the hospital windows…wait WHAT? It’s just Frankie looking to crush the entire hospital and everyone in it to get at her foster dad. Can’t make an omlet…you know.

Iris triggers her panic button. (That’s a lovely addition!) Barry quickly moves to intercede and creats a helicopter effect to keep the tanker aloft but once he manages that he’s stuck there and can’t do anything about Frankie. Meanwhile the building doors are locked shut with all the people inside (GUYS THERE IS MORE THAN ONE EXIT IN A HOSPITAL!) so they are at an impasse. Harry has to realize it’s do or die time. He gets over himself and sends Jesse to help. She’s majorly excited and takes over tanker duty so Barry can appeal to the bit of Frankie still inside Magenta.

Considering the villain this week is in reality a scared and abused teenage girl, it was nice to see Barry avoid violence and appeal to the part of her that was still good. He does break through, and Frankie overpowers Magenta enough to gain control. I’m really glad Frankie didn’t take over abuuptly enough to lose control of the tanker, that could have been bad. But it was the lovely image of Barry holding her as she cried with Iris watchig that gave me warm fuzzies. Being a hero isn’t always about power and speed, it has to be about seeing the good in people and helping them see it too. This is why Iris says Barry is perfect with or without his powers. It wasn’t his speed that won this one.

The team helps Frankie get settled into a new foster home and ensures John will now face charges. They give her support and comfort, and she describes the process Alchemy used to get to her. Wally alert! Don’t do anything rash Wally!

Jesse and Harry make peace, and he gives her a Cisco-designed speed suit and an offer to stay for awhile and learn to be a hero. She happily accepts. It’s a nice moment, even if it arrived so soon. Jesse will make a good hero, she’s just finding her footing as a speedster.

Barry and Iris meet for another date. This time Barry has been doing some thinking, and he thinks they should stop trying to pretend they are people that they no longer are. So this time he brings a single rose, (red and yellow, naturally) and takes Iris for a brisk run up the shoreline to a private and beautifully lit dinner by the waterfront. Iris agrees, they can’t pretend that everything that has happened hasn’t. In other words, they do talk about Flash-related stuff a lot. That’s okay, it’s a big part of their lives. They have much in common, and a big one is that they both want to do good and help people. They can do it together now. In addition, trying to pretend that they went to a relationship status straight from best friends is denying all the past declarations of love and desire to be together, all the new awareness of each other as something more than friend, and all the romantic tension they have felt along the way. They didn’t get to this point before Barry had powers, they did a lot of growing after. So they have to finally stop tiptoeing and start embracing each other for all of who they are. That’s what is going to make this couple a power couple. Unified, they are a formidable force.

Once they relax, their radiance lights up the screen. I am so ready for more! In a suitable parallel to their very first forgotten moment, they kiss beautifully with the waterfront and epic westallen kiss music behind them, but with a noticable lack of tsunami. I accept the trade. Candice and Grant have an easy and palpable chemistry, and when they turn it on they are beautiful to watch. In fact, I was disappointed we didn’t get a few more minutes of the episode so Barry could run back to Iris and finish their date because you know he did. I’ll always want more of that than this show will give me. Character building moments and scenes are ok guys! And because Iris knows everything about who Barry is, when Joe texts and needs him she tells him to go. Being a city’s hero is demanding. We’ll see how that wears over time but I don’t doubt they can handle it as long as the writers don’t feel the need to add unneccessary angst and stress to the relationship. I am going to give Joe the benefit of the doubt and figure he had no idea Barry and Iris were on a date, otherwise that was really rude considering prison footage isn’t a life or death emergency. Joe West, the buzziest of all buzz kills.

As it was, the episode ended with Joe showing Barry and Julian footage of the Rival killed by an invisible Alchemy in his cell. Barry is suitably bothered, but Julian also looks very… rattled? disturbed? intense? He questions Barry on hearing the name Alchemy and whether he believes in ghosts. Man, are we going to have another bad guy on our hands so soon? I have theories forming.

Flashpoint is really messing with everything.

All in all, the show seems to have found its footing again and I am glad. Let’s hope they keep their stride.

*Gratefully puts soapbox away.* Finally! Thank you Barry. Hope I don’t need it anytime soon.

Tidbits:

    • “Thinking aboout…well…what I always think about.” In case anyone had doubts that Barry Allen is all about Iris West.
    • Viewing Iris through a heart of yellow and red flowers is a perfect camera shot. Thanks, guys.
    • “Oh, I’m sure. Not!” LOL. Harry is funny. And seems to be stuck in the 90’s.
    • “You don’t think that it’s a sign that we shouldn’t…” “NO!” Lol Iris, thanks for saying what we were all thinking.
    • “Repressing memories is a coping mechanism for lots of foster kids.” “Is it?” Julian, I see you. “It is.” Awesome sass Barry.
    • “He honed that brilliant mind of his.” Joe, you gave a good talk and I know you believed it, but it would be nice if the writers would actually show Barry’s brilliant mind a bit more because he really gets dumbed down for drama a lot.
    • If Barry keeps popping in as the Flash to save Julian I think it’s not going to take long for him to put it together.
    • “She’s calling herself Magenta” “Meh.” LOL Cisco, she named herself and it has a color. Your ultimate pet peeves.
    • “Wally’s different than you Barry, you’re like a second daughter you overshare your feelings.” LOLOLOLOL Joe that’s really good messing you had us all going.
    • Barry’s uncle-like concern for Wally was actually kind of endearing. Wally will do what he wants, but it’s nice that Barry cares so much. He’s definitely trying to avoid Wally getting killed like in Flashpoint.
    • Panic buttons for the team are a good idea!
    • “As much as it pains me to help an abusive dick like you, I can’t let you die.” Iris for the win!!!!
    • Harry reversing his opinion of Jesse’s heroism almost immediately is a conflict resolved too quick, but that is pretty typical for the show. I won’t quibble about it much this week since I got some good stuff this ep.
    • Magenta’s color scheme and Caitlin’s raspberry colored skirt might be a bit heavy handed, but it did the job. Frankie’s powers manifested as Magenta, the darkest part of her. Similarly, Caitlin fears that her powers will lead to a dark side takeover, which is why she’s ignoring them for now.
    • The team believing in Frankie and helping her find a better home situation (and promising help if needed) was actually a really beautiful aspect of the story. Frankie didn’t need prison or condemnation, she needed help. “We have faith in you Frankie.” Oh! That was beautiful.
    • Wally looked weird when Frankie talked about dreams. I think he’s already been having dreams and I think it’s a matter of time before Alchemy approaches him.
    • The Iris and Barry scenes were just too short, but otherwise lovely.

 

Possibilities:

  • Julian acting odd and memory repression mentions, plus dissociative disorder and Frankie as an example lead me to wonder if Julian is Alchemy but doesn’t know it. The way he zeroed in on Frankie right away and provoked her, possibly to get Magenta to take over is also interesting. But to purposely do that he’d have to know what he was doing. Possibilities! I’m probably looking too close, this show often provides clues and signs and then ignores or changes them later. I think I expect too much. But it’s a thought to hold onto for now.
  • Wally and speed. He’s been dreaming about it. I think that’s Alchemy at work. Wally wants it and he’s already risked his life to try to jump start it. I worry about how this will go down. I hope they don’t write Wally making a Barry-level of bad choice in trying to get it. Don’t trust Alchemy Wally,and  don’t underestimate him.
  • Dark matter spread through the entire city. Interesting how they spelled that out. It may have been just to make a point to Wally but still….. fic ideas are starting to formulate. Oh crap!

What did you think of the ep? Feel free to hit the comments!

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