Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Magenta Means The Flash Should Have Had Higher Ratings

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On this week’s episode of The Flash, the Earth-2 Wells family return to Earth-1 to reveal that Jessie has gained speedster powers. While the West-Allen family deals with Wally’s jealousy, team Flash becomes aware of a meta with split personalities. Barry and Iris realize that it’s impossible to pretend that The Flash hasn’t changed them.

This episode is one that I expect people to return to. It was fabulously done, and really held up during the second watch. I didn’t say this the last time, but this post contains extensive spoilers for episode 3 of the third season of The Flash. If you have not already watched it, please save this post until you have done so. Otherwise, let’s get into it.

“Magenta” starts with Barry counting down the minutes to his first date with Iris, and we get the rare glimpse into how being a speedster affects even the littlest things in Barry’s everyday life. One has to wonder how Barry’s been making it so long without fidgeting his life away while waiting for someone to tell him something. If he’s bored enough to watch water drip from a faucet in the amount of time it takes for his boss to finish a sentence, it’s a wonder why he doesn’t put his head through a wall in the time it takes some members of Team Flash to get to the point.

Or maybe it’s just Julian.

Candice Patton as Iris West in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Candice Patton as Iris West in “Magenta”

In any case, WestAllen was perfection, although understandably awkward during their first date. While Barry attempts to have a date without Flash interruptions, he later has to concede that it’s just a natural part of their lives now. It’s interesting to see Barry on a date with someone who actually knows him and the things that he’s into. With both Linda and Patty, Barry had to put on an act, and at times was distracted by it. With Iris, he just has to remember to be himself, and that includes the fact that he is The Flash.

I didn’t have too much of an issue with these dates, though it did seem like Barry apparently has enough money to rent out a restaurant. I know he likes Iris, but I’m beginning to wonder what Barry’s salary looks like. Then, on the second date, Barry basically left Iris stranded. It took a good three watches to be sure, but Barry takes Iris up the highway to an entirely new restaurant during their second date, and then Iris lets him just leave her there so that he could check in with Joe at the precinct.  We have no idea how she gets home.

Whoever wrote that scene must have not realized how awkward that would seem.

Whether you noticed it or not, this episode was about families, or rather, familial relationships. One thing that I love about The Flash is how they try to normalize fostering and adoption by way of Barry’s relationship with Joe West. Joe considers Barry one of his kids, and Wally considers him a part of the family. So it’s interesting to see Frankie Kane’s time as a foster kid being the opposite of that.

Joey King as Frankie Kane / Magenta in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Joey King as Frankie Kane / Magenta in “Magenta”

John Kane (Iris calls him John James) is a terrible father, there’s no two ways about it. He is, at the very least, verbally abusive to Frankie, though there’s a chance that the show was hinting at more. It is no surprise at all that Frankie’s darker self, Magenta, wants to kill him. What is surprising is the lengths to which Magenta goes to get rid of him.

When it’s tallied up, Magenta commits about four acts of attempted murder; the fourth being a mass murder attempt because of the amount of people that would have died in the process of Magenta trying to kill John Kane. At the very least, this girl should have served time for that, but Frankie gets a pass because she has dissociative personalities, and Barry relates to her being a foster kid. Instead, John James is prosecuted for a number of crimes, and Frankie gets sent to a nice family in another city.

I know that last week I was taking issue with the fact that we never get to keep any of our metas, and I really like that Frankie was at least able to be talked down, but I don’t think that sending her away to a new city was the best idea. Magenta’s beef might have been with John Kane, but the point is made that she’d been with Frankie for years. Frankie didn’t need a new family, she needed extensive amounts of therapy. And i’m not sure if it’s said how old Frankie was, but she looked like she was about Jessie and Wally’s age, so she should have been ready to age out of the foster care system.

It’s times like this that I wish that Black Canary was alive and a counselor, like she was in Young Justice. Because, as much as Team Flash was trying, they really have no resources for someone like Magenta. She needed a therapist and security, because, just like The Rival, Magenta got her powers from Dr. Alchemy. And, because we don’t actually know what the limits of Dr. Alchemy’s powers are, there’s really nothing stopping him from killing Frankie Kane the same way that he killed Edward Clariss.

I do appreciate that we are shown Clariss’ death. The Flash is quick to kill people in secret, and then never come back to it. Especially during the first season.

The Flash saves Julian Albert in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
The Flash saves Julian Albert in “Magenta”

The Kanes aren’t the only family with drama this episode, as Harry and Jesse Wells surprised their Earth-1 friends with news about Jesse’s new powers. Wally gets a dose of speedster envy, and Joe makes a point that’s kind of interesting. Everyone in Central City has been hit with Dark Matter from the Particle Accelerator, and while it’s presumed that most of them aren’t metas, what really stops someone from jumpstarting everyone’s potential powers like the Terrigen mists activate Inhumans?

Admittedly, this is what Dr. Alchemy is doing, but he seems to only be focusing on Flashpoint metas. Again, we don’t know what his limits are, so what would it take for him to give powers to everyone in Central City whether they had been a meta in a random timeline or not?

In any case, back to Team Flash.

The whole Jesse being a speedster, and Wally wanting to be a speedster deal was a lot. And there’s really no way to talk about them separately, or even in order, because they’re so much intertwined with each other. However, I will try.

Harry brought Jesse to Earth-1 so that he could get someone to talk her out of it, not realizing that half of Team Flash has powers, and the only person Barry wanted to talk out of getting them was Wally. So Harry doesn’t even bother with Barry, he immediately goes to Caitlin, who then read Harry’s whole life if only to make him understand that he would lose his daughter if he didn’t get with the program. Harry then humbles himself, and gets with the program.

Honestly, Harry should have talked to Joe about his fears for Jesse. Joe knew what it was to have a kid who gained powers, knew what it was to see them risk their lives everyday, and Joe knew what it was to not be able to talk them out of it. Joe gave a good Dad Cop speech, but you get the feeling that if Wally had gotten powers, Joe would have been fine because he’d already gone through it with Barry. Joe West would have been the best person to understand exactly where Harry was coming from.

However, I appreciate that Caitlin got to have that moment.

Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow in “Magenta” 

Wally, on the other hand, will probably be the subject of all of the best Flash memes to come out of this season. I don’t know why anyone is surprised that the same kid that used to race cars for money, wouldn’t be itching to be a speedster. When Frankie tells Team Flash how she got her powers, you could see Wally plotting to find Dr. Alchemy. If Wally is willing to jump in front of a speeding car to kickstart his powers, what stops him from visiting a villain?

I lived for that argument after when Barry finds out that Wally basically tried to kill himself. Barry has officially moved from “I’m doing this for Joe and Iris” to “You’re my little brother, and I don’t want you to die”. How could you not appreciate the line, “Only room in our family for one speedster, Barry?” Like, I’m sure that Barry would like to take a night off and actually get through a date with Iris uninterrupted, but not at the expense of Wally being unable to heal.

I know that it’s too much to ask for Barry to actually tell Wally why it is that he doesn’t want Wally to be a speedster, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. It would be nice to see Wally get his powers his own way, instead of having him go to Dr. Alchemy. This is yet another reason that I think Wally and Jax should meet: Jax’s experience with future tech could be thing that helps Wally to activate his powers.

That is definitely too much to ask for.

Tom Felton as Julian Albert in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Tom Felton as Julian Albert in “Magenta” 
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen in “Magenta”

I like the fact that my review comes two days after a new episode of The Flash first airs. It gives me time to rewatch each episode with a much more critical eye, and, while I don’t read other people’s reviews until I’ve submitted mine, I do pay attention to how the show performs ratings wise. According to TVLine,  “Magenta” was a series low for The Flash, which I can’t really agree with because I thought that the episode was actually really good. It definitely doesn’t break down during a second watch, and it was honestly enjoyable. So what’s the issue here, really?

Is it the discrepancies? A major one would be that Eobard Thawne did not lose his speed during his most recent killing of Nora Allen (pointed out in Podcast Fandom’s coverage of “Paradox”). He’s actually seen collaborating with Damien Darhk in the premiere episode of Legends of Tomorrow. So if the Reverse Flash never lost his speed, what happened to the Harrison Wells of Earth-1? Or Eddie Thawne for that matter? And why didn’t the Particle Accelerator explode years later like it was originally supposed to?

If the writers decide to touch on any of this, they’re more than likely going to tell use in increments throughout the season. However, it’s still too soon to decide to completely give up on The Flash if continuity issues are your problem. Constantly altering timelines means that that’s a problem that we’re going to have to continue to swallow.

Someone said that The Flash is having the same third season issues that Arrow had. Except we’re only three episodes in. Dante Ramon wasn’t a big enough character that his death would have majorly ruined the plot like Sarah Lance’s did, and it really speaks to Carlos Valdes’ range as an actor to have him play a subdued, but not overly grieving Cisco. And WestAllen is canon. Anyone who calls it incest seems to forget that they were friends before Barry’s mom died, and Barry was in love with Iris before he went to live with the Wests. They’ve never seen each other as siblings, only as best friends.

That same person also said that Barry is too brooding, but I really have to wonder what show they’re watching. The Flash is so light that Arrow characters always seem to have better lives when they visit than they do on their own show. It’s been two years, and I’m still mad about the time when Felicity Smoak and Ray Palmer were happily in love on The Flash on Tuesday, and then two seconds from breaking up when Arrow opened that Wednesday. It was ridiculous.

So what’s the issue? Why are some people leaving this show? I feel like the writing has gotten better, and they’re making attempts to fix problems from the first two seasons. Like the panic button installed in everyone’s phone, and the speed lab. These things are necessary, but they should probably also work on not showing all of Team Flash’s faces, because someone will eventually figure out that the only person missing is Barry Allen. Who is probably the Flash.  

Tom Cavanaugh as Harry Wells in “Magenta” (Photo Credit: Tumblr)
Tom Cavanaugh as Harry Wells in “Magenta”

So yes, The Flash has its problems, but “Magenta” was a little bit too good of an episode for it to be a series low. The plot was interesting, the writing still works during a second watch, the dialogue was all natural, and the acting was consistently phenomenal. I know that this sounds a bit whiny, but I just need to understand.

What are your thoughts on “Magenta”? Let me know in the comments.


Images courtesy of The CW

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