The Flash’s third episode (“Magenta”) deals with a lot in an hour. Julian is still as friendly as a quietly seething cactus. And I have to say, it’s a pleasure to watch. Tom Felton manages to steal every scene and not just because I’m waiting for him to go full Slytherin. Felton brings a snark to the role that I’m loving.
Speaking of loving, Barry and Iris had the worst date. She yawns while he’s talking. They’re both ill at ease. It was nothing short of painful. Iris weirdly declared, “No Flash talk!”—and honey, no. You’re dating The Flash. You could no sooner tell me to stop drinking coffee than rip away that chunk of who Barry is. While I understand that this was a lead-up to that revelation at the close of the episode, I feel like both Barry and Iris should’ve known better from the get-go. Minor grievance, I assure you.
Now, let’s have some fun. Wells it back (yay!), but he’s using the word “not” after everything, like the ’90s are new again. But guess what? (No, not chicken butt.) Jesse (Violett Beane) is a speedster! And she’s awesome. But Wells (Tom Cavanagh) can’t remove his head from his sphincter long enough to realize he’s pushing his daughter away, leaving Caitlin to be the wise one (sage voice of reason, who spends most of the episode talking about herself, without letting on that she is): “Maybe if you helped her navigate her powers … she’d turn to you rather than push you away.”
Obviously, this comes to pass—and just in time for Jesse (now, Jesse Quick) to help Barry defeat Magenta. (To quote Cisco regarding her name: Meh.) But let’s take a look at Frankie (aka Magenta), an abused foster kid who’s been through a lot of wringers. Her current foster dad, John, is what I imagine Bender’s dad from The Breakfast Club is like. Her powers are part disassociation (she remembers nothing when she’s Magenta) and part brightly colored revenge. I honestly can’t say I blame the kid. And Doctor Alchemy (who Cisco hilariously described as “a magic man in a cloak…”) took advantage of her. (By the way, Alchemy is apparently invisible. Which…not awesome. It’s hard to fight a bad guy you can’t see—and, for once, that is not a metaphor for Barry being his own worst enemy.)
And poor Wally, y’all. He’s having a serious case of Speedster envy. He wants to be Kid Flash, like he was in the alternate timeline (truly, a sentence I never thought I’d type). So much so that, in an effort to jumpstart his powers, he walks into oncoming traffic. Say it with me: Wally, no. He was saved by Jesse, and then everyone yelled at him—including Barry, which was somewhat hilarious. It isn’t like Barry makes solid life choices. Still. It was a seriously what the frak moment.
One thing I need to touch on was a nearly throwaway line, where Joe remarks that Barry is “like a second daughter, you overshare your feelings.” That niggled at me, because a) there’s nothing wrong with sharing your feelings and b) likening it to his daughter (a girl) felt like a strange, un-Joe-like insult. Couple that with Jesse feeling like no one wants her to be a superhero, because she’s a girl—and, well, I hope Caitlin goes full Frost (not evil, though) shows the boys what’s what.
I will say that I’m enjoying Wells and Jesse’s relationship. They fight. A lot. He’s clearly fumbling his way through and letting his own fears get in the way. But Wells is a character who grows, always. Sure, it takes Caitlin talking sternly to him, but he is always open and always learning in ways that have nothing to do with science. It was charming to have him utter a riff onhis repeated line: “Now, run, Jesse—run.” And Jesse, like all awesome heroes, rose to the occasion. I legit choked up when Wells gave her a suit he had Cisco make for her. That whole scene was nicely done, but especially this confession: “My fear, my guilt…has kept both of us back for far too long. You know, you’ve always been my hero, but now it’s time for me to let you be one for everyone else.”
I’ve always appreciated this show’s relentless optimism (not unlike Supergirl). Barry gets through to Frankie. They find her a nice family to live with. She’s worried Magenta will try and take control again, and the Flash Gang assures her that she can fight it—and that they’ll help her, if she needs them. It’s a reminder that no one is an island, that we all need people.
Which is good, because left to his own devices, Barry is the hottest of hot messes. But we adore him anyway, because he’s geekily wonderful, super smart, and more than just what he does (day job or Speedster). Barry believes in people, offers hope whenever he can, and shows constant faith in those around him.
And that might not be super speed—but it’s not nothing.
Catch you later, kittens.