A new speedster and a new metahuman debuted on “The Flash” tonight, in an episode that was remarkably personal for each character. While “The Flash” brings emotional depth to every episode, “Magenta” might be the strongest episode yet — not because it dealt with Barry’s emotions, but because it dealt with Jesse and Frankie’s emotions. “The Flash” rarely explores the emotions of its female characters, and this episode did so in a way that was poignant, honest, and extremely relevant. “The Flash” also broke away from the traditional “villain of the week” model, which demonstrated not only the maturity of the writers but their fearlessness in taking a new approach to the season. Fan favorites Harry Wells and Jesse Quick returned tonight, after being on Earth-2 for the last few months. Wally experienced intense jealousy and anger over not being a speedster yet, despite getting hit with the dark matter last season. Barry and Iris tried to take their relationship to the next level but were thwarted both by Barry’s powers and his job. Julian continued to perform tests on the metahuman husks from last week’s episode, which provided clues as to which metahumans were affected by the particle accelerator and which were created by Alchemy. The episode also dealt with the issue of when to embrace and when to suppress superpowers, as they can be used for both good and evil.
Jesse (Really Is) Quick
The episode opened with Iris and Barry going on their first official date. The date got interrupted by an emergency call from Joe West about a breach being opened inside S.T.A.R. Labs. Cisco and Caitlin were ready to take on whoever or whatever might come through the portal, but it turned out it wasn’t anyone dangerous: it was Harry and Jesse Wells. While their return may not have been too much of surprise, Jesse’s new powers were — Jesse was a speedster. Harry confessed that Jesse’s powers had shown up a few days ago and that he wanted to bring her to Earth-1 for testing. Throughout the episode, Harry revealed that his true intentions to bring her to see Barry and Caitlin and Cisco were so they could talk her out of using her powers. Harry, being the overprotective father that he was, wanted to dissuade Jesse from becoming a hero because it wouldn’t be safe for her. At one point Caitlin tried to talk to Jesse and Jesse asked her the best question of the episode, “Is this because I’m a girl?” Caitlin was baffled by the question because she knew Jesse was right. Harry saying that Jesse couldn’t race because she wasn’t like Barry was such a fatherly thing to say and yet it also highlighted the stigma that men are allowed to go into the world and make mistakes, while women must be protected at all costs. This dichotomy of worldviews came crashing to a halt when Caitlin yelled at Wells and told him that his job as a father was not just to protect and shelter his daughter, but to support her and put his faith in her. It was this pep talk from Caitlin that finally got Harry to change his mind about Jesse, thus prompting him to give her his blessing for her to become the superhero he knew she could be. She also got a sweet Flash-like suit at the end of the episode, which will be awesome to see in action next week.
Wally’s Wishful Thinking
While Jesse was stoked about her powers (and while her dad was working out his support for her), another member of Team Flash was having a much harder time accepting them: Wally. Wally wasn’t sad that Jesse had powers so much as he was frustrated that he didn’t have powers. Last season Jesse and Wally became close friends, and when they were both hit by a wave of dark matter, they were both hopeful that they would turn into metahumans too. With Jesse racing around S.T.A.R. labs like an excited puppy, all Wally could feel was jealousy and disappointment. This was another reason the episode felt emotionally grounded: jealousy and sadness are parts of everyday life, and while it may seem silly to be envious of a speedster, Wally had good reason to be. As he confided in Jesse in the middle of the episode, Wally had been having dreams about being The Flash. At one point he even threw himself into traffic to see if he could trigger the awakening of his powers. While Jesse was supportive of Wally, she was also terrified that he would put himself into harm’s way just to get superspeed. With Wally being desperate for powers, it’s possible he may go in search of Alchemy later this season, especially after learning Alchemy is helping people transform into metahumans.
The Mighty Magenta
Magenta is one of the best villains to appear on “The Flash” yet. Why? Because she actually had a reason for using her powers for evil. Most metahumans wake up with powers and think “I’m going to get back at the person who did this to me, or I’m going to seek revenge on so and so because they did XYZ.” While this is a common motivational path for the villains on superhero shows, it can sometimes feel a bit one dimensional. When someone becomes a metahuman, he or she doesn’t all of a sudden have a dark side. If that were true, then Barry wouldn’t have become a hero so quickly. What “The Flash” writers did with Magenta was so perfect because her powers were actually tied to an alter ego — a disassociative personality — the one who was protecting Frankie from her abusive guardian. In her moment of revenge, she wasn’t trying to take over the world or doing something grandiose, she was trying to stop a man from hurting her. That’s a real world scenario that both men and women can relate to. Her final moments of the episode were incredibly written because she wasn’t a metahuman that would “stop at nothing” to seek her revenge, she was still reachable, and Barry reached her — through the pain and anguish and the powers that Magenta gave her — Frankie was able to hear Barry and choose to let go. This was a powerful “take down,” not because Barry won through brute strength, but by having faith that Frankie didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Dr. Alchemy Will See You Now
The episode concluded with Frankie revealing that she sought out Dr. Alchemy after having dreams about being Magenta. Once the dreams gave her hope for having powers, she began hearing Alchemy’s voice, and bought into his promise that he could give her the power she needed to bring down her abusive guardian. This revelation about Alchemy will tie in closely with what Wally told Jesse about having speedster dreams. Does this mean Alchemy is giving Wally dreams about his other life in Flashpoint? If Wally’s angst over not being a speedster continues, he could seek out Alchemy at some point during the season. So far no clues have been revealed about Alchemy’s identity or Caitlin’s Killer Frost powers, I’m sure we’ll learn more about both as the season progresses. Next week on “The Flash,” Barry will begin to train Jesse when new metahuman, Mirror Master (guest star Grey Damon) appears on the scene. Jesse will be quick to join the chase but will defy one of Barry’s orders which will result in disastrous consequences. Wentworth Miller returns to reprise his role as Leonard Snart — the question is, which Snart will he be playing? The one who perished on “Legends of Tomorrow,” or Captain Cold who was transformed by Flashpoint?
Starring Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster, “The Flash” airs Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW. The series also stars Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Carlos Valdes, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Keiynan Lonsdale and more.
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