Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Magenta" Is A Refreshing Return To The Flash!

The Good: Decent performances, Good character moments, Good direction and special effects
The Bad: Very predictable plot arc
The Basics: The Flash returns to being entertaining and engaging when Harrison Wells returns for a Metahuman Of The Week episode with "Magenta."

To say that the third season of The Flash has gotten off to a rough start would be a dramatic understatement. While "Flashpoint" (reviewed here!) opened the season with an ambitious concept executed in a painfully problematic way, the follow up in "Paradox" (reviewed here!) was arguably worse. So, as I prepared for the new episode of The Flash, I had some feelings of trepidation. But when the title of the episode was dropped, I allowed myself to actually get excited. The new episode is "Magenta" and Magenta is one of the Flash villains I remembered from the source material.

In the volumes of The Flash I read, the ones written by Geoff Johns where Wally West was The Flash, Magenta popped up as a memorable and powerful villain. I might not recall all of Magentas powers from years ago when I read the books she was a part of, but I remember moments when she was bat shit crazy and if The Flash is going to return to a Metahuman Of The Week story, Magenta seems like she would be an exceptional one to bring into the television show's narrative. "Magenta" follows on "Paradox," which saw The Rival established and defeated, and is notable because it affords viewers the chance to enjoy the return of Harrison Wells (and Jesse Wells/Quick) to The Flash narrative!

Opening with Barry Allen getting dressed down by Julian Albert in on the eve of his first date with Iris West, Allen goes a little overboard with Iris. Called back to S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry and Iris arrive in time to see Harrison Wells and Jesse return from Earth-2 through a new breach that opened in the basement of the lab. Wells is instantly able to recognize that Barry has changed reality on Earth-1 and he reveals that Jesse is now a Speedster. While the S.T.A.R. Labs team deals with exploring how the dark matter affected Jesse, elsewhere in Central City, a young woman (Frankie Kane) manifests her own powers to summon metal to attack her abusive foster father. When the Central City Police Department investigates the attack, Julian Albert starts to look into Frankie Kane. Albert is looking for an element unique to the husks that were left in Central City and he exposes Frankie as a metahuman.

Wally and Jesse renew their bond, as Wally is the only one not trying to talk Jesse out of being a superhero. Wally attempts to jump start his own powers after Jesse tells him how she got her powers, which leads Barry to freak out on his brother. Barry and Harrison actually bond as Iris interviews Frankie's foster father. Iris quickly discovers that John is a very human villain in Frankie's life. Unfortunately, Magenta uses her power to menace the hospital with a tanker, which leads the Flash team to spring into action . . . and forces Jesse into the field to aid him!

"Magenta" opens with an emotionally unsatisfying first date between Iris and Barry. While the scene is loaded with inherent charm - all of the right elements are present - it is hard not to watch the scene and be painfully aware that this is not the same Iris that viewers have invested in for the prior two years. That off-nature is almost instantly highlighted by the return of Harrison Wells who is delightfully the same as he was before (which makes perfect sense because they were on Earth-2 when Barry altered the Earth-1 timeline).

The return of Harrison Wells is easily the high point of "Magenta" for the b-plots. Harrison Wells is frustrated and while viewers might initially be annoyed that Wells came back from Earth-2 to run tests on Jesse - Earth-2 being more technologically advanced than Earth-1 so it was a ridiculous premise - "Magenta" quickly covers that and makes a good reason for the return of the two Wells's. Harrison Wells wanting the S.T.A.R. Labs team to break Jesse's hero worship for Barry Allen and talk her out of becoming a superhero is a brilliant twist.

Magenta in The Flash is another metahuman who was altered by Alchemy. Fans of the DC Comics source material will love the fact that Frankie Kane suffers from a dissociative disorder and it is weird that none of the characters in the episode reference "Trajectory" (reviewed here!), which was a similar condition the speedster there suffered. Magenta is appropriately villainous in "Magenta" and her arc might be predictable, but it is well-executed in the episode. Magenta wants to rid herself of Frankie and that is disturbing and unsettling to watch. Joey King does a good job of glaring her way through the part of Magenta and speaking with a force well beyond her age. King reminds viewers of Dakota Fanning for her innate, young talent.

Jesse Quick and Harrison Wells have a similarly good arc in "Magenta," though fans of The Flash will be asking themselves almost immediately what happened to Harry's watch. The jig for Dr. Snow should be up as Harrison Wells wears a watch with a metahuman detector on it.

While "Magenta" might be painfully familiar on the plot front, fans of The Flash will welcome predictable over horrible any day. "Magenta" is not at all bad, even if it is obvious. It affords the characters a chance to grow and develop and if viewers are stuck in this alternate post-"Flashpoint" timeline for the rest of The Flash, this illustrates the potential for it to grow back into being a decent show.

For other works with Joey King, please visit my reviews of:
Oz The Great And Powerful
The Dark Knight Rises
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
Battle Los Angeles
Horton Hears A Who!
Reign Over Me

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into The Flash - The Complete Third Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the third season here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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