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The Flash (The CW) S3 E3: Magenta

The Flash (The CW) S3 E3: Magenta

Yup, I also recap The Flash

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So, The Flash might not seem to be the same kind of drama that I usually cover, but the show covers a large number of things that interest me from theoretical physics to comic books.

Anyway, I have watched every episode of the show since its inception and I find it both a starkly different (lighter) take on Superheroes but also occasionally provocative (sometimes in ways that the writers might not have intended).

If you haven't read last week's recap, read about Paradox here. 

As always, if you have not watched S3 E3 Magenta, watch it and then come back immediately, in other words, * Spoiler Alert *

What Actually Happened During The Flash S3 E3 Magenta Episode

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The episode starts off with Iris (Candice Patton) and Barry (Grant Gustin) meeting for what turns out to be a very awkward first date. Part of the problem is that Iris insists that "Barry be Barry" and leave "The Flash" at home.

This seems to be a bridge too far for Barry.

But, I felt like the chemistry in the scene writing was off maybe more than the chemistry between Barry and Iris on the date.

It almost felt like the writers were trying to impose an unnatural break in the years of built up character chemistry between Patton and Gustin. These two characters have known each other their entire lives, this is not two normal people meeting for a first date (they share a Father/Step-Father for goodness sakes). 

That might actually be a good way to look at this entire episode, it seemed as awkward, in places, as the date between Iris and Barry (I have given the writers a ton of credit over the last few seasons, but this was not their strongest effort IMHO).

In other words, I disagree with A.V. Club about this episode meaning that The Flash is "Back on Track."

Fortunately,  it is a short date. Barry gets an emergency call from Cisco (Carlos Valdez) back at Star Labs and has to "run."

When Barry arrives at Star Labs there is a hole opening between Earth and Earth 2 in the middle of Star Labs and nobody knows why. Everyone is loaded for bear, pointing weapons and anxiety at the swirling gateway (remember many bad things, mostly angry evil meta-humans have come through these gateways in the past).

No need to fear it is only the Harrison "Harry" Wells (Tom Cavanagh) from Earth 2 (Good Harrison) and his daughter Jesse Wells (Violett Beane). Tom Cavanagh, in many ways, held this series together as both the mastermind good guy and as the secret bad guy for almost the entire first season, so it is good to see him back. 

It turns out that Jesse Wells, as a result of her contact with the Dark Matter cloud, is now Jesse Quick as well as Jesse Wells. In other words, she has become a speedster (how many speedsters are there going to be - I am starting to think being The Flash is not really that special given virtually everyone on the show has experienced speed force).

But why have they arrived in Central City? Harrison tells everyone that it is so that Jesse can use the "Speed Lab" that has materialized in the building (another benefit of Flashpoint disruption apparently).

Harrison's actual agenda is that he doesn't want Jesse to become a superhero, so he figured that he could breach the worlds and get his old buddies to talk her out of using her powers.

Does this make a lot of sense? No.

Is much of the dialog between Harrison and Jesse "Hallmark Card" level cringe-worthy? Yes.

Way too much writer's agenda being forced onto the plot line IMHO. Hopefully, this is just the ebb and flow in the "longer than cable," network season. 

Oh, also Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) is upset that Jesse got her powers and he is still just a regular old human (I am sure he thinks that half the folks in the Flash universe seem to have speed powers so why not him).

Enter Magenta

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Okay, so we find out that Frankie Kane (Joey King) is a person with a long-standing case of TV's new go to disease "Dissociative Identity Disorder." I will have much more to say about this in a few minutes but, for now, it means that she bounces between the kind and caring Frankie Kane and the vengeful Magenta who has recently gained the power to move and control metal with her mind (from, you guessed it, Doctor Alchemy).

We do get a feel for some of her backstory, Frankie is a child who developed DID early and has been in the foster care system and is currently living with an abusive foster Father and battered-woman Mother. She has apparently suffered great abuse at the hands of her Father.

When Alchemy finds her he promises her revenge on the people who have hurt her. She takes this literally and forces a street lamp to become dislodged from concrete moorings outside her house to break through the window of her apartment to hit her Foster Father directly in the head.

The Central City PD, meaning Barry as CSI tech and Julian Albert (Tom Felton) as meta-investigator, are examining the evidence at the scene while Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) is doing interviews with the family (including one with Frankie). 

Julian sees Frankie being interviewed by Joe and has a hunch, he asks her if she needs another glass of water and does the old switcheroo on the glasses so he can lift DNA evidence from the glass to compare it to a common element he has found in the DNA "husks" he has taken from the other metahumans he has investigated.

He finds that she has the same element in her DNA and goes downstairs to confront her. He does this in the least tactful and most insane way possible (because that is who he is) and makes her so angry she goes into Magenta mode and almost destroys the police department (as near as I can tell she has Magneto powers - there is a reason he is one of the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe - controlling metal is no small power).

The Flash intervenes and has some success, after she throws a police car with a police officer in it at him, by trying to talk to Frankie and not Magenta. She gets away, but Barry now has a "Magenta plan" in his back pocket for later.

Later, Iris (in her role as a news reporter) goes to the hospital where Frankie's foster Father is being treated. Guess what, Magenta shows up at about the same time as Iris, and, since the hospital is next to the Central City docks, throws a massive ship at the hospital.

Magenta is clearly not very discriminate in how she targets her rage (couldn't she just walk in and use her powers to increase the balance of metals in his blood or something clever?).

The Flash shows up but finds that he can either run in circles to prevent the ship from crashing down on the roof of the hospital or go stop Magenta.

Catharsis Points

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Okay wrapping the action up:

1. Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) talks Harrison into encouraging his daughter's use of her powers just in time. He realizes The Flash needs her help and sends her into battle. She takes over holding the ship up as he confronts Magenta.

He manages to reach the Frankie inside of Magenta and gets her to relent. The ship is placed back in the ocean. The Flash tells Franke that he believes in her and tells her that if she never needs their help they will be there for her. 

As I have mentioned before, it seems a bit odd that "Team Flash" have taken over all the functions of government in Central City (judge, jury, prosecutor, jailer's etc.). But, Frankie is told by Team Flash that she is a free woman.

Harrison and Jesse have their Hallmark Card moment (and presumably return to Earth 2).

2. Iris and Barry try to take another swing at the first date. They agree that letting Barry embrace his inner-Flash might fix the problems they were having. Barry grabs her and speeds off to some waterfront area, they look happy until the phone rings, and Barry mentions that Joe needs him. Iris tells him he can go, and he abandons her, without a car, at some waterfront restaurant (kind of bizarre).

The episode ends with Julien, Barry, and Joe watching the video of an invisible Alchemy killing "The Rival" Edward Clariss (Todd Lasance) from inside his prison cell.

Ominously, Julien looks at Barry and says, "He could be a ghost." Then turns slowly and looks at Barry concluding, "Do you believe in ghosts Allen?"

Worried About Repetitive Themes

Season One involved Barry fighting a new metahuman villain who had been created by the particle accelerator accident at Star Labs every week.

Most of Season Two was taken up with Barry fighting a new metahuman sent to from Earth 2 by the Reverse Flash to kill The Flash (ensuring that the Reverse Flash was the fastest man in the multiverse).

Now, for some reason, despite opening up massive new and more interesting grounds for story and character development, they have Alchemy creating new one-off metahumans to, you guessed it, clear the field (prepare Earth) for Savitar.

Don't mean to be critical, but this is getting a bit formulaic.

Wouldn't it be more interesting to integrate some of the old Meta's giving them more backstory or maybe dealing with Alchemy and his allies continuously (instead of beating and eliminating them as threats)?

Dissociative Identity Disorder

As you might know, I recap Mr. Robot as well. 

To get ready for Season Two of Mr. Robot, I did a bunch of research into Dissociative Identity Disorder. 

Again, not meaning to be over-critical but the whole reason they changed the name from Multiple Personality Disorder to Dissociative Identity Disorder is because it is not about "split personalities" as Caitlin suggests during the episode.

Dissociatives are a fragmented whole person. They are not separate identities fighting for control of one body.

Each part (or Alter) is better at accomplishing certain tasks that the dominant personality feels uncomfortable doing themselves. So, for instance, Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) on Mr. Robot lets Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) take over when he is going to be physically harmed or needs to do something that he is uncomfortable doing.

As they (correctly) said on Mr. Robot about 20 times this season, "Elliot is Mr. Robot and Mr. Robot is Elliot."

I guess what I am saying is that the writers of The Flash did not do a good job deploying DID on this episode. It probably shouldn't matter, but there are real people with the disease who complain regularly about this particular depiction by Hollywood and in the media.

If they had been careful, Katie would have been Magenta and Magenta would have been Katie.

I just hope if they go back to Magenta or use DID in the future that they will do some research on the disorder first.

The Alchemy Question

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Several people on Reddit and Google+ have suggested that Julien is Alchemy. 

The parts do seem to fit, he has found out a way to identify metahumans, he made the odd ghost comment at the end of the episode, and he is generally kind of a jerk to everyone.

At the same time, the Flash had to save him from Magenta (and why would he egg Magenta on if he knew she could kill him given he has work to do getting Earth ready for Savitar). I also saw that Tom Felton was only listed as appearing in two episodes in the IMDB database (which is usually pretty accurate about such things).

I don't have a definitive take on this except that it seems clear that Julian has a beef with Barry and keeps dropping hint after hint that he knows both who Barry is and that Barry's timeline experimentation has caused Julian personal tragedy.

Several people on Google+, for instance, felt that Tom Felton was being evil in his reactions to Barry. My reaction was that Julian was telling Barry the truth about the havoc and tragedy he has caused.

There is a quick throw-away scene between Harrison Wells and Barry during the Magenta episode where they talk about how it might be good to just accept that your judgment is right. I am not sure that Barry can do that anymore. He affected billions of lives for a selfish reason.

Barry's action came from a place of love for his Mother, but not for anyone else. It was a profoundly selfish act (although it was one many of us would likely have made too).

Oh well, that is enough for now. 

And if you like what you have read, I also recap many other television shows and one of my true passions is curating and sharing music. Take a look around, I post a new #Spotify playllist every week.

Hope you enjoyed the recap! Sorry if I seemed unduly harsh, in a sense this was a return to a Classic Season One style episode (which is fine).

What did you think about Magenta?

Do you think The Flash should keep having "one-off" meta battles?

What is your prediction for Julian's character going forward?

Let me know, leave a comment!

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