[Flash] Recap • 303 Magenta

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Wells and Jesse return from Earth 2; Alchemy restores another metahuman’s powers
By Chancellor Agard for Entertainment Weekly

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Tonight is the night: Barry and Iris finally go on their first date together. Barry has been waiting for this moment for years; unfortunately, for these two lovebirds, their night out is kind of a failure. Let’s dive in, shall we?

We pick up with Barry anxiously waiting to clock out for the day and go on his date with Iris. The one thing standing in his way is Julian, who pedantically reminds him their hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., not 6:58 p.m. Once the clock strikes 7:00, Barry speeds out of there to buy an ostentatious flower arrangement and pick up Iris from work. At the beginning of the date, they establish a rule: no speed and no Flash talk for the night. Honestly, that doesn’t help their date at all. Their first date, which takes place at an expensive restaurant, is awkward and boring — and that made me very happy.

It was very smart for the show to make sure their first date wasn’t perfect, because that wouldn’t have felt earned or believable. This date represents a big change in their Facebook relationship status, so there should be some bumps in the road. Furthermore, every romantic moment they’ve shared so far has been rather chaste, so I’m not even sure if I’m on board for this ‘ship at this point. To put that another way, there just aren’t enough sparks yet.

Luckily, they don’t have to suffer through the awkward small talk for too long, since Team Flash summons them back to STAR Labs when a breach opens up again. When they arrive at the lab, Harry comes jumping through the breach — and Jesse, who now has speed powers, comes running after him. Everyone is shocked by this latest development, except for Wally, who is super disappointed he doesn’t have any powers yet.

At first, Harry tells Team Flash he just wants them to run some tests on his daughter, but he’s actually there because he wants them to talk her out of becoming a superhero. He wants to keep her safe. And just like that, Harry becomes a cliché Arrowverse parent. The only thing that didn’t make me completely give up on this story line is that Tom Cavanagh’s portrayal of Earth 2 Harry is so enjoyable — and a flustered Harry trying to convince Cisco and Caitlin to talk to Jesse is rather funny to watch, once you get over how annoying it is.

“Magenta” actually sets up a variety of parallels, and sometimes it feels like there might be too much going on. First, the show obviously wants us to compare Harry trying to convince his daughter not to fight crime with Joe trying to tell Wally he doesn’t need powers to help people. At one point, Wally tries to activate his powers by jumping in the middle of the street (Jesse’s powers activated when she was almost hit by a car), but that doesn’t work. Luckily, Jesse is there to save him before something bad happens. Both Harry and Joe are having a hard time getting through to their kids, no matter how hard they try.

This leads to some nice commiserating between Barry and Harry, who found out about Barry’s time-traveling shenanigans and spends half of his visit scolding Barry for his stupidity. However, after Jesse storms off from her father for the hundredth time, Harry admits he’s stuck in this cycle of making mistakes, trying to fix them, and then making more mistakes again, which is similar to Barry. I understand Well’s predicament: He’s trying to make up for being an absentee father by doubling down on protecting her, but it’s not producing the desired results. The episode’s attempt to compare his actions to Barry’s transgressions feels kind of forced, and it seems like Barry is being let off the hook for doing something stupid.

While Team Flash and the Earth 2 friends deal with their personal problems, Alchemy is busy restoring another Central City civilian’s powers from the Flashpoint timeline. This week, he turns his attention to Frankie Kane, a teenager whose current foster dad, John, is super abusive. Alchemy restores Frankie’s magnetic powers so she could get back at John, but it aggravates her split-personality problems. Every time she gets agitated or upset, Magenta takes over and does something nasty with her powers.

The Flash’s first encounter with Magenta takes place at the precinct. As she tries to escape, she lifts a police car in the air to distract The Flash. Luckily, he’s able to save the officer behind the wheel before the car comes crashing down. This was one of several stunning special-effects sequences in the episode, directed by Armen V. Kevorkian, who handles the show’s effects. So it wasn’t totally surprising how good some of them looked in the episode.

If I were in the business of doling out MVP awards, I would give this week’s to Iris, who figures out Magenta won’t stop until she’s gotten revenge on her abusive foster father. Iris pays John a visit at the hospital, where he’s been recuperating from the first time Magenta tried to kill him. Obviously, Magenta chooses right then to attack the hospital with a bloody tanker.

The Flash speeds off to the hospital and runs around the roof of the building to create enough resistance to stop the tanker from dropping on the building. However, it quickly becomes clear this a job for two speedsters: one to keep the tanker up and the other one to talk Magenta down. So, Harry finally acquiesces and tells Jesse she needs to be out there. “Run, Jesse, run,” says Harry in my favorite moment of the episode.

Jesse takes over tanker duties while Barry has a heart-to-heart with Magenta. Barry tells Frankie that John’s temper wasn’t her fault, that he was just angry about who he had become and couldn’t move forward (hmm, who else does that sound like?) Eventually, Barry’s words help Frankie, the nicer personality, take back control, and she lowers the tanker. The day is saved, and now it’s time for the wrap-up.

Back at STAR Labs, Frankie tells the Team she started having dreams about another life where she had powers — that’s what led her to Alchemy. This bit of information means a lot to Wally, who mentioned earlier he’s been dreaming about having powers. Who else expects that Wally, out of desperation, will turn to Alchemy to restore his powers from the Flashpoint timeline? Once Frankie is debriefed, Harry has a heart-to-heart with his daughter and apologizes for his paternalism by giving her a flash-y superhero costume.

Barry and Iris decide to take another stab at the whole first-date thing. However, Barry thinks the problem was they tried to be who they were before the particle accelerator happened. His solution: using his powers to speed her up the coast for a nice dinner by the water — which he leaves as soon as he arrives, after Joe calls him back to the precinct to show him and Julian the video of Alchemy killing Edward Clariss in his cell. Iris isn’t upset, though, and says this was the best date she’s ever been on. (She has to be lying, since it couldn’t have lasted more than 10 minutes, right?)

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