Season Three, Episodes Three & Four — “Magenta”, “The New Rogues”
By Jarrod Jones. There really is no better feeling that seeing The Flash be at its best. When it allows one episode the space to properly tease moments that really pay off soon after. One episode sets ’em up, the next episode knocks ’em down.
“Magenta” is definitely a set-up episode. One that takes all the time it needs to explore the burgeoning relationships between Barry Allen and Team Flash. (It kinda glosses over the enmity between Barry and new Flash guest star, Tom Felton, but hey.) Our hero wants to take in dinner with the love of his life? Well, that gets cut short in a Central City second. No big surprise there. Superhero derring-do supersedes smooches. And if the villain of the week — really just a misunderstood moppet who looked like she fell into a vat of discarded Hot Topic discount items and decided to go with it — isn’t enough to fill the episode, then bring on our visitors from Earth-2.
Harry’s back! And he’s acting like a class-A dummy. Luckily, “Magenta” is the sort of episode that comes with surprises: Harry’s brought Jesse Quick with him, and guess what? She’s a speedster now too! So what’s this about a speed lab? S.T.A.R. has one of those now? Seems Barry’s time-hopping paradox reality continues to reap rich rewards. (Not to mention cool ones.) Life is giving him everything the Fastest Man Alive needs — even if there are forces beyond his control still simmering in the background.
Speaking of which, Wally West is pretty bummed that he doesn’t have speed himself, which means he’ll probably play right into Alchemy’s hands before long.
That’s a sentiment that’s underlined by the following episode, “The New Rogues”. Here, Wally and Jesse explore a romantic relationship, which only makes sense if you forget that nothing about their interactions in the last season of The Flash ever alluded to such a development. (Unless mere proximity leads to smooching, which I’m pretty sure that’s not how any of this works.) At least things are moving along for Jesse Quick — she’s got a slick new superhero costume and all the hangtime she needs with a bonafide hero. Meanwhile her would-be boyfriend is jealous and Caitlin Snow is just glad no one’s looking too closely at the snowflakes accumulating around her desk.
“The New Rogues” comes with plenty of intrigue besides, kickstarted by none other than Leonard Snart himself. Wentworth Miller seethes magnificently in an opening sequence that sets off a chain of events leading to the creation of not just the Mirror Master (finally), but The Top too. (Eh… sure.)
What was ol’ Leonard up to the night the particle accelerator exploded? No good, it turns out — the future Captain Cold puts the kibosh on a partnership with the villainous Sam Scudder just before the lights went out. Laid flat on a mirror and bathed in atomic particles, Scudder develops magical mirror powers, and his girlfriend can make people really dizzy.
As far as supervillain powers go in this show, that’s definitely a dip in the chilly pool of illogic. But it does set up a cool rivalry between two of The Flash‘s more iconic villains, so I’m not complaining. Besides, The Flash is always better when it acknowledges that his Rogues Gallery is more like a room full of misunderstood toughs, all acting out because they just need a hug.
“The New Rogues” finds something for the rest of Team Flash to do, but the “pick an alternate Harrison Wells at random” subplot is definitely a dizzying development. Instead of putting their incredible minds together to, say, cure Alzheimer’s or something, Cisco, Caitlin, and Harry develop a multiversal “fishing rod” to lure in another Harrison Wells so Wells-2 can go back to Earth-2, even though we’re just getting used to having his daughter running around Earth-1 in an awesome red jumpsuit.
Also file under “I don’t know about this”: a subplot where Det. Joe may actually get some. Everyone’s feeling the love bug in “The New Rogues”, even Caitlin Snow. (The Good Doctor, on the Mirror Master: “Cute guy — for a criminal.”) Since we’re still so early on in this promising new season, it’s worthwhile to take an episode or two to enjoy some real character development — maybe even a snuggle or two. But it doesn’t make the knowledge that the ground is about to fall out from under us any less daunting. That’s The Flash for you; setting things up just to knock us on our asses.
“There’s good cop, bad cop, and Dad Cop.” – Det. Joe.
“No touching!” – Wells-2, to Jessie and Wally.
Barry: “Oliver said Snart left with some friends of ours on a… trip.” Det. Joe: “I don’t even want to know.” No, you really don’t.
BEST MOMENT: Scudder versus Snart. Having Wentworth Miller pop in for a flashback sequence was enough to get me to sit up straight, but watching the man who would be Captain Cold smack around the chump who’s gonna be the Mirror Master was a slice of comic dork heaven.
EPISODES’ MVP: Harrison Wells of Earth-2. Tom Cavanagh may not be going anywhere (there’s even the possibility of yet another heel turn — check out the promo below), but Harry-2 has peaced out for the foreseeable future. Gonna miss the grim S.O.B.
– If Jesse’s gonna be a superhero, she’s gonna haveta stop wearing those heels.
– Mirror Master, Captain Cold, and The Top have it out at a facility called ‘Broome Industries’. Broome stands for John Broome, who co-created all three villains.
– Sam Scudder, played by Grey Damon, first appeared in The Flash #105 in March of 1959.
– Ashley Rickards portrays the first-ever female version of The Top, who first appeared The Flash #122 in August of 1961.
– Barry’s training Jesse Quick in the ways of superherodom, which takes him to a cute realization that he’s become more like Oliver Queen than he ever anticipated. The long shadow of the Justice League just keeps getting longer.
– Easter Egg for the other Mirror Master out there — Evan McCulloch is the Mirror Master of Earth-2. Maybe we’ll get to see him drop some brogue on Team Flash some day.
– Just to be thorough, Evan McCulloch was created by Grant Morrison and Chas Truog in Animal Man #8 in February of 1989.
8 out of 10
Next: “Monster,” soon.
Before: “Paradox,” here.