After two relatively weak episodes, The Flash strikes back with its strongest effort this season. A large part of why The Flash S03E03 rocked was that an outstanding character finally returned. It goes beyond that though. Most of the characters have more or less rebounded from “Flashpoint” and things are back to normal — or as normal as it ever gets for Barry Allen and his friends at STAR Labs. An excellent new villain (with one major flaw) debuted and a new hero showed up as well. Whether it was due to the first two episodes being weak or The Flash S03E03 being a genuinely good show, I was very much satisfied with this week’s outing. Now zip on your spoiler hoodie, because it’s time for nine random thoughts on The Flash S03E03 using the RPad.TV binary system!
I’m So Wild About Harry (Good): Usually I try to do these things in chronological order, but the return of Harry Wells destroys order. Early in the episode, Harry pops out of breach from Earth-Two and immediately goes about dominating the show. Going into season three, I was hoping that Flashpoint would create a third version of Harrison Wells, but after one episode, I’m thrilled that Earth-Two Harry is back. He’s funny, complex, formidably intelligent, excellent at throwing tools, and disarmingly endearing. Tom Cavanagh is fantastic at playing this character and makes the other actors he has scenes with better. Think of The Flash as the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavanagh as Chris Paul. Yeah, the Clippers are a decent team without CP3, but they’re so much better with him (until the second round of the playoffs, anyway *snicker*).
Oh yeah, Harry Wells’ angry use of “Not!” jokes completely ruled.
Barry and Iris Suck at Dating (Bad): The show kicked off with Barry and Iris having an awkward date. We’re supposed to believe that they’re true loves, no matter what multiverse they’re in. Instead, they’re romance seems forced and uncomfortable. As I’ve noted in my previous “Flash Facts” columns, I’m not a fan of bumbling Barry. Unfortunately, that’s the guy Iris was on a date with.
The Debut of Jesse Quick (Good): Harry Wells came back to Earth-One because his daughter is now a speedster. Naturally, the overprotective Harry doesn’t want Jesse to be running around as a superhero. His paternal efforts to thwart her heroic aspirations were fantastic. While TV Jesse Quick’s origin is completely different from the comics’ version, I enjoy the actress and am looking forward to the seeing her in costume. Besides, any character or storyline that keeps Harry Wells involved is an excellent thing for The Flash.
Magenta Characterization (Good): This character was a pleasant surprise. I was concerned going into the episode, since Magenta is a Wally/Flash villain and not a Barry/Flash villain. Magenta also suffers from mental illness, which is easier to write about sensitively in print and more difficult to do in a television script. My worry was that the writers would butcher the nuance and simple make her a crazy bitch. Instead, the writers and actress delivered a great character. Joey King was wonderful at showing a damaged and frightened Frankie Kane. She was also good at playing the sociopathic Magenta. Playing split personalities can be tricky and I enjoyed the job that King did with the material she was given.
Magenta Physical Acting (Bad): The one aspect of Magenta that really bothered me was King’s arm motions. It was…bad. King’s arm-magnetism-powers acting in The Flash S03E03 reminded of Sophie Turner’s wretched fingers-on-the-temple telepathy acting from X-Men: Apocalypse.
Caitlin Dazzles (Good): First off, props to Danielle Panabaker’s stylist. Her hair looked amazing in The Flash S03E03. More importantly, Caitlin Snow had some good material to work with. Her reluctant talk-her-out-of-being-a-hero speech to Jesse was awkwardly cute. When Harry tries to chide her for failing, she lays into him and tells him what’s what. It was nice to see the forceful and logical side of Caitlin Snow come out. Or is that Killer Frost’s personality creeping to the forefront….
Malfoy is Still a Dick (Good): Although he didn’t have too much to do this week, I’m happy that Tom Felton is still around and still being a dick to Barry. British people excel at being snarky.
Wally Becomes Idiotically Reckless (Bad): Wally is still being mopey, but it appears he’s getting dumber too. The kid really wants to be a superhero. After hearing how Jesse’s powers activated, he runs in front of a car to try to replicate the process. Moron. Towards the end of the The Flash S03E03, you can see the wheels in his head turning when Frankie reveals how Dr. Alchemy activated her Magenta powers. It looks like a safe bet that Wally is going to do something extraordinarily stupid in order to become a superhero. (Like, I don’t know, make a deal with Dr. Alchemy?!?) He’s lucky that Barry is there to bail his mopey ass out.
Barry and Iris Git Gud at Dating (Good): Barry was so much better during his second date with Iris. He was more confident and had a rational (yet heartfelt) explanation for why the first date bombed. Grant Gustin is great at being confident and sensitive at the same time, and it really showed in this scene. This is his wheelhouse. Hopefully he stays in it for the remainder of the The Flash season three. Bumbling Barry only works in alternate timelines. Long live Confident-Yet-Vulnerable Barry!