Harry and Jesse Wells return from Earth 2 with astonishing news - Jesse has developed super-speed powers! She's eager to join the fight against evil but Harry is hoping Team Flash can talk her out of using her powers. Meanwhile, a new metahuman with the power of magnetism begins to terrorize Central City.
The Wolfman/Perez run on Teen Titans (first appearance of the character of Magenta), the Geoff Johns run of The Flash (introduced Magenta as a villain), Stephen King's Carrie (abused teenage girl lashes out with her latent psychic powers.), Robert Lewis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (idea of super-powered evil persona taking over a person's life) and the film Primal Fear (mentioned by Cisco, plot involves a killer who feigns insanity to cover up their murdering their abuser).
Given that there are metahumans who are capable of changing size (or there were in the pre-Flashpoint reality), Julian Albert dismissing the idea of a super-strong metahuman with a 20 foot wing-span seems ridiculously short-sighted. (Then again, he does love contradicting Barry because he's an arrogant dick.)
For that matter, for a genius who is supposedly an expert on metahumans Julian Albert doesn't seem to fully consider the consequences of angrily confronting a metahuman that he believes to be an attempted murderer without a weapon or some means of pacification. (Again - arrogant dick.)
Caitlin corrects Harry when he identifies Magenta as dissociative, saying that she's got split-personality disorder. In point of fact, Dissociative Identity Disorder is the proper medical term. (Of course Caitlin is a biologist - not a psychologist. Or she may be using the more familiar if archaic term for the benefit of all the non-scientists in the room.)
The whole cast is firing on eight cylinders this week but it's Danielle Panabaker who is the episode's MVP. Some of the more subtle humor in the episode comes from Caitlin not wanting to talk about her newfound powers but clearly sympathizing with Jesse more than her father, despite her own desire to hide what she can do. And the moment in which the mousy Caitlin lets Harry have it with both barrels is glorious.
The script for this episode features a lot of witty dialogue and humor based on things the audience knows that the characters don't (i.e. Caitlin keeping her cold powers a secret)
Good special effects as Barry copes with boredom waiting to get off work at super-speed.
The special effects used to indicate the switch between Frankie and Magenta are effective in their simplicity.
This episode opened with a new introductory voice over, reflecting the changes to the show since Flashpoint.
The idea of time running slower for speedsters when they are bored is a frequent point of annoyance in The Flash comics. While Barry was better at coping than most, it has been a frequent running gag that various speedster heroes have short attention spans bordering on being ADHD.
In the comics, Frances Kane was a childhood friend of Wally West from before he became Kid Flash. She first appeared in New Teen Titans #17 (March 1982). Frances developed magnetic powers as a teenager and Wally trained her in using them after she was kicked out of her home by a mother who thought she was demonically possessed.
Wally and Frances began dating and Frances briefly served on the Teen Titans under the codename Magenta, despite wanting a normal life. The two continued dating after Wally took up Barry Allen's mantle but broke up after Wally asked Frances to move in with him, as she feared their relationship was moving too fast. Years later, she reemerged with a split personality that wanted to kill Wally West. She would spend the next few years fluctuating between hero and villain as her personalities fought for dominance.
The DCTVU version of Frances Kane goes by the name Frankie and has no previous relationship to Wally West or any other member of Team Flash. An orphan bounced from abusive home to abusive home, her Magenta personality takes over whenever Frankie feels threatened. Frankie Kane has magenta-dyed hair and her eyes glow magenta when Magenta takes over. Her influence over metal is strong enough that she can lift a tanker ship.
In the original comics, the heroine Jesse Quick was a woman named Jesse Chambers. The daughter of two superheroes - the speedster Johnny Quick and the super-strong Liberty Belle - Jesse originally had no desire to be a superhero, despite making the subject of her college thesis "Mystery Men and Their Effects On Our Culture". She was pressed into action by a crisis and took on the name Jesse Quick, eventually becoming a frequent ally of the Wally West flash.
Ironically, in the original comics, Jesse Quick's father Johnny Quick was pushing her to take up his legacy as opposed to Wells, who is trying to prevent Jesse from becoming a superhero.
Frankie Kane is sent to a new home in Keystone City. Keystone City, in the DC Comics Universe, is the sister city of Central City.
At one point, Barry says that they (Team Flash) "have faith in Frankie". This might be a nod to a Vertigo series by Mike Carey, Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel called My Faith In Frankie.
Dark matter affects different people in different ways at different times - sometimes not at all. Harry Wells says that despite being zapped with the same energy at the same time, there's no guarantee Wally West will ever develop super-speed as Jesse Wells did.
The outer layer of the steel lamp post used to attach John James is half an inch thick. Bending even a quarter-inch of steel requires 177 tons of tensile strength, indicating a metahuman with super-strength at first glance. However, Julian Albert notes that the lamp post lacked fingerprints and the curvature of the post suggested that equal amounts of pressure were applied to the whole thing at the same time. In order for a person with super-strength to do that, they'd have to have a 20 foot wing-span.
According to Julian Albert, the metahumans created by Alchemy all have a common element in their genetic make-up he has yet to identify. It is not present in any other metahuman DNA samples he's studied.
Frankie Kane is dissociative - what used to be called multiple-personality disorder. Apparently she's been treated for it her entire life.
In this reality, Cisco installed panic buttons on all of Team Flash's phones, due to their constantly being kidnapped.
Barry is able to repel the tanker away from the hospital by running in a figure-8 formation on the roof. This creates a propeller effect, that creates a large enough updraft to prevent the tanker from touching the building.
Barry (Voice-Over): My name is Barry Allen and I am the fastest man alive. To the outside world I'm an ordinary forensic scientist, but secretly, with the help of my friends at STAR Labs, I fight crime and find other metahumans like me. After defeating Zoom and saving The Multiverse, I ran back in time and created the alternate timeline Flashpoint. I restored the timeline to how it was only to find things weren't as I left them. I brought new threats to our world. And I am the only one fast enough to stop them. I am The Flash.
(As Julian Albert is lecturing him and time slows to a crawl from Barry's perspective.)
Barry (Voice-Over): Remember that other feeling you got when that thing that you were excited about seemed to take forever to arrive? Imagine being a speedster. Days seem like weeks. Hours seem like days. And seconds seem like... you get the point.
(As everyone watches the breach, Harry Wells jumps out, hands raised.)
Harry: I need your help.
Joe: With what?
(Yellow lightning emerges from the breach and circles around the room, eventually stopping to reveal Jesse Wells)
Harry: With that.
Magenta: Sorry, John. Frankie's gone.
( John James is hit by a lamp post flying through the window.)
Caitlin: Harry, we can help her. We can train her, just like we did Barry.
Harry: I don't want you to train her, okay? I brought her here for you to talk her out of it. Not talk her into it! Alright? Ramon! You - you should talk to her! You're a meta!
Cisco: Yeah. Which makes me the last person she should talk to about not using her powers!
Harry: (stammering) Okay. Snow.... Caitlin. You and her - you've always had such a special relationship. You talk to her.
Caitlin: (blinks, totally off-guard) No, we don't!
Caitlin: And I don't know anything about having powers, so I'm the last person you should talk to. So... don't ask.
(Julian Albert is verbally assaulting Frankie Kane)
Frankie: No, no, no!
Julian: You put your foster father in the hospital, didn't you?! Didn't you?!
(Suddenly, Frankie straightens up and her eyes glow as Magenta takes over.)
Magenta: Oh, I wanted to do more than hurt him. And now I'm going to do the same to you!
Magenta: No! Frankie is gone! My name is Magenta
Flash: You're like this because of Alchemy! He changed you, didn't he?
(Frankie's eyes momentarily go back to normal but flash magenta again.)
Flash: This isn't you. Just come with me. Tell me what happened. I can help you!
Magenta: I don't need any more help, Flash.
Flash: I just don't want anyone to get hurt.
Magenta: It's too late for that.
Barry: Her name is Frankie Kane but she's calling herself Magenta.
Barry: Hey, Joe? Did you talk to Wally? He still seems a little bummed.
Joe: Eh, it's not gonna fix itself over night. But it's all good. He gets it.
Joe: And I've gotta be honest - it was one of my better "dad-cop" speeches.
Barry: What's "dad-cop"?
Joe: There's Good-Cop, Bad-Cop and Dad-cop, Firm but reassuring. Cuts to the point.
Barry: I don't think I know that one.
Joe: Yeah, well he's different than you, Barry. You're like... a second daughter. You overshare your feelings. Him, I've got to be a little more... nuanced.
Barry: Huh. Cool.
Joe: I'm messing with you. (chuckles) I'll talk at you if I get any leads on Frankie, all right?
Barry: Alright. (muttering once Joe is gone) "Second daughter"? What's he talking about?
(Caitlin is trying to talk Jesse out of becoming a superhero.)
Jesse: Riiiight. This is because I'm a girl.
Caitlin: What?! No! Not at all, why?
Jesse: Well, I mean Barry didn't have to take it slow. He was stopping criminals the second he got his powers. Why can't I do the same thing?
Caitlin: Well... I mean, I'm sure you think that it's a great thing to have powers, but... sometimes it's not so great. Trust me. I'm just saying... if I had powers, I would probably take it slow.
Jesse: My dad put you up to this, didn't he?
(Caitlin's mouth opens as she tries to think of how to deny this plausibly.)
Jesse: Yeah. I mean, of course he did.
(Jesse gets up and storms from the room.)
Magenta: She's still here. I can feel Frankie trying to stay in control. You said I could beat her!
Alchemy: What I said was I'd return to you the power you had to inflict your pain upon others.
Magenta: But I need Frankie gone to do that!
Alchemy: Do you remember why you came to me?
Magenta: I came to you because you showed me a way to stop him from hurting me.
Alchemy: Show him that Magenta is in control. Then once you've done that, Frankie will know it as well.
Harry: What did you say to her?
Harry: Yeah. You.
Caitlin: Don't blame me for this. I tried to help.
Harry: Help her or help me?
Caitlin: (annoyed) Listen, Harry - maybe the reason she's shutting you out is because you're not trying to understand what she's going through!
Harry: I don't need to-
Caitlin: (more forcefully) Maybe if you helped her navigate her powers rather than just assuming they'll destroy her, maybe she'd turn to you rather than push you away.
(Caitlin leaves the room as Harry and Cisco look on, jaws dropped.)
Harry: I was always too good at forgiving myself, Allen. And you were never good enough.
(To a barely conscious John James as she wheels him towards an exit.)
Iris: Frankie is coming for you. And as much as it pains me to help an abusive dick like you, I can't let you die.
(An alarm blares down the STAR Labs hallways.)
Barry: What kind of alarm is that?
Joe: That's Iris' panic button!
Barry: Her what?
Cisco: Her panic button.
Cisco: (impatiently) We installed them on everyone's phones? Because we kept getting kidnapped?!
Barry: Well, at least something's an improvement in this timeline.
(As Team Flash watches the tanker Magenta is levitating move closer to the hospital.)
Barry: I've gotta go...
Joe: What are you going to do? You don't have super-strength.
Barry (to the rest of the team) Start thinking!
Every time Harry says "Not!" like Bill and Ted or Wayne and Garth.
Harry refers to Wally and Jesse both being exposed to dark matter during the events of 220.
Barry's creation of Flashpoint also led to STAR Labs developing a special "speed lab" that he had never seen before. Neither had Harry or Jesse.
Albert refers to Barry's stealing a sample from him in 302.
John James has a police record for numerous disorderly conduct charges.
In this reality, Cisco installed panic buttons on all of Team Flash's phones, due to their constantly being kidnapped.
John James is charged with abuse for what he did to Frankie Kane.
Caitlin finds a new, good home for Frankie Kane in Keystone City. They promise to check up on her to make sure Magenta doesn't return.
Frankie describes having dreams about being Magenta that felt like memories of another life at first. Then the dreams begin to fill her mind during the day. She began to hear a man's voice (Alchemy) telling her that he could make her powerful again.
Cisco makes Jesse a costume and insignia like The Flash's.
It appears that Barry runs himself and Iris some distance away from Central City for their second date.
Jesse describes the incident where she realized she had super-speed after nearly getting hit by a car.
The Bottom Line
On the surface, this seems like your typical "villain-of-the-week" episode where this week's special guest villain is the weakest aspect of the episode. Strictly speaking that's also the case here but for once this is not because the villain's storyline is not compelling. It's just hard for the storyline that establishes Magenta to compete with more of Jesse and Wally flirting, Caitlin losing her temper with Harry, Joe explaining his "dad cop" persona to Barry and all the other little things that make this episode more than the sum of its parts. Possibly one of the ten best episodes in the series' history.