[The post contains minor spoilers for The Flash episode 'Magenta.']
In the third episode of The Flash season 3, 'Magenta,' the new direction for the series has come into clearer focus. The first two episodes dealt with the ramifications of Barry Allen's decision to alter the course of time and the resulting paradoxical dilemma -- or Flashpoint -- that he was forced to clean up. Now the pieces are in place for the show to move forward at a much faster pace.
It's clear that one of the big running themes for the season will focus on Barry fostering the Flash family into existence. Season 1 was about Barry discovering the near-limitless bounds of his powers. In season 2, Barry was introduced to alternate dimensions and otherworldly allies and threats. It seems that in season 3, Barry will find himself as the godfather of the Speed Force and be put in the position to mentor the next generation of speedsters.
In the latest episode, much of the B-plot revolved around both Jesse Quick (Violett Beane) and Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). While Jesse and Wally were both exposed to the mysterious Dark Matter last season, only the former has emerged as a meta-human. However, it's easily apparent that a circle of envy has been established between the three, that will ultimately fuel the early part of the third season. Jesse craves the same opportunity to become heroic that Barry was afforded when he initially became The Flash. Wally covets the gift of speed that Jesse received and that he feels cheated out of. While Barry simply just wants to make things right, after his selfish actions have literally changed the world.
Barry's New Focus
The events of Flashpoint combined with the Dark Matter explosion have created a whole new roster of heroes and villains. While the forces of evil within Central City will come to the light over the course of the season, both Jesse Quick and Wally West have already at some point -- in space and time -- been connected with the Speed Force. Much like Barry's early motivations were to find ways to run faster and ultimately save his mother, he now obsesses over correcting the glitches in the timeline and improving the delicate relationships within Team Flash.
It has been sometime since Barry has pined for ways to "go faster." While fans of the comic know that he has even more Speed Force tricks up his sleeves, for the time being, the world's fastest man is spending his time just trying to make things right. When he isn't at work as The Flash or as a forensic scientist, he is boldly pursuing his relationship with Iris West (Candace Patton). At work, he is attempting to co-exist with his "new" antagonistic partner in meta-human crime-solving, Julian Albert (Tom Felton). And while in costume, he is trying to change the world that was altered by his past decisions.
If one thing one was made clear in 'Magenta,' it's that Barry now finds himself as an elder statesman in the ways of the Speed Force. Over the course of the first two seasons the original Flash took no less than 46 learning lessons and bumps along the road to become a hero that is secure in his own tights. In the comics, The Flash serves as a father figure to The Flash family. So when he is overprotective of Wally and doesn't encourage his speed fetish, it does come from the right place. However, that paternal instinct and dismissive approach, may end up being a source of conflict down the road.
Jesse the Quick
The emergence of Jesse Quick the speedster was as sudden as her first appearance in the episode. She is angst-free when it comes to the "burden" of being a speedster and has quickly adapted to the power of moving at supersonic speeds. A majority of her character's arc in the episode revolved around the conflict between her and her father, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh). Wells wants her to suppress her speed potential, while Jesse wants nothing more than to run full speed ahead into a future as a hero, much like Barry did in season 1.
However, Jesse (along with Wally) wasn't there to see the trials and tribulations that Barry had to endure on the path to becoming a legendary figure. Nor will the character ever really have to, because having the Flash there to tutor and teach her the tricks of the trade, will inevitably accelerate her learning curve.
By the end of the episode, Wells had reversed his stance and decided to support his daughter's destiny as a speedster. By giving her a protective uniform, she is now free to run unbridled and is lined up to be the first relatively angst-free speedster. However, considering that she resides in an alternate dimension (and the fact that Beane isn't a series regular), we should expect to only see Quick on a recurring basis. But judging from this episode, it seems that each of her guest appearances will continue to fuel Wally's burning speed envy.
Wally Isn't Kidding Around
During the season premiere, viewers and Barry were privy to the alternate timeline where Wally protected Central City as Kid Flash. Since Wally's debut last season, the seeds have been laid in both his personality, and his passion for drag racing, for his character to move really fast. However, things took a much darker turn for the character this episode, as a definitive crack was exposed in Wally's psyche.
When the character was first introduced, it was apparent that he was troubled due to the unfortunate events of his upbringing. However, the jealousy that he exhibited after finding out that Jesse received super speed is a glaring character flaw that will be revisited and exploited in the near future. Within the course of the episode, we saw Wally's envy turn into frustration, which then seemed to mutate into desperation. Which was clearly exhibited by his willingness to risk his own life to activate the Speed Force within himself.
Wally's participation in the circle of Speed Envy may prove to be the most volatile link in the loop. Out of the three, his motivations and the source of his jealousy comes from a much different and more unhealthy place than the others. Any fan of Star Wars knows that dark emotions like jealousy and envy, are the path to self-destruction (or at least the loss of limbs). While we surely shouldn't expect anything that dramatic to happen to Wally, his character arc may prove to be the most pivotal of the three by the season's end.
All three characters are chasing goals that can't be caught with actual speed, which is the true irony of 'Magenta.' However, their approach to achieving their desires will surely be problematic and lead to further drama and reasons for epic superhero action in the near and far future. This new dynamic is what may ultimately set this season apart from the first two, as Barry will have to not only battle external meta-human threats, but he will also have to grow into a leader and fight for his family. What a great way to start the season, now let's see how fast this show can go.
Supergirl season 2 airs Mondays at 8pm on The CW, The Flash season 3 airs Tuesdays in the same timeslot, Arrow season 5 on Wednesdays, and Legends of Tomorrow season 2 airs on Thursdays.