And so it begins, The CW’s annual superhero crossover. Spanning four shows, this year’s crossover, titled “Crisis on Earth-X,” is airing on two nights instead of four and flows from one hour to the next as though it were a movie and not singular episodes. Despite this attempt at more of a full-length feature, it was the first hour that prevailed over the second. With its primary focus on the characters, who are always enjoyable when interacting with each other (especially if they’re meeting for the first time or have a bizarre history), part one gave us a stronger and more entertaining hour. While mostly set-up, it allowed for a lot of follow through in regards to already existing storylines, whereas the second part of the crossover focused too much focus on the Nazi characters of Supergirl, Green Arrow, and Reverse-Flash and was slow, flat, and duller than the first hour.
There are most likely some who think Alex’s hookup with Sara was in bad taste given the fact that she’d just ended a meaningful relationship with Maggie. But it’s perfectly normal, while hurting, to seek solace in someone else’s arms. Alex felt fairly guilty about it afterward, but it also opens the doors for her a bit and shows her that, while her relationship with Maggie was good while it lasted, she still has other opportunities to date and flirt and find someone who really wants what she wants. Even better than the actual Alex and Sara interaction (for the record, they make an awesome fighting duo), was Kara’s continued support of her sister. Even though she was supposed to attend the wedding with Mon-El (who has already had a wedding of his own), she didn’t let that put down her mood down for too long and even found amusement in her sister’s situation.
The episode had a lot of various interactions and flowed fairly well despite the lack of physical action, which came at the end. It strangely felt like the setup to a romantic comedy, until it was ruined by the Nazi wedding crashers at least, turning it into an action thriller situation. The wedding itself was beautiful, Joe’s speech to Barry and Iris about their love inspiring him and teaching him that love is the best thing to have was beautiful. It would have been nice to have seen more interactions between the West family, especially at the rehearsal dinner and a moment between Joe and Iris prior to her walk down the aisle. The wedding was central to the episode and could’ve spared some more time to the people closest to Barry and Iris.
Speaking of Barry and Iris, though it didn’t last very long, the ceremony itself was beautiful, with Kara singing “Runnin’ Home to You” as Iris walks down the aisle, Barry standing with tears in his eyes, and the atmosphere full of contagious happiness and love. It’s really hard not to be wrapped up in all the sentimentality given their journey to the altar and everything they’ve been through to get to this moment. Their wedding gets interrupted and yet they continue to be beacons of strength, unity, and hope amid the chaos. The vault scene is a good example of this as they stand as a unit, reiterating their progress as partners and lovers. Iris is also more a part of the action in the episodes rather than on the sidelines offscreen. As the head of Team Flash now, it would’ve been way too disappointing if she’d disappeared from the episodes after the wedding. And after being one of the only main characters to have never crossed over to the other shows, it’s nice to see her finally getting her due.
The Supergirl episode had a better handle on the characters and dialogue overall. Between Mick and Caitlin’s amusing interactions, Barry and Kara getting a moment to catch-up, and the rehearsal dinner shenanigans, the writing was just better in part one. Following the initial crashing of the wedding, the fight scenes inside the church were really well done as well. There were a lot of characters, but there was a balance, coordination, and some standout fight choreography, primarily from Wally (who made fighting look so flawless and graceful with what looked like a dance move), Alex, and Kara. The women of DCTV having an entire scene to themselves was also refreshing to see and needs to happen more often.
Given that Oliver has barely been a central character on his own show this season, parts one and two dramatically try to place him at the center of everything, to the detriment of the episodes. Stephen Amell isn’t the strongest actor across the four shows, and so his ability to carry the weight of the crossover left a lot to be desired. Oliver’s sudden need to propose to Felicity, at the rehearsal dinner of his friend’s wedding no less, was in poor taste. It’s also unfortunate that it’s suddenly decided Oliver and Felicity should have big relationship drama in the midst of a dangerous situation and after having gotten back together so recently. Having said that, Felicity’s reasons for rejecting the proposal made sense and it wasn’t pleasant to watch Oliver try and pressure her about the issue in public, though at least he stopped after she asked him to respect her wishes.
The storyline of Jax and Stein’s uncoupling as Firestorm has been dragged out for too long. Several episodes over the course of Legends of Tomorrow have been dedicated to it already. Bringing it to the crossover and making it an even bigger thing was frustrating, especially knowing it won’t end well. But besides that, there’s no more heart left in this story, if there was ever any heart in it at all. Jax is the only who seems to care about Stein permanently parting ways and it’s strange that Stein doesn’t have more of an emotional reaction to all of this given that he’s the one who convinced Jax to rejoin the Legends earlier this season. They’ve had a strong bond up until now, but this storyline has unfortunately made it wane. Stein is too caught up in just getting it done and his lack of emotion is beginning to become irritating. Sure, this storyline is a clever way to remove Stein from the narrative (Victor Garber is leaving the DCTV universe to be in a theater production) and keep Jax around, but at this point, it’s gone on for so long that it’s better for it to be over.
DCTV loves bringing back long-gone characters, but seeing Tommy Merlyn again lacked any kind of emotional punch. To start with, he was only on Arrow for one season and his appearance in “Crisis on Earth-X” was focused too much on exposition before they went and killed him off again. Just another character in the Arrowverse who’s brought back to die. Moreover, he goes on about how they were all brainwashed on Earth-X, but if he’s so brainwashed, then how is he even able to argue the opposing side. A brainwashed person would only see down the narrow arguments they’ve been fed with and not try to give reasons as to his behavior, especially not to someone he’s supposed to have killed. This choice was odd given the plot’s material, like the writers were trying to justify why there were Nazi versions of good characters without actual repercussions.
I realize that with crossovers it’s difficult to include every single cast member in every episode for logistical and scheduling reasons. However, seeing as this was a wedding, it’s bizarre that some people, like Ray Palmer and Diggle (people Barry and Iris know and have interacted with), didn’t attend the wedding… but Mick did? Also, knocking out Cisco and leaving Wally behind was a mistake. They’re two characters who would have helped immensely with their powers, and also wisecracked the entire time. Their presence would have saved us from more of the boring and darker aspects of part two. The sidelining of Wally continued to be disrespectful to him as Kid Flash, and watching the writers continue to push him to the side was painful.
I won’t pretend to know why the showrunners decided to use Nazis in this particular plot other than the fact that it came from a known comic book story. Still, from what we’ve already seen of the Nazis (Dark Arrow, Overgirl, and Reverse-Flash) in part two, it wouldn’t have been outside of the realm of possibility for them to have just been your run-of-the-mill evil doppelgangers. What’s the purpose of making them Nazis? To hit us over the head with paraphernalia, images of Hitler, and brutality that is unnecessary, especially given the current political climate? How does making them Nazis serve the story? At one point, evil Oliver is compared to Hitler and it almost seems like the show is trying to “show us their side” of things and humanize them and that’s disgustingly awful and unnecessary.
Honestly, the Arrowverse has never bothered giving so much attention to any other evil doppelgangers and their backstories before, so why do so now? It’s in extremely poor taste. Evil doppelgangers who are on a mission to grab Kara and a prism for their plan would have made for the same story, with the same repercussions for the characters. And it wouldn’t have been nearly as dark or as triggering as showcasing Nazi symbols and what definitely looked like a concentration camp at the end of part two. This is the Arrowverse once again trying to make a statement about evil, but not having the capacity to do so properly, so specifically using Nazis for entertainment without doing the situation or background any justice isn’t a good look at all.
All in all, there were some solid and standout moments from parts one and two of “Crisis on Earth-X,” but, just like last year’s crossover episodes, they failed to be anything above average and could have substituted the entire Nazi aspect. I guess we’ll have to see how the final two hours pan out and hope that there can be some sort of decent conclusion.
Part Two of “Crisis on Earth-X” will air tonight at 8/7c on The CW.
- I don’t know why anyone thought sticking evil Oliver with evil Kara would make for a good look. I’m sorry, but no.
- The Nazi story makes no sense. They want Supergirl for her heart to save Overgirl, but then why not have gone to her earth. Why wait for her to come to Barry and Iris’ wedding? Don’t they now have to fight even more superheroes to get what they want? Nonsense.
- I would be awful if I didn’t even bring up the unknown caterer at the wedding who spoke to Barry like she knew him and was way too excited to be seeing Iris and Barry get married. I think this is Dawn Allen (Nora Dawn Allen?), Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future and her presence could tie back into Barry’s speed force ramblings of, “Nora shouldn’t be here.” Either way, it’s really great casting both physically and otherwise (Jessica Parker Kennedy as Dawn was a cross between Barry and Iris’ expressions and mannerisms).
- Melissa Benoist really sold her evil counterpart.
- Reverse-Flash wearing Harrison Wells’ face is still weird, but they at least explained it. Some of Tom Cavanagh’s best work as this character, even though I prefer Harry (I know, I know).
- Seeing Tommy Merlyn used for shock value was annoying.
- I’m amazed at Oliver’s expression. It barely changes.
- Barry had tears in his eyes as Iris walked down the isle. Grant Gustin sold the hell out of this moment.
- Alex isn’t able to look Sara in the eyes after their night together. This is both sad and highly amusing.
- This is the first time Iris admits to having nightmares, or something keeping her awake. This is sad, but again reiterates that she and Barry get through because of each other. Continuity.
- “Didn’t I kidnap you once?” Oh, Mick. I adored these interactions with him and Caitlin. An aside: I strangely wish Killer Frost was around more often now since she’s no longer straight up evil. She’s so snarky and I like it.
- No one could be bothered to RSVP to the wedding? Really?
- Oliver attempting to give Barry and Iris advice will never not be funny, in an ironic way. How do you spit out the same words Barry basically told you earlier? Also, Oliver is the last person who should be giving anyone love advice.
- Thank god there is no Nazi version of Barry. Seeing as how he’s with Iris (on this Earth and every other, it seems), it would’ve been in bad taste for him to be a hateful, white supremacist type. Small favors. Wish I could say the same for Oliver and Felicity, seeing as how she’s Jewish. Still not a good look, showrunners.
- I think it’s interesting that Oliver is always with someone else when it’s not in the main timeline or Earth. Last year, it was Laurel in his dream world. This year, it’s Kara.
- Mick’s interaction with Captain Singh in the church was funny.
- I really would have liked less Oliver overall, if that wasn’t clear.
- Part two was really a drag. Even the fight scenes weren’t as good as the church fight scene. Messy.
- Some of the dialogue? Cringey.
- It really annoys me that the group continues to talk in science techno-babble while trying to make others seem less smart. That’s not cool. First of all, Felicity isn’t a scientist and neither is Alex, so when the hell did they suddenly become science gurus. Secondly, Iris is the damn leader of Team Flash, Arrow writers. Please don’t try to dumb her down to prop everyone else (even the non-science people). It’s stupid and irritating. These shows have issues sometimes. You can be smart without knowing pseudo-science mumbo schmumbo and it’s irritating that all the shows continue to undercut that.
- Did we really need to see images of Hitler?
- I have so many more thoughts, but this got really long!