Friday, December 1, 2017

DCTV Crossover Roundtable: "Crisis on Earth-X, Parts 1-4" (How Many People Are in This Again?) [Contributors: Deb and Marilyn]

“Crisis on Earth-X, Parts 1-4”
Original Airdates: November 27 and 28, 2017

Since this crossover was such a massive event — practically a four-hour movie, when you think about it — we've broken the review down by show, rather than trying to shove all of this “crisis” into one linear recap. Based on the shows, we're quickly describing how characters might be affected in the future and their biggest contributions to the plot.


Alex and Kara are in a mutual love life funk, so they make a sudden decision to skip over to another Earth, forget about life for a while, and attend Barry and Iris’s wedding. They chit-chat with their pals, dine on fancy rehearsal dinner food, listen to some lovely speeches, and at the end of the evening, Alex gets drunk and has a one-night stand with Sara from Legends of Tomorrow. Oops!

Alex sort of freaks out about it, but I think Sara is probably the best one-night stand option for her. She’s cool, all about the no-strings-attached, and lives on a different Earth. Perfect rebound, Alex.

During Barry and Iris’s wedding, Kara is the one singing Iris down the aisle, which is a pretty charming reference to the musical episode from last season. Unfortunately, once Kara’s song is finished, Nazis attack the ceremony. Yes. Nazis. That’s a thing that is happening. Since the church is full of superheroes, everyone does an admirable job fighting them off, but two definite leaders — a masked archer and a flying blonde woman — get away.

These two are, of course, doppelgängers of Oliver and Kara, who are a married couple and leaders in Earth-X’s Nazi government. (We’ll call them Oliver-X and Overgirl, for future reference.)

The whole reason why they attacked Earth-X is because they knew, through Earth-1’s Eobard Thawne (who joined Earth-X’s team because he’s evil and I guess he likes being in evil clubs), that it was the Westallen wedding and Supergirl was going to be there. They needed Supergirl because the Earth-X version — Overgirl — has radiation poisoning and needs a heart transplant. Supergirl hearts? Rather difficult to come by, I imagine. But by the end of the crossover, Overgirl explodes. Womp womp!

Kara and Alex learn to put their problems into a little perspective and that everything has a chance of turning out okay, as long as they have each other. It’s a pretty nice lesson for the both of them, but I think they managed to get out of “Crisis on Earth-X” without a whole lot of long-term change... compared to the other shows’ characters.


The major players from Arrow in “Crisis on Earth-X” were Oliver and Felicity and their arc had a lot to do with the state of their relationship. From the scene at the nail shop with Iris and the other girls, to the tux fitting with Oliver and Barry, through the rehearsal dinner and even under the threat of evil doppelgängers from another Earth, the question was: What’s next for Oliver and Felicity’s relationship? Both Iris and Barry both nudge the two toward one another, with Barry outright telling Oliver to “put a ring on her.”

The problem is that Felicity has some residual issues leftover from their last engagement. She tells Oliver it’s because she was shot five minutes after he proposed. But later, she admits to Iris that her problem is really that she’s afraid to rock the boat with Oliver. Things are good for them right now — really good. The last time they were going to get married, that was the beginning of the end for them. She doesn’t want to lose him again.

Oliver agrees, rather reluctantly, to respect Felicity’s wishes not to get married. But then the two are separated: Oliver on Earth-X with a load of other heroes, having to deal with all the Nazi nonsense there. Felicity is in S.T.A.R. Labs with Iris when Earth-X’s “Oliver” comes with his soldiers and Thawne, attempting to kill Kara to save Overgirl’s life. Iris and Felicity fight the good fight (and call in the Legends) as long as they can, and Oliver does the same over on Earth-X. One of the most poignant moments of the crossover came when Oliver posed as Oliver-X to gain access to a gate that could return them to Earth-1, and encountered Earth-X’s Felicity. She was a prisoner of the concentration camp, pulled out for giving starving children food. Oliver could no more kill her than he could his own Felicity.

Oliver and Felicity reunite back on Earth-1, just happy to be together now — married or not. But when Felicity watches Barry and Iris pour their hearts out to one another with some seriously swoon-worthy vows during their impromptu wedding, she changes her mind and asks Dig to marry her and Oliver as well. He’s only too happy to oblige and we end with both couples getting hitched on the spot.


The biggest long-term development for Team Flash is what set the whole crossover off in the first place: the marriage of Barry Allen and Iris West. Their nuptials are what brings everyone together, as all the hero teams do last-second RSVPs and then show up to a rehearsal dinner that definitely should not have been adequately prepared for the final number of guests. Seriously, all Barry and Iris’s super-friends are rude with those super-late RSVPs.

Unfortunately, the Westallen wedding is interrupted by the main plot and The Flash’s favorite couple spends most of the crossover separated. Iris pairs up with Felicity as the overlooked good guys left in Earth-1’s S.T.A.R Labs, making them the only ones capable of thwarting Oliver-X and Overgirl’s evil plans to steal Supergirl’s heart. Barry is transported to Earth-X along with Oliver, Alex, Sara, Professor Stein, and Jax, and they have to fight their way to the portal that can get them home. Once home, everyone has a role to play in the final battle against Oliver-X, Overgirl, and Eobard Thawne. Barry’s critical role is to return to his idiot ways, apparently, because he lets Eobard Thawne go rather than kill him. You couldn’t have speed-scrambled his legs a bit, Barry? Thrown him in jail? Literally anything else?

When all’s said and done, all the heroes go their separate ways and Barry and Iris get a last-minute wedding officiated by none other than John Diggle, who wasn’t invited to the original wedding for some reason that probably has to do with the season and a half of Arrow I haven’t watched. Barry and Iris are adorable and their vows are beautiful and it would have been nice if they got to get married in front of their friends and family, rather than just Oliver and Felicity, but comic book plots, man.


Sara, Mick, Stein, and Jax all head to Barry and Iris’ wedding while the remaining Legends continue cavorting around in time and space. Sara has a one-night stand with Alex before the wedding and Mick, well, Mick is just there for the food. And the beer. The real emotional crux came from Jax and Stein, who are still working on how to separate Firestorm. They finally have an answer — thanks to some help from S.T.A.R. Labs — and Stein plans to take the formula that will finally separate them after the wedding. Jax is feeling less certain about the impending event: What will become of him when he’s no longer part of Firestorm? Can he even continue being a Legend?

There’s an emotional moment where Jax finally admits his concerns to Stein and the older man tries to reassure Jax and let him know that he is important. In fact, Stein thinks of him as a son. It’s truly touching, amidst all the horror of the Nazis.

The rest of the Legends show up when Felicity and Iris call them in. Ray appears at the perfect moment, saving Kara’s life from Eobard’s scalpel. The moment the rest of the Legends arrive is one of the most joyful of the crossover, in my opinion. It’s wonderful to see all my faves show up to help save the day.

The joy is undercut by grief when Stein is shot by Nazis on Earth-X. He uses the last of his strength to open the gate back to Earth-1 and Jax is able to merge with him, keeping him alive. But eventually, Jax starts to suffer from the effects of the shooting as well. The reality is that they will both die unless Firestorm separates.

Stein wants to take the formula and save Jax’s life which leads one of the saddest scenes I’ve ever seen in the Arrowverse. Stein tells Jax how he loves him as a son and will gladly sacrifice his life so that Jax can have a life filled with love, just like he has. After their tearful goodbye, Stein dies. The Legends are distraught, but determined to fight and repel the Nazis from Earth-1 in his honor. Stein would have been proud. After the battle, the team and the rest of the heroes pay their respects at an emotional funeral for Stein and it’s a reminder that things on board the Waverider are changed now, forever.



THE GOOD: The reason why the DCTV episode reviews for this event have been condensed into one large review is also the best thing about this crossover, and that is the near-seamless integration of all the shows. Previous crossovers have attempted delineation between shows, either by having each episode mostly self-contained (see: the Invasion! plot, in which episodes had a clear beginning, middle, and end, even though they bled into each other) or going back to basics and simply having some characters hang out with some other characters for an hour or two. But as the Arrowverse has gotten bigger and the writers have gotten more adept at writing for the multiverse, they’ve managed to figure out a way to blend every show together in a genuine event that reflects the comic book specials on which these crossovers are based.

The characters always, always work well together and they’re a joy to watch interacting on screen, so that’s always a highlight. Barry offering up some smart relationship advice to Oliver (“People like us are always going to be getting into trouble. Having someone we love by our side just makes getting out of that trouble that much easier.”) or Felicity and Iris bravely stepping up to protect Supergirl, of all people, from threats — I think these little moments, rather than big fight scenes, make the crossovers worthwhile. Since the writers have been good about progressing these characters’ friendships, I assume it’s only going to get better as time goes on.

In addition to great character moments and perfect cross-show integration, there was also some snazzy graphics (the introductions of each show/team at the beginning of “Crisis on Earth-X” was probably one of my favorite things the Arrowverse has done) and, of course, cool action scenes.

THE BAD: Uh... Earth-X is run by Nazis. Which is an extremely problematic alternate universe for this show to explore, even considering comic books’ long history of World War II-era storylines. Opening an episode of a stupid comic book show with a swastika flag? Uncomfortable, to say the least, and that level of discomfort doesn’t exactly diminish as the crossover sends a chunk of our heroes to Earth-X itself, to be held captive in a concentration camp.

The imagery the show (and the comic it’s based on, we’re not letting them off the hook) exploits for shock value is nauseating and unnecessary. There was nothing stopping them from making this big crossover about some evil Earth-N, where the world/America is ruled by a totalitarian regime, without pulling Nazis into the mix and unearthing painful associations — especially since the “Nazi” factor of the crossover event is not utilized in any meaningful way. Like I said: it’s done for shock. I would say that it was also done as an easy way to differentiate good from evil, but they kind of fail at that by making the Nazi alternatives to Oliver and Kara married. Comic books usually treat stories like these as black and white, but genuine love adds a moral gray area that we really do not need when we’re dealing with a Nazi storyline.

So the biggest — maybe the only — fault of this crossover is its framing device. Otherwise, this would have been the best crossover in the history of the Arrowverse, hands down.


THE BAD: I agree with Deb — the worst thing about the crossover is the Nazis. I understand that it’s a comic book story. As satisfying as it is to see our heroes beating the crap out of Nazis, the way the subject is introduced and then shown to us throughout the crossover is crass, at best. They could have done nearly the same exact story but with a fictional evil regime. The same themes would be in place without real-world associations.

Nazis aside, I didn’t care for the Overgirl/Oliver-X romance, and not just because I’m a faithful Olicity shipper. It felt very disturbing and pointed — like they were trying to show a more “sensitive” side to actual Nazis. I think there were ways to get the lessons that the characters needed to learn across without that nonsense.

THE GOOD: The relationships! I loved seeing the most important relationships from each of the four shows highlighted and explored. There was real character development taking place and because of that, it felt like there were genuine stakes to the events in the crossover. This wasn’t just a one-off event, as the crossovers often are, but something that would have repercussions and effects felt throughout the rest of the seasons of each show.

I also liked how connected “Crisis on Earth-X” was. It truly felt like one bit movie, spread across two nights. It didn’t even really matter that I’m not very familiar with Supergirl or The Flash; I was able to understand and appreciate what was happening with those characters regardless. It all felt very cohesive and the cast truly did feel like one big family. I generally don’t care for the crossovers; but this time, I found myself really enjoying it as I watched. Shoot, if all crossovers could be like this one, I could maybe find myself looking forward to the next one!

What did you all think of “Crisis on Earth-X”? Sound off in the comments below!


Post a Comment