‘The Flash’ Season Four, Episode Eight & ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ Season Three, Episode Eight’ — “Crisis on Earth-X Parts Three & Four”
By Jarrod Jones. What’s insane about this crossover is how incredibly well-balanced it turned out to be. “Crisis on Earth-X” promised bigger things for the Arrowverse after the “Invasion!” team-up last year, and it delivered. More heroes! Actual villains! Actually four episodes! Two weddings and a funeral! Woo!
While “bigger” rarely equates to “better” when it comes to live-action superhero properties, “Crisis” showed up ready to work, and it tap-danced all over our CW DC TV week with the professionalism and grace of Ginger Rogers performing at a USO show. Instead of shifting the focus of the crossover to each starring character in their respective shows (something that often made “Invasion!” screech to a grinding halt), “Crisis” was an all-in DC jamboree, where dang-near every character currently operating in the Arrowverse (and beyond!) had a moment to shine. A near-seamless four hours of television.
Certain characters even found catharsis amid the skrimish. In fact, “Crisis on Earth-X” wound up being a game-changing team-up that set each series on a new trajectory for the rest of the year. It did as such so effectively, and affectingly, that one wonders why “Crisis” didn’t wind up being the midseason finales for Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash. (Good luck topping this, The Thinker, you schmuck! ((I kid, I kid; I like The Thinker.))
Run the list: Barry and Iris finally got hitched, and after much hemming and hawing, so did Felicity and Oliver. Alex Danvers finally figured out what to do with herself after her disastrous breakup with Maggie Sawyer, kind of, thanks to Sara Lance. (“I’m going to trust my instincts,” Alex declared, which probably means Supergirl isn’t done with Maggie just yet.)
Sara and Alex’s one-night hookup almost seemed inevitable once the two ended up in the right city, at the right time, on the right planet. (Whoo, these shows, I tell ya.) Yes, it was a big night for queer representation, not just because of Sara and Alex’s roll in the hay, but because the CW finally delivered an all-new fully out-and-proud gay superhero in the form of The Ray. (You’ll see him pop up again, in animated form, on CW Seed.) The Ray shared no less than three smoochy scenes with the Earth-X version of Leonard Snart (“Leo” to his friends), all of them earnest and sweet. I liked Russell Tovey as The Ray. Here’s hoping his Earth-One origins bring him back to The Flash, and soon.
The Flash picked up after the cliffhanger on Monday night’s episode of Arrow, where Barry Allen and most of the heavy-hitters of Team Earth-One found themselves trapped in a concentration camp on Earth-X. Powerless and minus one really useful dimensional breacher (Cisco Ramon took a while to come out of his micro-coma), The Flash, White Canary, Green Arrow, et al. were stranded on a planet where a much-needed revolution nearly thwarted their chances of an escape.
As for Supergirl, she (*groan*) became a prisoner of Eobard Thawne, united in common purpose with Oliver Queen, the (*snort*) Führer of Earth-X. Thawne’s mission? To transplant Supergirl’s heart to Supergirl-X, lest Kara’s evil Nazi counterpart perish from an over-saturation of solar-power killing her from the inside out. (It seems Kara-X flew too close to the sun, à la All-Star Superman. And real quick — why was Thawne helping the Nazis out? Can somebody clear that up for me in the comments?)
Turns out the Super-transplant was a dire enough reason to justify a full-on Earth-One assault. As the crossover’s major heavies, Tom Cavanagh, Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist acquitted themselves beautifully. (Benoist seemed to have the most fun being bad, putting on aristocratic airs to distinguish Supergirl-X from her squeaky-clean doppelgänger.) And so it all came to a head: A giant Nazi army (or, rather, one large enough to fill a decent-sized parking lot) and their super-powered overlords were all that stood between our heroes and Supergirl.
Throughout “Crisis,” the central narrative thrust hasn’t been “trans-dimensional Nazis running amok” (though that was certainly a part of it), it’s been the heroes of our beloved CW DC Universe and their families working through their collective shit. Perhaps most heartrending was the subplot between Jefferson Jackson and Professor Martin Stein, there to figure out the fate of Firestorm without one another.
With Prof. Stein constantly orating his plans for the future with a gleam in his eye, the prospects of that future became pretty grim, indeed. (The announcement of Victor Garber’s exit from Legends of Tomorrow all but sealed his character’s fate for attentive viewers before this event even aired.) It was pretty clear where Stein’s arc was going, and yet it didn’t feel extraneous.
Yeah, “Crisis” had been telegraphing the final fate of Professor Martin Stein for three episodes, but it was a real doozy to watch it play out in real time. The finale on Legends of Tomorrow — the only place where Stein’s death should have occurred — followed through on that inevitability and it did so with a touch of nobility. (But, let’s face it, the Arrowverse showrunners knew better than to put the word “Crisis” on a DC team-up and not throw in a big-time death.)
Victor Garber took all of it in stride. He leaned towards Franz Drameh in his final moments, and with laughter on his face, said, “But when you think about it, compared to the cosmos, one’s life is but a blink of an eye!” We’ll miss you, Prof. Stein. We’ll miss you.
“The only thing we know about each other is what we look like with our clothes off. Beautiful, by the way.” – Sara, to Alex.
The Ray: “You know I can’t say no when you look at me like that.” Captain “Leo” Cold: “That’s why I look at you like that.”
Felicity: “I’m sorry, Eo–Eobard?” Thawne: “Eobard.” Felicity: “My god, the future sounds weird.”
Cisco: (flying the Waverider) “Launching torpedo one!” Wells-Two: “You don’t have to say it out loud.”
“General! You care to step outside?” – Kara, to Supergirl-X. I love the Arrowverse.
BEST MOMENT: The Ray and The Flash vs. The Red Tornado of Earth-X. There were bigger moments in these final two episodes, surely, but nothing tickled this DC fanboy more than typing out that sentence — or watching it unfold on his television screen.
EPISODES’ MVP(s): I’m calling it a tie. I will miss Victor Garber on these shows like crazy, but his heroic send-off was definitely worthy of a Crisis-level event such as this. But then there was Caity Lotz, whose Sara Lance practically ran off with this entire crossover. Every time she entered a room, shit went down.
– There’s Iris and Felicity, stashed away in S.T.A.R.’s air ducts like a pair of John McClanes (Felicity even beat me to the joke by .5 seconds).
– General Schott’s “Kingdom Come” line — in a megaton DC crossover like this — was totally intentional.
– Foreboding Easter egg in The Flash installment: In the future, The Reverse-Flash kills Superman. Or, at least, that’s what’s implied.
– The Atom got not one, but two iconic moments (stopping the Reverse-Flash’s scalple in micro, flying into the Nazi fray via Mister Terrific’s T-sphere). Am I the only one who misses Brandon Routh popping up on Arrow and The Flash?
– Cisco flew through the skies in the Waverider. I feel we’ve turned a page here.
– Barry let the Reverse-Flash run away??! WHY.
– Who’s the Earth-X equivalent to Gideon? That’s none other than Susanna Thompson, who played Moira Queen in the earlier years of Arrow.
– Wait, wait, wait. If Wentworth Miller is dropping out of the Arrowverse, what’s up with Leo sticking around Earth-One? (The Legends midseason finale promo seems to hint at an answer. Speculate away in the comments!)
– Who was that baby at Martin Stein’s funeral? Little baby Ronnie Stein, Martin’s grandson! (At least, I’m pretty sure that’s his name?)
8 out of 10
Before: “The Flash Reborn,” here.