Four Color Television - SPECIAL EVENT - Crisis on Earth X
The Four Color Ark
CRISIS ON EARTH X
Last year the DC/CW shows gave us a three night crossover that spanned The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow and gave us the story of an alien race invading the Earth to prevent the rise of metahumans like Barry Allen. Naturally the follow up to this needed to be bigger and more epic, and it certainly was.
PART ONE - SUPERGIRL
After a brief teaser where a mysterious dark archer kills a much more Captain America inspired Guardian, our story begins with the Superheroes of Earth-1, Earth-38, and the time-displaced Waverider gathering in Central City to celebrate the wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West. Team Flash provides Jax and Martin Stein with a serum that will cure them of the Firestorm Matrix before the festivities begin. Iris takes the girls out for some dress fittings, Barry takes Ollie and the guys out for suit fittings and everyone meets up at C.C. Jitters for a rehearsal dinner and toast by Joe West. Drinking abounds, and there is an awkward hookup between Alex Danvers and Sara Lance, as well as a terribly impolite impromptu proposal by Oliver Queen that Felicity Smoak quickly rejects. Other than these few moments of awkward, everything seems to be normal – until Nazis led by a mysterious flying girl and a dark archer show up and assault the wedding. Team Earth One immediately jumps in to fight the Nazi’s in an epic brawl that really showcases the kind of adventure the CW is capable of, and every hero involved in the fight gets to have a truly badass moment – even characters like Kid Flash who will disappear from the rest of the crossover so as to protect civilians like Joe and Cecille who aren’t a part of the main story. The main group of Nazi’s escapes with their flying woman and main dark archer, but the Earth One heroes manage to capture the Nazi version of Prometheus. Fortunately, the only real casualty of this first battle was the officiant at the Wedding (William Katt,) but many are wounded – and Cisco is comatose.
PART TWO - ARROW
Prometheus is unmasked and is none other than Tommy Merlyn, Oliver Queen’s best friend who died way back in Season One of Arrow – which leads the combined group of heroes to presume that he is a time displaced anachronism like the ones the Legends deal with week after week but Barry correctly surmises that he is from an alternate Earth. Harry Wells, ever the font of multiversal knowledge pieces it all together and informs the team that Tommy is from the 53rd Earth in the Multiverse – the Earth so horrible it isn’t even given a number: it is simply known as Earth X. Earth X is the world where the Nazi’s won World War II and created a worldwide third reich that lasted until Hitler’s death and beyond. Tommy taunts Oliver during interrogation before ultimately killing himself with some cyanide. S.T.A.R. Labs detects a Nazi break in at a facility in Central City and Supergirl, Flash and Arrow race to the scene – with Supergirl and The Flash arriving long before Oliver. The Earth-X team of villains: the dark archer, the flying girl, and a speedster in a costume that looks like Reverse Flash reveal their identities to our heroes. They are the Earth-X counterparts to our team, mostly. While the dark archer is indeed the Earth-X Oliver Queen (aka The Fuhrer) and the flying woman is the Earth-X Kara Zor-El (Overgirl); the speedster is the Earth One Eobard Thawne once more wearing the face of Harrison Wells to truly stab at Barry once again. We get a brilliant three on three fight between two Green Arrow’s, two Supergirls, and two Speedsters – a fight that gives Oliver the chance to prove that he is prepared for his friends going bad when he shoots Overgirl with a Kryptonite arrow. The Earth X-ers get away, but not for long. Overgirl’s blood is on the arrow she was shot with, and a quick analysis shows that her cells are supercharged with solar radiation, which means tracking her will be incredibly easy. All the heroes suit up to go after the Earth X-ers and face them in an epic showdown, but Evil Oliver is missing from the fray because he is at S.T.A.R. Labs taking on the civilians who remained there. At the end of the battle our heroes are divided, beaten and captured. When our heroes wake up they are in a concentration camp on Earth-X under guard by the Nazi’s and the only hero who is not with them, is Supergirl.
PART THREE – THE FLASH
While the big guns are trapped on Earth-X wearing power dampening collars, anyone who could save them on Earth One is trapped in the pipeline at S.T.A.R. Labs with a bickering Harry Wells and Cisco Ramon. The only ones free at S.T.A.R. Labs are Iris and Felicity who are making their way through maintenance hatches – it is from this hiding place that they determine the X-er’s true plan. Killing their weaker selves, conquering Earth-1, these are all just bonuses: they came for Supergirl and the technology Eobard Thawne has built into S.T.A.R. Labs. Overgirl has taken in too much solar radiation and is dying, the only thing that will save her is a heart transplant from Supergirl. Meanwhile on Earth-X, our heroes – along with another man named Ray (soon to be revealed as The Ray as played Russel Tovey) are marched by evil Quentin Lance to face a firing squad. With guns trained on them, and no powers in sight there is no hope – until they are saved at the last minute by a resistance fighter with a cold gun: the Earth-X Leonard Snart aka Citizen Cold. Snart and The Ray take the heroes to the resistance base in Star City where the team pleads multiple times with General Winslow Schott to help them return to Earth One via the Breach the Fuhrer uses to get back and forth. There is some arm twisting, but ultimately the standard switcheroo plan is launched with Good Oliver posing as Evil Oliver to gain access to the base so that he can shut down a power dampener that will allow the rest of the team to arrive. Meanwhile in S.T.A.R. Labs, Felicity and Iris manage to cut the power to the facility to prevent Thawne’s impending surgery by shutting down his “red sun” generator allowing Supergirl to start regenerating. Felicity sends out a distress call to the Legends who didn’t attend the wedding. Oliver’s infiltration plan goes a little sideways and a shootout enables him to cut off the dampening field, but the controls for the breach are damaged and they need to reopen the breach manually. Furthermore, before the breach closed the Earth-X Doomsday weapon went through the breach: a Nazi crewed version of the Waverider. General Winn gets an itchy trigger finger and launches a weapon intended to destroy the breach facility. Flash and The Ray work together to stop the weapon, an android known to comic fans as Red Tornado – while Oliver and crew fight it out with Nazi’s in order to open the breach. In S.T.A.R. Labs Thawne captures Iris and is threatening to kill her if Felicity doesn’t give him the encrypted password he needs to restore the power. Supergirl demands that Felicity comply, that no one will die because of her – Felicity gives the code and Thawne restores the power. Over on Earth –X the march to the breach room is not going well. Jax and Professor Stein split apart to fix the machines to open the breach, but before he is able to do so: Martin Stein is shot in the back by a Nazi and collapses to the ground.
PART FOUR – LEGENDS OF TOMORROW
The heroes in Earth X are pinned down by gunfire, while Flash and The Ray are locked in combat with Red Tornado. Martin Stein pulls himself to his feet and pushes onward to throw the switch that will open the breach and just before he is able to do so he is shot once more. He manages to throw the switch anyway, and the energy blast from the breach kills all the remaining Nazi’s. In S.T.A.R. Labs Thawne attempts to slice open Supergirl but something is holding back his scalpel, that something is Ray Palmer: The Legends have arrived. The Legends bust Cisco and Team Arrow out of the pipeline and the X-ers begin to retreat to the Nazi Waverider, the heroes return through the breach and the war has definitely turned in favor of the heroes of Earth One. On the Waverider, despite all efforts to save his life, Martin Stein is dying and the only thing keeping him alive is his psychic link with Jax – that same link is acting as an anchor and Jax will die with Stein. Stein has Gideon synthesize Cisco’s Firestorm cure and asks Jax to help him take it, this will sever their link and allow Stein to die so that Jax will live. Jax tearfully complies and everyone mourns Martin Stein before rallying to stop the Earth-X’ers in his name. What follows is the big damn hero battle that everyone wanted, and it does not disappoint. There is spaceship combat between the two Waveriders, there is a Superhero melee on the ground with just about every hero in the DC CW Universe as they take down Nazi’s. The Waverider crew discovers that when Overgirl reaches critical mass she will erupt in a nuclear explosion. The massively awesome fight ends up coming down to three core conflicts: Supergirl vs. Overgirl in the air, Oliver vs Evil Oliver under a bridge, and Flash vs. Reverse Flash everywhere. Supergirl flies the dying Overgirl into space where erupts without killing anyone, Oliver kills his evil self with a shot through the heart, and Barry defeats Thawne but refuses to kill him – ultimately letting him go. The evil Waverider is destroyed, everyone attends the funeral of Martin Stein, and then everyone goes back to where they belong. Leo Snart opts to stay with the Legends for a little while, The Ray returns to Earth-X, Supergirl and Alex return to Earth-38 leaving only Barry, Iris, Oliver, and Felicity. Barry and Iris say they now intend to just elope rather than having another full fledged wedding that could be ruined, Felicity points out that Diggle is ordained as a minister to perform weddings and Barry races to Star City to retrieve him. As always Diggle throws up after travelling at superspeed, but he performs a dual ceremony where both Barry and Iris AND Oliver and Felicity get married.
Holy Shit, these episodes were fantastic. While I could indeed review these on the same standards as I normally do the CW/DC TV series, that would be doing a great disservice to this event. Frankly while these are indeed produced as episodes of the four main series, this is a self-contained story that is not wholly an episode of any of the other shows. For the purpose of this review I’m going to break it up into its four parts and talk about some of the awesome stuff that happened, while trying to keep it from getting too long.
Setting the stage for this epic was handled incredibly well, and of all the fight sequences the bookends were really the best parts. The first fight in the wedding chapel allowed everyone to shine and was directed so brilliantly, it even gave Wally West some sweet moves that show that maybe – just maybe – he’s growing into a better speedster than Barry. The emotional core of the episode though was the wedding of Barry and Iris, which has been percolating since last season and it was a brilliant touch to have Kara sing “Runnin’ Home to You” the song Barry sang when he asked Iris to marry him in the musical. The neat little easter egg of the excited waitress who may or may not be a West/Allen child from the future was cute, but the really awesome moment was the cameo of William Katt – TV’s Greatest American Hero – as the officiant of Barry and Iris’ wedding. Barry and Katt’s character from that series have a great deal in common, and his appearance makes up for the absence of John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick.
PART ONE MVP: Stephen Amell* who brings a kindlier, more big brotherly approach to Oliver in this crossover – I like this version of Ollie and by god I want to see him more often. He’s been moving in this direction on Arrow and I hope to hell it sticks.
TOMMY MERLYN?!!! This is an amazing nod to speculation last year that Prometheus was going to end up being Earth 2’s Tommy Merlyn, and it really hits Ollie and Felicity where they live emotionally. This is the episode where everything starts to get explained and the fights do suffer a little because of it, but even a little less action is not a bad thing in this case because what is there is perfect. The Kryptonite arrow plays beautifully, as does Kara’s reaction to it. It really works that this happens after the quick, but brilliant gag, where Barry zips in to the location of the fight and waits a moment for Kara to arrive and then the two of them stand there for a moment until Oliver finally shows up on his motorcycle and chides them for forgetting that he doesn’t have superspeed. Amell and Benoist really shine in this episode, both as Arrow and Supergirl but also as Dark Archer and Overgirl. You can see their affection for each other, and when it’s revealed that they’re married it feels natural, while at the same time feeling perfectly wrong as a pairing for OUR Ollie and our Kara.
PART TWO MVP: Melissa Benoist who brings so much malice to Overgirl that it makes that basic fairness of Supergirl shown so much the brighter.
Leo Snart is the single greatest thing ever. I want an episode where somehow Leo Snart and Leonard Snart interact with each other, because they are perfect polar opposites. It is so well constructed using the themes of LGBT inclusivity on these shows as a counterpoint to the darkness of the narrative surrounding the Nazi’s – and it’s no mistake that our heroes are repudiating the alt-right. Of the three episodes, you can tell that this one was written as a bottle episode – to save costs for the other three parts which is why it takes place almost exclusively in standing sets like S.T.A.R. Labs and the Arrow Cave. The comedic value of everyone trapped in the pipeline is a great touch, but the real winner in this entire exchange is Jeremy Jordan who gets some real meat to chew as the alternate version of Win. Effectively he gets to be Alex, and it suits him well. Amell starts to show the cracks in the façade of evil Oliver, which highlights just which Oliver is weak and which is strong. The slow Bataan death march to the demise of Martin Stein is predictable but still plays well. Props to Grant Gustin for doing an amazing impression of Wentworth Miller in a scene where he explains the Earth One Snart’s ethos to the Earth-X hero.
PART THREE MVP: Wentworth Miller* who brings a welcome dose of whimsy and heroism to the bleakest chapter of this event.
The death of Martin Stein is beautifully handled, well crafted, well acted and completely serves as the rallying cry our heroes need to take on the Nazi’s in this final chapter. That said, the final fight is so gonzo and balls to the wall comic-book-y that it just cannot be praised too much. Everything feels like the final chapter of a 4 issue mini series and it plays amazingly. There is so much great stuff here that I simply couldn’t highlight it all. Firstly, I have to call out the brilliance of Tom Cavanagh who brilliantly plays two characters here – trust me it’s worth it. The final act inclusion of Ray Palmer and the Legends was the shot in the arm this episode needed to carry us to the ending, and it was awesome to see them play the big damn heroes, especially after having been somewhat neglected in last year’s crossover. There is a perfect call back to Superman II where Supergirl delivers the Christopher Reeve classic line: “General, would you care to step outside” of all the great moments in all four hours of this crossover – that was the one that made me literally cheer. Russell Tovey was fun as The Ray. The Diggle wedding ceremony was well handled, even if it was terribly impolite of Ollie and Felicity to step all over Iris and Barry’s moment AGAIN. If I were to make any criticism it is that across all of this, Barry got lost in the shuffle a little bit – though in fairness so much of last years crossover was centered on Barry that it is fair he isn’t the main focus this time.
PART FOUR MVP: Tom Cavanagh* who so expertly plays two characters as distinctly different that you almost forget that there aren’t two actors playing the roles. Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist do a fine job playing two versions of the same character, but Cavanagh raises it to an art form. He even outdoes himself her and it is glorious to behold.
OVERALL MVP: Victor Garber*. We all knew that Martin Stein would be exiting the series, and as this episode played out it became obvious that the writers took this as an opportunity to really let Victor Garber shine and showcase just how much of an impact he has had on this television universe. It was a joy to watch his final performances as Martin Stein just as it has been a joy to watch him each week since he first appeared on The Flash.
NEXT WEEK: Mid Season Finale’s for all four shows.