After watching the first two hours of The CW's epic crossover event between its four signature DC Comics series, we were very bullish about it. Things were off to a rollicking start with slick production values, great fun and chemistry, and a villainous threat that was both global and personal for the heroes. But kicking off a great story is just half the job. Could they bring it home?
Tuesday night brought the final two chapters in the latest episodes of "The Flash" and "DC's Legends of Tomorrow," but really who could tell. This was Chapters 3 and 4 of "Crisis on Earth-X" featuring every DCW character they could muster up in the battle against alternate Earth Nazis, and a few we didn't expect to see.
We finally understood why they spent so long Monday night on the emotional drama between the two halves of Firestorm, as well as the Olicity proposal nonsense. It was all part of the plan, and so we'll forgive them just a little bit. Actually, no we won't, because it distracted from the main story and made this four-parter feel a little bloated in the middle.
Let's break down the super and the lame to see how well they wriggled their way out of this mess.
First of all, we never really got a good explanation as to why six of our heroes were randomly shunted off to Earth-X in the first place. It was a pretty convenient way to give us some back-story about that world, and introduce us to a few more doppelgangers, including an unexpectedly dark Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and the Earth-X hero The Ray (Russell Tovey). But mostly it was used for padding to extend the story by forcing us to watch these six battle their way home, including a "mini boss battle" between The Flash (Grant Gustin), The Ray and Red Tornado. Unfortunately, it seems like they blew their budget on the opening and closing battles, because the CGI was severely lacking, and even the overall look of the battle was muddled at best. Mostly, it just felt unnecessarily long ... just like this whole field trip.
SUPER: SURPRISE GUESTS
Wentworth Miller was always a lot of fun as Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold, but this do-gooder version of him from Earth-X managed to be even more fun. When he got paired up again with his "Prison Break" co-star Dominic Purcell back on Earth 1, it was instant magic again. The chemistry these two long-time pals share on-screen just crackles with energy. We don't know why Leonard decided to stick around Earth 1 for a bit, but if it's to torment Mick (Purcell) for a little longer, that can only strengthen "Legends of Tomorrow."
LAME: DOPPELGANGER DISGUISE
We complained about tropes last week, and they leaned hard into two of them this week. First, Oliver (Stephen Amell) decided to infiltrate the Nazi HQ by pretending to be his double. What an ingeniously clever idea we've only seen any time there have been doubles in anything. And then, he tried to fool his second-in-command, so he was tested by seeing if he would kill someone. When he tried to kill his second, the gun was empty. It's a good thing Oliver has clearly never seen a movie or TV show or even he would have seen that coming. It's a lame plot device and this whole storyline derailed the third hour something fierce.
Victor Garber is a fantastic actor, but even he couldn't make his "trope-matic" death sequence anything less than painful. The reason we spent way too much time with him and Jax (Franz Drameh) whining about how much they loved one another was to set up this treacly moment. They telegraphed it so obviously, we're ashamed we didn't see it coming. But they laid it on thick in these two hours, with Martin sacrificing himself to save everyone else in the most patently obvious ... and stupid ... way possible by running into gunfire to pull the switch that would open the portal back to Earth 1. Then, he and Jax got to share a teary scene of awful dialogue about love and family and man is this trite. Garber was almost able to sell real anguish, but it was clearly above Drameh's pay grade, as he just looked ridiculous. Next time someone has to die, don't copy and paste "generic death scene" from the script of every movie ever made where someone dies.
SUPER: FINAL BOSS BATTLE
After everyone got to enjoy some quiet time together after Martin died, the event got back on track with the actual battle between the evil Nazi doubles and their counterparts. These battles, pitting Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) v alt-Supergirl, Flash v alt-Flash, and Arrow v alt-Arrow, were actually really well choreographed and visually represented. They were exciting and tense throughout, though we might have an issue with how one of them ended (more on that later). There was a tragedy in alt-Supergirl going supernova and dying, followed swiftly by her husband alt-Arrow, at the hands of his Earth 1 counterpart who had no problem shooting an arrow through his heart. These heroes killed a lot of Nazis, and while heroes killing is a sore subject among fanboys and fangirls, it seems to be acceptable when they're Nazis.
SUPER: DOUBLE NUPTIALS
Yes, it was cheesy, but it also offered a genuine moment of surprise. At the end of the event, Barry and Iris (Candice Patton) picked up where we started by getting married. Bonus points for the fun of snatching Diggle (David Ramsey) out of nowhere to perform it. Their vows were touching, but then we got a double whammy when Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) proposed to Oliver and it became a surprise impromptu double wedding. We'll admit it, we got a little teary.
The most annoying thing about most superhero stories is that there are never any real consequences. There's a veritable reset button to make everything back the way it was. It happens a lot on television, too, despite promises of forever altering the status quo. And yet, this event did just that. Firestorm as we knew him is no more, and Martin Stein's death will linger in "DC's Legends of Tomorrow." Both "Arrow" and "The Flash" will have to pick up with husband heroes, and how their surprise wedding will impact their supporting casts. "Supergirl" might be the only one who came out of this even relatively unscathed, with sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) only gaining some peace with her decision to end her engagement.
LAME: LOGIC LAPSES
While we walk away feeling ultimately satisfied with the four hours we gave to the CW's "Arrowverse," we are left with some lingering questions and laughing at some ridiculous moments:
Yes, these are family shows but in what was is it logical to begin a surgical procedure on Kara while her shirt is buttoned up to her neck? You're trying to remove her heart; that shirt might be in the way there, pal.
After giving them an hour to escape Earth-X, Winn just changed his mind and decided to destroy the facility anyway ... so the leader of the resistance in Nazi-World is a bad guy, too? Really?
With 10 minutes to go before Red Tornado shows up, Snart pulls out a bag with his and Arrow's costumes, because who doesn't have time for a costume change when you're about to die?
The award for most awkward transition goes to Oliver and Sara (Caity Lotz) talking about the death of Martin. Sara resists getting emotional about it, and Oliver pushes exactly once then, "We need to gather everyone--" No pause, right back to business. We get the shift in tone needed to happen, but that was sloppy.
"Get out of here!" After defeating Thawne (Tom Cavanagh), Flash can't kill him. That's cool, noble even, but why let him go? Dude is straight evil, like, murdering people and stuff, and you just let him walk away?
Of course Oliver knows alt-Oliver's play. "It's exactly what I would do," he said. It is? The dude is a Nazi. You think like a Nazi?
The biggest "huh?" is why go to Earth 1 at all if nabbing Kara was the goal? She's not from that Earth. She was only there for the wedding, which was chock full of superheroes. Did the Nazis just want the challenge? Or were they that afraid of Superman from Supergirl's world?
Lest we forget, there were some other real dialogue gems as well.
"Why do you care if I take your heart; you're not using it," said Alt-Supergirl trying to get in Supergirl's head about her being alone. What is it? Girl talk time?
"We will not back down. We will keep fighting. So get the hell off this Earth while you can!" Someone forgot to tell Felicity she's tech support and alt-Arrow is aiming an arrow at her face. Brave, though.
"I just love a good pop culture reference in a moment of crisis," Vibe said after laughing way too loud at a Terminator joke. Cringeworthy.