Arrowverse Crossover: Crisis on Earth-X Parts 3 & 4 Review

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The conclusion to “Crisis on Earth-X” was a lot of things, but underwhelming and very messy are two of the first words that come to mind. And even that’s being lenient. The CW’s Arrowverse continued to tackle Nazis with an insensitivity and complete lack of tact that is shameful and disgusting. They tried to sell us a Nazi love story, used and abused two Jewish characters for shock value, and sidelined several others to focus on Oliver’s highly questionable journey to… true love and marriage? Parts three and four of “Crisis on Earth-X” left a lot to be desired and while trying to do too much, ended up doing very little instead.

The Good

Bettina Strauss/The CW

Bettina Strauss/The CW

It was lovely to see Alex’s storyline continue from parts one and two. It was even better to see that she and Sara bonded beyond a one-night stand. Alex was sincerely afraid that her behavior with Sara was a sign that it was a mistake to have broken up with Maggie. She was also afraid that Kara was going to be killed by Nazi scum. Sara reminded her that Kara is strong and that everything will be ok. And more importantly, she reassured her that her reasoning behind leaving Maggie was a valid one. That scene was incredibly well done and a great female bonding moment. Being in doubt over decisions made can weigh on anyone, but there’s a specific amount of guilt that usually comes with dealing with break-ups and the “what could have been” situations. More often than not, it’s the men who get to express themselves more than women across DCTV, and so it was nice to see Alex get to express her feelings and have them validated instead of someone making her feel even more guilty. Moreover, Sara and Alex’s interactions were one of the highlights of the entire crossover.

Even though Barry and Iris’ wedding was crashed (both times), they still managed to center the episodes with whatever they were given to work with. They were patient with Oliver and Felicity and their relationship woes and both helped in the fight against Earth-Xers in different capacities (especially liked Iris’ active role in part three). They’ve come a long way since season one, but it’s worth mentioning that the pair are better together. As a unit, they showcase what healthy love and a committed partnership look like. Their nuptials have been a long-time coming and they more than deserved to have their happy ending. They ground each other, provide each other strength and light, and their love is something the entirety of the Arrowverse wanted to emulate. Their vows were beautiful, meaningful, and indicative of a life spent side-by-side and in support of one another. From childhood friends to lovers, Barry and Iris’ love is pure and genuine and their journey has been emotionally satisfying thus far.

Katie Yu/The CW

Katie Yu/The CW

Jax and Stein’s storyline felt satisfying as well. After several episodes of trying to separate from each other as Firestorm, their final moments together were emotional and I’m thankful that they didn’t just kill Stein without following up with the aftermath (more on how he died later). Jax and Stein’s goodbye scene tugged at the heartstrings and provided some depth to all that they’d been through together and their relationship. The scene with Jax speaking with Clarissa and Lily was also very affecting and it’s sad that Stein couldn’t just retire as he was meant to.

Getting to see everyone fight together was also great, even if most of the fight scenes seemed to go on for too long. The action sequence at the end of part three was particularly good and seeing Amaya and Zari hitch a ride on an ice bridge created by Killer Frost in part four was fun. Cisco, after finally being let out of the pipeline along with everyone else, got to captain the Waverider, which was great. It was also nice to see Ray and the rest of the Legends for the brief time they were onscreen.

It was wonderful to see a twist with Leonard Snart and how he was in a relationship with The Ray, even though the investment in The Ray fell a bit flat since he’d only just been introduced as a character amid chaos. Snart and Mick Rory were highly entertaining together and it was fantastic to see them interact again. Overall, it was some of the character beats that really held the final two parts together.

The Bad

Robert Falconer/The CW

Robert Falconer/The CW

Say what you will, but the crossovers absolutely used The Flash, its characters, and its viewership. The show is currently the highest-rated show on The CW and bumped up ratings for the Supergirl, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow episodes of the crossover. So it was entirely frustrating that The Flash characters themselves didn’t get any major development across the crossovers like everyone else did. Everyone seemed to be dealing with emotional baggage and yet, specifically during part three of the crossover, we barely even got to see Barry as more of an active participant in getting them off of Earth-X (minus the use of his powers in the episode’s final minutes).

What was meant to be everyone gathering to celebrate the love of Barry and Iris turned into a back-and-forth between Oliver and Felicity about whether they should or shouldn’t get married. Not a moment passed by where they weren’t talking about their suddenly strained relationship after Oliver abruptly popped the question. The crossover used Barry and Iris (again) to prop up a lesser couple whose drama in the episodes felt entirely contrived and their wedding unearned. The writers tried to do the same thing with the musical episode to help prop Kara and Mon-El, and just like then, failed miserably.

Bettina Strauss/The CW

Bettina Strauss/The CW

Barry and Iris couldn’t have a nice rehearsal dinner without being interrupted by Oliver’s ill-timed proposal, and they couldn’t have a brief ceremony officiated by Diggle (at the suggestion of Felicity and Oliver themselves) without being obnoxiously interrupted by Felicity so that Diggle could also marry them. Such nonsense. This was such a bad call and deprived everyone of what was a simple, but beautiful, vow exchange so that Oliver and Felicity could ride Barry and Iris’ coattails and make it, once again, all about them. No matter the longevity of Arrow over The Flash, there’s no doubt of Barry and Iris’, for lack of a better word, superiority as a couple, and so Oliver and Felicity could have damn well waited for their own moment (which they’ll get next episode, by the way) instead of overshadowing their friends.

Reverse-Flash’s motivations continued to not make any sense. As a villain, he’d always been a character who’d only sought to do things for his own self interests, so it’s bizarre that he’d align himself with Nazis. What was he getting out of it? This is the guy who didn’t trust anyone he worked with on last season’s Legends of Tomorrow. So why work with others toward a goal he doesn’t really seem to care as much about? He’d always been portrayed as a villain, but his potential for evil has never been about eradicating people before. It’s just annoying to see that he only seemed to be included just to have him fight Barry.

Katie Yu/The CW

Katie Yu/The CW

Nazi Oliver and Kara’s romance was nauseating and wholly unnecessary to the overall plot. Moreover, we didn’t need to see them having conversations with each other in an attempt to humanize them. They were terrible people and that’s that. Having evil Kara stand by Oliver’s side while others with powers got executed made him look like a complete hypocrite. Furthermore, showing the superheroes in the concentration camp was unnecessary as well. First, we didn’t need to see someplace that looked a lot like Auschwitz, nor did it make sense for them to be there other than for the story to introduce The Ray. The Nazis could have captured the heroes and killed them while on Earth One, just like they had left Kara there. Point being, the plot was messy and didn’t flow very well, especially in part three. Paired with all the other problematic stuff, the enjoyment level waned heavily.

The Ugly

The ugly Nazi storyline continued. The crossovers used Earth-X Felicity, who was a concentration camp prisoner, to further along Oliver’s journey and prove that his love for her wouldn’t allow him to kill her. (And also because he was being tested by Earth-X Quentin Lance who knew that Oliver wasn’t the Fuehrer.) The writers pointedly used a Jewish character so that Oliver can look like some kind of hero for not killing her, which is what he shouldn’t do anyway, and it was terrible and in poor taste. He says that the “strong should protect the weak,” but given the fact that they were on an earth ruled by Nazis, that was in and of itself a weak line. Oliver, for all his imperfections and questionable history, should want to save Felicity, and everyone else on Earth-X, because it was the right thing to do.

Katie Yu/The CW

Katie Yu/The CW

The crossovers made a statement that anyone else could’ve made on the internet. Nazis=bad. But the fact that they centered this entire storyline around Oliver and, by extension, Kara, and gave them evil doppelgangers, it was almost like the crossovers were saying they are superior to everyone else because they are what should be idolized. Their doppelgangers were evil, but they spent too much time trying to showcase how much they loved each other, which was not a wise decision. By putting Oliver front and center, the crossovers missed an opportunity to make this more relevant than the run-of-the-mill bad guy story. For one, Overgirl playing second fiddle to Dark Arrow as Fuehrer is a joke. She’s an alien with superpowers and there’s no reason she should be siding with the Nazis, or even for her to be in a romantic relationship with Oliver’s doppelganger, for that matter. If the Nazis were also imprisoning people with powers, why did this version of Kara get a pass? Aren’t they afraid she’d turn against them and use her own powers to ruin them?

The Arrowverse has quite a few people of color, gay and/or bisexual characters, and characters of different faiths. It would have been tremendous if they were at the head of the pack and leading the fight instead of background characters. Nazis (back then and today) affected them the most, hurt them the most, but it’s Oliver whose story this was about? As I mentioned in my review of parts one and two, the fact that the crossover played up on the Nazi regime and made it central to the story was ill-advised and poorly executed. They took real-life atrocities and used it for entertainment and shock value without a follow-through on any of the actual issues. An evil doppelganger planet would have been way more than fine and would’ve actually been preferable.

Robert Falconer/The CW

Robert Falconer/The CW

Moreover, none of the heroes seemed very enthusiastic about trying to save the Earth-X’s people or anything, either. Though there was a doomsday weapon and a subplot for the Nazi-ridden earth to spread their white supremacist bullshit across the multiverse, the focus was far too small for an issue so massive. And besides the issue of Nazis in general and how this crossover handled them, I’ll leave you with this: the writers killed off Martin Stein, who was all set to retire and live in peace with his family, and had Nazis kill him off. Nazis killed a Jewish man on a superhero television show with no consideration of the actual repercussions, exploited a concentration camp prisoner, and crashed a black woman’s wedding; and yet the writing still had nothing important or relevant to say. They wanted their superheroes to battle Nazis without consequences to what it means and that’s a dangerous thing.

The CW should stick to what it’s good at and leave more serious issues out of the crossovers forever.

Random Thoughts:

  • If The Ray is actually from Earth-One, why the hell would you want to return to Earth-X? Especially since Citizen Cold decided to stay behind.
  • Did Oliver and Felicity even attend Stein’s funeral? They weren’t wearing funeral attire.
  • It was damn good to see Leonard Snart again. I liked that he was the opposite of the Snart we’ve come to know. The “plan” part was funny and Barry’s impression of him was spot on.
  • Though I’m bitter about some of the writing, I did enjoy Felicity’s team-up with Iris in part three.
    Oliver’s line about the strong saving the weak really bugged me.
  • Friends, one of the takeaways from this messy crossover is that Nazis were the ones to help Felicity realize she really did want to marry Oliver. What nonsense.
  • If I ever see DCTV try to tackle anything resembling real-life situations/political/social issues in a crossover, I’ll pass.
  • The Flash characters deserved better.
  • Iris and Barry, specifically, deserved better. And they also need new friends.
  • How did Overgirl even get radiation poisoning? Did I miss something?
  • I didn’t need them trying to humanize Overgirl and Dark Arrow. At all.
  • I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the Olivers.
  • I wish we’d seen the Legends characters more.
  • Once again, it made no sense for Earth-X Nazis to show up at the wedding. You want Kara? Show up on her earth, or even choose from the 52 other Karas. Oliver is supposed to be an evil dictator, but he can’t even make decent plans.
  • Once again, I have many more thoughts, but this also got way too long.
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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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