“It’s a strange sensation, isn’t it? Feeling vulnerable.”
The Flash 4.08 & DC’s Legends of Tomorrow 3.08
When we left the Arrowverse heroes, they had been abandoned on Earth-X or as the locals call it ‘Erde-X’, trapped in a Nazi work camp, wearing collars and cuffs to cut them off from their powers. It seems as though all hope is lost, but a strange, new hero is their key to escape – along with another familiar face.
Yes, the third part of Crisis on Earth-X sees us introduced to Russell Tovey’s The Ray, an Earth-1 hero also trapped in the camp. However, his hero status isn’t what saw him imprisoned – or at least it wasn’t the only reason – as in this world, ruled by intolerance, Ray Terrill has been imprisoned for being an openly gay man. And the heroes’ chance meeting with The Ray sees the key to their release.
Finding themselves in the camp, unable to escape, out heroes come face-to-face with a far more sinister version of Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who acts as the camp’s General, and reveals, when face-to-face with bisexual daughter Sara (Caity Lotz) that he killed her Earth-X counterpart for that same sexual orientation. Not only this, but when the heroes refuse to fall in line, Lance walks them out of the camp with the intention of terminating them with a firing squad, only to fall victim of Leo Snart (Wentworth Miller) – or at least, a version of him.
It turns out, on Earth-X, Leo is partners with The Ray, in more ways than one, as these two consistently show themselves to be one of the most stable couples in the Arrowverse, while they help the heroes find a way back to their own Earth. Leo’s humour and wonderfully over-the-top superhero voice bring some much-needed levity to an episode that otherwise would be a little bit depressing as we are forced to experience the fate of a world in the hands of the Nazis – and it’s every bit as horrifying as Tommy (Colin Donnell) described it in the Arrow portion of the event.
The heroes are taken to an underground rebellion in Earth-X’s Star City, led by General Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), who is definitely not a fan of the heroes and their plan to go back through the gateway to Earth-1 – which Schott and his team is planning to close in order to keep Supergirl-X, Evil Arrow and Zoom on the other side. Nevertheless, with arguments abound, Ray and Leo manage to get the heroes one hour to try and get through the gateway before they blow the place up – and not with a bomb – with Red Tornado. An agreement Winn backs out of mere minutes later, leaving the heroes under pressure to open the gateway and get backs through it before the whole place explodes.
However, tragedy strikes when a vulnerable team member is struck down by the opposition, just moments before they manage to open the gateway – though they aren’t killed, things look grim to say the least. Returning to Earth-1, the heroes set about working on a plan to rid their world of the evil-X’s. And yet, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) is still in hot water, weakened by the red sunlight, she’s mere moments from having her heart torn from her chest to save her evil twin – when surprise! – the Legends arrive out of nowhere and set her free. This is the one part of this whole crossover that seemed just a little too easy, as there was no leading up to the Legends’ arrival, and then suddenly, once we reach their portion of the crossover – bam, they arrive just when all hope seems lost. However, though this plot point seems far too easy, it can be forgiven, as the final part of Crisis on Earth-X is fantastically action-packed.
Springing Supergirl free, it seems as though the heroes finally have the upper hand. Except, they don’t, as it is revealed that Supergirl-X is at risk of causing a supernova if she dies, which will likely kill thousands. And as all the heroes gather on the Waverider, a message comes from Earth-X’s own Waverider – they will leave Earth-1 peacefully if, and only if, Supergirl leaves with them.
Which of course, no one will allow.
This leads to what is arguably the best moment of the entire crossover, as we see our heroes walk through smoke, all in a line, the Arrowverse presented to us like the heroes they are. It’s glorious. And what follows is a whole heap of epic fights, Legends v Nazis, Green Arrow v Dark Archer, Supergirl v Supergirl-X – and very best of all, Flash v Zoom, where the effects reach a truly spectacular level (and rival those of Justice League’s Flash) as the two speedsters weave in and out of the other heroes, pausing only to throw a couple of punches. Unlike the crossovers before this, Crisis on Earth-X has managed to cohesively unite the heroes, even in a fight, on such a large scale, though perhaps this has more to do with the story itself, as there’s something brilliant about seeing a fight of equal skill and power, which leaves you wondering who will come out on top.
No one leaves the fight unscathed, and not just physically, as the loss of a team member adds a depth of emotion to the story which we wouldn’t otherwise have seen, showing the very real stakes of the fight, and what it has cost them. It also serves to make the characters realise just how lucky they are to have the people they love, bringing the crossover to a close with an all too soppy moment which was predictable from the start (in that, we predicted this in the review of the first half) which can also be forgiven, because the rest of the crossover was brilliant, and the fangirls needed it – and it brought in John Diggle (David Ramsey) for two minutes.
On top of the excellent writing throughout this crossover, praise has to be given to Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist, who, playing both the good and evil versions of their characters prove an amazing acting range, in particular Benoist, whose evil Supergirl is almost the complete antithesis of her heroine.
All in all, Crisis on Earth-X showed a heart, humour and strength of story that has been sorely missing from their past attempts, as we got to see our heroes united against a real threat that put DC’s box office attempt to shame. If the minds behind the Arrowverse can keep this up, we look forward to seeing more crossovers in the future.