Legends of Tomorrow: Crisis on Earth-X, Part 4

“Who needs an army when you got Legends?”

No.

No, no, no, no, no....

I don't think that I've ever mentioned it before, but it needs to be stated at this point. I firmly believe that I have the absolute best job going on Doux Reviews. Not a week goes by that I don't consider myself to be just about the luckiest guy ever for getting to talk about what I firmly believe is consistently the best of the Berlanti shows and for my money one of the most entertaining shows reviewed here.

This week I have another reason for considering myself to be the luckiest of the BBC. That's Billie's Berlanti Crew, btw. Namely, I don't have to review an episode without knowing how the whole thing ends. Seriously, major shout out to my BBC-mates for the outstanding coverage of "Crisis" so far. I'll do my best to not screw up the dismount.

It's probably best to remember that this isn't actually an episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, per se. By any metric that really matters, this is part four of "Crisis on Earth-X," which really has to be viewed as its own completely separate thing. So, looking at it in that light, how did this episode do as the finale to the big crossover event of the year?

It did pretty freaking amazing, that's how it did. Much like the previous three episodes, I spent most of this installment with a big, drooling, fanboy smile permanently slapped on my stupid face. The exception of course being... no... I'm sorry... I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

So, plot-lines were resolved in satisfying ways, several of our heroes got bonus emotional closure out of the whole thing – I'm primarily looking at you, Alex and Felicity – and we got a third act fight scene to end all third act fight scenes, with more superhero action than you can shake a stick at, and more cool superpower beats than I'd ever have expected to see on television. Part of me genuinely wonders if the Berlanti PTBs didn't take the upcoming release of Avengers: Infinity War as a personal challenge and think, 'Yeah... Good luck with eating our dust, infinity chumps.'

You smell like emotional closure.  And Febreeze.

And while we're talking behind the scenes – we're all clear that this size of a crossover should never, ever, have been logistically possible for a group of television series, right? I know we've had some discussion in the comments thread of a few of the shows in the last few weeks about how characters needed to be conveniently written around so that they could be filming things for this, but honestly, this much screen time with that many special effects shots with that many characters on that sort of budget and that sort of timetable should absolutely not have been possible. I can only assume that everyone involved with the project was just so in love with it that they gave everything they had to it and then came back and gave a little more. And that love shows on screen. Particularly in the part where... no... sorry... still not ready to talk about it...

The main things that the entirety of "Crisis" did right basically boils down to two things:

1. Treating all four episodes as if they star everybody, as opposed to treating them like an episode of – say – Arrow, that also happens to have a few characters from the other shows in it.

2. The way they handled the staggering number of characters by tending to group them in pairs for the character and plot advancement.

Honestly, from the mashup themes tunes at the open – love those, btw – to the appearance of characters and use of sets, for the first three episodes of "Crisis" it was genuinely impossible to tell whose series that installment was technically part of. This is the closest anyone in any medium has gotten to the feeling of those old Crisis on Infinite Earths/Secret Wars feeling – that pure sugar rush bliss of seeing all your favorite superheroes fighting with/against/adjacent to one another.

I say that three episodes felt that way. The truth is that this installment ended up feeling unquestionably like an episode of Legends of Tomorrow – not just from the use of the Waverider, but also the way that the Legends came to the forefront of the action, and the significant change in the lineup to the team.

I know, I know, I'm trying to work up to it. I'm still very emotionally raw about it, and I don't think I can handle crying again today.

The way they paired characters together was particularly evident here in part 4. After managing to return to Earth 1, our characters all get paired off with their most emotionally significant other. Oliver and Felicity, Barry and Iris, Kara and Alex, Mick and Leo Snart, and of course Jax and Martin. They use this time to reconcile whatever emotional arc they're going through, and then everyone recombines for some more action. It's a smart way of separating the emotional beats and character stuff into two hand scenes and then setting it aside for the larger action sequences.

Okay. Let's talk about it:


Martin Stein is dead.

They've been clearly leading up to it for weeks, but they did a good enough job teasing that he might just go back home to his family that I'd allowed myself to think he might make it out of this one alive. Not so.

Because, as this episode pointed out, and which should have been patently obvious, he couldn't simply go home to his family. Because half of his family was on the Waverider. It was always going to come down to being without half of his heart. In the end it kind of felt that having both sides lose him was always going to be the only possible resolution.

I should note – customarily I watch an episode of Legends three times to do these reviews. Once to enjoy, once to get an idea of the shape of its structure, and once to take specific notes. I barely made it through this one twice, and yes – it made me cry at three different points both times. Stein's private death scene with Jax, then just as we've recovered from that, Jax is at the Stein house telling Clarissa and Lily, then just as we've recovered from that, we have the funeral. That's just evil, show. Does someone on staff have stock in Kleenex or something?

As deaths go, it's hard to imagine one more heroic – crawling through gunfire from literal Nazis, then hastening his own death in order to ensure that Jax could live. It's hard to top that. And I do like that it was Stein's death that galvanized everyone else to finally defeat the Earth-X Nazis. That was a fitting tribute to him.

So, a successful conclusion to a truly epic television event. Having the main villains be evil versions of our own heroes gave the story a nice sense of weight, and more importantly corrected the main problem with last year's crossover – mainly that Kara had to be awkwardly sidelined to prevent her wrapping up the whole problem too quickly. I do wonder why we had Thawne instead of Evil Barry Allen. At a guess, I'd say that they wanted a way to get Thawne back into the show(s) and this was too good an opportunity to miss. I will say that I'm glad they went with The Flash season one Tom Cavanagh version, rather than the Matt Letscher version. This is no disrespect to Matt Letscher, he was great in the role last season. But The Flash season one callbacks with Cavanagh really were too good to miss. Also, we just had an evil Barry Allen. They're so last year.

What did we learn today?

About time travel theory? Nothing.

But you know what we did learn? Never – under any circumstances – resolve your longstanding emotional issues immediately before a climactic battle. Did we learn nothing from Anya? I almost want this to be added to Billie's Rules of Television.

Okay, I know that technically we learned that in the Flash installment, but it got very difficult to keep track of which events happened in which installment. Did anyone else have that problem?

Everybody remember where we parked:

This week the Waverider more or less hung out in Central City, 2017, occasionally fighting an evil, ersatz version of itself. I loved that they did the homework and translated all of the appropriate German. Wellenreiter, indeed.

There is an open question about when exactly the Waverider got here from being stuck in the stone age, but it's a moot point because the vagueness about that let us have the truly wonderful surprise of miniaturized Ray stopping that scalpel. I was honestly trying to think who in that room might have telekinesis before the tiny Ray reveal.

Quotes:

Advance notice: prepare off-brand Kleenex tissue for the last one. You have been warned.

Ray (Palmer): “Mitts off, Mengele.”

Nate: “Attention all prisoners. The cavalry has arrived.”
Rene: “About time.”
Mick: “I knew I could count on you, Pretty! Did you bring beers?”

Amaya: “Nice outfit.”
Zari: “Yeah, I didn't want to feel left out.”
You almost never see Zari and Amara out of one another's company anymore. I like that.

Ray: “I got your S.O.S. How was the wedding?”

Kara: “You know, fighting evil versions of ourselves does kind of put those problems in perspective.”
Alex: “Way to see the silver lining.”

Cisco: “This is just like Star Raiders on Atari. Except it's real.”
Wells: “Cut the chatter, Red Two”
One of many line call outs from classic sci-fi. The most notable and noticeable being...

Wells: “You need to fly her up. Up. And Away.”

and

Kara: “General. Would you care to step outside?”


Felicity: “There's no way. My grandparents didn't survive the Holocaust so the world could be ruled by Nazis. So if you want Kara, you gotta go through me. And even if you do you're not gonna win, because we will not back down. We will keep fighting. So get the hell off our Earth while you still can.”

Martin Stein: “I hope your life is long, and full of love. Just as mine has been...”

Excuse me, I have some alien goo in my eye...

Bits and Pieces:

-- Russell Tovey. My God, Russell Tovey. I spent a lot of this episode desperately pretending that there was any chance he was going to stick around and join the team. He and Leo Snart almost instantly make one of the most believable and endearing couples that we've yet seen. And hey, it's 2017 and we've reached the point where a same sex couple can be introduced and not have their sexual orientation feel even remotely notable. That's pleasant. Who had 2017 in the pool?

-- That said, why didn't either Leo go back with Ray or – and here's a crazy thought – Ray stay here with the man he loves on an Earth that's not overrun with Nazis? I mean, I know that it's because Russell Tovey is way too busy an actor to be a regular, but it still seemed a little odd.

-- Using the Firestorm matrix as a form of life support was very clever. Plus it allowed us to see this version of Firestorm fight with the group against Metall-o one last time. Also, it justified that hoary old chestnut – the fatally wounded guy magically stays alive long enough for one last heart to heart. Very nicely done.

-- So, is Red Tornado a good guy in Earth-X then? I mean, to the extent that he was a bad guy on Kara's Earth? Evil dimensions are so confusing.

-- Barry and The Ray combining their powers to defeat Red Tornado was a nice visual metaphor for the power of teamwork.

-- Ray can selectively embiggen just parts of himself now. So many jokes I am not making...

-- Evil Kara was ultimately defeated because she did not have a working heart. Thank you, show, for not going too heavy-handed with that metaphor. As it was, was perfect.

-- They absolutely must do a Blu-ray release of this mini-series with lots of bonus extras. We know they have a lot of behind the scenes stuff and featurettes, right?

-- Evil parallel universe Mick died saving cops from a fire.

-- The shot of Stein's forgotten glasses in the foreground broke my heart.

-- I really wanted to hear what the rest of the heroes would say to Stein as they shoveled their shovel of dirt into his grave.

A fantastic conclusion to an epic miniseries that lived up to the adjective and definitely stuck the landing. If only it had given us Agent Canary – the official Sara/Alex 'ship name, get your t-shirts now – it would be perfect.

I have no idea how to score this piece, so I'll follow my BBC cohorts and not. I'll just say that I am so happy that this exists. Well worth three hours of your time, plus however many minutes you spend re-watching the scene where Russell Tovey takes his shirt off.

Mikey Heinrich is, among other things, a freelance writer, volunteer firefighter, and roughly 78% water. You can find more of his work at the 42nd Vizsla.

6 comments:

Shari Houtman said...

"So many jokes I am not making..." I almost died. Awesome review. I think you nailed the dismount!

A few of my favorite things:

Seeing Tommy again
Seeing Leonard Snart again
Seeing Tom Cavanagh as Eobard Thawne again
(are you detecting a pattern)

You're right. I need the Blu-ray. Stat.

Lamounier said...

Mikey, your reviews are so passionate that I’ve been considering watching Legends. Great work.

Anonymous said...

Thought the crossover was flawless...Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist especially pulled double double duty to the point where i think Oliver and Kara x have been right up there with the arrowverses best villains.

Killer Frost needs to ice slide every episode.

They should combine all four shows but just have them on still in the same nightly format..Every episode can pick and choose which heroes would be best suited to whoever the villain that week is.

One nitpick was Felicity ruining Iris and Barry's moment..The scene was sweet and i get they were going for laughs but it annoyed me.

Unknown said...

Oh btw. The reason the Ray went back is because he is the main character on the upcoming CW Seed show The Freedon Fighters which he is also voicing. And they probably didnt have Snart go with him because Wentworth Miller announced he was leaving the Arrowverse and his character is probably not going to be on this show. I am hoping they will bring him back periodically to the live action shows. I could definitely see him as a Legend. (Also I am all for an Agent Canary shirt!!!!)

Billie Doux said...

Yes, I cried. :(

And I was absolutely shocked by that double wedding amongst the vomit. Yes, they needed a big life affirming yes someone died but everything is going to be okay moment, but I didn't think those two particular couples would ever tie the knot.

All in all, I thought this crossover was terrific. It was chock full of little moments between characters as well as big action pieces, not to mention the return of Snart, my favorite Legends character... even though I doubt it will be permanent.

Sam Smith said...

I saw someone online make up the ship name sex dance for alex and sara, which is far superior