Arrow: Elseworlds, Part 2

“Am I the only one who thought that was very cool?”

Match the very high bar set by "Elseworlds Part 1" and raise the stakes. Check. Weave threads from all three crossover shows into the arc of this overarching story. Check. Introduce a major new character and set the tone for an entirely new series. Check. Lay enough Easter eggs to make comic book nerds break the freeze frame button on their remotes. Double check. What are you waiting for? Let’s dive in!

If there was any doubt we’re in an alternate reality, the Arrow opening monologue put that firmly to rest. In no other scenario could the words “After six months in hell,” make me giggle like a schoolgirl. That said, the idea of Barry Allen as the Green Arrow did not seem as farfetched as it once did. But we’ll get to that.

Our stage is set with the red lightning of Central City traveling to Star City and wreaking havoc with Curtis’ equipment as A.R.G.U.S. attempts to take down the leader of the terrorist organization known as The Jackals. If you want to bring in the big guns and, as rumor has it, can no longer use Deathstroke, using his evil offspring to up the ante is a good choice. And anyone who manages a kill shot on Diggle is officially a badass. Luckily Dig is rescued by our trio of heroes. You would think he'd be relieved but even Diggle knows their appearance doesn’t bode well.

Surprisingly, Diggle and Curtis take the Freaky Friday news far better than Team Flash. Yet Oliver still found it necessary to keep the truth from Felicity. Oliver’s ability to compartmentalize is probably what kept him sane during his now many years of hell. However, his willingness to compartmentalize information, particularly from his wife, is one of his least endearing qualities. Will he never learn?

Marriage woes aside, Felicity arrives to lead the Geek Squad’s search for the meaning of the red lightning while our heroes head to Gotham in search of the Man with Muttonchops. Cisco and Caitlin arrive at A.R.G.U.S to assist with some much needed comic relief which is good considering they are also the ones to spill the beans on Ollie’s faux pas. Moving on.

One of the best parts of this episode was its ability to balance the darkness with the light. Oliver and Barry’s attempts to balance their new personas along with their new abilities was an evolving source of both comedy and drama from Oliver running into and past his targets to Barry holding a gun on a would-be mugger. In the normal world, I doubt Barry would have tried to talk the muggers down.  He probably would have knocked them out or tied them up before they could do anything. And while Oliver could and would have put them all down it wouldn’t have been his opening move. Especially, when he knows he has Barry’s speed and Kara’s strength to rely on. And Oliver telling Diggle to get the inmates of Arkham back into their cells when he could and eventually did accomplish the task in seconds was bonkers. Then again, he’s still getting the hang of it. I will say, the continuing saga of Batman: The Myth or The Man had me in stitches. Especially since Oliver’s belief in the urban legend stemmed more from his desire to be “The Original Vigilante” than from any basis in fact.

I was downright giddy when we hit Gotham although the fact it made Star City look like Smallville is terrifying. Bruce Wayne has been MIA for three years and in his absence, the Board of Directors ran Wayne Enterprises into the ground. Mysteriously, Batman has not been seen during that same time period and the criminal element has been running amok. Go figure.

Kate Kane, Bruce’s cousin, has stepped in. She hopes to turn what’s left of Wayne Enterprises into a real estate development firm. She’s also taken on her cousin's evening obligations, complete with batarangs and gadgets galore. We may not have had time for her full backstory but the groundwork has been solidly laid and the tone definitively set. Can we say Arkham Asylum?

If there was anything designed to cause a universal nerdgasm, it was Arkham. From all the tantalizing nameplates on the doors (only the fact I needed to get this review out kept me from pausing to read each one) to the not-subtle-at-all references to Mr. and Mrs. Fries and the Scarecrow.

Kara may be fretting about the repercussions of hiding her identity but Oliver’s and Barry’s fears were manifested through a dose of Scarecrow’s secret sauce. Oliver fears his father’s actions may have been the act of a coward rather than the sacrifice he’d imagined making Oliver as monstrous as the people he’s locked up. And Merlyn is just the guy to prove it to him. Meanwhile, the Reverse Flash is more than happy to remind Barry that his eternal optimism and sense of right and wrong might be the reason for the loss of his parents and the fact Eobard still roams free.

The interesting thing was the Reverse Flash appearing to Oliver while Merlyn appeared to Barry. On the plus side, it gave each of them context for the burdens the other carries. You know the whole walk a mile in another’s shoe thing. But will the effects of these new personalities be permanent? Will it help Oliver and Felicity? What will it do to Barry and Iris?

As with Part 1, our heroes manage to complete their quest, for all the good it does them. Thanks to the Earth 90’s Barry Allen and the Geek Squad they retrieve the Book of Destiny. Unfortunately, they are unable to keep it. The Monitor wipes out Barry Allen Sr. and returns the book to Deegan in an almost Thanos-worthy snap.

Given another opportunity to “Think bigger,” Deegan removes Oliver and Barry’s powers and turns them into wanted criminals chased by Central City’s Finest – Diaz, Merlyn, and Kane (of the Deathstroke Jr. Variety). And they have their very own Superman to back them up. This cannot be good.

It’s the middle episode of a three-part series so I think it’s highly unfair to give it a grade. I will say that they have an incredibly tough landing to stick but they seem to be up to the challenge.

Parting Thoughts:

While Kate Kane is the name of Batwoman in the comics, she is not Bruce Wayne’s cousin and she did not grow up in Gotham. As with everything else in the Berlanti-verse, liberties will be taken.


Vesper Fairchild was a love interest of Bruce Wayne’s. So of course Ollie would sleep with her.

The Freaky Friday vs. Quantum Leap argument continues.

In a nod to last year’s crossover. Oliver shows up to Gotham last. “I am still getting the hang of this.”

Barry’s “Dad” broke my heart. Just sayin’.

Barry Allen Sr. asked where John’s ring was and heads around the globe exploded.

Quotes:

Curtis: “I know this sounds nuts and completely unscientific, but I think that freaking lightning is following us.”

Diggle: “An immortal Egyptian, aliens, parallel Earth Nazis. I have no idea why I’m even surprised at this point.”

Oliver: “The Batman’s an urban legend.”
Barry: “Wait. You don’t believe Batman’s real?”

Barry: “One time Oliver cheated on his girlfriend with her sister!”
Oliver: “Barry!”
Barry: “Well, you did.”

Felicity: “We’re going to need Cisco’s help on this one."
Cisco: “I’ve been summoned!"
Curtis: “OK. That was a disturbingly coincidental entrance.”

Kara: “Will there really be a next time when someone threatens three superheroes with a gun?”

Barry: “And you said it wouldn’t happen again.”

Kate: “If you’re visiting Gotham to compare grappling hooks with Batman you are out of luck. No one’s seen him in years.”
Barry: “Told you.”
Oliver: “Myth.”

Kara: “What should we call you? Rain? Ms. Parade?”

Kate: “And the WiFi password is 'Alfred'.”

Barry: “I don’t think Miss Kate would be too thrilled with us running around her city.”
Kara: “Well, unless she has some Kryptonite stashed somewhere, I am really not worried.”

Nurse: “What’s the diagnosis?”
Kara: “Persistent sub-thermal homeostasis with, ah, gelid substantiation. (Gets a confused look) She gets cold and freezes things."

Felicity: “Geek Squad. Form up on me.”

Caitlin: “You all right?”
Oliver: “Define all right.”

(Here's a link to "Elseworlds, Part 3.")

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

5 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Just finished watching it -- great timing, Shari! -- and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I think this is the best crossover they've ever done, and it's probably because the underlying theme is Barry and Oliver working out their issues while being each other. And there were so many cool bits -- like the shocker of Malcolm Merlyn showing up, even though he wasn't real, Kara commenting on Kate's tatts (bringing up all sorts of interesting questions about whether Kara uses her x-ray vision to check out everybody nude), and Superman showing up in black in the end. I'm sure everybody who knows the comics knows who he is, but I don't. I just like Tyler Hoechlin in black. :)

Nick said...

@Billie, I don't think that superman is anything other than John Deegan changing reality and becoming superman.

I could be wrong. My DC lore is not that great.

I mean, the suit could be a reference to the one he wore after he died, but I doubt it.

Shari Houtman said...

It's certainly my favorite crossover, but I think it's because everything was so unexpected. Maybe true comic book fans knew where things were headed, but I didn't have a clue.

Patrick said...

The inclusion of Batwoman seemed like such a waste of time. She had little to do with the actual plot, hell the whole trip to Gotham City was just a gimmick. The actual story beats could've happened in either Star City or Central City just fine. About the only useful thing about going to Gotham, and specifically Arkham, was exposing Barry & Oliver to Scarecrow's fear gas. Batwoman's look didn't really work for me either. The red wig looked cheap, the big hair coming out of the cowl thing doesn't work nearly as well in live-action as it does on the pages of the comics, in my opinion. Plus, I don't find Ruby Rose very compelling as an actress.

The overall Elseworlds story has been fun though, and the red skies certainly portend interesting things...

TJ said...

Loved it!!

But...as they were in Gotham - couldn't we have just a tiny little bit of a cross-over from the Gotham series?? I know there's a lot of contracts between networks and stuff...but please...just five seconds from a Gotham actor would have done it.