I’m a superhero geek, and I really enjoy it when someone does something particularly good in the genre. The last several years, the CW/DC Comics shows have done an annual crossover, and I think they’ve been getting better and better. This year’s event is called “Elseworlds,” a series of stories DC used to publish about familiar characters in altered circumstances, like a Green Lantern Power Ring being given to Bruce Wayne, that kind of thing. The crossover this year will be three of the four shows, with the Legends mostly sitting it out aside from a reported cameo in part three.
The story starts on The Flash, with the opening being the same teaser scene we’ve seen at the end of the last few episodes: Earth-90 (confirmed as home to both the original Flash show and Smallville) being the scene of devastation with dead heroes all over the landscape, and the original live action Flash, John Wesley Shipp, racing away from the Monitor, a major character in DC’s legendary limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths from the 80’s.
On Earth 1, Professor John Deegan gives a very controversial lecture with ends up with a lot of people walking out on it. I would have, too. In the parking lot, the Professor, played by Jeremy Davies, a noted annoyance of a villain on both Sleepy Hollow and Justified, throws a frustrated fit. He gets approached by the Monitor, who make him an offer that bodes ill for, well, everyone.
After a title card with the Elseworlds logo, and an unusual display of weather, the next scene is in Barry and Iris’ loft. Iris calls that breakfast is ready, waking up a very confused Oliver Queen. It becomes apparent that Oliver is living Barry’s life, and he tries to bluff his way through breakfast and his first experience with Barry’s powers. I’d question why he’s keeping secrets from people who are used to weirdness, but this version of Oliver has always been secretive. I think reality has changed in another way, too: Iris’ horrible cooking has been a running joke, but she seems to have suddenly mastered pancakes. They get an alert of a break-in at IVO labs, and Iris tosses Oliver the Flash ring, letting him suit up and wonder what Barry did now. Comics fans will recognize the name Ivo, and know nothing good is coming.
Oliver gets guided in to IVO Labs by Cisco on coms, who notices the speedster is off. Oliver gets off his trademark “Failed this city” line, which Cisco mentions isn’t his. Oliver wins against the thugs, barely, his instincts still a lot more attuned to the bow than speed. Cisco advises him to leave and let the cops handle cleanup, and we get a hint of what’s to come.
At STAR, Caitlin checks “Barry” over and reports everything is fine, which Oliver disputes as best he can. He doesn’t do a great job of pretending to be Barry through this scene, confusing Team Flash. Finally, after some comedic misunderstandings, he says he’s going to go talk to Oliver and speeds off. While Oliver at least got to start off in slow surroundings, Barry “wakes up” to the new world in the midst of a sparring session with Diggle. While Oliver got Barry’s speed, Barry clearly now has at least a good part of Oliver’s fighting skill. Diggle gets an alert about a disturbance in the Glades, and asks for “Oliver’s” help. Barry is lost but goes along with it as best he can, with an amusing mix of getting being Green Arrow right and wrong. Continuing the team up tradition, Diggle gets rescued at the last minute by the Flash, letting Barry and Oliver talk and Diggle have his usual reaction to superspeed.
Oliver gets annoyed with Barry treating this lightly, until Barry finds out where Oliver woke up, anyway. They go to STAR and try and tell the team what’s going on. After asking if Barry time traveled again, the team proves remarkably resistant to believing the heroes’ tale. The team goes off to consult without them, and Oliver wants to push forward on the problem without them. Barry has faith in his friends, which proves to be a bit misplaced. Oliver as Barry talks to Iris, learns a few things about what Felicity was up to while he was in prison, and then gets knocked out courtesy of some borrowed Ray Palmer nanites. Barry as Oliver gets taken out in a lot less fancy way, but at least gets an apology afterwards.
Barry and Oliver wake up in the Pipeline, argue a bit, and then manage to work together enough to stage a breakout. Barry’s somewhat weird reasoning is to wonder if this is just an Earth 1 problem, so he thinks they should go over to Earth 38 and see if Kara can see the truth. Caitlin and Cisco note some weird atmospheric effects, and then Cisco gets a very disturbing vibe of the Monitor, and wonders who that is. The escaped Oliver and Barry run into Iris, and Barry persuades her to let them have Cisco’s gizmo to get them to Kara’s Earth.
In a great callback to DC’s television past, the scene on Earth 38 opens on the Kent Farm ala Smallville, complete with the theme song from that show. We finally get to see Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman/Clark again, and are introduced to Elizabeth Tullock as Lois Lane. I think she does a great job, and I’d love to see these two lead their own show. They debate about a story of Lois’ visit to Argo City, with Kara doing her best to stay out of it. Kara talks with Clark about her recently being forced out of the DEO on her own show. Clark starts to bring up something he wants to talk to Kara about, but gets interrupted by Lois’ yell from the barn announcing the sudden arrival of Barry and Oliver. They catch Kara up with a quick explanation and demonstration.
Things get much worse at the IVO Lab, as the CCPD, Killer Frost, Vibe, and Elongated Man meet Amazo, sometimes called the “One Man Justice League.” They get their collective butts kicked, and the producers do a slick little graphic to show what powers it’s channeling. Back on the farm, Oliver is training Barry, which makes me wonder where the bow, quiver, and various other equipment came from. The two bicker after Barry pulls a stunt that goes back to their first team-up, and it doesn’t end on a good note.
The STAR Labs crew studies Amazo, and we learn it has a nasty combination of tech that is powering it. Iris tells them she’s started to believe Barry and Oliver’s story, and Cisco has too after his vision. The discussion gets put off for later when Amazo shows up again, attacking the city. This version of the android powerhouse is gold colored, like the one on Justice League Unlimited, so they even sort of manage to crossover with the DC Animated Universe.
Barry and Oliver apologize and make up, trying to work out what they need to do. They decide they need to act more like each other to get through this, and Kara joins them, agreeing. Barry and Kara do an amusing Oliver impression, even making him laugh, before Cisco breaches in to get their help. Kara agrees to come along, and so does Clark, who Cisco doesn’t recognize at all in an amusing twist.
The heroes come in to attack Amazo, doing a decent job at first but only making things worse given his power absorbing abilities. For some reason, Killer Frost, Vibe, and Elongated Man sit this fight out. Regrouping, Barry, channeling Oliver, comes up with a plan, backed by some tech help from Wells and Cisco. The heroes combine forces much more smoothly and drop the android, Barry now taking his turn with the “You have failed this city” line. By the way, not only has Oliver not used that regularly for years, but both times it was used in this episode, it was used wrong.
After the mandatory meeting back at STAR, Superman goes home, being given an errand by Wells on the way. Barry talks with Iris, who is worried he’s going to go all dark and vengeful like Oliver. Cisco tells the big guns about his vision, and Barry and Oliver (I guess Kara didn’t need to see?) share his vibe. The Monitor is aware of them watching, which is a rare event, and he tells them there’s nothing they can do. Oliver speed-sketches what they saw, including the prominent Wayne Enterprises building in the background. They decide they need to go to Gotham and find Deegan. The final scene is the long-awaited Batwoman, posing dramatically on top of a building.
What I liked: I really enjoy these crossovers. They appeal to the hero geek in me, and I think they do a great job with them. Amazo is a big threat, and they needed both power and smarts to take it down, which they used. I like this Superman MUCH better than the current movie one, and Lois was really well done as well. The Smallville nod was nice, too, and sadly probably as close as we get to seeing that show in this crossover. Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin did fine jobs playing each other. I do feel for Diggle not being able to handle the speed. The callback to the first Arrow/Flash team up was nicely done, too.
What I didn’t: Where did the gear Barry used to train as Oliver on the Kent farm come from? That was some specialized stuff that Kara didn’t fly to the nearest sporting goods store to pick up. I’m not quite sure why Killer Frost, Vibe, and Elongated Man sat out the big fight. Team Flash totally dismissing Barry and Oliver’s stories, considering everything they’ve seen, really doesn’t make any sense at all.
I loved this. Part one of a great story that I’m eagerly awaiting the next parts of. I’ll give this a high 4.5 out of 5.