The Crisis on Infinite Earths continues on Batwoman. The first part had several cameos and a lot of surprises, as the extent of the high stakes was driven home by so many deaths. The special after-show, ala Talking Dead for Walking Dead, confirmed that all those worlds we saw in quick glimpses were destroyed, so the body count is already immensely high. I’m not sure how that’s going to work with Earth-9, the DC Universe home of the Titans and the other shows, so there’s maybe hope for the future of at least some of these worlds down the road.
Following up on Oliver’s shocking death at the end of last episode, Kate Kane, Sara Lance, and Kara Danvers raise a glass in his memory. Just as Kate starts worrying about their larger problems, Harbinger pops in. She admits she hasn’t done something important, then tells them that, for the next part of the Monitor’s plan, they need the Waverider. Sara comments that she promised her crew no more crossovers, but hey, where there’s a multiverse, there’s a loophole.
They jaunt over to Earth-74, which doesn’t really have a tie to anything else as far as I know. On this world, the Legends have all retired, Mick is not quite as successful with his writing, and the ship’s AI is Leonard, a nice callback to the late, and missed, Captain Cold, and voiced with sardonic perfection by Wentworth Miller (welcome back!). After some great exchanges that are vintage Legends, Harbinger knows just what to say to get this Mick to come along for the ride. While the Monitor tries to explain about seven special heroes they need to win the fight, baby Jon Kent keeps fussing, and there’s some great bits of business trying to deal with this. With the unexpected death of Oliver throwing off his plans, the Monitor had to do some research and has brought back the Book of Destiny, which they destroyed in last year’s crossover. Hearing about its power, several characters get different ideas on how to try and use it. A few Paragons are identified, and they get hints on how to go look for others. Interestingly, we learn the Monitor got some off-screen help from Felicity, and she used the “Tome of the Guardians.” In Green Lantern lore, the Book of Oa, a planet run by the Guardians, holds the tales of all the Green Lanterns and their adventures. Are we getting another hint about the eventual appearance of the Corps in the Arrowverse? As some get sent off to search for the needed Paragons, a big secret gets let out, surprising a few of the heroes.
Kara’s ruminations on her recent losses get interrupted with the unpleasant news, and annoying presence, of Lex Luthor, not so much dead after all. The Girl of Steel is exceptionally displeased, and the Monitor steps in to stop her giving the villain a true death stare. Lex’s smugness takes a bit of a hit when he meets Kate Kane, who isn’t putting up with his attitude. All in all, this really doesn’t help some of the trust issues between the heroes and the Monitor.
Most of the Earths’ numbers have some kind of meaning behind them. Kate and Kara go to Earth-99 to meet a very different version of Bruce Wayne. While this man leans more toward the Kingdom Come Batman, he’s played by Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman throughout the DC Animated Universe, including Batman Beyond, which debuted in… 1999. As Kate and Kara make their way to a familiar yet different manor outside Gotham, Kate fills in some of her unusual family history and the most recent events, eliciting surprised sympathy from Supergirl. Elsewhere on the borrowed Waverider, Lex does some forbidden reading while Harbinger hears voices and the Monitor repeats his refrain about everyone having their part to play.
Barry and Iris discuss what’s happening and a very sketchy plan to fix some of what went wrong. Sara and Mia have a similar, but much less friendly, conversation. At Wayne Manor ala Earth-99, our heroines get to the door and there’s an echo of Luke and Kate’s first meeting. Eventually getting inside courtesy of Kara’s door opening skills, they meet this world’s Bruce, an older, darker, bitter man in an exoskeleton. He and Kate go talk while Kara gets an abbreviated tour from Luke. Bruce tells Kate that she’s dead on this world, runs through a few shapeshifters, eliminates them as suspects, and demands to know who Kate is.
On Earth-75, Lois and Clark arrive too late, and find Lex has used his new-found power to start killing Supermen. Of interest here: the Death of Superman in the comics actually happened in Superman 75, and this Superman seems to be wearing the costume of the one from the rebooted DC Universe. Considering how divisive the reboot was, I sort of wonder if the production staff are making their own feelings about it known. On the Waverider, Barry, Sara, and Mia have recruited help for their risky plan. Weaving some spells to make a map of what remains of the multiverse, John Constantine begins working on his contribution, while Sara continues to express some reservations about that they’re doing.
The united reporters (Lois, Clark, and Iris) make another stop on their bid to save the Supermen, and arrive at Earth-167. This is a huge moment for tv fans, as this proves to be the Kent Farm from Smallville, with Tom Welling returning to the role. Before they can get too far with their warning, the reporters three are sent back to the Waverider as “our” Lex from Earth-38 pops up. I won’t give away all the spoilers, but Lex is in for a big surprise, the scene lives up to the nature of the Smallville series, and there are some nice hints on the wall of the farmhouse about what’s happened in the intervening ten years. Welling gets some wonderful lines with perfect delivery before doing something so many of us have wanted to do. Lex ends up leaving, and Erica Durance comes back briefly as Lois. This may be my favorite scene of the event so far. Sadly, the Smallville scene didn’t have the theme song, and Alex Rosenbaum didn’t return as Smallville Lex (there were some issues in the show’s approach, from what he said), but those are small quibbles for a truly wonderful nod to superhero tv history.
Back on Earth-99, Bruce gets darker and darker and we hear more about the fate of their Kate. On the Waverider, Ray tries to fix the detector they need to help resist the Anti-Monitor while Rory demonstrates some unusual babysitting techniques. Our intrepid reporters get to Earth-96, and arrive at another, classic version of the Daily Planet. This Clark (and eventually Superman) is played by Brandon Routh, getting dual screen time as a nod to his appearance in Superman Returns. It’s amusing watching some sparks fly between that Clark and “our” Lois, plus the mutual glasses admiration with the Clarks. The walls of Clark’s office, and the eventual reveal of his costume, make it sound like this is the character from Kingdom Come, although some of his later comments also link him to the Christopher Reeve Superman. I do wonder if there’s a significance to Dark Bruce and Routh-Clark both being based on Kingdom Come versions of their characters and their numbers being so close (99 and 96).
Kara’s tour ends in the library, where a case indicates just how much this Bruce has changed, and who some of the people he’s dealt with are. We also find out how Bruce ended up needing the exo-suit, and several of the ways this Manor is like the comics version. A few earths over, that Clark tells them about his history and the others warn him about this Lex. Just as both Supermen change, Lex arrives and reveals his new twist on his spree. The resulting conflict gives us a scenic tour through parts of Metropolis, including its most iconic landmark. Iris and Lois don’t just stand around and wait to be saved; Lois takes some definitive action, and the two women make an important change. In the aftermath, there’s a joke that seems to refer to Superman III, continuing the nods to earlier DC works.
In the comics, Earth-18 is stalled in the Wild West era, and you can imagine who at least some of the heroes are from the name of their major heroes, the Justice Riders. We don’t see them, but in the wilds of North Dakota, Mia, Sara, Barry, and John Constantine find what they need and someone we’ve seen before. Back on Earth-99, we see the Batcave for the first time on the CW, and it’s a good version of it. This Bruce finishes demonstrating his descent into darkness, and the chaos reveals who the next hero they need is, although it’s heartbreaking for Kate. The Batwoman ends up with a souvenir that could be very important down the road.
Constantine and company complete part one of their quest, with the expected aftereffects. Fortunately, they came prepared. Back from their various trips, the heroes regroup on the Waverider. Their new Superman meets everyone, and makes another comment that touches on Superman Returns, and makes me wonder what happened to someone from that movie. There’s a lot more distrust of the Monitor, and Lex has been caged, but is still snarky. There is a very entertaining Super-doppleganger moment. The heroes manage to check off another item on their list, although someone is dubious about their new role. Elsewhere, Constantine has antimatter induced performance issues, endangering one of the side projects.
Kate and Kara share a quiet drink, and reflect on what they’ve seen and done. Kara snagged a memento while they were at Wayne Manor, and it makes Kate think about what might have been. She also worries about what might happen in her future, which Kara tries to reassure her about. Kara also announces her own side project, which troubles Kate and lets us see that she picked up a souvenir too. The episode ends with one of the heroes having some problems, the introduction of a major villain, and an unexpected disappearance.
What I liked: Everything. Seriously. This was amazing. From Kevin Conroy as live action Bruce for the first time, to visiting Smallville, to giving Routh another shot at Superman, and all the various callbacks to things that have happened before. I like the new AI for this Waverider.
What I didn’t: Um. Yeah. Nothing comes to mind. There were a few things that were a bit hard to see, but they all worked wonderfully well for the story.
This, too, gets another rare 5 out of 5 from me.