Crisis on Earth-X (Parts 1 through 4) – a review

CrisisEarthX

 

I just watched the two-day, four-episode crossover CW event called Crisis on Earth-X.

I’ve remained a current viewer on all of the DC Comics shows on the CW except for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which I haven’t been watching since the season premiere. I have all the episodes on my DVR and will probably catch up during the winter hiatus. But, since this series’ episode 8 was the fourth part of Crisis, I did watch that one as well.

This crossover was much better than last year’s Invasion!. I’ll just lay that on the line right now. Much better.

The premise is that Earth-X exists in a 53rd dimension that no one talks about, because this is the Earth resulting from a Nazi victory in World War II, where the Nazis are still in power in our time. Most of our heroes on the CW shows have dopplegangers on Earth-X, and they are evil counterparts (for the most part) of our customary heroes. Oliver Queen is actually the Fuhrer of the Reich on Earth-X, and his wife is Kara Zor-El, known as Overgirl on Nazi-Earth. Barry Allen doesn’t seem to have a doppleganger, but Eobard Thawne (who has somehow survived two deaths now) is there as the Reverse Flash, with Harrison Wells’ face. There are other familiar characters, but we’ll talk about them shortly.

Barry and Iris are finally getting married, and most of our heroes are in attendance, including Kara and her sister Alex Danvers, who traveled from their own Earth. William Katt, who was once the Greatest American Hero, is officiating the ceremony, but is suddenly killed as the Earth-X Nazis crash the party. As it turns out, the Nazis are invading Earth-1 in order to get Supergirl. Her evil counterpart, Overgirl, is dying because she’s absorbed too much solar energy or somesuch technobabble. They need Kara’s heart to replace Overgirl’s own and save her life. There are wonderful fight scenes. Several of our heroes—Green Arrow, Flash, Firestorm, White Canary, and Alex Danvers—are transported to Earth-X and end up in a concentration camp, which is a sobering reminder of the real-life Nazi atrocities. The Nazi doppleganger of Quentin Lance is the camp warden, and he makes the admission that he killed his own Sara because she was bisexual. I didn’t like seeing an evil Quentin.

There are other familiar faces on Earth-X. Winn Schott is a general in the Rebel Alliance (or whatever it’s called here) and he’s a mean, no-nonsense guy. And Leonard Snart—called Leo on this version of Earth—is one of the rebels. He’s not the only dead guy making a return. There’s the aforementioned Eobard Thawne, of course, but also a guest-starring stint by Tommy Merlyn as Prometheus (instead of Adrian Chase). Tommy is evil, of course, and commits suicide while a prisoner of Team Flash. The Ray is a new hero character introduced on Earth-X. I’m sure we’ll see more of him. Maybe on Legends of Tomorrow, for reasons I’ll get into in a bit.

The main plot goes about as expected. You’ll be happy to know that the evil plans of the Nazis are foiled, and most of the Reich’s leadership ends up dead. Also, Barry and Iris are finally married at the end of the show. But, surprise, they aren’t the only ones. Think about it: I don’t have to spoil it for you.

I told you up front that I thought this year’s event was much better than last year’s. I didn’t bury the lead. I liked it a lot, overall. The action setpieces were phenomenal. Metallo and Red Tornado showed their CGI origins much more than I would have preferred, but the majority of the special effects were simply amazing. I’ve always had a soft spot for evil doppleganger stories, so this one satisfied me on that level as well. I also liked the fact that each episode was titled Crisis on Earth-X instead of focusing on the individual four series they replaced. This made it seem more like a genuine crossover, like this year’s Defenders on Netflix, than separate episodes of four individual series. This was a much-needed improvement over last year, and was well done.

I recommend that you watch this one if you’re a fan of superhero entertainment.

That said, I’ll talk about some of the things I didn’t particularly enjoy.

Conservatively, the show creators took about 160 minutes to tell this story. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been treated more like a movie and less like a long television show. I’m not talking about spending more money on it. I think enough was spent and it looked great. I would like for next year’s crossover (assuming all four series are renewed) to be filmed this way: episode one would be act one; episodes two and three would be act two; and episode four would be act three and whatever epilogues may be necessary. Crisis seemed to be leaning in that direction, but it never stopped feeling like television to me. 160 minutes is a long movie, and this should have felt bigger, more epic, than it ended up feeling.

I hesitate to bring up this next observation. But, I need to be honest with you about my feelings. I don’t really like the fact that they made “Leo” Snart of Earth-X a gay man.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I realize that Wentworth Miller is gay. If he requested that his character come out as gay as a condition of his return to the Snart role, I can respect that. The Captain Cold character has never been portrayed as a raging heterosexual on the CW, so the revelation wasn’t a stretch. And, I love Miller in the role, whether or not Captain Cold is gay.

I’m just not sure it was necessary. The revelation that Snart is gay, or that The Ray is his lover, didn’t really add anything to the plot for me. Plus, it’s beginning to feel like having gay characters on these series is part of some checklist we’re ticking off. Arrow has Echo Kellum’s Mr. Terrific character, who is gay and was married. Curtis Holt’s sexuality has become such a minor part of his characterization that I had almost forgotten he was gay until I started writing this piece. I started to say that there were no gay characters on Flash, but then I remembered Captain David Singh. On Supergirl, Kara’s sister Alex Danvers eventually came out as a lesbian after falling in love with a National City detective named Maggie. And, then there’s Sara Lance on Legends, who apparently identifies as bisexual, although most of her history -spanning trysts seem to have been with women. Possibly there are other gay characters whom I’ve forgotten.

I celebrate diversity. I am happy to live in a world where we can have television characters of different races and religions and sexual preferences all interacting and working productively together. But, I dislike quotas and distrust formulaic writing. I’m just hoping that’s not what’s happening here. I’d hate to hear that there was a mandate that each show was required to feature gay characters.

I am unfamiliar with the hero called The Ray. Perhaps he was already openly gay in the comics, and the decision was made to have the Earth-X version of Snart be his lover during the writing of the story arc. Even that I’ll accept. If the comic version of The Ray isn’t gay. . . Well, ’nuff said.

This is not a knee-jerk homophobic response. I was happy that Alex Danvers and Sara Lance had a one-night-stand in this story. It wouldn’t have seemed realistic if the two hadn’t hooked up at the wedding, especially since both are currently unattached. I also appreciate the characters Curtis Holt and Captain Singh, who happen to be gay and the writers seem to feel no need to shine a spotlight on the fact. If we are to accept being gay as also being another kind of normal, this is the way it should be done.

I was also confused about the 53 dimensions. I know that there were once infinite Earths in the comics that were sorted out in Crisis on Infinite Earths, which provided the title for this story (and which I’m currently reading). I suspect that the 52 (plus Earth-X) have something to do with DC Comics “New 52” I’ve heard some things about, but I’m not up-to-date on the continuity.

Just a minor nitpick here: Where was Ralph Dibny? And, why was Oliver suiting up as Green Arrow after promising William he wouldn’t? Why did Commander Steel and the Atom not show up until the fourth episode? Not to mention Vixen and whoever that other woman was. Plus, why was Cisco not allowed to Vibe-on a bit more?  Minor points, as I said.

I must also be the last person on Earth (are we Earth-1?) who didn’t know Victor Garber was leaving Legends. I knew he’s been playing a small role on The Orville, but thought he would continue doing both. His death in this episode really came as a surprise for me, and it just adds fuel to my belief that Legends may not get another renewal.  The special effects during The Ray’s flight sequences felt a lot like Firestorm.  I wonder if he’ll end up being one of the Legends now?

This was a fun event.  In spite of my gripes, a solid A grade from me.

One thought on “Crisis on Earth-X (Parts 1 through 4) – a review

  1. I absolutely loved it. This was great television. The formating didn’t bother me but I see your point in how it was presented. I heard they spent a month working on this and it did show with the quality of production and cinematography.

    Liked by 1 person

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