CW Crossover Special Event Series Smackdown: Crisis on Earth-X

Well, that’s a hell of a long way to go for a wedding.

Okay, technically, it ended up being (spoilers from here on out) two weddings, but still. When it comes to the point of the wedding where the minister says “And if anyone has reason to object to the union of these two people, speak now or forever hold your peace” and space Nazis show up… well, one might just want to take that as a sign that it maybe wasn’t meant to be, lol. At the very least, not the greatest vote of encouragement, I’m just sayin’.

Technically, the space Nazis in question were actually from one of many “alternate” Earths, in this case, one in which Hitler and the Nazis won the war and the rest of history was decidedly changed as a direct result, aka Earth-X, hence the title “Crisis on Earth-X,” in case you were still wondering. Think “The Man in the High Castle,” only generally more fun and superhero-ey. Not a word, but stick with me here, people, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover- four episodes of it, to be exact.

As Barry Allen, aka The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Iris West (Candice Patton) prepare to get married, a whole lot of superheroes gather to wish them well and attend the wedding. Given the golden opportunity this presents the bad guys of the world, it’s only natural that someone would attempt something, so maybe the father of the bride, cop Joe West (Jesse L. Martin) could have invested a little more in security, you know? Oh well, woulda coulda shoulda. Too late now. Besides, if he had, we wouldn’t have a show, so there you go.

Fun fact: that minister was none other than former “Greatest American Hero” William Katt, better-known to me as one of the leads in the original adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie.” Believe it or not, he was not flying on air when he was killed almost immediately by the aforementioned space Nazis. Okay, maybe parts of him were, but I digress.

Among those in attendance: another group of visitors from another world- specifically Earth-38- Supergirl Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) and her sister Alex (Chyler Leigh), who are still reeling a bit from boyfriend drama. Alex has the good sense to drunkenly hook up with none other than Sara Lance, aka the White Canary (Caity Lotz), at the pre-wedding shindig the night before, which was pretty sweet. Like they say, there’s no better way to get over someone than get under someone new.

Also in attendance are another couple suffering from a bit of drama: Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), who, you’ll recall, had some wedding drama of their own when Felicity was shot after Oliver proposed to her a few seasons back. Since then, they’ve understandably postponed things indefinitely, but Oliver decides to try, try again, and fails miserably when Felicity shoots him down mercilessly in front of everyone at said party. Awkward!

Also, there’s Dr. Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh), together known as Firestorm, who, as “Legends of Tomorrow” fans know, have been trying to figure out a way to separate from one another- a gambit which will likely rob both of their superhero powers in the process. Stein wants it so that he can retire and spend more time with his wife and family, while Jackson wants it for Stein as well, but laments the fact that he will go back to being ordinary in the process.

Attempting to help are Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), aka Killer Frost; Cisco Ramon, aka Vibe (Carlos Valdes); and Dr. Harry Wells (Tom Cavanagh), who has an alter-ego known as the Dark Flash, aka Reverse Flash, that is currently keeping company with the baddies on Earth-X, who include other “dark” versions of our faves, notably Dark Arrow (also Amell) and Overgirl (also Benoist), who are a married couple there, and have traveled to Earth-1 in order to kidnap Supergirl for reasons that will be revealed later on.

So, even before the Nazis arrive at the wedding, lots of drama going on, to say the least. Fortunately for our heroes, Overgirl isn’t at her best, and they are able to fight off her and Dark Arrow and the rest, albeit not without some casualties, forcing them to retreat, and essentially giving the gang time to figure out what the hell is going on, while also ruining the element of surprise on the bad guys’ end, much to the chagrin of Dark Flash, who knew better and had no idea the rest were going to attempt what they did until it was too late to stop them.

On the plus side for the good guys, they manage to take prisoner one of the baddies, Prometheus (Colin Donnell), who “Arrow” fans will know better as none other than Oliver’s former best friend Tommy Merlyn. It seems that, on Earth-X, Tommy is still very much alive, and still Oliver’s right-hand man, but in perpetuating evil, not good, obviously. He doesn’t have that much to say, except to express contempt for what he has seen of Earth-1, before he takes a cyanide pill and kills himself, forcing Oliver to watch his friend die yet again, sort of.

A group of the superheroes rush to a local research company to try and stop Dark Arrow, Overgirl and Reverse Flash from stealing an object known as the Prism, which they believe the baddies are going to use to build a neutron bomb, but which turns out not to be the case. Be that as it may, the baddies succeed, after preying on the good guys’ “weakness” for saving innocents and wreaking havoc at a nearby construction site and putting people working there in jeopardy, allowing them to escape with said Prism, while the good guys go on damage control.

You’d think with all the superheroes all over the place at the time, they could split things up and multitask, but alas, such is not the case here. Indeed, most everyone ends up captured and/or held prisoner by the bad guys, including those back at S.T.A.R. labs, save Iris and Felicity, who are able to hide out and plot to rescue their friends from captivity. Meanwhile, Oliver, Barry, Sara, Dr. Stein, Jefferson, and Alex are taken back to Earth-X, where they are put into a concentration camp, while Kara is taken back to S.T.A.R. labs to prepare her for a mysterious surgery.

We finally discover the real reason the baddies are on Earth-X: it seems that Overgirl is dying, from a weak heart, and that they plan to use the Prism to create artificial red sunlight to weaken Kara and Overgirl and allow Reverse Flash to perform a heart transplant, which will save Overgirl’s life, but obviously kill Kara in the process. Until such time, they need Kara alive, for obvious reasons, so there’s still a chance for a last-minute rescue, but the clock is definitely ticking.

Back on Earth-X, Quentin Lance’s evil doppelgänger, Sturmbannführer (Paul Blackthorne)- try saying THAT three times fast- is about to line up and execute everyone concerned of the aforementioned people when, at the last possible minute, Ray Terrell (Russell Tovey), aka “The Ray” intervenes on their behalf. Actually, technically “The Ray” is “The Gay”- not that there’s anything wrong with that- and is trying to save his significant other, Leo, aka Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller, who apparently can’t stay out of prisons, even on alternate Earths), from being killed and the rest just happen to be in the same group, so they are conveniently saved as well.

Ray takes them back to the opposition’s headquarters, where Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan) is a General and plotting to defeat the Nazis by using Red Tornado essentially as a bomb. The problem with this is that, if he succeeds, then the location of the portal which will help our team escape will be destroyed in the process, thus leaving everyone concerned stranded. After a lot of hemming and hawing, they manage to convince Winn to give them a brief window of time in which to get to said portal and get back to Earth-1 or else.

All is going well at first, as Oliver poses as the Dark Arrow in order for his team to get inside the Nazi headquarters, but he is eventually outed as an imposter by Sturmbannführer and all hell breaks loose. Making matters worse, Winn goes back on his word and decides to deploy Red Tornado early, forcing the team to split up and attempt to derail him before they all go up in flames.

All concerned succeed, and the heroes make it back to Earth-1, but Dr. Stein is mortally wounded in the process, and is taken to the Waverider in hopes of the super-computer Gideon (Amy Pemberton) healing him. Unfortunately, being as how Dr. Stein and Jefferson are still connected, the injury could kill Jefferson as well, which is the last thing Dr. Stein wants. So, he insists on taking the formula concocted by S.T.A.R. labs, which Cisco insists will separate the two, thus saving Jefferson’s life in the process.

Needless to say, Jefferson isn’t thrilled about this development, but has little choice but to go along, as there’s no point in both of them dying, and it’s literally Dr. Stein’s last request, along with Jefferson delivering the bad news to his wife and daughter. Thus we lose a major cast member, and though it was common knowledge among fans that Garber was leaving the show, I’m not going to lie- I teared up. Not once, but twice, which may be a record for me on a superhero show. (Jefferson telling the wife and daughter got me the first time, then the funeral.)

As much as I hated to see him go, I will allow that the show really went out of its way to give Dr. Stein’s death some real weight, not only showing Jefferson and Sara’s reaction to it, but other members of the team, his family, and then showing the funeral to boot. This was a major death for “Legends of Tomorrow” fans, and it was certainly treated that way, much to the show’s credit, which is not always the case in these big crossover events, so kudos to the writers for giving Dr. Stein a solid farewell.

Meanwhile, as all of this is going on, Felicity manages to shut down the power at the labs, which stops the operation on Kara dead in its tracks, for the time being. However, it doesn’t take long for Reverse Flash to suss out the culprit and she and Iris are captured and threatened with death if Felicity doesn’t give up the code to decrypt the generator and get the power back up and running. She does, but Oliver and the rest return at that moment and fighting ensues, both there in the lab and in Central City in general.

As Overgirl fights Supergirl, the team realizes that overexposure to solar radiation- the reason for her weak heart in the first place- is going to cause her to essentially go “supernova” and explode, which could potentially kill thousands, if not more. As such, Supergirl grabs Overgirl and flies her as far away from Earth as possible- or “Up, up and away!”, as Dr. Wells wryly directs her- and she explodes in space, thankfully sparing many lives in the process.

Needless to say, this does not go over well with her husband, the Dark Arrow, and he attacks the Green Arrow, intending to kill him, but the latter gets the best of him and kills him instead, which gives new meaning to killing oneself. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Barry being Barry, on the other hand, allows Reverse Flash to go free, which isn’t in any way going to come back and bite him in the ass. Not! Have we learned nothing from past events, Barry? Ugh. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Also, Leo Snart, who came to Earth-1 along with The Ray to help everyone out, opts to stay behind and help out for a while, presumably with the Waverider crew. This leads to an amusing scene with Rory, aka Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), who, as you’ll recall, lost Snart some time ago, but hallucinated him- or thought he did, at least- for some time after his death.

For this reason, Rory isn’t inclined to believe what he sees at first, and is even more taken aback when he discovers his own alter ego on Earth-X died saving a bunch of cops, which, needless to say, goes against Earth-1’s version of Rory’s own wicked ways. In other words, in an amusing twist, we discover that Earth-X’s version of Rory is totally a good guy, lol. Not that Earth-1’s isn’t, per se, but he certainly didn’t start out that way, that’s for sure.

We end with John Diggle (David Ramsey), who happens to be an ordained minister, agreeing to finally marry Barry and Iris- that is, after he finishes puking from Barry’s quick pick-up and subsequent delivery to the park where the marriage is taking place. Once again, respect the omens, people. Opting to pile on, Felicity changes her mind and decides to marry Oliver after all, making it a double wedding. Get your own wedding, people! Jeez.

Fortunately, this wedding is drama-free, and all’s well that ends well, I guess. Still, no way there’s not going to be some drama on down the line for both of these happy couples, so enjoy it while you can. That said, congrats to both of the happy couples, as it was a long time coming, especially for Oliver and Felicity. Hopefully she won’t get shot on the way home from the wedding. Knock on wood.

This was a lot of fun overall, if a bit overwhelming at times. I mean, if you thought keeping up with all of “The Avengers” or the “Justice League” was bad, then this was a total clusterf*ck of epic proportions, let me tell you. I mean, for all the cast members and superheroes I mentioned, I didn’t even mention the half of them, maybe. Most all of these shows have what I would call second-tier superheroes as well, with apologies to say, Ray Palmer, aka the Atom (Brandon Routh) and Nate Heywood, aka Steel (Nick Zano), among maybe a few others.

As such, it can be a bit exhausting keeping up, especially if you don’t watch all of the shows concerned, “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” which not everyone does. I am the first to admit I tend to binge-watch most of them, save the ones I review, for obvious reasons. Given that, there were a few superheroes scattered throughout where I was like: wait, who the hell was that?

Be that as it may, you can’t blame them for trying to give all the regular cast members a moment in the sun, even while some were slighted here and there. To me, Blackthorne and Jordan, both playing against type as bad guys- or at the very least, opposite versions of themselves- fared the best, as it allowed them to show sides of their acting we don’t typically get to see, which was cool.

Ditto Benoist and Amell, who both excelled at playing evil versions of themselves, especially Benoist, who adopted a completely different tone of voice and attitude than her typically sunny self. Also, is it wrong that I thought her Overgirl costume, with its prominent Nazi SS insignia instead of the typical S-like shape (yes, I know it’s not actually an “S,” fellow nerds, settle down) was pretty bad-ass?

In addition, any chance to hear Benoist’s lovely singing voice is much welcome, and brings back those beloved “Glee” vibes, which I know some of you must miss out there, whether you want to admit it or not. Lest we forget, both Benoist and Gustin were on that show, once upon a time. Here, we got to hear a perfectly lovely rendition of “Running Home to You,” which I would totally download in a heartbeat. (And yes, it didn’t escape me that Gustin sang it on a previous episode of “The Flash.”)

By contrast, Amell wasn’t THAT much different than he is under normal circumstances, given how brooding his Arrow character is, even under the best of scenarios. But he nonetheless managed to bring some new shades to the table by bringing out the evil side of his character, which showed that there’s always a lower point than we think, in spite of all the iffy things Oliver has done over the years as it is.

It was also weirdly gratifying to see him and Benoist as a married couple, with all the requisite smooching and the like that goes along with that. Is it also wrong that I ended up ‘shipping them a bit by the end? After all, Dark Arrow was willing to give everything up to save her life, even his evil Nazi regime, which was kind of sweet in its own way. (Note, however, that Overgirl was decidedly NOT on the same page in that regard.)

Speaking of Nazis, as we must, it did not go unnoticed by me that this sort of plotline is unfortunately very timely, and, of course, the show couldn’t resist a few jabs to that end, such as when Jefferson quipped about the baddies wanting to “make America Aryan again.” It’s frightening how prescient a lot of TV has been as of late, particularly those shows that didn’t even see all this coming, such as “Homeland,” “Veep,” “House of Cards,” “The Man in the High Castle” and “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

All of these shows were in production at the time of the election and assumed Hillary Clinton would win and were so blindsided by that not happening that many of them had to rush to change certain things accordingly, to say nothing of the ripple effects of all the sexual harassment/assault charges that have been leveled at certain known personalities as of late.

As many lamented at how much crazier than fiction that reality has become, thus making their jobs that much harder; others, like the CW shows in question, rushed to take advantage of the opportunity to comment on things by offering up thinly-veiled plotlines inspired by the state of things in America and the rest of the world, as a direct result of Trumpism and the dumbing down of the US in particular.

Suddenly, movies like “Idiocracy” are looking less like fiction, and more like predictions of the future- see also “The Simpsons”– and even superhero shows are being affected by it, such as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, which also did a similar fascism-inspired type of ongoing storyline at the tail end of last season, with lots of dialogue poking fun at our post-Trump society, for better or worse.

That said, as on the nose as some of it has been, I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t enjoyed some of it, and this was certainly no exception. I can see where those people who actually support that monster might not be amused by it all, in sort of a “keep your peanut butter out of my chocolate” and vice versa sort of way, but it is what it is. Hey, if the swastika fits, that’s on you people. Don’t be mad for people rightfully calling you out on it. Though it would be nice if there really was an Earth-X we could ship all these haters off to, so that the world could be a better place. Now THAT would truly make America great again, am I right?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I realize that not all people that voted for Trump are bad people. Some were just misguided, or anarchist types that just want to shake things up- see “American Horror Story: Cult” for an interesting look at that contingent, speaking of art imitating life- but at this point, you gotta think at least some of them are suffering from buyer’s remorse, given how little their guy has accomplished, aside from further dividing the country for the worst.

But I digress. This is entertainment, not politics, and for what it was, I really enjoyed the “Crisis on Earth-X” arc. While, this being network TV, and the CW at that, it was a given that their budget was never going to be able to compete with that of their big-screen counterparts, I still thought they did a commendable job giving them a run for their money, even if the end results were a bit overstuffed, for the reasons I mentioned.

There were some truly memorable moments and some solid camerawork throughout, including a scene in which the cinematography made it look like you were the villains rushing the good guys at various angles, which was very cool, and an impressive, sweeping “heroes” shot, a la “The Avengers” movies or “Captain America: Civil War,” in which the camera went across the action in a 360 angle, showing all of the crazy battles going on, one by one. I actually wouldn’t have minded seeing that on the big screen- certainly more so than the recent “Inhumans” debacle.

Despite clocking in at nearly three hours, there was never a dull moment on this four-episode extravaganza, which is saying something, even though I admittedly watched it in two-episode increments, like most people, no doubt, albeit over the course of one day, which many maybe didn’t. Either way, I was thoroughly entertained, I must say, and for me, at least, the good far outweighed the bad here.

Only one more week of shows to go before the winter hiatus, so be sure and join me and my fellow writers as we cover those episodes- I’ll be handling the “Legends of Tomorrow” duties, for the record. Until then, thanks for reading, and be sure and let me know what you thought about the big event series down below!