A couple of weeks ago, DC and The CW did their second four show crossover, similar to one they did last season. Instead of four nights (one for each DC program), Crisis on Earth-X ran for two nights with two shows airing each night. For one thing, I have to say that I loved this format. It was unusual in that it’s still a four hour arc, but it also keeps you invested by flowing for two consecutive hours on each night. My typical television schedule is to leave The CW at 9pm and watch a different show, and then catch up on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow on the CW app the next morning. The way they set up this crossover, I stayed for all four consecutive hours and found my other show in the on demand section of my cable provider. It also did not tie up four separate nights when families could have sports and school schedules conflicting, especially in that time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
Another difference between the two crossovers was how the characters were used. In the first crossover, Heroes vs. Aliens, Supergirl started it with her move to The CW from CBS, and three-quarters of that episode was primarily a Supergirl episode and introducing CW watchers to the new addition to the CW family. From there, the following night was Flash with some guest appearances, followed each night by Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow respectively. While each show had its main individual characters, there were a few of the major characters from the other shows that helped the crossover work.
In Crisis on Earth-X, I felt the story came first. There was a cohesive plot and I wasn’t as distracted by which actors appeared where. They used whichever characters needed to appear where they needed to appear without confusing fans who only watch one or two of the shows. The overarching plot was a new one while still incorporating canon from previous episodes as well as the comic books that are sometimes eluded to as Easter eggs.
In addition to the four night miniseries plot, individual stories and plots were advanced for individual shows. Actors were showcased in different lights while playing the characters we already knew and their dopplegangers from another verse, from Earth-X. For example, Wynn (from Supergirl) was gruffer and gruffier, decisive and determined. It wasn’t that he can’t be those things on Earth-1, but it shows the potential that is inside. Overkill (Supergirl’s evil twin) had a similar transformation, and my first reaction, while not a part of the story was that Melissa Benoist took some evil acting lessons from Teri Hatcher’s time on set last season. I also loved how it used the actors and the characters with their own co-stars and others from the verse.
There was great balance.
There was also great balance between the action and not. I was going to say the slow parts, but there really wasn’t anything that was slow. It was measured, it was deliberate, it was storytelling at its finest.
I absolutely loved how it opened with all four shows revolving around RSVP’ing for Barry and Iris’ wedding in between fighting criminals in their individual cities. I loved how they mirrored each other in talking about Barry and Iris, and that they all procrastinated telling them whether or not they would be coming when they knew that they would, of course be coming.
The one night stand of Sara Lance and Alex Danvers was brilliant. There is no doubt they both needed it. I like the way The CW’s DC programming handles LGBT+: it’s there, but there isn’t a need to announce it. If Sara is hitting on Alex, she’s not asking, hey, are you…? No, she goes for it, and if she gets turned down, that’s how life works, and it’s all good. The assumption is that there’s no reason not to ask someone, anyone out on a date, and that’s a wonderful thing. I don’t like to use the word “normalize”, but my kids watch this show, and I appreciate that getting Sara and Alex together, either as a potential friendship or intimate relationship isn’t something foreign that needs to be explained. It’s just the way it is. Like the real world.
I thought Felicity showcasing her Jewish heritage, both on Earth-1 and Earth-X in the different components of each character was a phenomenal use of backstory and historical accuracy in fiction. If you’re going to use Nazi-like or Nazis as your bad guys, don’t sugarcoat it. There are very real victims. We should not be glorifying these bad guys. I also loved and appreciated Felicity helping to take down the Nazis on both worlds. That was very satisfying.
Very girl power, but while it was extolling and empowering the women characters, it also wasn’t engaging in misandry. There was equality and feminism without calling it out as such. As with the LGBT+, the empowered women were just there. Like in the real world.
One other note on the acting, I really liked how Paul Blackthorne used his natural British accent as a Nazi rather than his American accent as Quentin Lance. I liked that the Nazis and their actors weren’t redeemed or redeemable. No Stockholm Syndrome. The William Katt cameo was a nice surprise as was his exit.
By the end I wanted to title this crossover Two weddings and a funeral.
I’d also like to talk about Victor Garber’s exit for a moment. Those of us that watch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow knew that he was leaving the show. I was a bit surprised that his death came in the crossover episode, but it was also fitting that it was during the Legends hour. He did begin his role on The Flash, so it was important for those characters to also say goodbye. Jax’s reaction was heartbreaking. Letting Martin go can’t have been easy. They had grown so close, and not simply because of the telepathic link. It took Martin some time to convince Jax to join the team. Even when they weren’t Firestorm, they were inseparable. It was a very sad moment, but it was also very satisfying from a story standpoint.
If you happened to have missed this fantastic crossover, download The CW app, and watch Crisis on Earth-X while it’s available. It’s free, and while you’re there, you can catch up on all of The CW’s DC shows before the newest addition, Black Lightning, premieres on January 16th at 9pm.