Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
The producers and writers of the DC superhero shows clearly learned some important lessons from last year’s “Invasion!”, because this year’s crossover has some significant structural changes. Chief amongst these is that the event – Crisis on Earth-X – has its own branding, so it plays more like a mini-series and doesn’t have to worry about Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow each showcasing the casts of their own shows, as happened when Arrow’s 100th episode was part of the Invasion crossover last year.
Of course, that makes recapping the individual episode of Arrow within the crossover a bit of a pointless task, especially since the majority of Team Arrow don’t even show up until around 34 minutes in. So instead, we’re taking a slightly different approach and looking at the crossover as a whole in terms of its significance for the various Arrow characters.
A bit of context is probably needed first. The crossover event begins with Oliver and Felicity attending the wedding of Barry Allen (The Flash) and Iris West, along with Supergirl and Sara Lance from Legends of Tomorrow. However, the ceremony is rudely interrupted by Nazi Doppelgangers from Earth-X – specifically, a Nazi version of Supergirl (dubbed Overgirl) and a Nazi version of Oliver (Dark Arrow), who are also lovers. There’s a Nazi version of Prometheus too, but more about him in a minute.
It turns out that Overgirl is dying and Dark Arrow has a plan that involves kidnapping Kara and transplanting her heart into Overgirl’s body, with the assistance of Flash villain Reverse-Flash. Meanwhile, Oliver and various other heroes get transported to Earth-X, where they’re imprisoned in a concentration camp. Eventually, they escape and return to Earth-1, just in time for the mother of all superhero team-up battles.
RThe key Arrow-related subplot for the crossover concerns Oliver and Felicity. Just in case you’d forgotten that Arrow is, first and foremost, a CW show, a large dose of soap opera nonsense is injected, when Felicity picks the worst possible moment at the wedding to blurt out that “No, Oliver, I don’t want to marry you!”, after Oliver gets carried away with the romance of it all and quietly proposes. Quite apart from the fact that we’ve had no previous hints of Felicity’s doubts in that department, it’s an absurdly uncool thing to do and it ends up making Barry and Iris’ wedding all about Felicity. At least, until the Nazis arrive.
It turns out that Felicity has a bit of a psychological block about the whole wedding thing, since their previous commitment ended with her getting shot and paralysed. Which, all things considered, seems fairly reasonable. Still, a combination of Oliver’s actions throughout the crossover and perhaps a little residual jealousy at seeing Nazi Oliver and Nazi Kara together, means that Felicity eventually comes around, just in time to interrupt a second Barry and Iris wedding. But again, we’ll get to that a bit later on.
The biggest surprise of the episode comes after the superb wedding fight scene in Supergirl’s episode. Dark Arrow and Overgirl flee the scene, leaving Nazi Prometheus behind. Oliver and company take their prisoner to STAR Labs, whereupon he reveals himself to be none other than – gasp – Tommy Merlyn. (Hilariously, most of the other characters go, ‘Sorry, who?’) Apart from being a very nice nod to the popular fan theory that Merlyn was Prometheus during the previous season of Arrow, this is also great news, because it indicates that actor Colin Donnell is willing and able to return to the show, so perhaps we’ll be getting an Earth-2 version of Tommy sometime in the future.
Anyway, Tommy Prometheus stays alive just long enough for everyone to figure out that he’s from a Nazi alternate Earth and not a time anomaly, before taking a cyanide pill from his tooth and dying right in front of Oliver… again. Oliver: sad.
On the plus side, Team Flash and the Legends now have enough to go on, so they track down the Doppelgangers and send The Flash, Supergirl and Green Arrow after them. This leads to one of the best scenes in the crossover, starting with a great joke where The Flash and Supergirl arrive at the scene, followed a few awkward moments later by an annoyed Oliver on a motorbike (“Just a quick reminder. Super-speed? I don’t have it.”) They then come face to face with Overgirl and Dark Arrow, who reveal themselves as their doppelgangers (which the episode rather naively treats as a shock moment, despite it being blatantly obvious and revealed in all the promo ads), as well as Reverse-Flash, who, in a bit more of a shock, turns out to be the Harrison Wells Earth-1 version of Reverse-Flash from The Flash Season 1. The other shock reveal at this point is that Overgirl and Dark Arrow are married, which prompts a hilarious response from Kara. (“His wife? Gross! No offence…”)
Anyway, Oliver fires a Kryptonite arrow at Overgirl, prompting another very funny exchange – Kara: “Is that a…Kryptonite arrow? Why do you have a Kryptonite arrow?” Oliver: “In case an evil you ever showed up!” – but the Nazis escape, after Overgirl weakens a nearby building with heat vision, prompting The Flash, Oliver and Supergirl to work together to save everyone in a messy-looking but still quite cool effects sequence.
Later on, there’s another fun superhero team-up sequence, when Oliver, The Flash, Supergirl, Alex, Sara and Firestorm take on Nazis in what looks like a disused warehouse and Supergirl villain Metallo shows up, which is how they all get captured and transported to the Earth-X concentration camp in the Arrow cliffhanger.
Meanwhile, Dark Arrow attacks STAR Labs, at which point the rest of Team Arrow finally show up. (Dark Arrow, after taking out Killer Frost: “Anyone else want to be a hero?” Curtis, appearing with Black Canary and Wild Dog: “They wanted to wait, but I don’t think we’d ever get a better intro line than that…”) Unfortunately, Dark Arrow quickly kicks all three of their asses and locks them away in a STAR Labs jail, where they’re effectively sidelined until the finale.
Over in Earth-X (in what’s now an episode of The Flash), the writers finally do a bit of thematic justice to their choice to have the Earth-X villains as actual Nazis, rather than just evil doppelgangers. As well as making the real-world parallels clear (Nazis having gained uncomfortable cultural prominence in these troubled times), the writers introduce persecuted gay characters (including DC superhero The Ray – played by Britain’s Russell Tovey – and Wentworth Miller’s Citizen Cold) and remind us that a number of the heroes are Jewish, including Stein and an Earth-X version of Felicity, who appears here as a member of the resistance. That’s not to say that they get everything right – it might be a funny line, but having Overgirl declare that “Oliver is 10 times the man that Hitler ever was!” was probably a mistake.
The Earth-X interlude also gives us Commandant Quentin Lance, an opportunity that Paul Blackthorne (who’s always been one of Arrow’s best actors) seizes with both hands. He comes into his own when Oliver has to pose as Dark Arrow in order to get everyone back to Earth-1, quickly exposing him (Oliver, to be fair, is a bit rubbish at pretending to be a Nazi) and throwing in an evil laugh for good measure.
Meanwhile, back at STAR Labs, the only people who haven’t been captured are Felicity and Iris, so they stage a two-woman rescue mission, going all Die Hard in the STAR Labs ventilation ducts. Felicity and Iris have teamed up before, so they have an established chemistry that works well, although that still doesn’t excuse Felicity’s outrageous breaching of wedding etiquette. Both times.
Anyway, the heroes eventually return to Earth-1 and the stage is set for the climactic battle, during which Oliver straight-up kills Dark Arrow because Nazis are bad, mmmkay? (In contrast, The Flash lets Reverse-Flash go free, which seems unwise to say the least, given how dangerous he is.) The rest of Team Arrow are rather sidelined for the big battle, although Black Canary has a cool sequence where she joins Heat Wave, Citizen Cold, Firestorm, Killer Frost and Zari for a fight against Metallo, and there’s a lovely team-up moment when The Atom hitches a ride on one of Mr Terrific’s T-spheres.
With the Earth-X bad guys dispatched (Overgirl is killed off too, in a fun Supergirl vs Overgirl battle), there’s just enough time left for a happy ending, in which Barry and Iris finally get married and Felicity decides, mid-way through the ceremony, that she wants to marry Oliver after all – and would they mind very much if they got married at the same time? The officiator for the wedding is none other than poor old Diggle, who’s been conspicuous by his absence for the entire crossover. Still, he gets some nice moments here, first vomiting after Barry collects him for the ceremony at super-speed and then presiding over the double-wedding. (To be fair, he was recovering from a serious injury at the end of the previous episode of Arrow, so at least his absence from battle is consistent with continuity, but it’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for him all the same.)
All in all, this is a highly entertaining crossover that delivers the combination of superhero action, character humour and emotion that fans have come to expect from the DC superhero shows. The crossover may have short-changed the majority of Team Arrow, plot-wise, but it makes up for it with some great Felicity moments and some impressive acting from Stephen Amell, particularly when playing Dark Arrow’s love for Overgirl.
Come back next time, when normal service is resumed and Team Arrow suffer a major setback in the mid-season finale…
Slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
– Another cool moment: the shot of the warehouse battle, reflected in Oliver’s eye.
– Guess who else is entirely absent from the whole thing? Yep, Thea, even though she is now officially up and around again, after spending seven whole episodes of this season in a coma. Poor old Thea. Let’s hope she’s got some juicy plot stuff coming up in the back-end of the season to make up for it.
– How on Earth-1 are they going to top this next year?
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Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.