Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Legends of Tomorrow, click here.
First things first, this season’s crossover event between Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash was an enormous improvement on last season’s Invasion! crossover, not least because it actually used all four episodes, whereas Invasion! only used three, with Supergirl using just its cliffhanger to tee up the crossover.
The DC superhero show-runners have obviously learned a few lessons, so there are a few tweaks this time round. Most importantly, the crossover has been re-branded as Crisis on Earth-X, complete with its own title card, so it plays more like a stand-alone mini-series than four consecutive episodes of four different shows. This means that the characters are free to come and go as they please across all four episodes, rather than letting the characters from each show dominate their own episode, as happened last year, when the Invasion! crossover also had to incorporate Arrow’s 100th episode.
That being the case, there’s not much point in isolating this episode of Legends as Part 4 of the crossover. Instead, let’s switch focus a little and look at the events of the crossover specifically in terms of how they affect the Legends characters.
But first, a little context. The crossover begins with characters from all four shows attending the wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West. Actually, only Sara is there to represent the Legends, which seems a little harsh, especially seeing as Jax, Stein and Ray all appeared on The Flash in the past (arguably more than Sara, in fact, as she technically only appeared on The Flash in Invasion!). Anyway, the wedding doesn’t go quite as planned, because Nazi Doppelgangers from Earth-X show up and attack the guests before the ceremony is complete.
After regrouping, our heroes discover that they are up against Nazi Supergirl (dubbed Overgirl), Nazi Oliver (Dark Arrow) and returning Flash villain Reverse-Flash, aka Eobard Thawne, although the version from The Flash Season 1 played by Tom Cavanagh, not the Matt Lettscher version that was in the Legion of Doom on Legends last year. It turns out that Overgirl is dying and that her lover, Dark Arrow, has a plan to save her that involves kidnapping Kara and transplanting her heart into Overgirl.
Meanwhile, the majority of the heroes get transported to Earth-X and end up in a Nazi concentration camp, where they eventually escape, aided by the openly gay Citizen Cold (the Earth-X version of Captain Cold, played by Wentworth Miller) and his partner The Ray (Britain’s own Russell Tovey). Needless to say, it all culminates in the mother of all superhero battles before the surprisingly emotional ending.
Having said all that about characters moving freely between the shows, the majority of the Legends are absent for at least two-thirds of the crossover – they’re apparently off on a mission somewhere in the time-stream, leaving Sara as their sole representative at the wedding. (It seems highly likely that they filmed an explanatory scene to that effect that got cut.)
Anyway, Sara’s antics at the wedding are an early highlight for the crossover, as she almost immediately hooks up with Supergirl / Kara’s sister, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), who’s recovering from a recent break-up with her partner, Maggie. They end up sleeping together (and kudos to the superhero shows in general for their continued commitment to representing same-sex relationships) and Alex feels super-guilty about it, but Sara ends up helping her deal with her feelings about the break-up and the crossover ends with them parting on friendly terms, albeit with an accompanying crass comment from Mick. (Mick to Sara: “You hit that?” Sara to Mick: “Shut up.”)
It’s worth pointing out that Sara and Alex / Lotz and Leigh have a tonne of chemistry together and are very well-matched, something that’s highlighted in the terrifically enjoyable fight scene in the church in Part 1, when Sara and Alex fight alongside each other and simultaneously rip their dresses to allow more freedom for kicking Nazis. (Although, as has been pointed out before, Caity Lotz can generate smoking hot chemistry with just about anyone.) Anyway, it’s a shame we’ll probably have to wait until next year’s crossover before they can get together again.
The main Legends-related storyline for the crossover concerns Stein and Jax, who have spent the last few episodes discussing their imminent separation as Firestorm, so that Stein can effectively retire and go and be a grandad to his new grandson, Ronnie. A lot of groundwork had been laid for Victor Garber’s exit as Stein and it was widely expected that he’d leave either at the end of the season or during next week’s mid-season finale, so it comes as something of a shock when – spoiler alert – he is dramatically killed off at the end of the crossover.
As emotional exits go, it’s pretty much perfect. Stein gets to go out a hero, saving everyone by opening the portal back to Earth-1, but getting shot by a couple of Nazis in the process. Jax manages to get Stein back to the Waverider, but Gideon is unable to save him and he dies in Jax’s arms. Franz Drameh and Victor Garber are both terrific in their final scenes together, bringing powerful emotion as they acknowledge their father / son relationship and Stein tells Jax he needs to let him go. There’s even time for the aftermath (including a funeral sequence), which brings forth an extra few tears, especially when Jax has to tell Clarissa and Lily that Stein has died. It’s only a shame that some of the other characters Stein was close to – most notably Caitlin Snow, but also most of the Waverider crew – don’t get to say goodbye, though Sara and Ray both get touching moments after the fact.
As for the rest of the Legends, they don’t get all that much to do, outside of staging a terrific nick-of-time rescue of Supergirl (Ray stopping the knife in his shrunken form before embiggening and punching out Thawne) and joining in the climactic battle at the end. There are still a handful of significant moments for some of the characters, though – for example, Ray gets to show off a new power, namely that his suit can now embiggen parts of his body independently, which he demonstrates by swatting a Nazi with a giant hand. (Funny, awesome, silly, perfect superhero moment – basically Legends in a nutshell.) Similarly, Zari gets a new costume (“I didn’t want to feel left out”) and Mick, of course, has his hands full with the sort-of reappearance of his dead partner. (“The ghost is back!” is his hilarious first reaction.) As for Nate and Amaya, they’re largely on the sidelines, although Nate does at least have a cool moment when he catches a falling, unconscious Kara (“I figured it would take the Man of Steel to catch the Girl of Steel…”)
Of course, no Legends-related discussion of the crossover would be complete without a few words about Citizen Cold. This version of Cold is a straight-up hero, a Nazi resistance fighter who’s been persecuted on Earth-X for his relationship with fellow costumed crime-fighter The Ray. Wentworth Miller really seizes the opportunity to play a happier, upbeat version of the character and the results are just wonderful, whether he’s asking a bemused Barry for a hug or making stirring speeches about what they’re fighting for. Happily, Cold decides to return to Earth-1 and stay on the Waverider with the Legends for a while, so we’ll be seeing at least a little bit more of him, before Miller retires from the Arrowverse for good.
As for the action scenes, they’re super-exciting and basically put the likes of Justice League to shame. Legends-related highlights include The Atom riding on Mr Terrific’s T-spheres and Zari and Amaya being zipped around on Killer Frost’s ice-slide, a move she blatantly stole from the X-Men’s Iceman. (Incidentally, in a great throwaway joke, Crisis confirms that Marvel comics – and possibly movies – exist in the DC universe, because Jax and Stein reference Spider-Man in a very funny argument.) Oh, and let’s not forget the terrific sequence where Citizen Cold, Heat Wave, Killer Frost, Firestorm, Black Canary and Zari all team up to take out Metallo, resulting in his head exploding, Terminator-style.
The only weird thing about the episode is that the commitment to the mini-series event format effectively means that an episode of Legends ends with an entire five-minute sequence (involving the joint weddings of Barry and Iris and Oliver and Felicity) without any of the Legends in it at all.
All in all, though, this is a terrific crossover, delivering plenty of great superhero team-up moments, effective villains, exciting action sequences, tonnes of character humour and powerful emotion. There’s just one question – how on Earth-1 are they going to top this next year?
Come back next time, when normal service resumes and the Legends encounter Beebo, the God of War…
Footnotes of tomorrow
– The title of the crossover partly references one of DC’s most famous comics events, Crisis on Infinite Earths.
– Cisco’s incredulity at the fact that there is a Nazi Waverider is just perfect. You can practically hear the writers giggling that they had gotten away with that. (“Why would the Nazi versions of Oliver and Kara have a Waverider?” “They just would, okay?”)
– The Ray’s inclusion in the crossover is no coincidence, as the character is getting his own animated spin-off show, in the same vein as the Vixen animated series (which is well worth checking out).
– Line of the episode is jointly shared by Mick and Leonard for the following exchange: Mick: “Wait. I’m dead on Planet Nazi? Let me guess. In a fire?”
Leonard: “You just kept going back into that burning police station until the last officer had been rescued.”
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 is available on Sky 1 every Wednesday, within a week of its US broadcast. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 14-day free trial is available for new subscribers.