On the surface, the Crisis on Earth X event was billed as all the superheroes and their allies coming together to beat down a world full of Nazis. While that was delivered on, the crossover was one that came with so many character moments and proved to be one of the most emotionally draining Arrowverse rollercoasters that has happened. Left with a jarring cliffhanger, the episode picks right up from it and plays with your emotions for a bit as to the fate of Victor Garber’s Professor Stein, only to take all hope away in the end.
Even though it was known that Garber was on the way out, there was hope that his character might actually get the rare happy ending, but that was dashed so quickly. At the same time, it was so powerful that Stein was willing to make such a sacrifice in order to make sure that Jax could continue to live and actually experience life. What a ride that Stein has had as a character, someone that was so bitter and distracted his entire life, bonding with Ronnie Raymond and becoming a hero. He quickly went from the jaded old man to a true adventurer and father figure and friend to so many. Not only that but he had quickly become one of the few characters that was truly a bridge between the multiple shows alongside the likes of Ray, Sara, Mick, and others. Proven by just how devastated so many of the characters were by this loss, one that will have its effect on them for a long time. All of the fun and light moments in the episode were slowed down as the emotional toll was taken by the departure of Stein. When the producers and stars said that the episode would be a tearjerker and would have lasting consequences, they were not lying.
As expected, as it was pretty much telegraphed with a neon sign in the last part, the rest of the Legends show up just in time to save Kara from losing her heart to her evil doppelganger. For too long in the crossover, the Nazis were not much of a threat because the heroes were kept apart for plot reasons to make the villains much more of a threat. So finally seeing all the heroes coming together to beat the hell out of Metallo and the other Nazis was a great thing to finally see. It only too three episodes to truly see the might of the CW DC heroes come together, which was a bit of a missed opportunity for this being such a huge crossover. Sure most films have it where the group of heroes doesn’t really fully all come together as a force till the third act, Avengers & Justice League as two examples, but since we don’t get to see these heroes in one place at the same time all that often it would have been nice to see more of it. Half of the Legends characters got really shortchanged in this event as they didn’t get to show up till their show for the final part of the event. Having Ray and Nate’s enthusiasm and Amaya’s collected presence for more of the event could have been fun. Perhaps next year will do a bit better with spreading out the wealth of time amongst the growing army of characters in these worlds. Hell, we still haven’t seen Wally since episode one, poor second speedster.
In the end, putting all the heroes together just proved that the fears that this trio of villains and their nameless hordes were not a true match or threat was a valid fear. Even the Dominators proved to be a bit more of a true threat, and they were dispatched by a group of heroes smaller than this. In a way the crossover kind of used up its dramatic moments with the fight in the end of part three and with the loss of Stein. After the mid-way point, it was inevitable where things were going. That’s not to say there were not great moments. Such as the speed battle between Barry and Thawne and the way Caitlin pulled and Iceman with her powers or the finale of the archer battle and even Ray flying on one of Mr. Terriffic’s T-Spheres was great. Barry’s end with Thawne was a disappointment though because, despite everything the man has done, for the umpteenth time one of these heroes allowed someone to go just because it allowed for a future conflict. The plot tends to take over from logic a lot of times with these shows and that’s a shame.
There were plenty of great character moments though, which is what really made this event work. Oliver and Felicity, Kara and Alex and Barry and Iris all reuniting and some of them getting past their issues was a highlight and really made up for the fact that some of the character drama dragged down previous episodes. Snart and Mick having an interaction, Mick’s groaning about the ghost returning bringing a great laugh, and Mick trying to deal with a Snart that is so opposite of his old partner and a version of himself that was apparently a hero was great. Another plus was mixing and matching characters, even more, giving all of the actors a chance for new interactions.
Stein’s funeral brought some more heavy moments, but its aftermath was used to move past the Nazis and worked to bring some hope and optimism back after such a heavy episode really worked well. All of the characters are now moving into next week where they’ll face mid-season finales, but they are left in better places than they were at the start of the event, mostly. Allowing for a possible return of Ray and Earth X is a good move especially with the upcoming animated CW Seed series following his adventures. Though the apparently thought to be the swansong of Wentworth Miller as Snart seems to not be here quite yet as he’s sticking around. How that plays out should be interesting. While it was nice to see Diggle brought in at the end to marry off Barry and Iris since they chose to forego an actual ceremony was a nice touch, shame that he got left out of this event because of issues with his drug use and such as Green Arrow. As most suspected it became a double wedding, which was so fitting. The two power couples of the main shows made it official. What a way to end.
Despite the overall weak spots of the crossover, this finale delivered. It wasn’t quite as strong as most of part three, but the emotional beats from Stein’s sacrifice and the effects it had and will continue to have helped save the episode. Hopefully next year the writers will actually find a more credible threat, even if it was fun to watch four hours of actors getting to play dark versions of themselves. Emotional gut punches and lighter moments made the episode work and the finales for the characters brought tears and laughs. Here’s looking forward to a possibly even bigger crossover next year.
Score: 9 out of 10