The Arrowverse – The Flash 4×08 “Crisis on Earth X Part 3” review

Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3

Part two of the giant CW DC superheroes crossover event found most of the heroes left in some very precarious situations, and part three picks up right from that point to continue to put these characters through the wringers on Earth X. Things got off to a slow but fun character start with the first part of the event but part two was a bit of an underwhelming holding pattern that moved things forward only slightly. That all changes with night two as the third part kicks things into gear and goes to some dark, but also still fun superheroes versus Nazis realms. There is still a bit that is silly about the evil Nazi doppelgangers plan to attack Earth One because Supergirl was there for a wedding so that they can use her heart to fix the dying Overgirl, Earth X’s version of Kara. Seems like it would have been far easier to wait till she was back on her Earth to grab her without all the fuss of taking on Team Arrow, Team Flash and the Legends combined forces. But bad guys don’t always have the most logical plans in comic book worlds.

One of the great joys of this even has been seeing various actors get to really stretch themselves out by playing darker, more heroic or altered versions of their normal characters. Watching Tom Cavanagh really gleefully playing the season one version of Harrison Wells Eobard Thawne has been the biggest delight, and Paul Blackthorne nailed it as a Nazified version of Quinton Lance that has this utter contempt for everything and everyone, opposed to the version we know that cares for others but is self-destructive and puts himself down the most. Wentworth Miller appears for what seems to be his swansong in the Arrowverse, he recently announced he was leaving the universe, and really works well as the more heroic version of Leonard Snart, Citizen Cold. His rescue of the heroes and his partner The Ray (Russell Tovey) was great, though it was a bit marred by the typical bad guy hordes firing their weapons but seemingly just shooting the sky instead of the heroes that are just standing still before them.

This crossover continued the Arrowverse’s positive portrayals of same-sex relationships, which stands against the movie comic book universes that tend to be stuck following rigid old heterosexual portrayals. It must have been a very welcome chance for Miller to get to play this version of Snart in such a relationship with the Ray after the actor revealed recently the struggles he went through in life as a closeted gay man in Hollywood. It truly is a shame that he’s apparently done playing the role because having Snart and Ray around more often in the shows would be a great treat. They are an awesome couple.

Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3

Just like the other parts this episode keeps the flow and doesn’t keep the focus on any one series group of characters as they have been effectively mixed and matched to avoid that issue from last year’s crossover. Even after seemingly leaving anything from Supergirl’s world behind in the first part, they rectified that easily by having the alternate version of Winn showing up as General Schlott on Earth X. While there are all these amazingly powered people that are around, the event has continued to make sure that even those without powers have great moments such as Felicity and Iris being the last hope on Earth One to save Kara while they await the return of the rest of the Legends (who for some reason all went back on time adventures after dropping off Sara, Stein, Jax, and Mick.)

One major issue that does continue to plague the shows before this event and during it is this telegraphing that is going on. It’s clear right away that the Legends, of course, won’t’ show up in this episode, meaning that Iris and Felicity’s mission was going to fail but buy enough time for the heroes to suddenly appear to save the day. There is also the issue tied to this that revolves around the idea that these Nazis are not truly a credible thread for this massive team of heroes and only is a threat because the heroes have all been kept apart. If the Legends had all been there from the start there seemingly would have been no way that the small groups of heroes would have been thrashed and captured in part two. So the writers had to come up with reasons to spread everyone out to keep the threat going for four episodes. Giving the enemies more metahumans or powerful entities on their side, perhaps a dark Firestorm or Dark versions of more of the Legends might have evened odds and made the villains more credible.

Unlike part two, this episode had no real time to overly focus on the various bits of character drama and that was a big positive. Felicity and Oliver’s drama and some of the other stuff just dragged the last episode a bit, and since they were separated and fighting for their lives it didn’t bother to be mentioned other than a small reference. The bits of issues that did come up were natural ones that fueled the story moments such as Alex and Sara getting passed their awkwardness from their one night stand to talk about some things after Alex thought she might never get home to save her sister. Jax and Stein’s Firestorm woes were the main bit that came up and that makes so much sense because Victor Garber’s time in the world is rapidly coming to a close and the shows have been good to give him a lot of time and focus before that moment arrives. Seeing the men reunited and reaffirm their father/son bond was touching.

Final Thoughts:

Dropping all the momentum sucking character drama and focusing on the Earth X side of things more greatly helped this half of the crossover get a strong start. Watching the actors enjoy playing dark versions of themselves makes the weak threat of the Nazis more palatable. Cavanaugh’s Wells Thawne is a continued joy, one that I wish could be seen far more often. While it was telegraphed and cliche, getting to see all the heroes coming together for the final part to finish of the Nazis is sure to really bring joy to my comic fan soul. That cliffhanger though, so ready for part four.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

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