DC TV Watch: The Best (and Worst) of 'Crisis on Earth-X'

THR rounds up the major twists, new mysteries and more announcements for all the DC Comics TV shows.
Bettina Strauss/The CW

Welcome back to The Hollywood Reporter's weekly DC TV Watch, a rundown of all things DC Comics on TV. Every Friday, we round up the major twists, epic fights, new mysteries and anything else that goes down on The CW's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl and Black Lightning and Fox's Gotham.  

Eschewing all former versions of the annual Arrow-verse crossover, Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow all gave up their usual tone and structure to form a true four-hour crossover event. With no show title cards or any discernable difference for each of the four episodes, "Crisis on Earth-X" was an epic outing, setting the stage for all future franchise crossovers.

But that by no means is to say that it was perfect. This week's DC TV Watch takes a closer look at all four episodes of "Crisis on Earth-X" and breaks down the best and worst moments.

Best: That the crossover started with no introduction other than throwing viewers right into the dystopian world of Earth-X was the first moment that fans realized this would be a crossover event like no other. Instead of tying in to the four separate shows' arcs of the season, this was a stand-alone, four-hour mini-arc. 

Worst: Having a giant swastika on the side of a building and panning back to reveal an entire city of Nazis was a striking visual to see to open the crossover. Given the country's current political climate, it was startling to say the least. Earth-X is a dystopian universe where Germany won World War II and took over the world. And "Crisis on Earth-X" was ripped directly from the comics, but perhaps there was a different comic book run to pull from that didn't feature Nazis as its central big bad. Seeing Nazi doppelgangers of fan-favorite Arrow-verse characters raising their arms in a "heil!" salute, seeing heroes nearly executed in a concentration camp and even killing a beloved Jewish character from Nazi gunfire was traumatic to say the least. 

Best: The first scene featured an American flag-clad Earth-X Guardian (Mehcad Brooks) fighting Earth-X Dark Arrow (Stephen Amell), with Guardian brutally killed. If anyone had any question of just how ruthless and savage this crossover was going to be, that shot of Guardian taking an arrow to the heart answered that. Bringing in a major character only to be killed immediately was a gutsy move and set the tone for "Crisis on Earth-X."

Best: Back on all the other Earths, the opening montage of everyone getting ready to come to Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris' (Candice Patton) wedding was pure comic book fun. Barry battled a surprise King Shark return, Oliver (Amell) battled "just some ninjas," the Legends fought their way through medieval England on another time-travel jaunt and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) battled an errant Dominator. In Kara's own words, "These guys are so last year." These shows are always at their best when even the smallest, throwaway moments have fun with their comic book source material. Watching all the superheroes combine their powers in new ways was a thrill.  

Worst: Barry and Iris have some really inconsiderate friends if they all waited until days before the ceremony to RSVP. Props to Stein (Victor Garber), who seemed to be the only one of them to grasp just how big of a breach of courtesy that is. 

Best: Jessica Parker Kennedy's (Black Sails, Secret Circle) mysterious arrival was a blast. After Iris noted she's not ready "just yet" for kids, the resemblance of Kennedy's character to what Iris and Barry's future offspring might look like was uncanny. Her excitement about Barry and Iris' marriage could mean she's connected to the couple in a meaningful way ... maybe a time-traveling daughter named Dawn Allen, who wanted to see her parents tie the knot in person. Since she didn't show up after her one scene where she denied knowing Barry, expect her to pop up again on The Flash, either later this season or in a future season. This is a game-changing moment, and it's interesting to see the show stretch this reveal out.

Best: The bromance between Barry and Oliver is always a treat, especially the quips between the two heroes like when Barry whispers, "Damn!" when he sees how easily Oliver pulls off a tux. (Or when Oliver gives him relationship advice or mentorship and ignores awful puns.) Equally enjoyable is the love-hate relationship that seems to edge more into hate between Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Harry (Tom Cavanagh). Watching these two argue should be a weekly occurrence.

Worst: While Oliver's proposal to Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was awkward and adorable, doing it at another couple's wedding rehearsal dinner was silly. Felicity's immediate "no" seemed out of character for someone who has been in love with Oliver for years — and who was happy to get married to him before. (Shouting her rejection in the middle of the rehearsal dinner was also a big yikes.) Her reasoning was murky, but Oliver's reaction to Felicity's rejection was inappropriate, especially since a couple doesn't have to get married to prove their love. And hijacking Barry and Iris' actual wedding? Stop! Plus Oliver's son William (Jack Moore) wasn't even there, so way to make the boy — already uncomfortable with his new life and father — feel even more excluded.

Best: Sara (Caity Lotz) and Alex (Chyler Leigh) is the crossover relationship we need. Hopefully this is more than just a one-off hook up, because their chemistry sizzles (and double bonus for that dual dress rip when it was time to kick ass). Their awkward encounters the day after were hilarious, too. We'll start the petition now to see more of drunk and hungover Alex.

Best: Joe's (Jesse L. Martin) father-of-the-bride speech at the rehearsal dinner. That man really knows how to make you cry all the happy tears.

Best: Having Kara reprise Barry's proposal song from the musical crossover was a slam dunk as Iris walked down the aisle. What a beautiful callback to a fan-favorite moment for the couple. And even when things went straight to hell during the ceremony when Nazis attacked, Barry and Iris taking a beat to look into one another's eyes and trade "I love yous" before Iris got to safety and Barry did some hero work was so touching.

Best: Whatever Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) has been up to on his hiatus is really working for him, since his graceful dance/fight moves during the Nazi attack were incredible. He managed to catch every bullet, then do a beautiful spin before throwing a bullet back into the barrel of a gun, making it explode. Wow.

Worst: But if this is what Wally is capable of on a daily basis, the fact that he's been so underused on The Flash is even more of a tragedy. He showed off his amazing skills during the wedding attack only for Barry to send him away to keep Joe and Cecile (Danielle Nicolet) safe? Come on, what a waste. Get this man on the Waverider, stat!

Worst: After months of Stein cheerfully and without regret declaring his intentions to choose his family over continuing to adventure with the Legends, he couldn't just ride off into the sunset for a happy ending?! He had his whole retirement planned out and Legends of Tomorrow could have given Stein the perfect character exit, as Harry and Cisco invented a serum that would split Firestorm safely, getting rid of their powers. Jax (Franz Drameh) was even fine with giving up his powers; his earlier wariness about taking the serum was just him being sad to see Stein leave. But instead of having Stein take the serum and return home to his wife, daughter and newborn grandson, he was given a heroic death at the hands of Nazis. Yes, his goodbye scene with Jax was gut wrenching and heartbreaking and really gave Drameh a moment to shine as he was forced to say goodbye to his father figure, but Stein's death was completely unnecessary ... and ultimately cruel, as the proud Jewish character was killed by Nazis, no less.

Worst: And then to add insult to injury, Stein's memory was insulted by how quickly Barry, Iris, Felicity and Oliver decided to, literally on the way home from Stein's funeral, stop mourning their friend and get married. They were still in their funeral clothes no less! They couldn't have waited a day, or even just a few hours, to continue mourning and celebrating the life of their friend who died to save their lives? It just seemed way too fast for both couples to make the day about their love when it was really about a major loss. 

Best: Leo-X! Wentworth Miller's newest iteration of Leonard Snart, aka the heroic Citizen Cold, was absolutely everything, from his snarky entrance line, "I hate fire!" to his hunger for life, sentimentality and heart full of love. Thankfully, Leo-X decided to stick around on Earth-1 after the crossover ended, so there are more Leo-Mick (Dominic Purcell) scenes to look forward to as Leo tries to break through Mick's tough exterior. Sign us up for whatever this spinoff could be.

Best: Also equally amazing: The Ray! Ray Terrill (Russell Tovey) was a pure joy to watch in live-action, but he's strictly going to be animated from here on out on CW Seed's Freedom Fighters: The Ray, so don't get too attached. Having him in the crossover was a smart call, as it gave viewers a chance to see so many LGBTQ superheroes onscreen at once, with The Ray, Citizen Cold, White Canary, Alex and Mister Terrific (Echo Kellum), all living full and happy lives without compromise. This is the kind of representation pop culture needs.

Best: Doppelgangers! Seeing Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) again, arguably the best part of Arrow season one, was a long time coming, and having a playful wink to the popular theory that Tommy was Prometheus back in season five by making him Earth-X Prometheus in this crossover was clever ... and it was downright chilling to see him flip flop between remorseful and maniacal/suicidal. But only having him for one scene was not enough! General Schott (Jeremy Jordan) on Earth-X was the complete opposite of the cheerful and nerdy Winn on Supergirl. The Waverider even had its own Nazi counterpart, the Venomrider. And the pure insanity of seeing Overgirl and Dark Arrow in love and making out was something one can never unsee, that's for sure. And let's all agree never to speak of Paul Blackthorne's bone-chilling, disturbing performance of a Nazi leader, because that was actually the stuff of nightmares.

Best: Having Kara and Barry wait around awkwardly for Oliver to catch up on his motorbike while he awkwardly reminds them he doesn't have super speed was an A-plus burn. Any time Barry and Kara can make Oliver feel awkward and knock him down a peg is a true win.

Worst: At this point, it's become impossible to make sense of Eobard Thawne's (Tom Cavanagh, also played previously by Matt Letscher) timeline and how he's still alive after being killed by his own descendant and then by Black Flash (Teddy Sears). The twist that Reverse-Flash in the crossover was Thawne from Earth-1 and not Earth-X was shocking and meant more for Barry, but instead of giving him a chance to avenge his mother's death, he just let Thawne walk away at the end of it. Sure, Barry doesn't kill, but he could have thrown Thawne in the Pipeline prison instead of letting a literal murderer and Nazi sympathizer go free after committing all his crimes. 

Best: It took until hour four, but when Ray (Brandon Routh) finally debuted in the crossover, it was a true cheer-out-loud moment. Not only did he swoop in to save Kara from Thawne's scalpel out of nowhere, but then he also showed off a little known fact: His suit doesn't just shrink. "It embiggens!" Man, his absence in the first three hours really was missed, but what a way to join the crossover!

Best: In the calm before the final storm, watching everyone's reunions after being separated on Earth-1 and Earth-X was a sweet way to pause the action and take a breath with meaning. These crossovers aren't just epic for the nonstop and complicated action scenes, but also for the connections among all the characters. It's good to see the showrunners giving equal focus to both aspects.

Worst: As amazing as Diggle's (David Ramsey) reaction was to being super sped to Central City to officiate Barry and Iris' impromptu wedding, having him only in one scene in the entire crossover was a huge missed opportunity. Could you imagine scenes with Diggle and Dark Arrow and Overgirl? Or Diggle's reaction to Tommy-X? That would have been so compelling to see.

Best: If you didn't laugh at the way Mick-X died on Earth-X (as told by Leo-X to Mick), then you aren't paying close enough attention.

Worst: After Oliver, Sara, Alex, Jax, Barry and Stein lived out their worst nightmare in a concentration camp, lined up for execution by the worst of the worst, all because of the Nazis' hatred, the fact that they could all go back to their Earth without a second thought for all the other starving, tortured prisoners they saw in the camp is baffling. These heroes should have tried to save all those poor souls on Earth-X from suffering the fates they easily escaped, but instead they just went back to their lives as if nothing happened. It would have cost a little bit more to have the Arrow-verse heroes save Earth-X in the big climax battle scene, but it's a huge plot hole that was just forgotten by the end of the crossover.

What did you think of the "Crisis On Earth-X" crossover? Weigh in below in the comments section.

Gotham airs Thursdays on Fox. Supergirl airs Mondays, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow air Tuesdays, Arrow airs Thursdays and Black Lightning will premiere Tuesday, Jan. 16, all on The CW.

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