TV Review: Arrow: 'Elseworlds, Part 2'

If this is an audition for a Batwoman series, then I'd say, "bring it on". - Shawn Bourdo
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A trio of Sentries are teaming back up to take on DC TV's three-part "Elseworlds" crossover event. See their coverage of "Part 1."

Todd Karella

In tonight’s second episode of the "Elseworlds" crossover event, we find our three main heroes, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), the Flash (Grant Gustin), and the Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) heading to Gotham City chasing after some unknown individuals that Cisco (Carlos Valdes) had Vibed an image of and Oliver Queen had drawn a sketch of. But before they head over there, they stop by A.R.G.U.S. to get Team Arrow involved in trying in the whole body-switching confusion to help figure out how this mysterious red storm keeps following them around.

As soon as they arrive in Gotham, the three find themselves being mugged and then thrown into jail. Lucky for them an unknown benefactor bails them out. It’s even luckier for them that it’s Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), who not only happens to be Bruce Wayne’s cousin, but has taken over the abandoned Wayne Industries building, which was exactly where they were heading in the first place. She confirms that Bruce Wayne has been missing for three years and, Batman, who Oliver insists is a myth, hasn’t been seen in three years either.

Confirming her knowledge of who Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) is and that he works at Arkham Asylum sends the trio on mission to break into the sanitarium that holds the most psychotic supervillains to confront him. But before they can enter the combined Team Arrow and Team Flash figure out that the red storm is really someone trying to enter into their world through a dimensional breach, and that person ends up being the Flash (John Wesley Shipp) from Earth-90 telling them that in order to set things right they must get the book. After a brief confrontation with the doctor who manages to escape and set all the inmates free, Supergirl recovers the book while the others are retaking control of the building with a little help from Batwoman.

Returning back to A.R.G.U.S., Earth-90 Flash fills them in about Mar Novu / the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) who has been going to different Earths and giving the book to different people so they can rewrite reality on their planet. He is testing the inhabitants to see which ones are worthy to stand up to some unknown threat that is coming that could destroy the entire multiverse. Right on cue, Novu shows up only to taunt them and return the book back to Deegan who immediately changes reality again. This time Barry and Oliver have no powers, are bank robbers known as the Trigger Twins, and have a very dark and menacing Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) about to rain down a super pummeling upon them.

So far I’m enjoying the latest crossover event, but tonight’s episode a lot less than the previous. What makes it work is the interaction of the characters. Barry and Oliver doing things and blaming it on one another, Supergirl stepping in and mediating between the two, the interaction of the two teams trying to determine if this is a Freaky Friday or a Quantum Leap event, Barry and Oliver learning what it’s like to be in the other’s shoes. Those are the moments that I like and that keep me watching.

It’s the storyline that makes no sense to me and just keeps throwing me out of the show and my desire to geek out. If there’s some interdimensional breach going on that you think is the cause of the reality change do you really just want to pull whoever or whatever it is on through into your world? Why does Batwoman look at the picture and not tell them that she recognizes Deegan but instead waits until Kara comes right out and asks her? Do you really put a giant red button in a doctor’s office so all cells can be opened at once? When Barry and Oliver are affected by the hallucinogenic shouldn’t Barry be fighting the Reverse Flash (Tom Cavanagh) and Oliver fighting Malcolm Merlin (John Barrowman) as it effects the mind and their minds and memories did not change? Why does Earth-90’s Flash show up when two seconds later, Novu arrives and tells them the exact same thing? And finally, if given a book that allows you to rewrite reality why would your only change be to make the Flash and the Green Arrow switch lives?

While I’m still looking forward to the final episode tomorrow night as it looks like a world run by a dark Superman, which could be awesome, I think the story will be disappointing as we are going to have to wait until next year’s crossover event to find out who the big bad is that’s coming to destroy us all.

Shawn Bourdo

Tonight's episode of Arrow continues the Arrowverse crossover started last night on The Flash.  A knock against these storylines is that they maintain the episode names of the different series instead of just airing a show called "Elseworlds" for three nights.  It's similar in the comic-book universe also - when does a multi-title story deserve its own title?  If you are a fan of one of these shows and not the other and you buy a Blu-ray release next Summer and only get one of the three episodes of this story and it doesn't even have much to do with what you have been watching all season, then I'm not sure you are doing much for your fans.

We finally make our way to the fabled city of Gotham that we've only talked about for the past few seasons.  It's a pleasantly different take on the city from the Fox show Gotham and really does feel like it fits in the Arrowverse.  The episode moves at a much better pace and I had a few thoughts.

If this is an audition for a Batwoman series, then I'd say, "bring it on".  The middle portion was dominated by Kate Kane, her attitude and fighting skills.  That fight at Arkham alone should move thoughts of a TV spinoff forward.  I want to see what happens after the Arrow Team leaves Gotham (although introducing her in an alternate Universe world might be problematic).

The Arrow, Flash, and Supergirl team shines even more here.  Their banter, especially over the "myth" of Batman, feels much more natural than they often are while interacting with their teams.  Supergirl is a valuable member of the team because of her alien traits and I don't know why but I like it even more here than on her show.

I appreciate the Easter Egg nods to the Batman universe.  The corner of Burton and Nolan.  The Shakespeare head.  It did start to feel like getting knocked over the head.  Keep it simple.  Save some of these for the future crossovers.

The geek nod of the episode has to be Earth-90's Barry Allen looking at Diggle and asking him why he isn't wearing his ring.  That either means Diggle looks like John Stewart or that he really is John Stewart's Green Lantern - both are very common fan theories out there.

The last few minutes take time to dump some information on us to set up the finale tomorrow so that they have half their work done before we tune

Gordon S. Miller

This part of the 'Elseworlds" was a bit of a mixed bag for me as the writing was disappointing.  Being an Arrow episode, I know less about this series' characters and relationships. Like Barry, I have no idea what's going on between Oliver and Felicity so keeping her in the dark about the body switch made no sense.  Since reality is being played with, it's not clear why the writers bother grounding the episode rather than making it accessible for as many viewers as possible.  

The majority of the episode finds our heroes in Gotham, which serves as a backdoor pilot, but it's not for Batman, but Batwoman, who is Kate Kane, Bruce Wayne's cousin.  Bruce has been gone for three years, as has Batman so surely Supergirl isn't the only one to figure it out.  Not sure about Ruby Rose in the role.  She has some terrible tattoos, especially on her lower arms and hands that are a tad distracting.  And in a scene where she walks towards her costume, it seemed like quite an effort to hold an intense look on her face.

We learn more this episode about the overall "Elseworlds" story, but it makes less sense.  Turns out Deegan tried to turn himself into the Flash with the Book of Density.  Why it failed and led to Barry and Oliver's body swap is unclear.  The heretofore unnamed villain is the Monitor and he is using the Book to cause chaos across different universes from which he thinks will emerge strong enough individuals to tackle a more powerful being in order to save the Multiverse.  Not just a terrible plan but an utter waste of time.  

I also agree with Shawn in that it was a bit of overkill with Batman Easter eggs, such as the Penguin and Riddler's real names appearing on asylum doors.  It worked better when seeing Mr. Freeze's name before some woman grabbed his Ice Ray or when the Scarecrow's name appears on vials of his hallucinogenic gas, but like Todd stated, Barry and Oliver should have seen their own enemy in their minds not each other's.

The episode concludes with Deegan altering reality again, this time causing Barry and Oliver to be left without powers just as a bad Superman arrives.  A reality without them would have made the most sense, but these crossovers seem to be about cool moments rather than good stories.  (Also, in Part 1, it turns out we weren't seeing Jay Garrick but Barry Allen from Earth-90).  Fingers crossed for Part 3 resolves the story satisfyingly.

Our review of "Elseworlds, Part 3"

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