This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 8
“Crisis on Earth X Part 2” finally got us rolling on the real conflict, after an episode of setup. It brought us some great fight scenes, campy dialogue, and one excellent sequence of heroes getting ready to punch Nazis. On the downside, using Nazism in this political climate, especially in such a cartoonish way, feels garish and tone-deaf at best, and the dialogue woes don’t help.
It was great to see Tommy Merlyn back in the Flarrowverse, but it was unfortunately short-lived. He pulled the old cyanide in the tooth trick, like many superhero and spy movie characters before him. The crossover as a concept, while fun in who it puts in scenes together, does seem to bring out the worst in the dialogue. Having Kara reference Icarus and then immediately explain it feels like a rookie mistake, and the Dark Archer interrupting Barry to yell “I did hurt your friends! I enjoyed hurting your friends!” was so broad in its villainy that it was almost comical.
Like Part I, three of the best scenes were emotionally resonant and character-driven. I never thought I would see Oliver calmly ask to speak about an emotional issue. Stephen Amell’s performance in this scene was lovely and restrained, with a depth of emotions playing out across his face. Kara reminding her sister about how Maggie helped her be true to herself was both sympathetic to Alex’s emotional current state and respectful of the gravity of that relationship. And Finally Firestorm pushed forward their issues with their impending separation and what it will mean for their father/son-esque relationship.
One of the coolest shots on Arrow this season has to be Oliver shooting the Kryptonite arrow at Overgirl. I’ve got some questions though – when did he make this? Did Felicity, Curtis, or Cisco help? Will Kara be upset? The rest of that fight by the construction scene didn’t quite live up to the opening gambit of the Kryptonite arrow, but the warehouse fight was a great showcase for most of the heroes’ skills. It only improved once people moving at regular speed got involved. The third fight of the episode involved a bit too much shaky cam for my taste, but it was good to see Curtis, Rene, and Dinah from Team Arrow get in on the action.
Eobard Thawn pointed out that Dark Arrow’s love for Overgirl, the Nazi version of Supergirl (in Kara’s words, gross!), could cause him to compromise their mission for the Reich. So far this is our only bit of characterization for any of the three of them, other than evil and, in the Dark Archer’s case, brooding. It’s also the closest we’ve come to a motivation or a plot, other than “Nazis show up and want the MacGuffin.” Hopefully these characters will have a bit more to them other than the shock value of seeing the actors we enjoy dressing and acting like Nazis. Speaking of their clothing, Overgirl’s outfit is amazing, and even comes with great lip color and the pants that fans have been asking for. As a rule, can we at least agree to make the Nazis look less cool than the good guys?
For most of this episode, I was able to suspend my qualms with the premise and the way “Crisis on Earth X” is engaging with Nazism. But on several occasions, the writing wouldn’t let me, like when Overgirl declared, “Oliver is ten times the man Hitler ever was!” Or the several times characters said something to the effect of, “Nazis from another Earth aside…” Or, most jarringly, when our heroes found themselves in what appears to be a concentration camp on Earth X.
The first X-Men movie did a great job of mining the Holocaust and the Third Reich for effective, moving storytelling, so it can be done. That’s just not what’s happened here. There’s something about the quip-y banter and goofy tone that feels jarring with the reality of the subject matter. There’s also no real commentary here, other than some very surface level lip service to the fact that Nazis are bad. Thanks for the hot take, y’all.
I would love to see the next two episodes dig into Overgirl’s belief that she lives in a meritocracy, or for the show to let us know what has happened to the Earth X versions of people who the Reich would target for genocide, like the black, queer, and Jewish characters. It would’ve been easy to build in a scene or two of Felicity, who is Jewish, grappling with the emotional intensity of a planet where the Reich has conquered all. She seems to be the most affected, but nothing has been mentioned explicitly, and the character herself has acknowledged in the past that everyone forgets she’s Jewish. I think the audience could use a reminder.
At the end of the episode, our only real hope is Felicity, Iris, and the remaining Wave Rider folks. Perhaps Felicity and Iris will save everyone, a la “Girls Night Out”? That was a great crossover episode, though on a much smaller scale, and it would be great to see some of its influence here.