This review contains spoilers.
4.9 Elseworlds Part 3
Elseworlds Part 3 had a huge mandate – show off the Trigger Twins in a fun way, wrap up Deegan and the Monitor with a satisfying conclusion, and, apparently, launch about a thousand other major Arrowverse story lines. And do it all with a million characters we love, in an alternate reality that would maintain the high quality of Elseworlds Part 1 and Elseworlds Part 2. Conclusions are always hard – answers are less fun than spinning impossible mysteries – but Elseworlds Part 3 did an admirable job and largely kept the charm and levity of the earlier entries while still managing to shock.
Elseworlds Part 3 functions largely in the traditional parallel world narrative – characters we know, behaving with many familiar elements, with a few important tweaks that, however small, impact the world in a back way – plus a fun fish-out-of-water element in the form of our three titular stars. But the back end of this episode has so many cliffhangers and launch points for future Arrowverse story lines that feel ominous that it threatens to overshadow the buoyancy of the rest of the episode. I don’t hate it, but I would also like my answers right now please, an urgency the Arrowverse hasn’t made me feel in a long time.
All of the world switchery was fun – it’s always good stuff to see Cisco evil and/or in charge, and Superman fighting Superman is fun even if a random woman doesn’t yell, “Bizarro!” at them in the middle, but it doesn’t hurt. Goth Caitlin was a cool look, if underutilised as an actual character. Straight-passing boring Alex was… well, you get the idea.
The bonding between the Danvers sisters (ish) highlighted the murky intentionality behind the multiple earths. Often enough, characters give speeches like Kara’s to Alex, about their inherent values regardless of which Earth they’re on. But as the brief flash of the Nazi version of Star Labs reminded us, sometimes the things that stay the same aren’t values – it’s importance or ability or some other trait. The Arrowverse likes to pick and choose when that’s true, but whenever it’s true, as in the case of Alexes 1 and 38, acts as though it is a hard and fast rule.
While this is technically an episode of Supergirl, it didn’t really feel like one. Within the mythos of the show, that seems to be due to the logistics of getting everyone to the appropriate earth – it’s easier to pull in the earth-1 version of Alex and Jimmy (!), relegate J’onn and Brainy to a brief appearance at the end, and leave folks like Lena and Nia out of the hubbub entirely. It doesn’t help that Lois and Clark don’t particularly feel like they belong to Supergirl, even though that’s technically how they’re classified in the Arrowverse.
But the real issue is that Oliver, Barry, and Clark have more narrative work to cover. Kara’s concern about disclosing her identity was a side topic with a couple of people, none of whom were her good friend who, six months earlier, looked into a camera and told the world that he was a masked superhero. Barry spent much of this episode having feelings about acting like a bad guy, serving as a mascot and walking reminder to Oliver of everything he taught him in the previous two episodes. Oliver, on the other hand, was hands-down the biggest focus of the overall crossover, and this episode especially.
In the final few minutes of this show, Clark and Lois packed enough life events into a sixty-second span to make any Kryptonian mother cry, apparently under the guise of Clark hanging up his cape. A curious move indeed, after going to the trouble of introducing such a phenomenal incarnation of Lois, a natural friend and mentor to Kara, and possible replacement for Thor. (I kid. Sort of.) Surely Kara could use a woman reporter to look up to in Cat Grant’s absence, and the show’s renewed focus on the need for journalistic integrity would certainly be well served by one of pop culture’s most famous journalists.
The end of this episode has given us a tonne to talk (and fret) about. First, Batwoman called Oliver. I’m not so much worried as excited, because we’re getting a Batwoman show! Did she just call Oliver’s cell with no voice changer? Is she just disclosing her identity to the whole crew, assuming that Kara squawked? So far Kate Kane seems to play fast and loose with secret identities, which works for me – secrets are boring. Tell Lena already, Kara! Anyway, Deegan is apparently sticking around, and I expect the Monitor will too. It looks like Kate Kane managed to round everybody up, which means Deegan made a friend in the form of Psycho Pirate from Part 2.
Y’all, I’m worried about Superman. Surely it must mean something that he was able to open the book and Kara wasn’t, and I’m not entirely convinced that was a good thing. We were reminded a few times that changing reality always comes with a price, which is likely why Deegan’s face was all fried. What price will Superman pay, or has he paid it already and we just don’t know?
Speaking of paying a price, Oliver. Bruh. What are we gonna do with you? You literally just got out of prison after making a deal to sacrifice yourself without talking to your wife first. You just had a heart-to-heart where you promised your wife trust, honesty, respect. Oliver. My dude. I’m also weirdly suspicious of Oliver refusing to hug Barry. He’s never managed to pull it off before, and I know he’s supposed to be the grump, but when the situation calls for it, he hugs the men in his life.
Oh and then this other little thing, Crisis on Infinite Earths. See you there in 2019! But also see you in January, because we’ve got more than half a season left and plenty of ground to cover.
Read Delia’s review of the Elseworlds Part 2 here.