Supergirl: 3.08 Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1
Supergirl plays host to the first episode of the now annual DCTV universe crossover event and I have to say, the show has never been better!
I feel a little unfair saying this is the best episode of Supergirl this season because, in a way, it doesn't quite count as an episode of the main show. We start Crisis on Earth X with Barry and Iris planning their wedding and chasing RSVPs from their sister shows. This allows a series of scenes of our various heroes in mid-heroing, talking casually about the wedding. This gag works best with The Legends, who are all dressed in crazy outfits in the middle of some random adventure in medieval England.
The crossover events of past seasons have felt a little lack-luster at times. Last year, during the Dominator invasion, The Flash episode felt very like an episode of The Flash and filled with Flash characters, Arrow felt like a an episode of Arrow and Supergirl was little more than a "next time" closing scene. Only Legends of Tomorrow seemed able to relinquish its 43 minutes to the bigger picture. This time, however, it feels different. What this episode immediately shows us is that this is not a cross over that simply takes in each show as it goes along but it's a full, four-hour story that engulfs each show in its entirety and uses the characters and locations to service the story, not the parent show.
The story kicks off from Barry and Iris's wedding, so this episode of Supergirl opens with Barry and Iris. Most of the episode is spent on good, happy character stuff. Everyone is happy (well, Kara is sulking about Mon-El but mostly everyone is happy) and we spend most of our time preparing the wedding. This is all realised in a really nice, satisfying way and while the friendships between Iris and the other female Arrow-verse characters might be a little stretched, seeing everyone coming together for a good reason is nice and reminds you why you like these characters so much.
I don’t quite understand how the wedding invitations work, Oliver and Felicity are invited – obviously. Kara is invited and brings Alex as her plus one what with Mon-El being married to a woman from the future. Stein is invited and by proxy Jax is with him. Sara is also invited, I don’t know if she is closer friends with Barry than I realise as I bailed on Arrow before he even showed up. I’m not sure why Rory is there. By his own admission, he tried to kill the groom a load of times so… I don’t get it? If Rory is there, why isn’t Ray? I’m sure he’s hung out with Barry a few times?
Some of the best stuff this in this opening chapter comes from the rehearsal dinner. Sara and Alex hooking up is perfect, as is Sara’s face and reaction when she clocks that Alex is gay. The whole one night stand, post break up release is a very cathartic character moment for Alex and leads to some fun morning after comic moments. The rehearsal dinner also, of course, has a speech from World’s Best Dad, Joe as well as and awkward moment when Oliver proposes to Felicity and she loudly turns him down. In fact, apart from the Oliver and Felicity’s little mini-spat, everything goes pretty for almost the entire episode. Almost…
Everything is going so well that you’re almost on edge waiting for the bad stuff to happen! Once at the wedding, Kara sings Running Home to You at Barry’s request, which is a lovely call back to the fun yet underwhelming musical crossover. I feel like my memory of the musical crossover is better than the episode itself but I’m happy for that to be the case here and its genuinly quite beautiful. There's a nice, intriguing moment when a waitress chats to Barry about how excited she is to be there at his wedding - she's quite obviously a tourist from the future but who, isn't clear...
Everything is going well until the presiding priest asks the usually ‘If any man knows of good reason…” which is when the bad guys show up. Gotta give credit where it’s due; bad guys are great at a dramatic entrance.
The church battle between Nazis, super-villains and our assembled heroes is impressive, fun and very well realised with some nice, natural team ups occurring in the mayhem. Iris and Barry’s casual acceptance of what’s happening is great. After the chaos our heroes are left confused as to who has attached them and why – the final reveal of he episode shows us that they have been fighting their doppelgangers.
To be honest, this was pretty obvious. Kara fought a super woman with blonde hair and exactly the same outfit as her, just in darker colours and Oliver encountered a guy with a bow and arrow. Considering the crazy stuff that happens to these people every day, I don’t know why they didn’t twig straight away.
There are a few awkward special effects near the start of the episode, with the visuals improving by the big end fight. All four shows are capable of better FX and it’s a shame that the opening had a few cheesy shots. Also, they use a pretty cheeky trick for the Earth X versions of our heroes; they all wear masks, which means less visual effects needed in complicated fight scenes!
Over all this was an excellent episode. No characters felt shoehorned or awkwardly included, everyone acted with truth to their characters and the interactions between shows/characters was far superior to any previous team ups. These shows have succeeded where the DC movie universe has failed thanks to the years of development and character work done crafting these interlinked shows, I really can’t wait to watch the rest of the story across the remaining Berlanti shows.
Oh and I can’t not mention the opening scenes… the episode starts out on the dystopian, Nazi ruled Earth X and we see that Earth’s Guardian, aka Jaaaames Olson, getting killed by a Nazi archer. That’s right! The episode opens with Jimbo dying! Yay! Okay, it might be an alt-Earth Jimmy but still, I’ll take what I can get.