Arrow: 7.09 Elseworlds Part 2

In part two of this year’s crossover, the Arrowverse takes us to Gotham, introducing Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman and teasing a new potential spin-off series. It’s hilarious to think that the DC universe seems determined to confuse its audience. We have the Arrowverse/CW shows Gotham, Krypton and Titans, that are completely separate, and Black Lightning that’s part of the CW but not the Arrowverse, and then there’s the DCEU. If you don’t follow these shows closely it would be easy to get muddled.

One of the concerns from part one was oversaturation of characters, and while this part includes even more, they’re handled perfectly. Gotham’s introduction especially could’ve been a disaster; would we be annoyed at not seeing Batman, or spending a significant amount of time with the plethora of villains inside Arkham Asylum? No, Ruby Rose filled that void with presence and personality, and the scenes inside Arkham were equally as entertaining. The easter eggs dotted around simply makes me want to watch it again, just in case anything was missed. The action, however, lacked the usual elegance due to the quality of shaky cam and amount of people involved.

Due to the volume this part is juggling, the supporting cast, as in The Flash, take a back seat, although time was still allowed for Oliver and Felicity to discuss their relationship issues after last week’s argument. This helps to remind us that this is still an episode of Arrow, following the same plot points, just with a different threat. Speaking of that threat, another problem I had with part one, was the lack of understanding we were given about the mysterious figure we know now to be the Monitor, a being trying to prepare this universe for an even greater threat. Now this is more like it, better setting up the third and final instalment, really amplifying the anticipation.

Even though Barry and Oliver have had many encounters over the years, it’s incredible that the two can still not only learn more about each other and see things from another perspective, but grow as individuals. The scenes that see Barry and Oliver succumb to Scarecrow’s fear gas does just that. While it makes little sense that Barry would see Malcolm Merlyn and Oliver the Reverse Flash, it allowed each hero to appreciate the other’s journey, something that none of their team ups have done so far.

A trait kept from the first part and developed further here was inter-character chemistry and humour, both excelling. The humour first of all was executed perfectly; never did it feel forced, rushed or unnecessary. From the opening sequence being replaced with Barry instead of Oliver, to the continuing Freaky Friday/Quantum Leap debate, the tone was established early on, and to the events’ advantage. As mentioned previously, the bond that Oliver and Barry have is ever-developing and it’s something that’s nice to see. Equally so was the bond between Kara and Kate (Batwoman and Supergirl). In such a short space of time, the two feel like an immediate match, just listening to them talk about their more famous cousins had me hooked; give me more!

If I had to be remotely negative about Elseworlds Part Two, it would be that it felt more like fan service to determine how we would feel about a potential Gotham series within the Arrowverse, teasing villains, a darkened tone and superb hero in Batwoman. While personally I love the idea, and equally so loved the surplus of props and names on cell doors like Bane, Poison Ivy, Riddler, Penguin and Clayface, I can’t help but feel slightly cheated on the overall premise. The introduction of The Monitor, although handled well, was used very sparingly, as was Earth-90 Barry Allen whose only purpose was to explain the obvious: the book of destiny equals bad, the monitor equally terrible.

Not only does this part manage to keep the momentum moving, but it’s managed to introduce a potential new spin-off, finally showed Superman in the black suit and further developed Barry and Oliver. With only one part left to go, I guess the emphasis will be firmly on the Monitor and the imminent threat coming to this universe, something I look forward to finally seeing get resolved, or at least shown.

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