The Flash: 5.09 Elseworlds Part 1
Ever since the Avengers were establiahed onscreen in 2012, superhero team-ups have been a highly anticipated spectacle but, proven by Justice League last year, they don’t always work. Building up a rapport with characters first is vital, and that is something the Arrowverse has perfected over the years, so watching all these heroic characters interact with one another felt very fluent and natural. Crossover events Invasion! and Crisis on Earth X have been hugely entertaining and successful stories. But as much as I enjoy these crossovers, my hesitation comes from over-saturation; we already have a plethora of personalities across all four Arrowverse shows, and the teased intro of Batgirl in part two could prove too much.
While the entirety of this episode was smile-inducing, I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated on the teases for this event. The mysterious man seen presumably destroying earth-90 and defeating that Earth’s Flash made very little impact, and his motives, agenda and background are still a complete mystery. Instead, part one focuses on a more light-hearted story around Oliver and Barry’s body swap, like a mixed up Freaky Friday. I appreciate this is a three sectioned event but this part, while superb, felt too open and closed, like it could’ve been a standard The lash episode with Oliver thrown into the mix.
Watching Oliver and Barry live each other’s lives was hilarious, and clearly the writers thought so too. Oliver addressing how sensitive Barry is and Barry making fun of Oliver’s gravelly voice and seriousness made for some excellent comedy and inter-show rivalry. What makes this far more enjoyable is it isn’t just a throw away bit done for laughs, it delved deeper into the psyche of both protagonists. Later on, discovering they had to embrace each other’s personalities, Barry needing to bring out the dark side and Oliver the light in order to excel as the opposing hero, brought the drama and further character growth.
The inclusion of Supergirl and Superman was equally as entertaining. Lois Lane on screen for the first time made a huge impact in a short space of time, her personality shone through perfectly, which is another testament to the writing. The Superman character, while having the perfect balance of cheesiness and gravitas, didn’t overshadow the rest of the heroes, even though he is clearly the most powerful. The remainder of the supporting cast, Cisco, Caitlin etc. were there simply to move the secondary plot of Amazo attacking the city along, which was executed very well.
Speaking of Amazo, the sub plot worked like a formulaic villain of the week that was never fully explained. Where did he come from? Who created it? A little too much is left to your imagination, but to get something concrete would’ve been far more satisfying. Regardless, the end battle sequence with Superman, Supergirl, Arrow and Flash attempting to defeat the Terminator-like machine felt very effortless and logical. Barry as the Green Arrow exclaiming, “you’ve failed this city” to the robot was a bit over the top; how someone or something can fail anything when they’ve never attempted to save it is beyond me.
Something I found odd was Nora’s absence, the last we saw her she was in her earth speaking with the Reverse Flash. Are we to assume that she never came back? Equally, are we to assume that the Reverse Flash will have a part to play in the remainder of this crossover, further adding fear to the potential oversaturation?
Elseworlds Part One is a heap of fun, leaving you grinning from ear to ear, blending drama and comedy in a refreshing fashion. The drama and tension between Oliver and Barry works incredibly well, pulling ideas from their past encounters, like the role reversal of Barry setting traps that fire arrows at Oliver. The comedy, while great, I found eased the tension a little too much; we are supposed to believe that this threat is a multi-dimensional one, and as of yet the tone doesn’t match this premise. The performances were fantastic, especially from Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin, whose confusion and determination shone through. The look on Oliver’s face when Cisco referred to touch as Barry’s “love language”, was priceless and was a scene that showed all cast members were clearly having just as much fun filming as I was watching.
Part one of the crossover event has been a delight to watch, not perfect but plenty to elaborate on. I can’t wait until part two on Arrow next week.