Friday, January 17, 2020

Crisis on Infinite Earths Parts 4-5

© The CW
A Brave New World!
by Brandon Coulson

Be sure to check out the Crisis on Infinite Earths Parts 1-3 recap!

Part 4

After a month long hiatus, The CW’s giant crossover event returned for a two-part one-night capper. Starting it off we got the origins of The Monitor ten thousand years ago on the planet Maltus. Finally seeing him as a person instead of a godlike being was interesting. It let us see the wife he lost and even had him comment on the suit design she chose for him and how ridiculous it looked. A scientist traveling back to the dawn of time to see creation but as these things do so often go wrong … yeah he unwittingly created the Anti-Monitor and started this whole mess to start with.

After that origin story we jump back to The Vanishing Point where our paragons have been trapped for months together, all except Barry who has been missing after running into the Speed Force. We get a quick update on how everyone has been coping through a nicely done montage that includes Kara paying tribute to the comic version's iconic dead Supergirl moment but with her holding her cousin's cape instead of Superman holding her.

But Barry soon returns and after his unnecessary exposition Oliver shows his ashen face now as The Spectre. It’s here that we get the main thrust of the episode in our heroes' last ditch effort to undo the end of all things in a two pronged attack. One team going to the dawn of time to fight the Anti-Monitor while Kara, Lex and Ryan go to Maltus and try to prevent The Monitor and his counterpart from ever being created.

© The CW
Getting to their destinations prove to be much harder than expected however as the gang gets lost in the Speed Force and Barry has to track them down using memories as connections and bonds. What this ends up meaning is a trip through the greatest hits, much like Avengers Endgame did but on a much smaller and cheaper scale.

During this little trip though we get the last and biggest cameo of the entire crossover - Ezra Miller’s Flash!! How in the world did they keep this one under wraps?! And the way it’s played, very simply, with the two Flashes face-to-face both shocked and then admiring each other's suits and their differences, a very funny and overdue acknowledgement of the shows by the film side in a way that even Marvel hasn’t done yet. Ezra fades away and the journey through crossovers past and pivotal show moments continues.

Ryan Choi is quickly becoming a fun new character for the CWU as he is being slowly set up to take Brandon Routh’s place as the new Atom on Legends of Tomorrow. When he arrives with Kara and Lex on Maltus, his remark about the alien forest not looking so alien was a very Legends type of line, calling out the budgetary restraints and most certainly just another Vancouver location. Soon after the inevitable happens as Lex double-crosses them intent on becoming the greatest power in the universe, he even gave himself powers with the Book of Destiny. This doesn’t do much as The Monitor has easily shown that Lex isn’t to be trusted. Thus The Monitor is convinced not to time travel and all should be well.

The build up of the two stories here felt a little bit like filler. The saving grace being the chemistry and nostalgia of the classic scenes revisited carrying it until the inevitable big fight in a rock quarry against the Anti-Monitor. Yes, even though the Monitor we’ve known never came to be, an alternate version somewhere still did and so we still have a big bad to deal with.

The fight looked silly and it's so obvious they're all fighting nothing on set. Even their directions and action seem like the director just said go fight the air however you want and we'll fix it in post. But after that silly display, Ollie and the Anti-Monitor face off, well basically just grapple, and Oliver gets one last catchphrase in as “You failed this Universe” might be one of the cringiest bad lines ever in the Arrowverse. But Ollie dies and a new Universe is born. Yay, but Ollie’s death feels a bit undercut as it’s really like the third time he’s died in this crossover. And what of this new Universe? That was all explained in...

© The CW
Part 5

Okay, so this episode had a lot of issues. It’s clunky and there are a ton of cheats. But I loved it! Kara and the other Paragons wake to find the world has no memory of what happened. This also means they don’t know about the massive changes to their world as they did the one thing every fan has been asking for: the CW heroes are all on the same Earth finally!

Yes, much like the comics version they used this to bring Kara and Black Lightning to Earth Prime as it’s now called, streamlining things but also raising a ton of questions. The set ups for all the shows moving forward have me super excited as big things are introduced.

Lex is good! Yes, in another Luthor like twist Lex used his influence to make the new world’s history look at him like a hero. What this does to the current story with Lena and Kara is anyone's guess but it lets the show do the classic dynamic of Lex being beloved while the Kryptonians know how terrible he truly is. Oh and that wink he gives Kara at the medal ceremony is just the right amount of smarmy. We even got a cameo from Marv Wolfman, one of the brains behind the 'Crisis' comics and countless other comic projects, as a rabid fanboy.

The cheat I mentioned was a sort of necessary but all too easy catch up from J’onn as he psychically fills in all the other heroes on what happened and what's changed. I get why that doesn’t mean it isn't cheap. Also speaking of cheap, J’onn shows off a new look as I’m guessing budget concerns have pushed them to let the human side of J’onn wear his Martian suit and fight now, cutting the CG bill in half, though he still changed to fly so we’ll have to see how much they use his new look.

The episode really felt like a victory lap, having Mick be at a book signing and bringing back giant Beebo however brief was very fan-servicey. This of course before we found out the Anti-Monitor is still alive and sends swarms of his ghouls to attack. This time though they have a plan to have him shrink supposedly forever into the Microverse also cementing Palmer and Choi’s bond before the hand-off hero duties later this season.

Kara got to be scary again as she did what looked like a death charge at the Anti-Monitor, before being told she throws like a girl, again a cheesy but oh so satisfying silly end to the whole crossover. It was the final moments that really showed how much has changed and how much got fixed. The big one, something that never sat right with me was after Flashpoint Diggle’s child went from a girl to a boy showing the timeline was altered. Now Diggle has both children fixing one of Barry’s biggest mistakes. Also Lois tells Clark their sons, plural, are with her. We’ll see how this shakes out especially as they got a series order. And in a big and final send off to Ollie (his eighth one by now), the President gives Oliver credit for saving the world … or actually worlds as we see that a new Multiverse is established, acknowledging the DC Universe shows including the upcoming Stargirl, Titans, Doom Patrol and what looks like a sneak peak at HBOMax’s Green Lantern project, ending the montage on a perfect note as Brandon Routh’s old, weary Superman lives and looks happy finally.

In an episode with what seems like every piece of fan service possible, we got another cherry on top as the hangar from the first big crossover is established as the base for this world’s Justice League and yes it is the Hall of Justice. We even get a hint at Fleek the super monkey being loose in the world, though I doubt we’ll see that pay off ever.

This crossover was a giant, ambitious, messy, cheesy, uneven, gloriously nerdy pile of callbacks and references that is as dorky as it is fun! I could have done with some better action sequences but it more than made up for that with the fun and chemistry from the cast. Well done! The aftershocks of this event will surely be felt in the seasons to come of all of the CW series and exciting things look to be on the horizon.

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