The Flash switches nights with Supergirl this week to kick off the season’s big DC crossover event, called Elseworlds. Last year’s Crisis on Earth-X was a lot of fun and set a high bar for this one to clear. Fortunately, the start seems promising.
In comparison to the last crossover, Elseworlds is slightly scaled back, in that the Legends of Tomorrow crew aren’t participating. Nor has Black Lightning been roped into interacting with any of its sibling shows yet. That leaves us with just The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl. To compensate, a few other heroes and some new characters join the action.
The episode starts with the same teaser sequence that ended recent episodes of Supergirl and The Flash (and presumably Arrow, but I still don’t watch that one). A battlefield is strewn with the bodies of dead superheroes. The Jay Garrick incarnation of The Flash (John Wesley Shipp, wearing his 1990s costume!) crawls to his knees and looks up at a big, Thanos-wannabe musclebound villain in bulky armor, holding a very large book. Garrick asks why he’s doing whatever it is he’s doing, and the villain cryptically accuses him of bringing it upon himself. Garrick tries to run away when some flashing lights radiate from the book and chase after him.
A psychiatrist named Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) delivers a lecture to some of his peers, ranting about how the existence of superheroes makes ordinary people feel inferior. He sounds like a loon, and when he starts advocating for the use of eugenics to bridge the gap between human and meta-human, most of the crowd walks out. Grumbling about how misunderstood he is, Deegan storms out to the parking lot, where he’s approached by that big, unnamed villain (LaMonica Garrett from The Last Ship). For reasons unknown, the guy offers Deegan the book, which he promises will give him the power to reshape the world however he wishes it to be. Skeptical at first, Deegan is left agog when he opens the book at looks at the pretty lights inside.
Whatever Deegan’s plan is for reshaping the world, it starts by making Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) swap lives. Oliver wakes up in Barry’s apartment, with Barry’s wife Iris doting on him and making him breakfast, calling him “Barry” the whole time. He is, naturally, confused, but plays along until he can figure out what’s happening. When a call from Team Flash alerts him to a break-in at a company called Ivo Labs (Central City is inundated with advanced tech companies), Oliver even discovers that he has Barry’s speed power. Iris gives him a ring that stores a Flash uniform he can jump into.
Oliver runs to the crime scene and defeats the robbers, but because he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of his speed yet, accidentally wrecks the lab and activates a giant, scary robot. Whoopsies.
The real Barry, meanwhile, is stuck in Oliver’s life, which he enters right in the middle of a sparring session with Diggle. Fortunately, he has inherited Oliver’s fighting skills and proficiency with a bow. Before he can make sense of things, he is likewise called to action, this time to foil arms smugglers. He kind of messes things up too, until Oliver speeds in to help out.
Barry and Oliver are both very relieved to see each other. When they try to explain things to the rest of Team Flash, however, they’re met with perplexed looks and a great deal of skepticism. Iris in particular insists that she knows her husband, and believes the two of them are suffering delusions. She drugs Oliver with nanites and Ralph Dibny knocks out Oliver. The two of them later wake up locked in a Pipeline cell together.
Barry suggests that their best chance of figuring this mess out is to travel to Earth-38 and ask Supergirl for help. The pair work together to break out of the Pipeline, and Barry pleads with Iris until she finally starts to believe him. She eventually gives Barry an extrapolator device to open a dimensional breach. This coincides with Cisco vibing on a vision of the scary villain.
Having recently been forced out of her job at the DEO, Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) takes a break from superheroing by spending some time at the old Kent farm in Smallville (which appears to be the actual set from the old Smallville TV series!), visiting with her cousin Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and his girlfriend Lois Lane (Bitsie Tulloch from Grimm). Clark mentions having just returned from an offworld trip to the Kryptonian city of Argo, which conveniently explains why Superman never seems to be around to help out during any of Supergirl’s adventures.
Their bucolic leisure time is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Barry and Oliver. How they knew to find Supergirl at the farm is never addressed. Kara makes some introductions, correctly identifying the real Barry and real Oliver. Whatever changed their world apparently didn’t extend to this one, but they do still have each other’s powers. Before returning home, they take some time to train one another, which also entails some arguing. Oliver insists that Barry needs to act dark and broody like him to become the best Green Arrow, and Barry in turn suggests that Oliver needs to lighten up a little to be the best Flash.
Back on Earth-1
While Barry and Oliver are away, the giant robot attacks Central City. Worse, it absorbs Ralph and Killer Frost’s powers when they try to stop it. Cisco researches it and discovers that the robot is named A.M.A.Z.O. and was designed to hunt for meta-humans. He portals over to Earth-38 to call Barry and Oliver back. Superman and Supergirl offer to tag along and help.
Everyone jumps over to Earth-1 and they immediately confront the robot. Unfortunately, even the combined force of all their powers just makes it stronger. One by one, it mimics their abilities (including Green Arrow’s, which doesn’t make sense since he’s not a meta-human).
Oliver leads the robot on a chase through the city while Cisco whips up a handy computer virus. In order to get it into the robot, he arms it onto the tip of an arrow for Barry to fire into it. (That’s not how computer viruses work!)
Superman and Supergirl both grab hold of the robot and Oliver counters its ability to phase so that Barry can pop an arrow right into its head. The robot explodes. (Again, not how computer viruses work.) Hurray! Problem solved! Sort of…
Well, Oliver and Barry are still living the wrong lives and nobody has any idea who or what is behind it. Clark announces that he needs to head home so that Earth-38 isn’t left without a protector, but Kara decides to stay for a while.
Cisco vibes Thanos-lite again, showing Barry and Oliver what he sees. The villain can sense them watching and speaks directly to them, warning them to give up. Oliver notices a Wayne Enterprises building in the background and says he knows where this new bad guy is.
Next stop: Gotham! Waiting for them there is a red-haired woman in a superhero costume, standing atop a building. Batwoman, I presume?
So long as the action is fun, you kind of have to set aside story logic issues with any of these shows, especially so when they cross over with each other. The plot here doesn’t make a tremendous amount of sense, but at least so far, that’s entirely forgivable. Despite world-changing stakes, the vibe is breezy and the characters are all enjoying themselves. That’s about as much as I can ask for. If the next two parts are as entertaining, I’ll be a happy fan.
Elseworlds, Part 2