When last we saw our heroes, reality had been rewritten and Barry Allen and Oliver Queen had swapped lives. Enlisting Supergirl and Superman from Earth-38 for aid, the team—with Barry as Green Arrow and Oliver as The Flash—took down Amazo and, following a Vibe-assisted vision of The Monitor and John Deegan, aka Dr. Destiny, set off for Gotham City to find those responsible for meddling with reality, and to put things right, no matter what bat-costumed figures stand in their way…
For a full recap of “Elseworlds, Part 1”, click here.
This year’s Arrowverse crossover continued apace with last night’s episode of Arrow. The second part of “Elseworlds” picked up right where The Flash left off, with Oliver (Stephen Amell Grant Gustin), Barry (Grant Gustin Stephen Amell), and Kara (Melissa Benoist) on their way to Gotham to try and find The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) and John Deegan (Jeremy Davies). This installment sees part of the Arrow supporting cast (David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, and Echo Kellum) join the fray to try and get to the bottom of the weird red skies and lightning that’ve been happening in Central and Star Cities. Add the introduction of Batwoman (Ruby Rose) and the return of The Flash of Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp) into the mix and you’ve got an episode that’s certainly packed with stuff, but that ultimately feels like it’s spinning its wheels.
The episode begins in Star City, with Oliver, Barry, and Kara making a pitstop at ARGUS on their way to Gotham. They explain the body-swap situation to Diggle and Curtis, and ask them for help in figuring out what’s going on with the red skies and otherwise weird weather (which we saw during Part 1, but which has gotten much worse in this episode). When Felicity arrives, Oliver decides not to mention the body-swap to her, thinking that adding that wrinkle of their current ongoing drama will just be too much. And then, of course, the trio immediately leaves for Gotham. It turns out, though, that keeping secrets from your wife is not the best way to make your already-strained relationship better, and when Felicity does eventually find out—Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) didn’t get the memo about what’s secret and what’s not, and it slips out when they arrive to help their Team Arrow pals—it just adds fuel to the fire of Felicity doubting her relationship with Oliver. Caitlin is ultimately able to help assuage Felicity’s discomfort with the situation, and she gives a nice pep talk about love and not giving up, and it’s all very nice, if not more than a little sappy. Despite the emotional obstacles, Felicity is still able to analyze the weather phenomena and determines that the lightning shares a similar energy signature to an interdimensional breach, as if something is trying to break through the dimensional barrier. The team builds a quantum flux anchor—basically a fancy lightning rod—and upon activating it, in a scene very reminiscent of Crisis on Infinite Earths, they see a partial vision of the Earth-90 Flash, who tells them that if they “get the book,” they can fix everything.
Meanwhile, Oliver, Barry, and Kara arrive in a Gotham City that is seemingly littered with easter eggs for fans. The rooftop the trio meets up on just happens to be home to the Batsignal. Oliver refuses to believe that Batman is real, adhering to the idea that he’s an urban legends created by the Gotham City Police Department to scare criminals. There’s a bust of Shakespeare at one point in Kate Kane’s office (unfortunately not connected to any sliding bookcases that we can see). Even Oliver’s contact in Gotham, a radio personality named Vesper Fairchild, is a throwaway reference to an old comic book girlfriend of Bruce Wayne’s and the victim in the “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?” storyline.
After the team gets arrested by the GCPD for getting into a fight with a street gang who tries to hold them up, their bail is posted by a mysterious benefactor, and a waiting car takes them to Wayne Tower, which is now abandoned. We learn that Bruce Wayne left Gotham three years ago, shortly after Batman himself disappeared (what a coincidence), and that the current tenant of Wayne Tower is Kate Kane, who bailed out our heroes so she could be introduced into the Arrowverse keep an eye on whatever Oliver ‘Green Arrow’ Queen is doing in Gotham. Kate rolls with it pretty easily when the team shows her their Jim Lee drawing, and she lets them set up shop on the roof of the building. While they’re there Oliver is able to hack into the GCPD’s database (which he stole at superspeed after they were released on bail), and identifies Deegan based on his past criminal record of experimenting on his patients’ brains. While chatting with Kate about relationships with famous cousins (Kate, after all, is Bruce Wayne’s cousin), Kate tells Kara that Deegan works at Arkham Asylum (this guy is still a doctor?!), and she runs off to tell the boys. Kate knows something’s up, though, and decides it’s time to suit up herself as Batwoman.
Our plot threads converge at the gates of Arkham, with Cisco, Caitlin, and Diggle breaching in to meet Oliver, Barry, and Kara and pass along the alternate Flash’s message. The team determines that “the book” Earth-90’s Flash was referring to was the book Deegan was holding in Oliver’s drawing, and they set out sneaking into Arkham to find both Deegan and the book. Kara and Caitlin enter under the guise of doctor and patient, while Diggle and Oliver (who is Barry) flash their law enforcement credentials to get in. They walk down a hallway for what feels like forever as the camera focuses on the names on all of the cell doors—Cobblepot, Isley, Karlo, Nygma, and Guggenheim, an easter egg for one person—before finding Deegan’s office and confronting him. Jeremy Davies plays an incredible insane person, gleefully refusing to put things back the way they were before pressing a big red button and unlocking all of the cells in Arkham. We’ve been in Gotham for fifteen minutes and already there’s a riot at Arkham.
What follows is an extended fight sequence as our heroes attempt to reign in the chaos at Arkham. Those inside do their best to keep the inmates indoors, while Barry (who is Green Arrow) and Cisco are parked outside to capture anyone who might get away. Diggle beats the crap out of everyone in sight, Kara goes in search of Deegan and the book, and Caitlin, as Killer Frost, faces down an escaped Nora Fries (Cassandra Jean Amell), armed with her husband’s freeze gun. Outside the Asylum, Green Arrow and Cisco are quickly overwhelmed by Roger Hayden, aka The Psycho-Pirate, and a group of other escapees. As Hayden and his crew load into a van, though, Batwoman crashes down on the roof and takes them out, grappling another escapee and using a batarang to subdue another. Green Arrow (Barry) rushes into the Asylum and meets up with Flash (Oliver), in time to see Nora Fries get the upper-hand against Caitlin. Oliver throws a lightning bolt at her, but it goes poorly because he doesn’t really know how to do that, and instead he ends up exposing he and Barry to a cache of Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Pretty soon they’re both hallucinating that the other is their worst enemy—Barry sees Malcolm Merlyn, while Oliver sees Eobard Thawne—and they proceed to kick the crap out of each other. Batwoman arrives in time to break up the fight and snap both of them out of the grip of Crane’s fear toxin, while elsewhere Kara confronts Deegan, who has retrieved the book from its hiding place. She easily takes him out with a blast of her super-breath and takes the book away. With the chaos in Arkham contained, Batwoman tells everyone to leave Gotham now, but not before she and Supergirl have a moment to themselves where they reveal they know each others’ true identities and admit they would make a pretty good team.
Back in Star City, the team tries to figure out how to open the book. Barry and Oliver privately discuss what they saw in each others’ fear visions, and acknowledge the amount of hardship that each of them has gone through over the years (I told you last time there would be a new-found respect between them when this was all over). Barry (who is Oliver) also advises Oliver (who is Barry) not to put off working things out with Felicity. Oliver (who, again, is Barry) does just that, giving Felicity a nice speech about how she’s the love of his life and that, no matter how much they both change, she always will be. It’s enough to make Felicity realize that this is actually Oliver, and it’s a touching moment if you’re at all invested in their relationship. And if you’re not, the moment is promptly interrupted by the Earth-90 Flash, who finally manages to make it all the way to Earth-1. After making his introductions with everyone, and initially confusing John Diggle for a ring-wielding John from his world (that’s right—Diggle is John Stewart on Earth-90), we finally get some vital information about Mar Novu, aka The Monitor, and what he’s after. Earth-90 Flash explains that The Monitor has been travelling across different Earths in the multiverse and wrecking havoc as a way to test them ahead of an impending crisis (there’s that word). Apparently The Monitor thinks that meddling with the timelines—creating these Elseworlds—will help strengthen the timelines in preparation for the threat that’s coming. As they’re talking, The Monitor just up and appears in the middle of the street in Star City.
Our heroes (Supergirl, Flash, Earth-90 Flash, and Green Arrow) head out to confront The Monitor. Earth-90 Flash races at Novu, who waves his hand and teleports the speedster away, presumably back to his own Earth. The Monitor gives some more cryptic warnings about someone more powerful than he is who’s on his way, and how he’s trying to prepare the Multiverse to face this being. He admits that this is the first Earth where the heroes have managed to retrieve the Book of Destiny, though he waves his hand again and the book instantly returns to him. Supergirl attempts to charge at him, but another hand wave teleports her back to Green Arrow and Flash. The Monitor himself then teleports away, finding John Deegan again and telling him to try again. Deegan opens the book…
…and reality is rewritten yet again. Barry and Oliver wake up clad in biker gear and discover that now they’re a powerless criminal duo called the Trigger Twins. The police (in the form of Malcolm Merlin, Grant Wilson, and Ricardo Diaz) quickly confront them, and Barry and Oliver escape, but they’re quickly stopped by a figure from the sky. It’s a black-clad Superman, who growls at them that there’s no where they can escape from him.
Clearly there’s a lot that happens in this episode. We get some more information about what The Monitor’s ultimate goal is, which raises a lot of questions itself (What is the threat that’s coming? Why is mucking with the timeline the best way to prepare these different Earths?). That actually reminded me more than a lot of the 1996 miniseries Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare, in which a character called Know Man uses Doctor Destiny to rewrite reality as a way to prepare Earth for an oncoming threat. That threat would turn out to be Mageddon, the ultimate big bad of Grant Morrison’s run on JLA. Could Mageddon be the threat The Monitor warns of here? Or is there an Anti-Monitor or a Darkseid on his way?
The other big event of this episode is the introduction of Kate Kane as Batwoman. As ostensibly a backdoor pilot for the in-development Batwoman solo series, the episode does a pretty decent job establishing the status quo for Kate and for Gotham as a whole. We also get a solid sense of how Kate interacts with those around her. She’s gruff, but not unkind. She and Kara have some nice moments both in and out of costume. Still, there’s an elephant in the room: Ruby Rose is not a very good actress. She’s okay as Kate, but she’s stiff once she puts on the Batwoman costume, and her line deliveries are stilted if not downright painful. Still, I’m reminded that Stephen Amell was also not a very good actor when Arrow started (and arguably he’s still not a very good actor), but surrounding him with a talented, interesting supporting cast helped. Hopefully, should Batwoman get off the ground, it’s able to do the same thing.
The biggest question I have at the end of Part 2 of “Elseworlds” is this: of how much consequence are any of this episode’s events, however entertaining they may have been, if it ends with reality being rewritten yet again? Are we going to have to go through the same sequence of events where Barry and Oliver track down their friends again and try to convince them of what’s going on? And also, with only on episode left in the crossover, how well will any of the questions raised here by The Monitor be answered? Tonight’s episode of Supergirl will conclude the story, and it has a lot of ground to cover in forty-odd minutes. My fingers are crossed for a satisfying ending.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.