It’s strange that such a crucial and consequential episode featured so much world building, and stranger still that it was worked into the story nearly seamlessly. This episode had to pull double duty as it brought the real conflict of the Elseworlds arc into focus while simultaneously expositing the key information and establishing the setting of the new Batwoman series due next year.
Needless to say, I am sold.
The Arrowverse has been dancing around the possibility of the existence of Batman for ages now, even going so far as to namedrop Bruce Wayne last season. Tonight we finally got to see what this Gotham City looks like and how it is getting along. The answer? Worse than we are expected to believe Gotham usually gets along.
Fans can put their hopes of seeing an Arrowverse Batman away, as we learn from Oliver that Batman left Gotham for good, three years ago. Though I don’t doubt they could cast a Bruce Wayne the way Supergirl cast its Clark Kent.
Gotham has a new protector, and her name is Kate Kane. Ruby Rose burst onto the screen in a big way, showing us a soon-to-be protagonist with a lot of reservations about her vigilante cousin skipping town but who also is not afraid to don the cowl when she needs to. She gets her moment to shine when she stops Barry and Oliver from killing each other under the influence of Scarecrow toxin with one impressive slow-motion kick. The Gotham City plot provided Elseworlds ample opportunity for none-too-subtle Batman easter eggs, mostly with names of villains still in the circuit that give us a snapshot of what this Gotham will be as we prepare to enter it regularly.
It is plain to see that Batwoman will be a show unlike any of the universe that preceded it. What struck me most about our heroes’ time spent in Gotham is the carefully considered color palette. The grays and browns of a city left to rot are nothing new, stretching all the way back to Tim Burton in 1989. But the colorful lights shone against the brightly-costumed heroes in contrast to the grim hellscape surrounding them are already making for gorgeous composition that neither of the four pillar CW series have been able to employ. It was a hell of a way to make a first impression, and Ruby Rose is already shaping up to be a delightfully intriguing addition to the universe.
Batwoman was not inserted into the canon in the most organic of ways, as more of the time spent in Gotham City was spent establishing the new series than actually pursuing Dr. John Deegan through Arkham Asylum. Very quickly we learned that Deegan is the one who switched Barry and Oliver’s lives (accidentally), he did so in a search for personal power using a magical book bestowed upon him by the ridiculously overpowered Monitor, who is doing so to test various earths so that he might prepare for a prophecized crisis and an impending villain even more powerful than he is.
I don’t know how I feel about this development. Elseworlds is only a three-part event but there is clearly a lot more to explain about it before wrapping up. Not to mention it still has to introduce and defeat this massive terrifying mystery villain in the same span of time. The teases that we saw on each respective show on Earth-90 seem to have occurred before the events of the crossover so there will likely be no answers on that front.
Part 3 seems to be in danger of over-stuffing itself by a large degree that it cannot possibly catch all the balls it has in the air. Although I must admit, the revelation that John on Earth-90 is John Stewart was an ingenious bit of writing, and I low-key freaked out when Earth-90 Barry Allen said it.
Monitor is clearly stronger than any villain who has come before, able to both change reality and stop all 3 of the heroes by barely lifting a finger. The final seconds of the episode seem to leave Barry and Oliver in real trouble, now without powers as fugitives from the law, being enforced by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman is always welcome in my Arrowverse), Grant Wilson and (because someone in the writers room hates me) Ricardo Diaz. All three of whom are the least of their troubles, as a black-suited Superman has landed with his eyes locked on the former heroes
In between the contractually obligated superhero fights (not that I’m complaining) and more of Barry and Oliver’s Freaky Friday (Quantum Leap?) situation, this episode also found time to address some of the more pertinent recent developments of the Arrow season. Specifically, the rift created between Oliver and Felicity since his return from prison. They could have easily extended this separation between them for another several weeks, but I am glad it was addressed immediately. Oliver’s speech about how he feel about Felicity was exactly what was needed. And, as long as everyone is permitted to remember this event when it’s over, Olicity shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
As has been the case since these crossovers began two years ago, Supergirl is the undisputed MVP. Melissa Benoist being a better actress than everyone else involved, she is able to radiate charisma and charm despite never being the episode’s focus. The confidence balanced with bubbly friendliness Barry and Oliver bring out in her is something we don’t get to see too often on Supergirl, but it is easily one of the most enthralling components of her entire character.
Elseworlds Part 2 lays the groundwork for a great new series set in Gotham while also setting the stage for an action-packed finale, but I worry that it may be too crowded to be the climactic event for which it endeavors.< By the way, where is Nora during all of this? Overall rating: 8 out of 10