Sunday, December 3, 2017

TUBE REVIEW: Crisis on Earth-X (Part III)

And here we are, over the hump and haLfway home with my four-part review of the four-part CW cross-over event, CRISIS ON EARTH-X. No time to waste, let's get right back to the likes and dislikes — pausing just long enough to remind readers that there's really no "like" about it. No, I LOVED this show. But, as a good fanboy, I have certain nits to pick. I'm sorry, I can't help myself.

So, as already mentioned, we got a shout-out to the Freedom Fighters, and some reviewers have called that a pretty deep cut. Not so much to me, I guess. I was there. But really, the only FFer on hand was The Ray, and that one was the son of the not-mentioned-onscreen original. We also got Citizen Cold, but he's merely an Earth-X doppelganger for Captain Cold, not what I'd consider a true member of the Freedom Fighters. The only other recognizable figure I noticed in FF HQ was General Schott, the Earth-X counterpart to Winn Schott of Supergirl's Earth-38. Jeremy Jordan did a great job portraying how his character might have turned out if he'd been born into an America were the Nazis won World War II. But then I had no doubt of that. I've seen Jordan in enough things now to know his talents are totally underused on SUPERGIRL.

Sadly, not showing us any Freedom Fighters was a real missed opportunity. Strangely, although he's now officially on Team Flash, Ralph Dibny was apparently not invited to Barry and Iris's wedding. But even if he was not there, it would have been a nice bit to have seen actor Hartley Sawyer as his own Earth-X counterpart, however briefly. Imagine this seen in the Freedom Fighter war room:
FLASH: (spotting someone across the room) Ralph?
NOT-RALPH: Excuse me?
FLASH: Uh, sorry. You look just like somebody from my world — Ralph Dibny.
NOT-RALPH: Nope. Sorry. (stretches arm across room to shake hands) Name's Eel O'Brian.
FLASH: (shaking hands, confused) Eel . . .?
CITIZEN COLD: Yes, "Eel O'Brian." He insists that's his actual name. (leaning toward Flash, in a conspiratorial tone, yet sotto voce) Frankly, I don't believe it, either.
 And with that, every fanboy watching creams himself — "OMG! He's PLASTIC MAN!!"

And why not. We already have the precedent of Henry Allen/Jay Garrick and so know that a doppleganger can be two completely different people who just happen to look exactly alike. And with that in mind, we also could have had Doll Man in the form of Brandon Routh. Why not. Now, I understood why Legends Vixen, Zari, and Citizen Steel were not at the wedding. They hardly know Barry and Iris. In fact, Zari, at least, has never even met them. But you'd think Ray Palmer would have scored an invite. Instead, he spent much of the special offscreen with the Legends team on a different mission, only showing up for the final battle royale. Fine. But Routh could have played Darrel Dane, shrinking super-hero of Earth-X, in the meantime. Heck, given that Earth-X tech might be more advanced in some ways, when Darrel and Ray finally met, the former might have helped the latter develop some way to finally get him out of that gawd-awful plastic body suit. I like Routh. I like his Atom. But I hate, Hate, HATE, the Iron-Atom super-suit. Palmer specializes in miniaturization. You'd think he'd eventually figure out how to shrink his shrinking tech down from a big, clunky exo-skeleton to the friggin' belt is was meant to be.

This was another missed opportunity, one that could've been fixed with just a couple seconds of dialogue. Sure, I get that Mr. Terrific, Wilddog, and Black Canary had no business being at the wedding, but when they showed up in the nick of time, all I could hear in my head was the voice of that Cinema Sins guy — "Convenient rescue is convenient." Now, because the resulting scene was so cool, I instantly decided I did not care. But the thought was still there. So, I could've used a bit of an explainer, for example:
ARROW: Thanks for coming.
TERRIFIC: No problem. (dismissively) Can we go to the wedding now. [[or, alternately, "No problem. Black-listed from the wedding, but your butt needs saving, we're Johnny-on-the-spot."]]
ARROW: (nonplussed, as T stalks off) Wha . . . ?
CANARY: Sorry, he's a little upset. He really wanted to go to that wedding.WILDDOG: Dude, it's, like, ALL he's been talking about.
So, with that, we confirm Team Arrow was in fact not on the invite list, and that they were, indeed, called in for help — they didn't just somehow know they were needed and show up in the exact right place at the exact right moment.

As part of that scene, we also might've had an opportunity to create a little suspense for the upcoming final battle by adding:
WILDDOG: (to Green Arrow, referencing Dark Arrow) Dude, he may look like you, but he sure don't fight like you.
ARROW: Thanks. I've noticed. 
The Legends also were not invited, as we've noted, but as I recall their absence was explained when Sara said they were off in whatever year she said they were in. 1183, I think. And then they, too, showed up just when needed, but at least we can presume they came because their other mission was complete. Still, that, too, was a missed opportunity to my mind. Here's what I would have done:
ALEX: Too bad the rest of your team isn't here.
SARA: Nah, they hardly know Barry. Besides, we had an anachronism to deal with.
ALEX: An anacrho--?
SARA: Anachronism. We sorta broke time. So now we spend all of our time plucking people out of time periods where they don't belong, and dropping them back where they do. It's a thing.
ALEX: Oh. So, when are they?
SARA: 2050. There's this Old West bounty hunter there who's not supposed to be. We already know him though, so I figured they could handle giving him a ride home on their own. They should be back in time for the reception.
Then later, when the Legends do show up for the fight, a little later than Sara expected:
SARA: You're late. How'd things go with Hex?
ATOM: Um . . . yeah. So, after all of this . . . we should talk.
SARA: About what? (Atom flies off to punch a Nazi) Ray? Talk about what, Ray?! (turns to Vixen) What did you guys do? Is Hex okay?
VIXEN: Nothing. He's fine. Still in 2050 though. But . . . perfectly fine.
ZARI: The giant, talking dog-people aren't too happy though.
SARA: The WHAT?!? (Vixen and Zari hurriedly run off to join the fight)
So, with this we would have better explained where the other Legends were, and why, giving some context to what they were up to, and possibly also set up a future episode — one set in the future, which would be nice, since most Legends stories are set in the less set-intensive past.

LIKE — Kommandant Lance
So, having Quentin Lance show up as a high-ranking Nazi official was pretty bad-ass, and revealing that he offed Earth-X Sara for being gay, pretty sad. But also, deliciously evil, making this version the polar opposite of his Earth-1 self, who is as often as not reduced to a puddle of tears at the merest thought of just how much he loves his girls. Of course, we have to wonder where Laurel Lance is on Earth-X. Did Quentin kill her as well? We've seen an evil version of her from Earth-2, so it would have been natural enough to have had her Earth-X counterpart show up fully indoctrinated into the cause, fighting alongside Oliver in the Axis of Doom.

If Earth-X Hitler died in 1994, we can suppose there was at least one intra-Fuhrer in-between him and Oliver. I do wonder how Oliver became an expert archer on Earth-X. Was he also trapped on an island for five years? I can well imagine that his father was a sort of Joe Kennedy figure — an industrialist-financier politician, playing both sides for profit and only too happy to throw in with the Nazis as the planet's biggest power players. He may well have ingratiated himself enough to become Fuhrer II, leading to Oliver's ascension as Fuhrer III. One hopes that if we ever return to Earth-X, we'll find Quentin holding the Nazi reins.

Somebody online said the accent used by Nazi-Quentin is actually a lot closer to the natural accent of actor Paul Blackthorne. Maybe. Of course, while I can well tell Blackthorne puts on a voice as Lance, I had no idea he is also affecting an American accent. And now, knowing that, I just can't get a Det. Lance version of the infamous WALKING DEAD meme that makes fun of Andrew Lincoln's butchering of "Carl" out of my head.


Okay, so this is kind of a big deal, although I admit to missing it in the moment and only thinking about it afterward. But if the real reason the Axis of Doom comes to Earth-1 is to steal Supergirl's heart, they kinda came to the wrong place, didn't they? After all, how could they have known Earth-38 Supergirl was going to be at the wedding of Barry and Iris on Earth-1. Okay, maybe Thawne knew somehow. Or, given his later mention of their being a Supergirl on every Earth, he just assumed there would be a Supergirl there. Still, if he says he's fought Superman in the future, and by the context we must presume he means the Earth-38 man of steel, then surely he knows Earth-1 does not have it's own Supergirl yet. It would have made a LOT more sense for the Nazi's to bypass hero-rich Earth-1 and hit Kara on her own Earth, where there are relatively fewer metagenes to deal with.

But, of course, this all begs the question — if there is a Supergirl on every Earth, why did the nazis not hit Kara wherever she is on Earth-1, in whatever guise she is operating under, given that she would likely be on her own. In fact, hitting her then, while all the other heroes were preoccupied at a wedding, would have been perfect timing.

But this is something else tat could have been resolved with just a few seconds of dialogue. We might have had Thawne say that, while there is a Supergirl on every Earth, the one we know is the only one operating in the open in 2017 and/or that the dimensional portal built on Earth-X to facilitate the invasion was able to detect when Supergirl jumped from her Earth to Earth-1, alerting them to where they could find her, and realizing she must be going to Barry and Iris' wedding, that seemed the perfect opportunity to catch her off guard. Something like that. Doesn't really matter. It was just a plot hole that needed to be plugged.

Oh, and speaking of multiple Earth's they kind of missed an obvious joke. I mean, why is it all of the other earths are always so ready to accept they are No. 2, 3, 19, 38, or whatever? From their individual perspectives, wouldn't they all be Earth-1? Heck, if anyone should be Earth-1, wouldn't it be Gypsy's world, given that they seem to have the most multidimensional experience?

I kept expecting a scene with Dark Arrow reacting to hearing someone else is Earth-1, playing out like that meme from the 2004 movie DOWNFALL, of Hitler absolutely losing his shit — "They are Earth-1? Nein! NEIN!! WE are Earth-1! Only us!!"

I imagine a bit dealing with the numbering system that would have gone something like this:
(Axis of Doom arrives though portal)
THAWNE: Welcome to Earth-1.
OVERGIRL: Why do they get to be Earth-1. And we're . . .  53??
DARK ARROW: (dismissively) No matter. The victor gets to write the history books, remember. Once we conquer this land of mixed breeds and purify it as part of the Fatherland, we will do a little . . . re-ordering.
THAWNE: (semi-sarcastically, under his breath as the other two walk off) "We're Number 1. We're Number 1. Yayyy."

I fully expected the archer fighting alongside Earth-X Oliver to be Roy Harper. So, to see Colin Donnell return as Tommy Merlyn, that was SUPER-cool, and a bit of a shocker to boot. His appearance was brief, but brilliant, and the roller coaster ride of emotions he elicited just about as awesome as it gets. There I was, exclamation point after exclamation point, like:

"Oh, my God! It's Tommy!"
"Oh, my God! It's Tommy and he's evil!"
"Oh, no, he's good!"
"Awwww, no! He IS evil!!"

They don't give Emmy Awards for cameo appearances, I don't think, but if they did, Donnell wins hands down.

Nothing made me happier, or signaled so much to me from the onset that this show was on the right track creatively, then the death of James Olsen. I have always HATED James Olsen. And, I suppose, Disney's lawyers hated that star-spangled shied we saw briefly, as well.

I should say, my issue isn't with actor Mehcad Brooks, or the color of his skin. It's with the decision, whoever made it, to make his version of Jimmy all Dash Riprock hunk-o-licious. 'Cause that ain't Jimmy, man. Brooks I think, is just miscast, although he's probably cast ideally based on what they initially wanted. The problem is, they wanted something other than Jimmy Olsen, so they should never have called him that. Give Brooks character any other name, he works fine. Hell, they could have called him Pete Ross. But the thing is, Jeremy Jordan plays Winn Schott a lot closer to what I'd expect of Jimmy. And hey, if CW Jimmy absolutely has to be black, fine, but let's bring in Superboy-Prime to punch the universe and swap Brooks with Echo Kellum. Because Kellum also plays a lot more like Jimmy, while his Mr. Terrific is just one jig too far from the Michael Holt Mr. Terrific of the comics. Brooks however, would cut a rather dashing figure as Holt, one closer to the character than Kellum's stumblebum portrayal .

But anyway, no offense to Brooks, but killing his Jimmy made me happy.

Whether it was intentional or not, the release of a sizzle reel with a teaser of the climactic all-in battle under the bridge as a great move. I mean, because of the teaser, I was expecting that as THE big fight sequence. Then, when we got the wedding fight, I was like, "Wow! That was amazing! And we still have the bridge fight to come!" And then in Parts II and III, when we got superbly choreographed big fights in both, I was, like, WOW, and WOW again, and then WOW a third time knowing we still had one more epic rumble to come.

Ironically, it was that final fight that was the least impressive, possibly, I'm guessing, because it was filmed first. But of the big fights in each episode, it was the final one that looked the most like actors and/orstunt doubles running through the motions of pre-planned routine and less like the spontaneous battle royale of the previous episodes.

Still, everyone involved really outdid themselves, giving the fans exactly what they wanted, whether they knew it or not.

I've mentioned the wonderful Salex subplot, which was especially nice in that it continued Alex' season arc from SUPERGIRL, helping to drive her personal development forward. The scenes that paired off other characters had somewhat less import, it's true, but it was nice to see the writers mix and match the players in new and interesting ways. Heat Wave's crush on Killer Frost was awesome. And while Mr. Terrific strategizing with Vixen and Zari had a bit of a "aanannd the rest" Professor & Mary Ann tacked-on feel, it still have those characters a moment to shine. And it was cool to see a return of the Red Tornado, and with FX way better than its first outing, I thought.

Okay, so, we've still got the big [spoiler] death and weddings to go. Plus, some predictions/demands for next year's cross-over event. See ya in Part IV . . .

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