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The Flash – Crisis On Earth-X, Part 3 Review

"Punching Nazis and having feels"

If you read my Supergirl review from yesterday, then you know the basic setup of “Crisis on Earth-X”: Nazis from a parallel Earth crash Barry and Iris’s wedding, and the assembled heroes fight them. “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3” picks up where Part 2 (as seen on Arrow) left off, with several of the heroes trapped on a concentration camp on Earth-X. (A brief roll call of the heroes on Earth X: Flash, Arrow, Alex Danvers, White Canary, Jefferson Jackson, and Martin Stein.) At the camp the heroes encounter a man wearing a pink triangle—used by Nazis to identify homosexual prisoners—and discover that his name is Ray Terrill, aka the Ray. DC Comics fans will recognize the Ray as a member of the Freedom Fighters, a team of heroes that fight the Nazi government on Earth-X. Making the Ray gay is a nice touch as it adds a bit of verisimilitude to the Earth-X threat without veering too far into tastelessness. Just as the heroes are about to be shot by a Nazi firing squad, they are saved by Ray’s lover, an Earth-X version of Captain Cold that goes by Leo rather than Leonard.

Meanwhile, Nazi Supergirl and Nazi Arrow have the Supergirl we know and love on an operating table so that the Reverse Flash can extract her heart and give it to her evil doppelganger. Honestly, the scheme seems a bit half-baked: it would’ve been more logical if the Nazis had captured Kara on her Earth, where the metahuman presence is relatively minimal, as opposed to snagging her at a wedding with a heavy metahuman presence. Just as Reverse Flash is about to slice into a red sun weakened Kara, Iris and Felicity shut down STAR Labs and temporarily stop the heart transplant. (At another juncture in the storyline Reverse Flash is prevented from operating on Kara by the Atom—for all his super speed, RF sure is a slow surgeon.) The Nazis capture Iris and Felicity, the latter of whom is threatened by a vibrating Reverse Flash hand into providing the code that will restart the lab.

The Earth-1 heroes stranded on Earth-X are led by the Ray and Captain Cold to the resistance army, led by Winn Schott. The heroes want to storm the Nazi facility so they can save Supergirl, but Winn is firmly against that plan for reasons that aren’t fully made clear. The heroes, with an assist from Ray and Cold, are able to prevail upon Winn, but he warns them that his army plans on blowing the Nazi facility within 24 hours. (What a conveniently tight and narratively dramatic deadline!) The plan involves having Good Arrow impersonate Nazi Arrow so that they can infiltrate the base, but the Nazis see through that ruse pretty quickly once Good Arrow hesitates to kill a Jewish concentration camp prisoner. What ensues is another fight scene between our heroes and the Nazis, but during the conflagration Martin is mortally wounded. This moment serves as a cliffhanger for the final part of the crossover on Legends of Tomorrow.

Before going any further, I wanted to stop for a moment to review the events of this episode before commenting on “Crisis on Earth-X” as a whole. The Flash installment of the storyline has the thankless task of advancing the plot without having a definitive resolution of its own. In fact, you can hardly call it as a Flash episode as even its eponymous hero takes a backseat to the overarching storyline and widescreen action. This isn’t meant so much as a criticism as a comment on the nature of such storylines. By the same token, there are some nice character moments in the midst of the superhero chaos: the episode, and the storyline in general, spends a surprising amount of time focusing on the Martin/Jackson relationship, for example. Unfortunately, however, “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3” is the part in the series where the seams really start to show. For one, the Nazi scheme is fairly incomprehensible: as mentioned earlier, their timing in capturing Supergirl seems way off, and the added plot development of using a Nazi version of the Waverider to attack Earth-1 seems tacked on. Also, the showrunners (understandably) have problems juggling such a large cast of heroes—characters seem to flit in and out of the story depending on their usefulness to the plot. For instance, most of the Legends of Tomorrow team don’t appear until the final part of the crossover, leaving me as a viewer to wonder what they were up to during the prior three episodes when their friends were in danger.

Speaking of the final part of “Crisis on Earth-X,” Legends wraps things up pretty tidily by having its members serve as the cavalry that rescues Kara, Iris, and Felicity, and later chip in during the obligatory climatic fight scene with the Earth-X Nazi forces. That fight scene plays a bit oddly in that several of the heroes show no compunction in killing Nazis—I don’t disagree with that stance necessarily, but it is at odds with the traditional “superheroes don’t kill” stance. It’s particularly jarring when Arrow kills his evil doppelganger but Flash lets his go free. Also, while the primary antagonists, Nazi Arrow and Nazi Supergirl, are dead by the end of the crossover, it hardly means that the entire Nazi threat has been eliminated. Why wouldn’t the heroes accompany Ray back to Earth-X to finish the job? Obvious answer: the crossover was already four episodes long. Besides, leaving the matter unresolved opens up the possibility of a sequel…

For those stoked on massive event films like Avengers: Infinity War, “Crisis on Earth-X” offers fans a smaller scale, small screen version of the same. While there are plenty of nits one could pick with the crossover, it does a fine job of delivering the thrills one looks for with enough smaller heartfelt moments to make the characters feel relatable and human. And in the final analysis, who doesn’t love seeing Nazis get what’s coming to them?

Rating
7.5
Pros
  • If you like fun, fast-paced superhero crossovers, this one's for you
Cons
  • Enough plot holes to drive a Mack truck through - but you didn't come for plot, now did you?

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