Wilkommen and bienvenue to night two of “Crisis on Earth-X.” As we enter the third act of this year’s uber-crossover, it’s clear that this is Berlanti & Co.’s most ambitious outing yet. And I’m sure I said that last year during “Invasion,” which actually took some of our heroes to space. “Part 3” divides its time between Earth-1 and a flash sideways to a Man in the High Castle world where we meet some exciting new characters. Somehow, The Flash travels to this Nazi-occupied Earth without becoming incredibly didactic or obvious with its social commentary.
We pick up on Earth-X with Barry, Oliver, Alex, Stein, Sara, and Jax trapped in a dark and upsetting prison camp that’s reminiscent of the oppressive Days of Future Past future in the X-Men universe. The camp is occupied by those who do not fit the Nazis’ Aryan ideal, including one Ray Terrill (Russell Tovey), who was imprisoned for being gay. Of course on Earth-X, Quentin Lance is a high-ranking Nazi who killed his daughter Sara for being bisexual, so needless to say he’s not pleased to discover Earth-1 Sara, whom he describes as “Nordic perfection” (gross!), is also bisexual.
Quentin-X rounds up the Superfriends and marches them out to face a firing squad. They obviously won’t meet their maker now, because Citizen Cold — Captain Cold’s heroic Earth-X doppelganger who prefers to be called Leo and loves Barry’s Flash costume — arrives in time to free them. God, Wentworth Miller is delightfully hammy as ever! Honestly, it’s a shame the Arrow-verse is losing him soon, because he brings a unique and campy energy to every show he appears on. Leo removes Ray’s collar, and The Ray starts glowing a bright gold, flies up, and takes out the guards with some power beams. (The episode doesn’t really explain his powers at all.)
From there, Ray and Leo take the Superfriends to this Earth’s S.T.A.R. Labs, the resistance’s base, where they meet Winn’s Earth-X doppelganger, General Schott, who leads the resistance. With the Führer on Earth-1, the war-hardened general wants to destroy the heavily guarded multiverse gateway, which is the only way the Superfriends can make it back to their Earth. This is the last thing any of them want, especially Alex, who is not only desperate to reunite with her sister but is also wondering if she made the wrong decision with Maggie. Sara tells her to trust her instincts.
While Alex pleads with General Schott to delay his attack on the gateway, Stein assures Jax that he’s family, too, and lovers Ray and Leo (a.k.a. my new favorite Arrow-verse couple) share a very touching reunion that simply conveys their stake in this war against an oppressive government. Leo, who wants to make sure his Earth-1-born boyfriend can someday see his family again, manages to convince the general to postpone his attack on the gateway facility for an hour. So, the Superfriends have 60 minutes to infiltrate the facility, disable the metahuman dampeners, defeat the guards, and return their Earth. Easy, right?
Meanwhile back on Earth-1, Team Arrow, Cisco, Harry, and Caitlin are all trapped in the pipeline, while Felicity and Iris crawl through the ventilation system to do some recon on their enemies, who have Supergirl strapped to a gurney in the Cortex, and figure a way out. The women embrace their inner badasses and take out the soldiers guarding the pipeline, but unfortunately, the door is broken and they can’t open it. Now their only hope of taking S.T.A.R. Labs is freeing Supergirl from that red sunlight. (NEXT: The Flash vs. Red Tornado)
While Eobard waits for Kara’s cells to become adequately saturated with red sun radiation for the surgery, Kara gets some one-on-one time with her Earth-X doppelganger, who describes herself as “Aryan perfection” in one of the episode’s silliest moments. Their conversation presents Kara, who has been struggling with her humanity in season 3, with a look at who she risks becoming by ignoring her humanity. The show lets this remain subtext; if you’ve been following Supergirl this season, you understand what this encounter means for her character.
Felicity and Iris use the computer in the Time Vault to disable S.T.A.R. Labs’ power, which shuts off the red sunlight lamp that’s weakening Kara. In the confusion, they wake up Kara and try to escape, but Metallo captures and returns them to Oliver-X and Eobard, whose motives for teaming up with the Earth-X Nazis feel very half baked. Eobard threatens to kill Felicity with his Vibrating Hand of Death™ unless she decrypts the system and turns the power back on. Kara begs Felicity to give him the code because, unlike Kara-X, she doesn’t want anyone to die for her, so Felicity gives in.
Back on Earth-X, Oliver impersonates the Führer in order to infiltrate the base, where he discovers that the Earth-Xers have built their own Waverider, which they plan on using to take over multiple Earths. To keep up the ruse, Oliver orders Quentin-X to send the Waverider through the portal, but Quentin-X smells something fishy and tests Oliver by handing him a gun and inviting him to execute Felicity’s Earth-X doppelganger, who was imprisoned for being Jewish. Oliver turns the gun on Quentin-X, but it’s empty. The jig is up — and the fighting begins! Oliver makes easy work of these guards and shuts down the metahuman dampeners, allowing his friends to launch their attack on the gateway room.
As Green Arrow, White Canary, Citizen Cold, Alex, and Firestorm take on the forces guarding the gateway, Flash and The Ray take on the weapon General Schott sent to destroy the facility: Red Tornado. Let’s be honest, the CGI work for the Flash and The Ray vs. Red Tornado sequence isn’t the best, but who cares? You gotta applaud the show for even attempting to pull this sequence off.
Back in the main battle, Jax and Stein stupidly decide that they need to separate so Jax can hot-wire the power cell while Stein turns on the gateway. Naturally, this only ends in tragedy. As Jax finds himself pinned down by gunfire, Stein gets shot as he runs toward the lever, and the episode ends as Stein bleeds out on the ground and as I scream into the night because I can’t bear the thought of Victor Garber being killed off.
All in all, I thought “Part 3” was a strong follow-up to last night’s episodes, and it sets the stage for an epic and emotional finale. The episode’s theme — the strong have a duty to protect and help the weak, not to trample them — and setting were powerful and rather timely given the current state of our country. However, I appreciated the fact that writer Todd Helbing’s script wasn’t overtly didactic in this respect, which was definitely a concern coming into this episode. These shows aren’t known for their subtlety.
Wall of Weird:
- Harry and Cisco bickering, as they were in the pipeline, never gets old.
- “Fun tidbit, I fought your cousin in the future. He is fast. I’m faster” — Eobard, to Kara
- Eobard also told Felicity that no one’s ever heard of her in the future.
- “Lead the way, McClane” — Felicity, to Iris as they crawl through S.T.A.R. Labs’ vents