Batwoman has finally arrived!
The second hour of the crossover introduced Ruby Rose’s caped crusader when Barry, Oliver, and Kara traveled to Gotham City looking for the man responsible for rewriting reality. I don’t know about you, but I’ve waited a long time to meet the Arrowverse’s version of Batwoman, and at least based on my first viewing, the show didn’t disappoint. I mean, did you ever expect to see Barry, Oliver, and Kara argue about whether or not Batman was real? Or to see Supergirl and Batwoman bond? However, the best part is that Batwoman wasn’t all this episode had to offer.
“Elseworlds, Part 2′ also featured Barry and Oliver getting a taste of what it’s like to fight each other’s archenemies after they get doused with fear toxin; Killer Frost vs. Nora Fries; the Barry Allen from Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp) breaching into Earth-1 to warn them of a coming crisis; Oliver and Felicity making up; a face-off against the Monitor; and another change to reality that turned Barry and Oliver into criminals, and Merlyn, Lil Slade, and Ricardo Diaz into cops.
I continue to be pleasantly surprised by this year’s crossover. It’s doing a pretty good job of handling a ton of mythology without getting bogged down. Look at tonight’s episode of Arrow, which not only introduced Batwoman and Gotham City into the Arrowverse but featured an Easter-egg heavy appearance from ‘90s Flash and more Monitor drama while still finding time to land intimate moments between characters. Amidst all of the comic book shenanigans, “Elseworlds, Part 2” never loses sight of what’s important — the character relationships — and that’s more than a good thing.
Arrow begins with the crossover’s best gag so far: Grant Gustin narrating and appearing in the show’s classic opening. Watching Gustin do everything we would normally see Stephen Amell do was hilarious because it’s just so ridiculous, but that’s what this crossover is, really. It’s taking the most absurd premise — a body swap! — and spinning it into comedic gold.
Once the opening is done, it doesn’t take too long for the action to jump to Gotham City. Before heading to Batman’s hometown, however, the Trinity makes a pit stop in Star City and asks Team Arrow to figure out what’s going on with the red skies and the lightning (Spoiler alert: It’s ‘90s Flash, a.k.a. John Wesley Shipp) without telling Felicity about the body swap (which is a great idea, said the liar) while they’re gone.
Traveling to Gotham, of course, means the Batman must come up. While Barry and Kara believe he’s real, Oliver doesn’t because he insists that he was the first vigilante, which is the most of Oliver thing in the world. When they arrive in Batman’s hometown, they happen upon the Bat-Signal, although Oliver still isn’t convinced. What I loved about this entire sequence — from the Batman discussion to Barry telling Kara about the time Oliver slept with his girlfriend’s sister — is how it was opportunity to really see these three heroes bounce off of each other, which is pretty hilarious to watch, and briefly gave the crossover a bit of hangout vibe. Actually, “Elseworlds” is doing a pretty good job of seamlessly moving through various tones, especially here.
Speaking of Gotham: It’s worth taking time to talk about the Arrowverse’s version of Gotham City. Based on this first episode, I like it. First, I think production made the right call to actually shoot some of the Gotham scenes in Chicago, which has a more gothic look than Vancouver and makes Gotham standout from the rest of the cities in the Arrowverse. The few shots of Chicago really give the city a weight and character that, say, Star City doesn’t have. Furthermore, the episode does a really good job of showing just why Oliver refers to Gotham as a dead city: the three heroes get mugged in broad daylight, a clear sign that any sense of order has gone out the window (As EW revealed, Batman has been gone for three years). Unfortunately, Barry, channeling his inner Oliver, tries to fight his way out of the situation, which attracts Gotham City Police’s attention because he’s the Green Arrow. So, to jail the three capes go!
Thankfully, Kate Kane, a.k.a. Batwoman, is fully aware of Oliver Queen’s presence in her city and bails him and his friends out of jail and has them brought to Wayne Enterprises so that she can tell them to get out of Gotham because it has enough trouble. Ruby Rose’s first scene with Amell, Gustin, and Melissa Benoist was pretty good. As Kate Kane, she’s confident and no-nonsense, and definitely seemed to hold her own against the three of them and in the one-on-one scene she shared with Benoist, a highlight of the episode. Barry and Oliver are getting tons of bonding moments together, so it was nice to see Kate and Kara connect over trying to come out of the shadow of their slightly more famous cousins. Also, I loved that they bypassed the whole secret identity thing in one episode, which is a very Supergirl-like thing to do.
Next: Enter Batwoman
Meanwhile, Team Flash shows up in Star City and accidentally tells Felicity about the body swap. Felicity takes it particularly hard not only because she and Oliver are going through a rough patch and Iris could tell something was wrong and she couldn’t, but because it’s another instance where Oliver didn’t respect her enough to tell her the truth. Caitlin tries to comfort her and urges her to hold onto the love that she and Oliver feel for each other, which is another example of the show making time for these intimate scenes between characters.
Although Oliver was unable to find Deegan’s current info in the GCPD database, Kate is able to direct them to his current place of employment: Arkham Asylum. So the trio head to the infamous mental institute. Caitlin, Cisco, and Diggle pop over, too, to update them on ‘90s Flash trying to break through and telling them they need to recover the Book of Destiny from Deegan. One interesting character beat is that Barry, channeling his inner Oliver once again, is hesitant to blindly follow the advice of mysterious Flash. You get the sense that he wouldn’t really question that if this were a normal episode of The Flash, but as the Green Arrow, he’s a bit more suspicious.
And this when the episode kicks into high gear with an extended prison break sequence. Oliver and Diggle try to confront Deegan, but he escapes and releases all of the prisoners to distract them. The heroes all have their hands full dealing with the riot, but thankfully Batwoman arrives in time to help them out. Of course, her entrance — landing on top of Psycho-Pirate’s fleeing car — was perfect, and we also got a chance to see her whip out all of her gadgets while saving the day, too. “Who is this badass?” says Cisco when he and Barry meet her for the first time, which feels like an apt response. (This was the scene I observed while on set, and I can tell you Carlos Valdes improvised several other equally funny reactions to meeting Batwoman).
Barry heads back to Arkham to find Oliver, and the two men end up getting dosed by some of Scarecrow’s fear toxin and start hallucinating. Because Barry is currently the Green Arrow, he sees Oliver as Malcolm Merlyn, and Oliver sees Barry as Evil Flash Reverse Flash, and the two men end up fighting each other in an impressively shot and off-kilter action sequence that did a good job of capturing what this bad trip felt like. Furthermore, the experience helps the two men understand each other even better. Oliver tells Barry that he realizes that his life isn’t as easy as he thought it was, and Barry says he’s in awe of how much Oliver weight Oliver has had to carry.
With the prison break foiled, Batwoman, for the umpteenth time, tells the heroes to get out of her city. Having recovered the Book of Destiny, they return to Star City. Sure, we could talk about Earth-90 Flash breaching through to their Earth once again, warning them that a crisis is coming (in a nice homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths), and that the Monitor is using the “elseworlds” created by the Book of Destiny to test universes to see which one can withstand the oncoming threat, but I’m far more interested in Oliver and Felicity’s reunion. This entire body swap experience has helped Oliver understand that no matter how much they both change, their love will survive because that’s how strong it is. You know, on the hand, it’s ridiculous that it took reality being rewritten for Oliver to learn that, but on the other hand, at least he did. Furthermore, his entire speech is quite touching and somehow didn’t feel too out of place when shoved up against all this talk of crises and the multiverse.
The heroes think they can use the Book of Destiny to fix things, but then the Monitor shows up, makes Earth-90 Flash disappear, takes the book back, and gives it to Deegan so he can rewrite reality once again. And so Deegan does, except this time Barry and Oliver are wanted bank robbers being pursued by Central City’s finest, a.k.a. Malcolm Merlyn, Lil Slade, and Ricardo Diaz. Oh, and Superman had a wardrobe change and is evil now.
Overall, I thought this episode was a great follow-up to Part 1. It included just enough of Batwoman so that she felt like a real character and not just a glorified cameo and made me want to see more without overtaking the entire story. Yes, you can easily imagine a version of this episode without Batwoman in it, but what fun would that be?
Wall of Weird:
- “John, you’re not wearing your ring,” ‘90s Flash to Diggle when he meets him, which seems to indicate that Diggle is indeed Green Lantern John Stewart on Earth-90.
- Of course, Killer Frost ended up fighting Nora Fries in Arkham.
- Did you guys see the Shakespeare bust in Kate’s office? That’s an homage to the Batman ’66.
- Barry whispering “Batman’s real” as he looks at the Bat-Signal was priceless.