The first hour of “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” which aired on Supergirl last night, was an exciting, emotional, and over-stuffed affair that didn’t feel like it had enough room to let some moments breath. Thankfully, Batwoman’s Part 2 of the crossover succeeds where Part 1 stumbled a bit. Yes, tonight’s episode was just as busy (and cameo-filled), but it flowed smoothly and all of the important beats landed.
The reason Part 2 worked so well is that it was structured around a pretty simple premise: The heroes must find the Paragons, i.e. seven special people who can save the multiverse. Having that task as the spine then allowed the episode to jump around the multiverse and accomplish its primary goal, which was paying tribute to several different corners of the DC Universe with some delightful cameos without feeling like the episode was all over the place. Compare that to the Supergirl installment, which had the unfortunate task of setting up the entire crossover, delivering some exciting action, and killing off Oliver Queen.
Part 2 begins on an appropriately somber note with Kara, Kate, and Sara pouring one out for Oliver in the S.T.A.R. Labs lounge, but Kara can’t bring herself to down her shot because she’s mourning both Oliver Queen’s death and the destruction of Earth-38, which is a big deal. Alas, the Crisis won’t wait for anyone, and once Harbinger acquires Earth-74’s Waverider (because Sara promised our Legends they wouldn’t have to do another crossover), the heroes get down to the business of finding the rest of the Paragons. It turns out Supergirl and Sara are the Paragons of Hope and Destiny, respectively.
The first Paragon search team, which consists of Kara and Kate, head to Earth-99 to find the Paragon of Courage, who is supposed to be the “Bat of the Future.” On that Earth, they meet Kevin Conroy’s (Batman: The Animated Series) old Bruce Wayne, who devoted his life to crime and moves with the aid of an exoskeleton (one of a couple nods to Kingdom Come in the episode).
Conroy has voiced Batman for the past 27 years in a variety of animated TV shows, movies, and videos games, but this is the first time he’s ever appeared on screen in the part and it’s truly something, especially since he’s regarded by many, including me, as the best Batman actor. He brings a sense of gravitas to every scene he shares with Kate and conveys the toll crime-fighting has taken on him in both his voice (that iconic voice!) and his physical performance. His acting is the reason the twist that he’s a cold-blooded murderer who killed his rogues and Superman lands so well; it’s surprising and yet we’re prepared for it because of everything Conroy was throwing at us. Unfortunately, this is the last time we’ll see this particular version because Kate accidentally kills him via electrocution when she steps in to defend Kara.
This trip to Earth-99 has several ramifications for Batwoman and the crossover. First and more pressingly, their fraught interaction with Old Bruce Wayne ends up revealing that Kate is the Paragon of Courage, a.k.a. the Bat of the Future. Second, the encounter presents Kate with an interesting internal conflict she’ll hopefully have to grapple with when Batwoman returns. She’s just glimpsed a potentially dark future for herself. What does that mean for her? How does this affect her approach to superheroism? Furthermore, I love that this episode acknowledges the dark side of the business. At some point, it inevitably leads to the hero snapping and killing everyone because of the darkness.
Meanwhile, Clark, Lois, and Iris go off looking for the Paragon of Truth, which is some bummed version of Superman. Of course, this leads them to Earth-167, where they encounter Smallville’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Bringing back Tom Welling and Erica Durance is some major fan service in the best way; it’s so pure and it’s not just that. The writers give Welling a great scene with Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor, who is using the Book of Destiny to kill Supermen throughout the multiverse. Cryer’s incredulity at discovering that this Superman gave up his powers to have a wife and kids is hilarious, as is Welling-Clark’s somewhat bored reaction to this petty version of his arch-nemesis.
I’ll admit that I initially felt the same way about the future the Arrowverse writers wrote for Smallville’s Clark Kent. At first, Clark giving up his powers was a bit of a letdown. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. At the end of the day, Smallville was always about Clark Kent, his desire to live a normal life despite his powers, and avoided having him fly and suit up in the cape for as long as possible (no flights, no tights). It makes sense that at some point he would give up those abilities to be with Lois and have children. I mean, he did it at the beginning of season 5 to be with Lana Lang.
Not having Welling-Clark suit up as Superman then allows the episode to go full Superman when Clark, Lois, and Iris travel to Earth-96 and meet Brandon Routh as the Kingdom Come version of Superman. Like Conroy, Routh carries the weight of everything this Man of Steel has experienced — the Joker murdering everyone he loves at the Daily Planet — in his body, and seeing him suit up again really does feel like a homecoming. But it’s not all about nostalgia because Lex Luthor forces Routh-Superman and Hoechlin-Superman to fight. Thankfully, Lois and Iris knock Lex out and use the Book of Destiny to help Routh-Superman overcome the mind control.
While all of this was going on, Sara, Barry, Mia, and Constantine traveled to Earth-18 to find a Lazarus Pit, since Thea destroyed all of Earth-1’s, and resurrect Oliver. Is this a stupid plan? Most definitely, and Sara is very much on the fence about it even after Constantine promises to try to bring Oliver’s soul back. But we’ll have to see how this thread shakes out in The Flash hour. I will say, I did enjoy Sara and Mia butting heads, and Mia coldly bringing up Nyssa al Ghul.
As the episode ends, Ray meets Routh-Superman and finishes his Paragon, and Kara worries Kate when she reveals that she wants to use the Book of Destiny to bring back Earth-38. Luckily, Kate pocketed some Kryptonite from Earth-99 and is prepared in case Kara’s hope leads her down a dark path. Speaking of dark paths, Harbinger comes face to face with the Anti-Monitor in the hour’s final moments.
Wall of Weird:
- This was an episode of Batwoman, but it wasn’t an episode of Batwoman, if that makes sense. This is another show-agnostic crossover.
- I love how this episode decided to make Kara horny. She can’t help but check out Earth-99’s buff Luke and, quite uncomfortably, Routh-Superman, whom she assumes is a swole Ray before Clark reveals that’s her cousin from another universe.
- While searching Routh-Superman, Clark and Lois travel to Earth-75. This Earth’s number references the issue in which Superman died in the early ‘90s, which makes sense because Lex kills this Earth’s Superman and the episode homages the iconic image of Lois cradling a dead Superman’s body.
- Routh-Superman makes a joke about fighting himself, which is a reference to Superman III, and his son Jason, which a reference to Superman Returns.
- Kate refuses to hold baby Jonathan. Earth-74 Mick Rory is good with baby Jonathan.
- Wentworth Miller returned as the voice of Earth-74’s Waverider.
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