After months of teasing and anticipation, this year’s Arrowverse crossover “Elseworlds” finally began with tonight’s special airing of The Flash — and boy, was it loads of fun! From the obvious humor of the body swap, to all of the Easter eggs and callbacks that the writers threw in, there was so much to love about this episode. I feel like I say this every year, but this first outing captured the excitement of reading comic book crossovers; however, its ambition goes beyond simply tickling your lizard brain.
Based on the first hour, “Elseworld” is definitely trying to do something different than “Crisis on Earth-X.” Whereas last year’s four-part extravaganza was very much about the spectacle and its timely story about punching Nazis, “Elseworlds” seems more concerned with telling a story that’s focused on the characters — specifically, the relationship between Oliver and Barry.
We begin with Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies), who is busy presenting some crazy ideas to fellow psychiatrists. He suggests the only way to help patients is by turning them super with eugenics. Of course, his peers don’t want any part of that and walk out on his lecture. This opening scene does a good job of setting up how, well, pathetic his life is. But then the Monitor arrives, praises the bad doctor’s “vision” and gives him the Book of Destiny to rewrite reality as he sees fit. Things are about to get wild.
As we’ve revealed already, Deegan tinkers with reality and Oliver and Barry swap lives. In this new reality, Barry Allen looks like Stephen Amell and Oliver Queen looks like Grant Gustin, and they’re the only ones that realize they’re in the wrong lives. The episode wastes no time in digging into how humorous this entire situation is. From the look of sheer confusion on Amell’s face when he wakes up in Barry and Iris’ bed, to his inability to stop while running when he has to squash a break-in at Ivo labs, I couldn’t stop laughing. The same thing goes for when Barry comes to in Oliver Queen’s life and struggles with choosing the right arrow to shoot when he and Diggle try to break up a firefight between the Bratva and the Bertinellis. (This episode name-dropped so many things!)
After foiling the Ivo break-in, Oliver speeds to Star City and collects Barry so they can figure out what’s going. Given how weird the situation is, they turn to the people who are used to dealing with this kind of thing: Team Flash. Unfortunately, Team Flash doesn’t believe that they’ve switched lives and ends up locking them up in the pipeline. (ASIDE: One of the things I loved about this episode’s humor is how self-aware it was. Shortly before the guys are locked up, Oliver teases Barry about his and Iris’ “you’re my lightning rod” thing, and then once they’re in the pipeline, Oliver gives Barry grief for his secret prison, which more than deserved because the S.T.A.R. Labs prison is still pretty problematic. END ASIDE).
While trapped in the pipeline, they realize that they should jump to Earth-38 to see if reality is altered there. So, Oliver walks Barry through dislocating his thumb to get out of the cuffs so that he can disable the power dampener, and Barry teaches Oliver how to phase. Iris tries to stop them taking the extrapolator, but Barry makes an emotional appeal that convinces her to let them go, because love is stronger than reality and she believes in her heart that the man she thinks is Oliver is actually her Barry.
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