'Elseworlds' Part 1 Recap: Like 'Quantum Leap' With Superpowers
The CW’s latest Big Damn DC Crossover Event started last night, and it wasted no time delivering on the promise of bringing our disparate heroes together. And… well, that was mostly it, really. It’s a three-night event, after all. Can’t blow the whole wad right off the bat! But in lieu of hatching serious plots, the first hour (The Flash’s episode) teased out the possibilities of the “Elseworlds” premise: What if Barry Allen woke up one morning and was The Green Arrow? And likewise: What if Oliver Queen woke up in bed with Iris?
But first — The threat! It’s, uh, a little unclear, honestly. There’s a dude called The Monitor, and he’s just wreaked havoc on the reality of Jay Garrick/The Flash, where he picked up a really thick MacGuffin-y book. Then he shows up on Earth 1 and hands that book over to a psychiatrist named John Deegan (Jeremy Davies), who you know is a Mad Scientist because of his hair. And also because he’s introduced while giving a lecture about how eugenics could solve all our imperfections and make us Super People. The book gives Deegan the power to rewrite reality as he sees fit, and his first act as nuGod is to, uh, change reality so Oliver becomes Barry and Barry becomes Oliver. No really: the show goes full-Quantum Leap with Oliver getting kissed by Iris and Barry kicking ass with Diggle. To the rest of the world they apparently look how they should, but their consciousnesses have swapped — and so have their powers. Which means we get a full episode of Ollie trying to figure out how to navigate his superspeed while Barry is jazzed to be able to fire arrows while leaping off of motorcycles.
And y’all: It’s DELIGHTFUL! Especially when they wear each other’s costumes, because you sort of forget how silly those suits are until you see Stephen Amell filling out a red onesie and Grant Gustin trying to look tough in a hood. These crossovers typically mine the fun out of having all the various heroes cross paths and team up, but here you see the two biggest DC/CW stars actually walk in each other’s shoes. Their skills are in so many ways an extension of their characters: Oliver’s hard-earned combat skills came from years of pain and sacrifice and darkness, and Barry’s speed is joy and lightness in motion. How they adjust, and what attributes they take on to embody the other’s identity, is the focus of the episode. That, and convincing their friends that something’s fishy with reality.
Team Flash runs some test and rules out, I dunno, hypnosis and timeline shenanigans or whatever, and they aren’t inclined to believe the guys are who they say they are (especially when the evidence and their eyeballs say otherwise). And to add insult to injury, they lock the confused duo up in the pipeline until they can figure out what’s going on. But luckily Barry can now dislocate his thumbs and Oliver can phase, so the pair manages to break out and head for the one person they think might be able to help them: Supergirl! Kara, being a hero from an alternate Earth, should be unaffected by whatever has changed in their reality, and so they hope she’ll see them for who they really are.
They find Kara at the Kent Farm, hanging out with her cousin Clark (Tyler Hoechlin) and his girlfriend Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch), and that ends up being another unexpected nugget of awesome in the episode. Not just that they are in it, but that they’re already together and happy. I’ve seen so many iterations on the Superman story, which all seem to hinge on Clark keeping up his secret identity while Lois, an otherwise intelligent, capable and observant woman, somehow can’t see past his glasses. Getting to skip over all that nonsense and just enjoy their togetherness worked — almost as much as Oliver puffing up his chest to try and measure up to Clark’s reputation.
Once the introductions are over, Barry and Oliver spend some time training each other, in a neat callback to the very first Arrow/Flash crossover. In a reversal of their first training, this time it’s Oliver who runs at Barry, while Barry tries to shoot him with an arrow — and when Oliver catches the arrow, he’s struck in the back by two others, fired from hidden bows on the ground. Barry thinks it’s hilarious that he used Oliver’s old trick against him and he fell for it, but Oliver is mad. Not because he lost, but because Barry laughed… and The Green Arrow doesn’t laugh or whatever. To use each other’s powers and skills to the fullest, they need to understand what makes the other tick — which means Ollie needs to smile more, and Barry needs to drop his voice to a menacing growl. Did I mention how much I enjoyed this episode?!
Back in their home reality, Team Flash is fighting a killer robot called Amazo, which has the ability to replicate abilities that are used against it. Killer Frost and The Elongated Man can’t stop it, and they realize they need Barry and Oliver’s help — only they’re no longer in the lab. Iris, who turned a blind eye when they were escaping because Barry gave her one of his patented sappy speeches, tells Cisco where they went, and he Vibes over to retrieve them. He, too, now believes they were telling the truth — because he saw The Monitor in one of his visions, and knows something massively weird is afoot. When he explains the situation, Kara and Clark decide to help as well, meaning we DO get a team up! Superman, Supergirl, Barry-Arrow and Oliver-Flash all pound the stuffing out of a big mean android, while Cisco preps a virus to shut down its AI. Easy peasy.
Clark heads back to Metropolis, and Cisco decides to share his Vibe vision with the others. They see what he sees, which is extra unsettling because The Monitor seems to be able to see him AND talk directly to him. But Oliver spots a big ol’ clue to The Monitor’s whereabouts, in the form of building that says “Wayne” on it. That’s right: Deegan and The Monitor are in Gotham, home of Batman. Or is it… BATWOMAN?
Night one down — two more to go
Header Image Source: The CW