Before I get to the recap, let me first address a crossover question I think many of us had: Uh, where are the Legends in all of this? Honestly, I kinda figured this three-night event would have its hands full altering reality, setting up “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (more on that shortly), and introducing Batwoman, so I wasn’t surprised to see that it all came at the expense of a few less toys in the sandbox this time around. But then I saw a commercial for the Legends of Tomorrow midseason finale, which aired after “Elseworlds” Part 2 last night, and it looked bonkers so I stuck around and watched it. And by “bonkers” I mean “Constantine effed up the timeline and turned the Legends into Unicorn-killing 70s/80s action parodies… and sometimes puppets.” But they DID mention that Kara, Barry and Oliver had all been calling the Waverider trying to reach them, which garnered a response that basically consisted of shrug “Welp, must be the annual crossover again!” No really, they straight-up called out the programming stunt for what it was, then proceeded ignored it in favor of PUPPETS.
So, in case you were worried: Legends of Tomorrow is doing JUST FINE, thank you very much.
But back to the main event, which continued on last night’s episode of Arrow — and kicked off with Barry Allen doing the opening intro/voiceover as Oliver Queen, because REMEMBER THEY BODYSWAPPED?! Also apparently it’s not really a Quantum Leap-style situation since they don’t just look like their true selves in the mirror, or something? Whatever Arrowverse, you can’t dangle the sweet sweet memory of Scott Bakula in front of me and then tell me not to think about it. Unless you’re planning on a surprise Bakula cameo in the third hour? A girl can dream.
When last we left our heroes, they were on their way to Gotham to track down John Deegan, The Monitor, and the Big Book of MacGuffins. So, naturally when the episode picks up they’ve actually decided to swing by and catch up with Felicity, Diggle, and the other Arrow peeps. Because the REAL priority here is that Oliver not tell Felicity about the body-swap, because they already have enough relationship problems as it is. They’ve changed as people! Literally, in Oliver’s case! So instead he relies on Barry’s acting chops to convince Felicity that he’s her real husband in order to sidestep all the additional weirdness, and needless to say that goes about as well as you’d expect. Barry adds to the weirdness by being super Barry about the whole thing, and when Felicity eventually does find out that Oliver deceived her, she’s more hurt than ever (especially when she hears that Iris realized something was up her own). On the plus side, though, Cisco and Caitlin show up to join her Geek Squad for the episode and help her figure out what’s up with all that lighting that’s following Barry and Oliver around (it’s breach energy, caused by Jay Garrick/The Flash trying to warn them about the book!). Caitlin is able to give her a pep talk by pointing out that Oliver probably just didn’t want to get locked up again when his friends inevitably didn’t believe this body-swap reality shift was really real. Because that is literally a thing that happened just the other night.
In other “silly things going on in Oliver’s head” news: HE DOESN’T BELIEVE IN BATMAN. Thinks it’s all a big ol’ urban legend, though to be fair — it might just be because he’s got a chip on his shoulder about who the original dark and mysterious, city-defending, over-violent vigilante really is. So naturally when Kara, Barry, and Oliver arrive in Gotham they almost immediately find the Batsignal, because of course Oliver is wrong. Well, about Batman anyway. He’s right to be concerned about Barry walking around wearing Oliver’s still-wanted face, because sure enough after getting into a fight with some local thugs (Gotham kinda sucks, FYI), the cops ID Barry (Oliver? Boliver? You know what I mean) and arrest the trio. But it’s cool, because someone bails them out. And then drives them to the Wayne building. Nope, it’s not Bruce Wayne — it’s his tough, tattooed cousin Kate Kane (Ruby Rose)!
Turns out that Bruce left Gotham around the same time Batman did, three years ago (what a coincidence!), and in his absence Kate has set up shop in his old office. She’s pretty keen for our heroes to get the hell outta town, so she decides to give them a few tips to speed up their visit. In between flirting with Kara, she mentions that she is familiar with John Deegan — in fact, he’s a doctor at Arkham Asylum. And when the trio leave to track him down, she heads down to the Batcave and puts on her fancy Batwoman suit to follow them.
This was the much-hyped first appearance for her character, but it’s clear the Arrowverse writers were having as much fun introducing the other mainstays of Gotham as they were setting up her intro. They went all-in on the expected comic book lore of Arkham, and fans should probably spend some time checking out the names on the cells as the heroes search the asylum for Deegan. Of course, it doesn’t take long for Deegan to open all those cells while he tries to escape, leading to another fun action sequence that shows off Killer Frost getting blasted by Victor Fries’s ice gun, and Barry and Oliver getting dosed with the Scarecrow’s home brew hallucinogenics. The latter causes the body-swapped pair to fight each other while thinking they are actually fighting each other’s archenemies (Barry vs. Malcolm Merlyn, and Oliver vs. Reverse Flash/Wells-as-Thawne), until Batwoman shows up and kicks both their butts to separate them. But hey, at least Barry and Oliver gained a new appreciation for the suffering the other has gone through to become the heroes they are. And they also got the book!
Before the heroes head back to Star City, Supergirl and Batwoman share a sweet scene where they talk about how their cousins may be frenemies, but they would probably get along really well. Because of course Kara knows Kate is Batwoman — and even if we don’t get a full Batwoman TV show out of this, the groundwork has been laid for many more appearances from Ruby Rose, I think. At least, I’ll be disappointed if she never gets another team-up with Supergirl.
Oliver makes up with Felicity by pointing out that no matter how much they may change, the love they share never will (it helps that he knows he’s wearing Barry’s face for this speech). And then that other Flash shows up — only he claims he’s not Jay Garrick at all, but the Barry Allen of Earth 9! Yup, “Elseworlds” went ahead and made John Wesley Shipp’s 90s version of The Flash canon just in time for the big info dump scene as they all face off against The Monitor. So, what’s this all about? Glad you asked!
The Monitor is going through the multiverse, testing various champions to prepare them for a coming “crisis.” Someone far more powerful than The Monitor is coming, and the Book of Destiny, as it’s called, rewrites reality in a way that approximates the collision of Earths that will happen when that someone arrives (they’re setting up “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” in case that’s not clear — maybe for the next crossover?). He’s not convinced Supergirl, The Flash, The Green Arrow, and the others are quite the champions he’s looking for, but he gives them props for being able to steal the Book of Destiny in the first place — and then he steals it back, because he’s not done with his experiment. He returns the book to Deegan, telling him to do better… and “think bigger.” Our heroes need a real challenge, apparently, so Deegan gets to work rewriting reality once again…
And this time around, Barry and Oliver are powerless criminals called the “Trigger Twins,” stranded in a world ruled over by Superman. Only he’s got his black suit on, so you know he means business.
Header Image Source: The CW