Hi folks! Welcome to our yearly Arrowverse crossover conversation. On writing duties this year’s team include our three regular reviewers: Ramon Piña (The Flash), Mike Mazzacane (Arrow) and Elias Rosner (Supergirl).
First, we talked about yesterday´s episode, the The Flash portion of ‘Elseworlds’, be warned, spoilers abound, and join us tomorrow for the second half of this conversation. let’s dive right in.
Elias: Seems that the CW has continued its tradition of not really knowing how to introduce its crossovers in the first part.
Why don’t we start with Ramon’s comment?
Ramon: That’s right, this crossover began with the exact same scene from last week’s cliffhangers, a lot of superheroes from earth-90 down, and 90’s Flash running from Monitor.
I was really hyped with that scene, but it was a little disappointing to see it again, then we started a regular Flash episode with guest stars, with Oliver waking up in Barry’s bed in a Freaky Friday/Quantum Leap-y situation.
What do you guys think of this first scenes?
Elias: We had to see that same scene four times! Four!
I’m a little miffed they couldn’t have had different teasers for the different shows
Ramon: Like more scenes on Earth-90, or a Batwoman teaser.
Mike: I think if they’d played the Earth-90 stuff as the pre-title card act and jumped straight Ollie waking up in bed things would’ve played a bit tighter.
Elias: Oh, for sure
Mike: They did something like that with the 30 seconds teaser spots initially
Ramon: Yes, that first scene with Monitor and the mullet eugenics guy could have been a nice mystery for latter scenes (like Cisco’s vibing) or next episode.
Elias: Or even something we got as the stinger at the end of one of the other episodes
I guess what I’m bothered most by is that these crossovers always feel like they break the series’ continuity instead of being set up internally throughout the rest
Mike: I’m more bummed they didn’t lay into the Quantum Leap aspect initially and have Stephen Amell’s name appear where Gustin’s does in the credits. Those subtle ways to show reality being distorted. Which would have played, if they hadn’t done the title card before Deegan getting the book of Destiny.
Ramon: A little more meta, changing the series itself
Elias: Totally true. And I was trying to place what the book was! I wonder if we’ll get any of the Endless too.
Ramon: Well, at least, I feel like all three series made their mid-season finale with last week’s episode. So, this crossover might not change a lot of each series’ direction.
Elias: That’s what it feels like, which I’m OK with
Mike: Functionally I prefer the decision to set up these crossovers in their own episodes and not have all of them building towards it. It’s like the way I prefer cape comics, not really forced to deal with what book X is doing and just do their own thing.
Elias: I feel that, Mike. I think what we’re circling around is the fact that this felt less like the grand crossover we were promised and more like the regular crossovers the shows do.
Ramon: Maybe they should have made clear that this is going to be a crossover just for fun, instead of selling it as a world-shattering event.
Elias:Although, and I know y’all will disagree with me, I liked the way this crossover has played so far. . .aside from the Deegan scenes, which should have been integrated better. I like how it’s both self-contained and setting up the crossover.
Mike: I’m totally fine with how this Elseworlds story has started, it’s Act 1.
Elias: Whew. Thought I was about to be skewered
Ramon: Well, I was expecting something more… grandiose, but if I think it like a regular Flash episode it was a very fun one. I guess I’m a little more impatient.
Elias: That’s true. It even had a lot of the humor of a Flash episode.
Mike: The producers have talked about how each individual episode is going to feel like that specific series, which I’m very curious to see play out. The real joy of these events for me is seeing the writers play off Flash/Arrow on more thematic and emotional grounds than doing comic book stuff.
So more like ‘Flash vs Arrow’ or ‘Invasion’.
Elias: Ugh, ‘Invasion’. Please don’t let it be like ‘Invasion’.
But I think that’s going to play very well. This episode reminded me of the early Flash episodes in its use of humor.
The clashing tones between Ollie & Barry might be my favorite part. Everyone got a bunch of fantastic one-liners.
Mike: Ollie being forced to tap into happy thoughts and Barry going in a more opposite direction is what has me most excited for this. That’s the sorta’ stuff they can carry through afterwards.
The main thing of this episode is the friendship between Barry and Oliver, how their relationship has been developing with the years.
Adding the “fish out of the water” trope allows for great character studies.
Elias: Grant Gustin nailed Ollie’s angst and I am so glad Iris & others are interrogating it.
Ramon: It was hilarious to see Barry’s jealousy and Iris being extra sweet with Oliver, I mean, “look at those abs”.
Elias: That was great. I bet all the actors had a blast with those scenes.
Mike: There’s a old piece by Angelica Jade Bastien, “The Tougher Thing Is To Feel: The Flash and Masculinity” that has me just intensly locked on Amell’s performance.
Elias: How so?
Mike: Arrow as a series and Amell’s performance arc has been slowly adding subtler, emotionally vulnerable moments to Oliver Queen, though it’s often used to batter him at the same time. It’s an awkward reinforcement of non-emotive manhood even as it tries to show change.
Conversely The Flash is at its best when Grant/Barry is vulnerable and looking for support, and when it strays from that path it’s at the worst (like season 3).
So, getting to see Amell and Gustin stare at that, in a way is potentially interesting. This being The Flash ep, it was more about reinforcing what makes Barry himself, so I expect this will hold true for tomorrow night.
Ramon: That’s a fantastic analysis of the main characters.
With that, Team Flash betraying Barry is especially meaningful, and Oliver sees it clearly in the training scene, he may be a little used to act alone, but Barry isn’t, I find it very appealing to see him struggling to become a “tougher” hero.
Elias: I love that Mike. Let’s hope they keep it up. Although, if the past is any indication of the future, I have my doubts. (Looking at you ‘Crisis on Earth X’).
Mike: I see ‘Elseworlds’ from a structuring standpoint, the decision to cut out the Legends, as a response to ‘Crisis on Earth X’ (which I rather enjoy) but didn’t think made for good TV.
That was all plot and bombast, here we’ve got the important emotional storytelling.
Elias: I see that. It’s also a much smaller cast this way, as the focal heroes of Legends are 8, versus the singular ones of the other three shows.
This way, the “standalone” nature of each night can draw from the entire Arrowverse that’s participating and still focus on each night’s main cast.
Ramon: Yes, Barry needs to confront his demons while Oliver needs to accept help and embrace the good things that happen to him. (Kara’s arc is TBD).
Imagine having every single hero of every single series, it can have great scenes, but zero story.
Elias: That said, Team Flash did get the short shrift because Tyler Hoechlin and the actress who plays Lois Lane [Elizabeth Tulloch] stole the show.
Mike: Elias, you always gotta sacrifice the mid card to get the big outside name over, and Hoechlin’s Superman just seems so utterly natural. I’m kinda wanting them to just do a show with him on the DCU now.
Ramon: Are they trying to get a Superman and Lois Lane reboot? Because I would see a whole series of those two.
Elias: Me too
Mike: Last I saw was Metropolis, the Gotham of Superman shows, was being retooled. With Berlanti Productions basically making the majority of live action DCU content, it wouldn’t be hard to see them doing that.Continued below
Elias: But I would love it to focus on Lois more than Clark, because, as much as I love Superman, we had Smallville for his focus.
Ramon: The way they wrote this Lois, she could be a badass female character on her own show.
Mike: How did y’all feel about that Smallville cut?
Ramon: chills, man!
Elias: …I must’ve missed that. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t seen Smallville… OHHHHH, wait! No wonder that cut felt so familiar.
Mike: Smallville is such an odd bit of television storytelling. It doesn’t have the all-encompassing pastiche quality of Gotham; but for its time and how it navigated things worked better than you’d expect.
Ramon: It may feel a little bit outdated now, but I loved it. It had passion for its characters.
Elias: Better that Gotham that’s for sure. Speaking of, I got disproportionately excited for that reveal. I watched the final episode with my dad and despite not knowing anything, I felt the power of the final scene. So, kudos to them. BUT! We’re not here to talk about the proto-Arrowverse.
Mike: Speaking of the early days of the Arrowverse. Remember when Amazo was an Easter-egg reference on the side of a ship? (that was there to test and steal people’s genetics too).
Elias: I missed the memo and thought Batwoman would be showing up without her city. Oh dang, it was? I was wondering where they’d teased him before this.
Mike: Yup Arrow Season 2, with Dylan Neal as Anthony Ivo
Ramon: I missed that!
Elias: What’d y’all think of A.M.A.Z.O.?
Mike: Design was a bit bland, but it was functional. The Flash and the Arrowverse overall know how to play to their budget. It got the job done.
Elias: I… was disappointed. Again, I love when these things are set up ahead of time, so the lack of introduction bothered me.
The CGI fight too was bland, but you’re totally right on the budget usage.
Mike: Not even the Arrowverse is immune from boring framing and coverage of CGI heavy rockem sockem fights.
Elias: They really love setting their fights in I-beam buildings too
Mike: I choose to think of those moments as homage to Mask of the Phantasm and not smart budget usage.
Ramon: I think it was a fun fight despite its budget limits, but there was no story, it’s the second or third time this season that the villain was only there for a few scenes because the focus was on the characters.
Elias: That’s what really got me! I get the self-contained approach, and I like it, but A.M.A.Z.O. felt like a distraction more than an attraction.
CBS would have done it worse though.
Mike: I thought A.M.A.Z.O. was used how it should be, it’s a heavy villain and this isn’t JL: Unlimited. sometimes you just gotta let the big dudes meant to fight do their job.
Ramon: I still don’t know how to feel about it, A.M.A.Z.O. could have been a big part of any show for some episodes but, on the other side, it worked as it was supposed to work: to see how Barry-Green Arrow and Oliver-Flash fight with their “new” abilities.
Elias: I guess that’s fair. I’d be less miffed if this were a regular Flash episode. I am glad they side-stepped the “keep Superman/Supergirl away” from AMAZO. As my girlfriend pointed out, that’s 60% of his fights.
To Ramon’s point, that’s the only thing that makes me OK with how they used him.
Ramon: That’s the old superhero dilemma, how can you have a fun fight if the all-powerful Superman could finish it with one punch. So, the “don’t let them fight much, keep them away” strategy is useful in series like this, with budget limitations. Having them involved in this fight for a change was great
Mike: It’s still kinda wild that we’re here even talking about the fact that we couldn’t see Superman punch something, and that Superman legit exists within the Arrowverse.
Reminds me of this scene from the “The Brave and The Bold” half of ‘Flash vs Arrow’ crossover. Like, man, think how much crazy comic book stuff they’ve done since this.
Elias: True, true. I wasn’t complaining about that though. More-so I was glad that Superman WAS allowed to punch something.
I was commenting on A.M.A.Z.O.’s lack of good story structure when he doesn’t have the intelligence to go along with his powers.
Ramon: That’s why he was useful to the crossover, it got me excited to see Superman involved in the action, they needed something punchable to show off their Superman and they find a punchbag in A.M.A.Z.O.
Ramon: I mean, Superman is meant to be a meaningful character, to make the reader or the audience feel hope, and having him relegated (mainly for budget limitations, I think) is always disappointing.
Elias: I’m still counting my blessings because all the Supergirl scenes with him and Lois this episode were golden and I wish Supergirl would utilize them more often.
Ramon: …or maybe they could do a spinoff with them.
Elias: I’d like to see a 10-episode thing. CW seems to do really well when they have fewer episodes.
Ramon: Yes, it doesn’t have to be a full-season. Even a mini-series with 5 or 10 episodes a la Agent Carter could work great.
Mike: CW programming more hours could be a thing, but at the same time with a Batwoman show in development and Mark Pedowitz overall want for programming, I kinda hope it isn’t on CW. Give me more shows likeCrazy Ex-Girlfriend and Jane the Virgin.
Elias: Oh dang, right, Batwoman’s coming to the crossover
Ramon: That was the most disappointing thing of this episode, I mean, the last scene with her on the rooftop was meant to be a thrilling cliffhanger, but I was expecting her to be through all the crossover.
Mike: She’s just going to be an episode 2 thing, I’m pretty sure.
Side note, I was not feeling Blake Neely (pretty sure it was him) theme for her.
Elias: That’s disappointing. And yeah, I didn’t really feel anything with that. I did like the way they mashed up the other themes though.
Ramon: the first notes sound like a vague tribute to Batman: The Animated Series, then it’s just flat.
Mike: The good thing about that stuff in regard to Batwoman is that that’s the thing that can change as Caroline Dries staffs up for the pilot production.
Elias: New show, new theme. I hope they make it memorable.
OK, I think we’ve talked about most of the big things in the episode since, despite there being a lot of crossover, there really wasn’t much to sink our teeth into beyond A.M.A.Z.O. and the start to the body/mind/reality(?) swap. Any stray thoughts?
Ramon: My favorite thing was the discussion between Barry and Oliver, and how they clashed with their new powers, kind of mirroring how The Flash and Arrow have different aesthetics and moods.
Elias: And I totally agree with you Ramon.
Mike: Overall this was a strong episode of television, that setup the following two episodes well. The shows reflexive qualities could’ve gone further but it is still an effective way to get at the emotional core of this event. At minimum it gave us that porch scene.
Elias: Were the show to not have placed that opening scene with Deegan, this would have been my favorite start to any of the CW crossovers.
Also, it’s a bit juvenile, but I always get a kick out of the Diggle hates super speed gag.
Ramon: Four seasons in and it never gets old.
Elias: I also appreciated how the sky was turning red, indicative of a Crisis-level event, and, like, no one is all that concerned
It’s just another day on Team Flash. They’ve got bigger things to worry about. Like Cicada. Or Sherloque’s alimony checks
Ramon: “Hey, wasn’t the sky red yesterday? Well nevermind, I’ve got other things to worry for”.
Overall, although flawed, it was a fun The Flash episode, with enough character development to matter as part of a crossover.
Mike: It’s not a crisis until a Flash says so.
Elias: I wanted someone to say “Run, Ollie, Run” so badly.
Mike: That’s the kinda melodramatic emotional reinforcement he would hate, and would be pretty funny to see.Continued below
Elias: Ollie forces out “you’re my lightning rod.”
My other favorite exchange, Best Line of the Night:
Barry: “You woke up in bed with Iris?”
Barry: “We need to change this NOW!”
Mike: The awkwardness in Amell’s face during that morning sequence was great.
Elias: Comedy gold.
Elias: I know we won’t get this tone from the rest of the crossover, but I hope the writing teams can bring this level of joy, introspection, and inspirational speeches back to their respective shows. The Flash could use a tad stronger one-line game.
Ramon: If the characters are going to learn new things, the writing staff IRL could also learn from each other.
Mike: I’m not sure what to fully expect from the Arrow section. James Bamford is back in the chair, so I expect solid action. It’s fun to think about how this is happening as Ollie is going through another identity crisis post-prison.
Ramon: I think Arrow‘s is going to be the hardest episode because of how the team is right now and the plots from the season seem to be set up right now.
Elias: We haven’t gotten enough of Supergirl yet for me to speculate but if the trailer is anything to go by, Supergirl is going to have to reckon with more hatred thrown her way. But I’ll speculate more tomorrow night
Ramon: Well, I guess that’s it for now, any final toughts you want to add?
Mike: Lois attacking Barry with a hammer is too soon after “Heroes in Crisis” #3.
Ramon: Goddamn that’s right! Too soon.
Lois & Clark are happy. Let couples be happy you cowards! Looking at you Arrow.
Ramon: Well guys, let’s hope next episode be great, see you tomorrow!
Elias: See ya then!