Superman on Television
Supergirl: Episode Reviews
Season 4 - Episode 9: "Elseworlds"Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
Originally Aired: December 11, 2018
WRITTEN BY: Derek Simon and Robert L. Rovner
DIRECTED BY: Jesse Warn
Melissa Benoist (Kara/Supergirl)
Chyler Leigh (Alex Danvers)
David Harewood (J'onn Jones)
Mechad Brooks (Jimmy Olsen)
Jesse Rath (Brainiac 5)
Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Barry Allen/Green Arrow/Flash)
Grant Gustin (Barry Allen/Oliver Queen/Flash/Green Arrow)
Candace Patton (Iris West-Allen)
Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost)
Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon/Vibe)
Tyler Hoechlin (Clark Kent/Superman)
Elizabeth Tulloch (Lois Lane)
LaMonica Garrett (Monitor)
Jeremy Davies (Dr. John Deegan)
Rating - 4 (out of 5): At the top, I want to say that I enjoyed this episode as a whole and enjoyed this crossover as a whole. This final chapter has some problematic elements that took it down a notch and now that I am past the euphoria of watching the episodes I think I can put those elements into words.
Big picture observation before I get into that; these CW superhero crossover episodes have done a great job of representing the different type of crossovers we get in the comics.
The first one in 2014 was your basic two-parter taking place in the pages of two heroes' books.
In 2015 we got the crossover that is there to introduce a new super-team and it just doesn't stick the landing.
In 2016 we got the big world threatening/alien invasion crossover.
In 2017 it was the CRISIS ON EARTH-(FILL IN THE BLANK) type of affair.
So, what is this year's crossover?
Apparently, this is the crossover that sets up another crossover, crossover.
Also known as The Geoff Johns.
In general this storyline ended on a satisfactory note. There were some more fun alternate reality gags that worked for me. Cisco as a crime boss was hysterical and I liked the idea of James Olsen being Superman's Worst Pal. This was all window dressing, though. The emotional core of the story was Oliver being set up as the hero that is going to die in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHSÉ
ÉI mean the story of Oliver realizing the value of the type of heroes that Supergirl and Flash are. The fact that he was the one to get into The Monitor's face was great and I liked that while there were other heroes in this story the focus was on the stars of the series the crossover took place in. Supergirl and Flash get to make the big play that ultimately saves the day while Oliver gets to be the hero that facilitates that save. The themes of self-realization and friendship come full circle and it made for good television. I also liked that they used the fact that Supergirl and Flash died during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS to play with the emotions of the viewers that are familiar with that story. I especially liked seeing the idea of a hero being a symbol of hope and not being a scowling jerk all the time get played up, though maybe that was laid on a bit thick in the case of Supergirl
Which brings us to the big problem I had with this episode; some of the decisions made regarding Superman.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have liked the Superman and Clark Kent that the SUPERGIRL series has given us. The first two episodes of Season 2 were amazing and gave me just about everything that the film side of the company had not. I keep mentioning this, but the version of Clark and Superman that the writers and the producers and Tyler Hoechlin crafted is very close to the version of Clark and Superman that exists in my head. I like that Clark is a little klutzy but willing to go for the story. I like that his Superman is so at comfortable with who he is and is also aware of how others perceive him leading to him always trying to make people feel at ease around him. When Hoechlin is in costume he walks with purpose and seems confident. He also was able to be a little funny and did things like wink at a family he just saved. It all feels right to me.
At the end of Season 2 Superman was mind controlled by Teri Hatcher and forced to fight Supergirl. Supergirl won the fight and it was stated that Supergirl might be stronger than Superman. Thankfully Superman fandom is full of wonderfully understanding people that took this in the spirit it was intended and did not have serious problems with it.
Wait. That didn't happen at all.
The opposite happened. There was a very vocal group that did have serious problems with the show saying Supergirl was stronger than Superman and even as I type that it feels like I am in grade school arguing on the playground. I didn't care for the line because I thought it was unnecessary, but the show was doing so much right that I didn't let it drag me down.
This (finally) brings me to the final chapter of the Elseworlds crossover and how they got as much wrong with Superman as they got right.
Before I dig into this, I want to say that none of my problems fall on the shoulders of Tyler Hoechlin. I dug the black costume and he did a superb job playing both Superman and the Deegan Superman. He looked like he was having a great time being "evil" Superman and he took the material given to him and performed it admirably.
It's the material that is my problem. First, Barry and Ollie get Superman and bring him to their Earth to fight Deegan. Deegan proceeds to wipe the floor (and sky) with him. I'm not saying that Deegan should have lost the fight because on a dramatic level the fight needed to end with Deegan escaping, but it could have been more evenly matched. Having Superman get taken down as hard as he was taken down reminded me of the early episode of the JUSTICE LEAGUE animated series where Superman would routinely get knocked around by the threat of the day to show how powerful said threat was. This isn't necessary. There are other ways to defeat Superman. It also undercut the entrance he made because it's all well and good to show up and look like you're there to handle the situation but when you get taken down hard it makes it a bit less awesome.
Then there was the scene where Barry and Kara explain their plan to slow down time. The SUPERMAN THE MOVIE approach to time travel was always one of my problems with an otherwise perfect film, so I really didn't want to see it here but that's not the issue. The issue is the doubt Superman expresses at the chances of them succeeding. I get that he's concerned about his cousin. That's fine. I also get that Superman can't be the one to ultimately save the day because it's not his show. That's also fine. I just think that this Superman is better than feeling like they're going to fail. I expected more from him and that is on the writers and the show runners. Superman looked weaker to make three other characters look stronger and it was unnecessary.
Speaking of unnecessary, the scene in Smallville was almost perfect except for the gratuitous dialogue of Clark telling Kara how awesome she was and how much better than she is than he is. Again, I'm the guy that was cool with Superman saying it back in Season 2 but here it felt pointless. There would have been nothing wrong with Clark telling Kara that Lois is expecting and that while they're spending the pregnancy in a place where the baby has a better chance of not killing the mother Kara is more than capable of being the hero of Earth. Instead the dialogue just beat us over the head with how great Kara is.
Don't get me wrong. I love Kara. I love that she has her own show. I did not want Superman to show her up, but this was a bridge too far.
Having written all of that I am both shocked and impressed that they not only revealed that Lois is pregnant but also showed us the proposal in the Fortress. I will admit that I groaned a bit at him crushing a charcoal briquette (which is composed of bits of charcoal, coal, starch, sawdust and sodium nitrate) into a diamond it was still really sweet. I shouldn't be too surprised at the idea of a pre-wedding Lois and Clark having a kid after the events of SUPERMAN RETURNS but it was still a bold move. The whole ending sequence went a long way to make me feel better about the times the story treated Superman poorly.
I really like Tyler and Tulloch as Clark and Lois. They have great chemistry and while I am not holding my breath for a series, I'll still burn a candle every night until we get one.
Which brings us the final moments of the episode. No lie; I actually said the words, "Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the universe will never be the same," along with the Psycho Pirate as he spoke them to Deegan, who now looks like Emperor Palpatine at the end of REVENGE OF THE SITH. This is huge. The fact that they are even attempting this blows my mind and I am full of questions. Those question are mainly logistical in nature (Will it be a three parter like this one? Will it involve LEGENDS OF TOMORROW? Will it be one week or a larger crossover between all of the shows that takes weeks to tell? Will this get rid of the multiverse that exists between the shows? Is Ollie going to die?) but I am mainly just jazzed that I live in a world where this is happening. When I was a teenager, I really wanted to see some version of CRISIS brought to life but thought it would never happen.
Now it is. And I am happy.
Thus endeth the crossover for this year. It is easily the best one they've done. It was ambitious in scope and except for a problem here and there I love it. The best part was watching fellow fans and friends on social media geeking out together and just loving what we were seeing. I think that's why I've gone so easy on these episodes. They were fun. I had fun watching them. The actors all looked like they were having fun and, in this day and age with things being the way they are, having fun is a welcome respite.
And I got to see Lois and Clark on screen with Kara.
I can't wait to watch it again.
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