After the first part of Crisis on Infinite Earths felt like a cluttered – but still somewhat enjoyable – mess, how did the second episode fare? Well, if anybody out there was worried that this was going to be the worst Crisis on Infinite Earths episode, and were automatically put off just by the name Batwoman on the episode, then they probably got the shock of their life.
In a move that may have shocked some of the nay-sayers out there, it was actually whole lot of fun that rapidly ignored the downer of the destruction of the multiverse and the awkward fact that there are now billions of refugees nobody seems too concerned with.
Instead it took the story down a notch and sent three teams of heroes on personal mini-quests. Batwoman, since it’s her show, got to team up with Supergirl and meet Batman. Meanwhile, Superman, Lois and Iris went searching for another Superman to saaaaa-aaave them, and Barry and White Canary had to handle that Dead Oliver situation like it was Weekend at Bernie’s.
So how did it all turn out? Let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs from part two of Crisis on Infinite Earths and find out…
Up: It’s happy and you know it!
Pretty much right from the start this episode set out to have some fun. Peppered with jokes throughout, which smartly gave way to some of the more shocking moments at all the right times, the pacing felt far better this time around. More than that, the story itself was absolutely entertaining even in its weaker or more cheesy moments. From quite possibly the funniest Superman vs. Luthor fight ever and the reading of softcore smut to the superbaby to John Constantine losing his mojo like Austin Powers, it was a hoot and served as the perfect antidote to the underwhelming mass confusion of the previous instalment.
Down: Darn those pesky Paragons!
So in this Batwoman episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the rag-tag team splits up and go in search of “Paragons” – some amazingly iconic heroes who can help out in this Crisis. Fair enough. Also, despite all of the Monitor’s work, it seems like he’s either so cryptic about who they are or so confused about what worlds they’re on that he brings in Lex Luthor… who instantly goes rogue. Oh, and he has the teams wander around the rapidly dying multiverse just on some random chance that they’ll get lucky. Thankfully, the Monitor has Ray Palmer and his science lab to build a Paragon detector because… it’s just that easy. Um. Yeah.
First, nobody likes it when a team boss plays cryptic, practically sells out his own team and puts their lives in danger just in the hope that it’ll make them work better or accept their own importance. Even by the low standards of the Monitor, that kind of illogical, backwards thinking only points to bad storytelling which thinks it’s clever. Secondly, Ray Palmer may be one of the CW/DC boffins who can create a whirlwind in a can in five minutes, but… no. It’s ridiculous and hard to buy in to.
Up: I spent the night with Supermen!
Admit it, the return of Tom Welling as Clark Kent was pretty damn cool. Not only was he still absolutely on point as Smallville’s Clark, but the (very) short story-within-a-story told about him was practically an extension of everything his tenure on that show was. Plus, Brandon Routh’s Superman return was absolutely spectacular and reinforced just how great he was in that role as he conveyed some real emotion over the loss of his loved ones. And while Tyler Hoechlin’s own Man of Steel may seem smaller by comparison, to see the show actually acknowledge that fact by playing around with it for laughs simply worked. A Superman vs. Superman fight was predictable (and predictably weak) but at least it led to what may have been a cool Superman III reference.
Also… Supergirl confusing Routh’s Superman with Ray Palmer and admiring his body, before that awkward moment where she’s told that’s her cousin, is possibly the funniest thing since Princess Leia realised she that when she kissed Luke Skywalker she was kissing her brother.
Up: And the Dark Knight returned too!
Of course, we’d be missing the obvious if we didn’t acknowledge Kevin Conroy’s Bruce Wayne. While it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see (and hear) more of him, the time he was on screen really counted and his ability to deliver some exposition – even if it wasn’t entirely necessary – was played to the hilt as he ground out dialogue with more attitude than any other Batman actor ever. Yeah, forget about Christian Bale yelling while chewing a mouthful of gravel, this was what the voice of an embittered old Batman should sound like. The more of his story we learn the more we understand that this may not be the Batman we were expecting, and the punchline was well handled.
Down: Bring out your dead!
Wow, that didn’t take long.
While nobody in particular probably bought in to Green Arrow’s early death in the last episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was like they couldn’t even wait for his body to turn cold before they had to flip it and make his sacrifice seem somewhat meaningless. In a franchise where death isn’t the serious handicap it used to be in the olden days, they quickly ruled out time travel, clones and alternate universe versions of Oliver to bring him back. Instead they went back to a far more tried and trusted method. Once there was a time where using such a plot device was a real game-changer, but…
To be fair, the whole issue did ring some alarm bells for at least one character who saw a problem with it, and allowed for a good, punchy heart-to-heart conversation to be had. Plus, it gave a good reason for John Constantine to show up, which is never bad. On the down side, so far Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, has contributed nothing to the story other than a long sad face and a couple of hugs. Even Ollie’s temporary death could barely get a reaction from him. Really?
Up: The little things!
There were so many small details here that helped make this Batwoman episode of Crisis on Infinite Earths feel special that it’s impossible to know where to begin. Some were elements from comics over the years, with references to Superman being a strange visitor from another world, Kingdom Come’s Joker, movies… and so much more. Incredibly, even with all of this going on this also felt like a far more personal episode that highlighted a lighter side of the CW’s DC output and paid tribute both to those who helped to build it as well as the fans who have come to love it.
Down: Cameos! Or at least one of them…
As awesome as the guest stars were in this episode (shoutout to Wentworth!), and for as much as a kick as it is to see all the nods to all the DC shows and films, sometimes there’s a limit where it simply feels gratuitous. Enter… Jonah Hex. Who doesn’t love Jonah Hex? Well, almost nobody, but in this case it felt so forced that it simply wasn’t funny, smart or even needed. Basically, it was little more than an excuse to put in a vaguely familiar face and have a completely unnecessary fight scene which added nothing to the story. Maybe if we’d actually had a moment to bond with him, it might have meant something.
Up: Batwoman! Again!
It’s obvious that Batwoman is getting a huge push with this Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, even though once again it’s clear that this series is going overboard with her. Ease up on the gas there, CW; she doesn’t always have to be the coolest, most important person in the room in any given situation and it seems unnatural. She would be far easier to take if it were to happen more naturally, rather than her being forced on to viewers.
That being said, here Batwoman does come across as pretty cool though. This Crisis on Infinite Earths episode may have been a part of her show and that was reinforced by the ending, but it was her interactions with the others that worked best for her. Plus, anybody who has that kind of a response to being asked to hold the superbaby definitely gets a big thumbs-up. Not everybody buys in to the whole “cute kid” thing.
And now, on to part three of Crisis on Infinite Earths…