The Elseworlds crossover has finished and somehow, the collected Arrowverse writers’ room managed to top last year’s Crisis on Earth-X. While part 2 was a rapid-fire machine gun of easter eggs and in-jokes, the final act was more about the story itself and some important character development. And as self-contained as a lot of the event is, the truth is that it’s laying the groundwork for something much bigger. It’s exactly what we’d hoped for.
Get ready for spoilers.
At its core, Elseworlds part 3 made good on the promise of the first two parts and stuck to what makes the Arrowverse and its characters so much fun despite the bumpy road we’ve been on over the last six years. There really was no place in this crossover for the Legends. They would’ve been a burden. Instead, they did their own thing and it was glorious all on its own.
Despite this technically Supergirl’s episode, some of the very best moments belonged to Oliver Queen.
For the last six years, Oliver Queen has been lost in the darkness. Every moment of his life since 2012 (well, 2007 if you count the Five Years in Hell). Even in those early moments, it was a turnoff for Green Arrow fans who were used to the quippy dadjoke factory that is the comic-book version of the character. We keep getting promises from the writers that things will be lighter, that Ollie is working on his issues, only to have the show beat him up and leave him scarred once again. After the first chunk of Arrow episodes, culminating in this crossover, though, the team has finally made good on the promise. Oliver seems to be dealing with his darkness. Over and over, we saw him laughing and smiling, and it felt like the character was genuinely happy instead of simply “temporarily serene.”
The crossover put into place the pieces for Oliver to finally become that lighter character. Spending so much time in close proximity to two much more hopeful heroes and spending some of his time in their shoes, as well as seeing what the world could’ve become and could still become seems to have had an effect. And for once it feels like it’ll actually stick. Oliver was the emotional core of the crossover. Barry and Kara got their time to shine, but the growing light inside Oliver was very much at the center of all three episodes. It’s weird to call Elseworlds an Arrow-centric crossover, but that’s exactly what it was, and I’m left surprised by how good it felt.
Part of what makes all of that work is what the crossover didn’t show. And that’s the time Oliver spent bargaining with the Monitor. There’s just enough that we can guess what’ll happen, though, and it’s an absolutely incredible way to end the Arrow series. Us comic fans know that Crises kill heroes, and now Oliver knows, too, because it sure looks like he laid his own life down to save Barry and Kara in next fall’s crossover, which we know now is Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the biggest events in DC history.
As big as this event was, filled with fanservice, awesome action, and genuinely good character work, it was laying the foundation for the big Crisis. It’s hard not to react to Elseworlds without also reacting to that stinger at the very end.
Looking ahead to fall 2019, we can kind of guess at some of what’ll happen. Oliver is definitely going to die in the Crisis. Does that mean Arrow is going to be a half-season? Or are the writers going to find a way to let them finish it out? The show has definitely run its course, and this would be a stellar way to finish things off. We’ll get roughly a season, split across the last half of season 7 and the first half of season 8, of this new Oliver, and it’ll be a great cherry on top of the Arrow float that brought all these characters together in the first place. The network clearly wants Batwoman to become a bigger part of the story, and is already starting to involve Bat-family villains like Psycho-Pirate (who has a surprisingly important role in the multiverse!). The timing couldn’t be better, too. Gotham’s 12-episode final season will be ending, giving the show more leeway to play with some of Gotham’s best villains.
Seeing John Wesley Shipp as the Flash again is truly awesome. The classic Flash show doesn’t hold up after 25-plus years, but Shipp cut a great silhouette and wore what was an impressively comics-accurate outfit, especially for a show at that time. Lois and Clark are having a kid and getting married! Even if Superman never ends up getting his own show – which would be a shame, even though I’d worry about it overshadowing Supergirl – he’s getting a satisfying arc as a character who has had a great career and wants to back off for a while and focus on himself. Even that seems to be a commentary on Arrow‘s arc in its own way.
The promise of Crisis on Infinite Earths as a television event rather than a movie one is wild. It feels like we’re starting to venture into experimental television with these crossovers. Like Marvel’s movies, they are starting to be able to assume a certain base level of comic-book knowledge or, at least, acceptance from the viewership that lets them go a bit bananas. We watched Stephen Amell in the most absurd Flash costume to date, then watched Batwoman kick Flash and Green Arrow’s butts at the same time, and then watched Superman fight himself. These are the kinds of things that happen in comics and cartoons, and now they’re happening in live action.
And now, we know Marv Wolfman’s legendary series is getting a TV adaptation and after Elseworlds it’s almost impossible not to be excited.
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