The CW's four-part DC crossover event is over, as the combined forces of Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow defeated the alien Dominators. But saving the Earth wasn't their only achievement — they also managed to turn Barry Allen into a hero again, fixing the DC/CW universe's worst problem, while still provided the most fun superhero TV of the year.
Gizmodo's resident DC/CW aficionados James Whitbrook, Alex Cranz and myself sat down (virtually) to talk about the epic finale in Legends of Tomorrow, the crossover as whole and how Supergirl still got screwed.
Rob: Let's start by focusing just on Legends of Tomorrow. I liked it, and I also thought it was the most crossover-y of the week's episodes.
As in, it felt least like its own series, and the most like a chapter in a bigger story.
Alex: It felt like only half an episode of Legends!
Rob: And I was totally fine with that.
Alex: It's definitely the least character-driven show, so taking a break from those characters was the least noticeable.
Rob: Very true.
James: It had to bear the weight of the crossover more than any of the other shows did, given that it was the finale. But it still did a good job of keeping it feeling like it was still "Legends-y", for want of a better fake word.
Alex: It was those little moments, like making fun of Citizen Steel's costume, kept it feeling like Legends.
But the Legends themselves weren't ever really together, and some of them had bupkus to do. Poor Vixen just looked irritated the entire time.
Rob: I agree that Legends has the most room to play in, so devoting it almost entirely to the crossover worked well.
Also, wow, the triumvirate of affability that is Felicity, Cisco and Dr Nate Heywood/Nick Zano.
Alex: They were so good together!
James: I know they're all really tight-knit shows and the creative teams behind them all work together, but I am still amazed — even after this crossover — how they managed to cast four different shows where all the actors have amazing chemistry when they're mashed-up like this.
Alex: They all worked so, so well together.
But of every episode of the crossover, Legends was the one where the strain of this production feat was most evident. Like, you could SEE the line producers telling the writers to move characters out of scenes.
Rob: It's weird how much I liked the episode when I can think of so many specifics I didn't like. The Men in Black storyline was wafer thin, for instance.
And Dr Stein deciding he needed to murder his new daughter was nonsense.
Alex: ha ha ha
Garber was trying so hard.
The show really wanted us to believe he was going to murder his perfectly nice time anomaly of a daughter.
James: In a way, the aberration thing felt like a very strange mirror to what Flash has been doing with Flashpoint and the consequences of time travel and all that... but yeah, it just didn't work in this story.
ESPECIALLY since after she appeared in Flash they immediately announced she would be a recurring character on Legends, removing any sort of "will/he won't he".
Rob: There was literally never any chance Stein was going to purposefully erase his daughter's existence.
Alex: I feel like both Flash and Legends needs to take a long hard look at their time travel rules
and SETTLE ON SOME.
Rob: Yeah, that's not happening. Meanwhile, Ollie telling Supergirl he didn't trust her was also grade-A crap.
Alex: I feel like the Supergirl problem is a whole other conversation.
Because that crap was PAINFUL.
Rob: It was indeed a larger problem in the crossover, but it had a very specific iteration last night — I don't know who thought "Oliver can't emotionally handle Supergirl" was a good idea.
But meanwhile, there was still so much good in the episode. Most impressively, I think they pretty much pulled off the Flash's redemption.
The Flash being responsible for the aliens, and then willing to sacrifice himself on behalf of everyone was the act of redemption I'd been wanting all season. I wish Barry hadn't been talked out of it 30 seconds later, but I appreciated he really, truly wanted to atone for his actions, and had zero qualms about it.
Alex: I love that they chose to have a major character flaw be the central point of the crossover, but it was SO focused on Barry and Cisco it left every other character in the wind.
No one else changed! Except maybe sort of Stein.
Rob: And again, Stein's storyline was about wondering whether he should murder his daughter.
But I think Cisco screwing up the timeline and realising how easy it was to screw up the timeline kind of worked… if you squinted and didn't look too hard at it
Alex: Oh, I disagree. That made me groan so loudly. It was so cheap!
Rob: To be honest, I think I wanted it to work pretty badly.
Alex: Great, there's no more sad Cisco.
But at what cost, Rob?
At what cost?
Rob: Barry's sins have been epitomised in Cisco this season, so it all rested on him. And they obviously wrote themselves into a bit of a corner.
A corner where the Flash murdered a bunch of people to hang out with his parents for a while.
But Cisco realising that it's really easy to screw up the timeline when you don't mean to, again, worked just enough that I could go with it. (Although Cisco was trying to save the Earth while Barry just wanted to hang out with mum and dad.)
James: I feel like the major problem of it was that you've got two shows with two very different takes on timelines and time travel and interference in it trying to pull these threads at the same time in the same episode, and it cheapened it a little.
But I think the Barry/Cisco drama being resolved and it being a big emotional thread of this crossover was worth it, even if it felt a little rushed in the end.
Alex: Hopefully this put to rest Barry every time-travelling again, though. Leave that to the degenerates in their spaceship.
James: Yes, ban Barry Allen from all time travel forever.
Meanwhile, I think there were a few character beats in this episode that I felt like any other week I wouldn't have been quite as convinced by. Since it was part of the crossover, I sort of let them go because the way everything flowed around those two storylines was so goddamn fun.
Alex: Yeah, the sheer joy of a dozen superheroes on screen makes it very easy to forgive the crossovers' sins.
Rob: Other great moments: Firestorm transmuted the bomb!
It was awesome! I had totally forgotten he could do that!
(I legit cannot remember the last time he transmuted anything on the show)
Alex: OK, that bomb.
Can we talk about how very silly it was? For them to freak out about stopping it from hitting the ground? When they have an alien capable of deadlifting a billion tonnes?
Rob: No, we cannot talk about it.
Because I love the fact that Firestorm got his first big hero moment in forever
James: I am also very glad that Legends remembered that Firestorm was more than just "hey he can fly and throw fireballs".
Alex: "Oh no how will we stop this giant bomb from touching the ground?"
"We better transmute it and not use the super-strong alien who has literally done this before!"
Rob: Cranz, I don't know how you live if you spend all your time trying to apply logic to any of these goddamned shows.
James: Alex, this would have been way more boring if we accepted the fact that Kara could basically do everything on her own.
Because she can.
Alex: Well, not everything.
James: She is literally super, and also literally girl.
Alex: Kara could not have made the nano-weapons. As fun as it would have been to watch her try.
Rob: Other great moments: Felicity seeing Supergirl as Kara. "It's like looking into a mirror!"
Followed up with an even better line from a perplexed Brandon Routh: "She looks like my cousin."
ROUTH MADE A SUPERMAN REFERENCE AND I VERY MUCH ENJOYED IT.
James: There were SO many good little interactions between the cast. I loved Felicity and Cisco when they got aboard the Wave Rider and just completely freaked out. Mick and Sara agreeing that the new President was hot. The group hug between Barry, Kara and Ollie.
Alex: Supergirl made Ollie smile.
That was her real superpower.
Rob: My favourite moment may be when Franz Drameh (Jax) had to say the word "Poundtown" to Victor Garber.
James: Ollie in dad mode for a bunch of unruly superheroes is everything I ever wanted out of Arrow, apparently.
Rob: I loved that Supergirl called everyone "Earth's Mightiest Heroes". What a huge, hilarious "screw you" to Marvel, who have been calling the Avengers that since 1963.
Alex: It was a really good "screw you".
James: No matter how good the earlier episodes this week were, this crossover would have been made or broken if these guys didn't gel together in the finale. But they did, and they did it so amazingly well.
Rob: I also really liked the end, the moment with Ollie and Sara commiserating about "how it started" and then Ollie and Barry drinking together.
James: YES ROB! I was just about to say that.
Rob: Both scenes were cheesy, but they both worked.
Alex: God the last 10 minutes of Arrow might be my favourite thing out of the DC shows this year.
The actors sold the hell out of that friendship, which often doesn't feel like a friendship.
James: Also, and I somehow can't believe this, but we've not talked about the best scene of the night (of many great scenes) — that rooftop fight.
They somehow managed to make a rooftop somewhere in Vancouver (presumably) the most exciting location in the world for a solid five minutes.
Rob: Special kudos to the DC/CW show crews somehow making the fight work for all the superheroes and the normal hero with weapons simultaneously.
Alex: I was still bitter about Supergirl's sidelining for 90 per cent of the episode, so all I remember is Citizen Steel being adorable as he punched aliens.
James: SHE GOT TO SAVE OLLIE AND HEAT VISION FOOLS AND IT WAS AWESOME.
Rob: This is a good point to turn to talk about the crossover as a whole. And let's talk Supergirl, because Cranz is clearly about to explode.
I have feelings.
About this glorified cameo billed as a crossover event.
Rob: I wonder if she was sidelined because she had an actual episode of Supergirl to shoot this week.
Rob: Unlike everyone else. I also imagine adding her special effects strained the budgets.
Alex: Yeah, I presume that was the reason.
James: I can see where you're coming from with glorified cameo, Alex, but I also think Supergirl got some of the most fun bits of the crossover.
Alex: I think we saw CG Kara more than actual Kara.
James: She was used more sparingly than others but when they used her, they used her brilliantly in my books.
Alex: It was disappointing to see her gain no narrative momentum in the crossover.
Rob: Also, Supergirl had to be sidelined so she didn't just solve the problem, which is something that happens to Superman about 90 per cent of the time he's with the Justice League. It was a bummer she couldn't have taken more part in everything, but I got it.
Alex: I'm cool with her being sidelined because she's basically god mode on Earth 1 compared to all the other heroes.
And Benoist played it so wonderfully after Ollie went full xenophobe on her. She played it like Kara maybe thought this trip was no longer fun and this was a shitty Earth and MAYBE she could help it I guess.
James: I will agree on that — Flash, Arrow and Legends all got some narrative momentum out of this crossover, but Supergirl didn't because her episode was so isolated from the rest.
Alex: It didn't help that her "crossover" episode was also the Supergirl midseason finale, so it couldn't really bring a plot thread with it to the crossover storyline potluck.
Rob: James, I'll agree on Flash and Arrow, but I don't know that Legends of Tomorrow moved forward, really… unless you're talking about Stein and his daughter, which, again, yeesh.
James: Well, Legends brought something to the table, it just.. was a bit naff compared to Flash and Arrow, who were the story MVPs this time round.
Alex: Can we all agree that Supergirl was in no way a crossover and just had a bumper filmed on Flash thrown in?
Rob: We can. That said, I loved that the crossover mainly hinged on Barry screwing up the timeline, because it's been my biggest problem with... the entirety of TV this spring, basically.
(I've wanted to like Barry for so long, and he's been such as arse.)
Making it the crux of the crossover made the whole thing feel really weighty, which in turn gave Barry's dilemma more heft. They both supported each other.
James: Indeed. They did a great job of making the crossover feel like a ton of fun — which it was — while also not feeling like it would just be a throwaway crossover. (Especially if you're also a Flash viewer.)
Alex: Yeah, I really like that they used the crossover as a reason to give Barry some growth. But it was ONLY for Barry and Cisco. Every other character was left having just a really weird day.
Rob: I was honestly so pleasantly surprised that it was an issue at all. James, you and I had 100 per cent figured it would get swept under the rug for the alien fight.
Alex: Instead it was the crux! I also like that, unlike a lot of crossovers in comic books lately. no character assassination happened. Instead they used it to fix characters, which was nice.
Rob: Well, the Flash had been pre-assassinated, but I agree.
I'll also say that aliens was the right call. It allowed everyone to freak out equally, which put them all on a level playing field.
Alex: Every single response to aliens was always the best response.
God, Diggle being like, "INCOMING."
James: The contrast between Thea's gung-ho attitude and Diggle just having his mind flipped upside down over and over was hilarious.
Alex: It was so good! Thea just, "We on an alien ship. Now we on a time ship. Cool."
As Diggle quietly screams in his own head.
James: Poor Diggle.
Rob: I will nominate Diggle for MVP of the crossover. He didn't have much to do in LoT, but as the ultimate audience surrogate he was golden.
Alex: Diggle, MVP overall.
Rob: Him refusing to accept any of this insanity as normal made everything better.
James: And it was more convincing than Ollie's attempt to keep Kara away to retain his own sense of normalcy.
Rob: Well, yeah, Ollie was endangering the entire planet because Supergirl made him feel funny.
James: The Dominators were fun, even if being wholly CG creations we didn't really get to see them do too much. It would have been nice if there was a tangible character they could have come up against, but you can rarely go wrong with an alien invasion otherwise.
Rob: I loved how it put these characters in totally new, weird places, like the truly bizarre scenes of Team Arrow on an alien spaceship. It was truly shocking to see Green Arrow fight aliens, and it was immensely satisfying.
I imagine this is how people felt when they first read Justice League and other crossovers. I mean, there had to be a moment where Batman fought an alien for the first time and kids' minds were blown.
Alex: Yeah, this did such a nice job of taking a lot of street level characters and bringing them up into the big leagues.
What I really liked was how they managed to make the regular vigilantes heroic enough and savvy enough that they can now exist on the same level as people like Firestorm or Flash or Supergirl.
There's still going to be moments in episodes of Arrow where we wonder why they don't just call someone faster/stronger, but they did a nice job of showing that these guys could get stuff done, too.
Rob: What other issues with the crossover as a whole did you guys have? I sort of wish the Arrow episode had been more entwined with the crossover — it was pretty stand-alone — but as Arrow's 100th episode I understand.
Alex: Supergirl was the big one for me. I was also bummed we didn't see these characters all interact more.
I would have been totally OK with less ALIEN and a little more random moments between characters who rarely or never interact.
Rob: Gee, if only the crossover could have, say, had four episodes to tell its story instead of three.
James: Honestly? My biggest problem is that it's over and we can't have these crews interacting with each other all over all the time. Any issues I actually had with it were so minor in comparison to the earnest, sheer fun of it all.
You can tell even though it was a ton of hard work — really hard work — they had a blast making this all come together.
Rob: Yeah, I can't even imagine how hard it was to make this.
These are CW shows.
With CW budgets.
It's genuinely astounding how much they pulled off here.
James: Aside from incorporating a full episode of Supergirl next year, I genuinely don't know how they can top the feel-good factor of this event.
Alex: The musical crossover.
James: …aside from the Flash/Supergirl musical. Haha!
Alex: We're only five episodes away from it
I HAVE A COUNTDOWN JAMES.
(Maybe I do.)
Rob: Now that they have done this mega-crossover, they sort of have to do one every year, yes?
Alex: I'm really looking forward to the future crossovers.
James: The only thing that concerns me slightly is the scale of it and how they handle that. It's hard to go bigger than an alien invasion of Earth.
But at the same time, I think they have established that all these actors and characters work together so well it doesn't always have to be getting bigger and bigger to be better. The fun is in these heroes just being in a great big hangar of Justice together, on screen.
Alex: There are many other aliens who can invade Earth. Or maybe magic?
Rob: I mentioned this to James last week, but I'm calling it now: Next year's event with be called "Crisis on Infinite Earths".
It will have almost nothing to do with the comic, other than the fact that multiple earths will be under attack, and the Flash may die (for a while).
Alex: I would accept this.
James: They almost have to! They have proved they can do it.
Although I guess it's more like "Crisis on Three Earths" at the moment. Earth-1, Earth-3, Earth-38. (no one cares about Earth-2 any more (sorry Earth-2).
Rob: And we will have to suffer through people constantly thinking that DC/CW is going to bring in the DC-WB movies somehow, even though that will never ever happen.
James: Earth-2 is the one that will get blown up to initiate the CRISIS.
Alex: RIP other Barry.
Like a candle in the wind.
Rob: They aren't going to kill Jesse Quick, you knuckleknobs.
Alex: Jesse will escape, Rob.
She'll be the one showing up to tell them about it.
What's the Crisis bad guy called? Ominator?
Alex: I was close.
James: Basically, CW/DC showrunners: Call us, we have ideas!
Rob: Final thoughts?
James: I don't really have any thoughts other than this was probably the most fun week of television I've watched all year. Like, just sheer, genuine, earnest fun.
Alex: Yeah! I was pumped every night this week. And pleasantly surprised by Arrow, too.
James: Naturally, there's been a ton of great TV this year, but this is the most fun I've had anticipating the next episode over and over again.
Rob: I've had the most fun with the DC shows this year, period. I like Agents of SHIELD, but I'm never excited to see it. I'm excited to see all four of these shows each week.
Alex: I kind of feel bad for people skipping any of the four shows. Except maybe The Flash, since it's been struggling with the Barry/Cisco tiff. But even that's done!
James: It was a great, celebratory end (or near enough) to what has been a very good year for the CW/DC universe.
James: They need a catchier name so I don't have to keep saying "The CW/DC universe" every time I write about it, though.
Rob: I honestly don't know why everyone doesn't call it the DCW universe.
Anyway, this leads us to the final question: Have we all forgiven Barry? Are we ready to accept him as a hero again? I think I have, and I did not expect to at the end of this alien invasion.
As long as he never travels through time again.
Alex: His mum's death is too crowded as is.
There's like five Barry's there.
Rob: Save time travel for the professionals, who are also shockingly bad at time travel.
Alex: Man, the Legends murdered so many people in that zombie/Civil War episode
I'm honestly surprised they didn't come back to a 2016 on fire after that one
James: I mean, the proof will be in how Flash ultimately deals with Alchemy and Savitar, but I am very glad the series has finally taken the moment to address this — and not just address it but properly make it an important part of this event.
Alex: When my only complaint is "I want more", that seems like a good thing.
Rob: Agreed on all counts, guys.
James: And yeah, maybe leave the time travel to the drunken Doctor Whos of Team Legends, Barry.
Rob: When the Legends screw up the timeline, they create daughters, not erase them from existence
It's what makes them... Legends.