“Heroes Vs. Aliens” has been a hugely ambitious undertaking for The CW, and as a lifelong superhero fan, it’s brought me a lot of joy seeing so many colorfully costumed characters join forces to stop an alien threat. The three main episodes of the crossover (Supergirl was more of a tease than a first part) have done admirable work advancing the overarching narrative while maintaining each show’s distinct perspective, and the first two chapters gave the crossover a strong emotional foundation by staying focused on Barry Allen and Oliver Queen in the midst of this rapid cast expansion. Arrow’s installment was a particularly pleasant surprise, and while Legends Of Tomorrow’s crossover finale doesn’t pack the emotional punch of yesterday’s episode, it’s a strong conclusion that has the good guys saving the day and learning more about themselves in the process.

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The time travel aspects of tonight’s story are what make it a Legends Of Tomorrow episode, but this is still heavily focused on Barry and Oliver. Barry’s friendship with Cisco is restored when Cisco and Felicity join a trio of Legends (Amaya, Nate, and Mick) in the past and Cisco alters the timeline because he wants to make things better; he ends up making things worse, and once Cisco is in Barry’s shoes, he realizes just how hard he’s been on his friend. The temptation to change the past is difficult to resist, and there’s no way of knowing how small changes will reverberate through the timeline.

Martin Stein is dealing with this himself after the realization that he now has a daughter because of the pep talk he gave his younger self in 1987, and while he tries to keep his distance from Lily, he can’t stop himself from forming a personal relationship with his kin. He certainly tries, but when his behavior starts to impact Lily’s development of a weapon to use against the Dominators, Martin is forced to connect with her so that she can complete her work. That moment of bonding is all Martin needs to convince him to keep his time aberration daughter alive, much to the disapproval of Jax, who has wisely taken notice of how dangerous it is to mess with the timeline for personal gain.

I’m not a fan of the Flashpoint development in The Flash, and using time travel to manipulate the present-day status quo is a lazy way of creating big changes. Toying with the timeline is one of the big reasons why superhero comics continuity can get so confusing (for a prime example of this, see early ’90s X-Men comics), and I worry about The CW’s superhero shows falling into that same trap. By the end of this episode, it looks like Barry has released most of his Flashpoint guilt, and hopefully he’s learned enough from this lesson that he won’t try to alter the timeline again. But when one of the shows is all about time travel, it’s hard not to worry that writers will continue to take these kinds of shortcuts to enact quick change.

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The big rooftop fight between the superheroes and the Dominators turns out to be fairly anticlimactic, and it doesn’t have the dynamism of The Flash and Supergirl’s showdown in the first chapter or the raw power of Oliver and company’s brawl in last night’s episode. The Flash and Supergirl sequence wasn’t really a fight so much as it was a heated sprint, but the camerawork and special effects brought an exhilarating energy to it that heightened the conflict between the two characters. The Arrow fight benefits greatly from real people as the opponents instead of CGI aliens, and there are moments in the rooftop fight that feel like the heroes are fighting empty air. I would have liked to see more creative use of all the different powers in this group working together, and the fight would be more satisfying if there was a stronger sense of collaboration among the human/metahuman fighters.

Supergirl is pushed to the side for most of this episode because Oliver wants to minimize her involvement, and while it would have been nice to have more of Kara Danvers’ brightness throughout this chapter, Oliver’s fear of Supergirl is tied into his general reluctance to embrace change. Oliver fought his way out of the virtual fantasy the Dominators put him in, but there’s still a part of him that aches for the world before all this superhero insanity. Metahumans are already more than Oliver’s comfortable with, and the arrival of aliens creates another threat for Oliver to take down in the future. That’s a lot of pressure for a non-powered human with a bow and arrow, and it makes sense that he would push back hard against this development, particularly when he’s experienced first-hand what these aliens can do to their targets.

Supergirl saving Oliver’s life does a lot to make him appreciate her, and when she’s out of costume, Kara reminds Oliver that hardship is the thing that makes them stronger. New challenges are scary, but overcoming these challenges is how people grow. It’s not the most revolutionary statement, but there’s genuine warmth in Melissa Benoist’s delivery that makes it sound like the perfect answer to everyone’s problems right now. The most delightful thing about this crossover has been watching Supergirl interact with the rest of the CW’s DC heroes (and seeing how they react to her), and giving Kara a way to easily jump between earths makes me extremely excited for the future of her relationships with all these characters.

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“Heroes Vs. Aliens” turned out to be a hell of a lot of fun, and it’s significantly expanded the scope of the Arrowverse by bringing in an extraterrestrial enemy. The Dominators’ meta-bomb may have been turned to harmless water by Firestorm, but they’re still out there in the cosmos, posing a threat to any number of alien civilizations. How long until one of those civilizations reaches out to the heroes of Earth for help? How long until a new extraterrestrial threat appears to wreak havoc? There’s an entire universe to explore, and this crossover has opened the door for the CW’s DC shows to go cosmic in the future.

Stray observations

  • This episode continues to show that Felicity fits incredibly well into every DC CW ensemble. I’d love to see her take an extended voyage through time with the Legends (I’ve always enjoyed her chemistry with Ray), but I’d also like to see her take a trip to Supergirl’s earth, where she will likely fall in love with everyone and everything.
  • I really like the moment where Oliver and Sara pause to consider how crazy their lives became after getting on that boat years ago. It’s a nice shout-out to where this world began.
  • Agent Smith is a total caricature of the Man In Black type. I understand the value of including a human villain in this crossover, but his character is wafer-thin.
  • Bringing Caitlin into Martin’s story is a smart decision given her own strained relationship with her mother and experience with personal changes cause by timeline manipulation, and this crossover has done a good job putting characters from these different series in groups that bring out the best in them.
  • The effect of Vixen summoning the elephant totem is very dramatic, but I wish the fight choreography reflected this huge surge of power. Amaya hits harder, but I want to see her stampeding through a crowd of Dominators.
  • Felicity: “This ship is…” Cisco: “Automatic.” Felicity: “Supersonic.” Cisco: “Hypnotic.” Felicity & Cisco: “Funky fresssssssh.”
  • “Oh, for real? You’re gonna use Princess Bride against me? Against me?!”
  • “You look like a star-spangled idiot.” I can’t argue with Mick here. Nate does look pretty silly in his new costume, which looks like the uniform of an extremely patriotic football player.
  • “Y’all call for tech support?”
  • “See you later, Dominator.” This is a horrible line.
  • “There she goes. Off to her spaceship time-travelling like it’s totally normal.”