In what might be the most fast-paced crossover event yet, the gang of Arrowverse superheroes is racing against time. They need to gather all pieces of a puzzle to keep the antimatter from destroying the rest of the universe. The stakes are even higher now that Earth-38 is destroyed, Oliver is dead, and they only have two of seven Paragons identified at the start of the episode. This episode is only the second part, but every moment counts, and the writing fits as much as it can in every single minute.
The Monitor describes one of the two Paragons he knows of, but doesn’t have identities for, as the “Bat of the Future.” It’s pretty apparent that it’s a different earth version of someone Kate knows, and this is when Kevin Conroy’s Batman comes into play. He lives in an old, creepy manor, overgrown with weeds, just like the cynicism in his heart. Kate can easily commiserate with him, having just gone through some devastating moments in her personal life.
Hope is a significant theme for Kate Kane on this season of Batwoman. She writes about it a lot in her diary entries to Bruce. Though she’s not one to be overly positive, hope is something Kate wants to cling to. But she chose Alice over everyone in her life.—because of this blindspot, her father was held captive, and Mary just watched her mother die in her arms. Kate lost her family all over again, one she didn’t have the sense to cherish while she could. Holding out faith for Beth, unfortunately, bit Kate in the ass big time, which is why it makes sense that Kate gravitates toward Kara.
Kara Zor-El has always been a beacon of hope on Supergirl. She was the one to give Kal a little pep talk in last night’s episode, and now she’s the Paragon of Hope. But after Alura’s second death, the loss of her people (again), and Oliver’s sacrifice, Kara is done. She’s dejected; oddly, that sparks Kate’s hope again. Even though she was Kara’s foil, they’ve now swapped places slightly, and she’s the one giving Kara the talk. Kate struggles mightily with faith. And even though they stick together like kids who click first at camp, their ideals are what balance them out.
And just like that, Bruce also crushes Kate’s burgeoning trust in him as a Paragon. Unlike the similarities that exist between Earth-38’s Kal and Brandon Routh’s Kingdom Come Superman, Kate doesn’t have that. This Bruce is nothing like her or her cousin. In addition to being a lot older, he’s also much more cynical—he’s also a killer. He does not share Kate’s morals in her role as a caped vigilante, and that’s a cause for great concern. Seeing this version of Bruce holds a mirror up to Kate’s rough patch, to her loss of hope, and shatters her outlook.
From the moment this crossover started, Kate’s been abrasive and on edge. Sure, her hardened exterior is partly due to being surrounded by a ton of strangers, forced into this crisis when she’d much rather be interrogating the Wonderland Gang. But she’s also licking her wounds from a big loss. Seeing a murderous Bruce brings her back to reality a bit. This is not the “hero” she wants to end up as.
Lex Luthor’s return was teased at the end of Supergirl’s last season, but it still isn’t fun to see him return and try to kill all Supermen, no less. These crossovers are, no doubt, a feat to pull off. But the writers did a great job of weaving in some of the most famous versions of Superman, who is also one of the most famous heroes, period. Tom Welling and Brandon Routh’s cameos could make or break Superman’s various returns. But they were done so well, especially Welling’s. Even without powers, only Clark Kent from Smallville can brush off a Luthor with a nonchalant smirk like that. Sigh.
The tough thing about these crossovers, though, is that some of the shows get the short end of the stick. For some time, Supergirl was left on the backburner or treated as an afterthought. This year, Batwoman herself is playing a major role, but the other characters from her show don’t have a spot in this mega-crossover. That’s okay, since it’s her first as part of a full-fledged show, but it was a bummer to not hear from Mary or see Alice commandeer her Wonderland gang or an evil plot. 2020 holds much anticipation in that regard.
Going into tomorrow’s episode, tensions are very high. There’s a lot of foreboding when it comes to the heroes, like with Oliver’s soul retrieval and the arrival of Barry’s team. Since Oliver’s death was not what the Monitor anticipated, are Barry and Kara still saved from his sacrifice? And who are the other Paragons? Whatever happens, Kate and Kara are staying in the driver’s seat of this crossover, seeing as they’re both Paragons and have a lot riding on the next few episodes. Not to mention the possible, massive betrayal looming on the horizon between the two. Kate now has possession of Kryptonite from Earth-99’s Bruce Wayne. Kara seems like she’ll do anything to try and save Earth-38. Kate has her own brand of courage now; will she use it to stand in Kara’s way?
- A big part of the episode took Mia, Sara, and Barry away from the others in an attempt to revive Oliver. Mia is stubborn and set in her mind, like her father, and doesn’t want to listen to Sara. However, bringing back a soulless Arrow doesn’t seem like a good thing during their time of crisis on all Earths. It was nice for Constantine to pop in, though.
- Raise your hand if that picture of alternate-reality Beth and Kate got you a little weepy. After everything Kate has been through this season and the very recent pain Alice put her in, seeing a happy Kate and Beth was a little too much. Maniacal Alice is a very welcome staple of Batwoman—I rave about her character each week—but this wholesome image of what could have been pulls at the heartstrings.
- Despite a small showing from the cast of Batwoman, Luke Fox’s part this year is nothing to complain about. Always underutilized on Batwoman, Luke was included in the crossover as a different version of himself. He’s much less rigid and wears his shirts wide open. Kara’s comment about Luke being good-looking elicits the funniest reaction from Kate.
- During the Superman vs. Superman battle, they were playing the original Superman theme, which was a very cool addition.
- Luckily Lois didn’t stick around to hear the naughty book Mick was reading to young Jonathan. But the man’s got a way with kids. I’ll give him that.
- The little jokes here and there about the doppelgangers never get old. Remember when Routh’s Ray Palmer made a joke about Kara looking like his cousin? This is obviously alluding to his time as the Man of Steel in Superman Returns. Now he’s playing Superman again, and there are jokes about Ray looking like him. To be expected, yet still entertaining.
- The Anti-Monitor hijacked Lyla/Harbinger. The poor woman is just trying to keep stuff together, and it just keeps getting harder.
- Tomorrow we’ll see Black Lightning make an appearance. Will The Flash’s Cisco actually get a leading role in their episode in the crossover? Fingers crossed.