THE FLASH Review: Crisis on Earth-X Part 3

One of the reasons the CW’s DCTV universe has been so successful is that, for the most part, these shows haven’t been afraid to embrace the weird and whimsical side of the superhero genre- from talking telepathic gorillas to American flag body armor. But this light-hearted and fun-focused tone can quickly turn sour when it’s used to approach enormously serious issues with far reaching real world implications… which brings us to “Crisis On Earth-X,” the most bizarrely tone deaf offering any of the DC shows have ever produced. 

The four-part event had a lot of promise initially, as our heroes travelled through time and parallel dimensions to make it to Barry and Iris’s long-awaited wedding. I’ll admit I personally would have preferred the ceremony to be in an episode that was more focused on the leads of THE FLASH rather than in a crossover where the screen time has to be split up amongst the various casts, but there’s an undeniable appeal to all the ‘odd couple’ combinations that ensue when you bring together all of the characters, and it’s gratifying to see the wedding of Barry and Iris portrayed as a momentous occasion for not just The Flash but the larger shared universe. 

But things took a nosedive as soon as Earth-X was introduced into the plot, and by the time The Flash’s installment in the crossover came around the wedding of the century had been placed firmly on the backburner. Instead the gang took a trip to Earth-X and visited the violent and horrifying concentration camps still running in a world where the Nazis never lost World War II. Yes, you read that right. Our campy, spandex-wearing team of superheroes spent their crossover doing a DC version of The Man in The High Castle. And for the life of me, I cannot think of who thought this premise should be green-lit. 

It’s true that superheroes are no strangers to beating up Nazis — LEGENDS OF TOMORROW in particular has gotten mileage out of that trope more than once in the past. But what makes this time different is that the heroes are quite literally fighting Nazi versions of themselves from this alternate timeline. The same bubbly Kara who wears the S shield designed by Jewish comic book legends Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster is now walking around wearing swastikas and preaching ethnic cleansing. Making a character a Nazi is different from making them a generic bad guy; these are symbols of very real genocide and racial hatred that still exists today. Why in the world would anyone want to see characters we know and love running concentration camps in an alternate universe and torturing and executing the Earth- X versions of our Jewish, Black, and LGBT heroes? 

Naturally, we’re still expected to root against the Nazis and to cheer when the heroes finally manage to foil their sinister plot—but we’re also expected to not linger on the various atrocities and acts of genocide that are oh-so- casually alluded to. The images of concentration camps that we see aren’t intended to stop us laughing at the goofy bits that follow it, and the true horror of what it means for the Ray and Citizen Cold to be part of a world where the Nazis have exterminated groups who don’t fit into their Aryan ideal is never addressed. We’re meant to root for Oliver and Felicity to tie the knot mere moments after seeing an alternate universe where Oliver is the Fuhrer of a Nazi regime advocating for white supremacy and Felicity is a concentration camp prisoner tortured for being Jewish. Which just brings us back to the main issue with the crossover — there is no “win” in this situation, but the story refuses to acknowledge this. 

Defeating Overgirl and the Dark Arrow doesn’t erase the fact that there is an entire universe where the Nazis were able to achieve world domination and move forward with the Final Solution, which means the destruction of whole peoples and their cultures. But the team can still call it a day at the end of the event and go home to the rest of their lives (except for Stein, one of the two Jewish superheroes in the group, who of course gets killed off for real when facing the Nazis because we didn’t already see enough genocide in the concentration camps). And that light and breezy attitude that makes these crossovers so fun to watch in the first place ends up being its undoing, as it’s clear the event is in no way equipped or prepared to handle the dark implications of its storyline. The ending may have left the door open for future visits from Earth-X characters, but I hope with all my heart that said door gets slammed firmly shut before we’re treated to another mess like this one.

Written by Kaitlin Roberts, THE FLASH Beat Writer

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ARROW Review: Crisis on Earth-X Part 2

SUPERGIRL Review: Crisis on Earth-X Part 1

THE FLASH Season 4 Episode 7 Review: Therefore I Am