All the Freaky Friday shenanigans are mostly in the rearview mirror in Night 2 of this year’s epic crossover event, as the team takes a road trip to mythical Gotham City to meet the only hero left to hold the line in a city that makes Star City look like, well, Central City.
Spoilers ahead for Night 2 of “Elseworlds,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Monday, Dec. 10, 2018.
First up, the elephant in the room. Let’s get to the Batman of it all. We already knew the Arrowverse would finally be introducing Gotham City to Earth-1, but the execution did not disappoint. We got easter egg after easter egg from the Bat-world, and some definitive explanations for exactly how Batman fits into the mythos of this world. Turns out Batman has largely been a myth in the Arrowverse up to this point, with Oliver a bit offended that he wasn’t the first vigilante to hit the streets (though it seems like Batman kept a much lower profile, if he could work the beat so long and still be considered a spooky story in the shadows). It also explains why we haven’t really heard of Batman in the Arrowverse.
Batman disappeared three years ago, at about the same time Bruce Wayne vanished (hmm), and he apparently left Kate Kane to try and hold his legacy — and the city — together in the meantime. Kate is operating out of a dilapidated Wayne Enterprises building, in a city that has street gangs openly roaming downtown. Basically think Star City at its worst, then multiply that a few times. Despite the odds, Kate Kane’s Batwoman seems more than capable of holding down the fort in Batman’s absence, and as far as the backdoor pilot elements are concerned, this hour did a good job of setting the stakes but still leaving plenty to the imagination. We get a feel for Kate, her city, and her struggles — though we don’t meet any of her supporting players or learn much about how she came to don her own cowl.
“Elseworlds” also sends the team to one of the most iconic locales in Gotham history, Arkham Asylum, where everything from the cells to the walls is loaded with easter eggs. Oliver and Diggle see cells labeled for characters such as Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin), Edward Nigma (aka the Riddler), P. Isley (aka Poison Ivy), B. Karlo (aka Clayface), and M. Guggenheim (likely a reference to producer Marc Guggenheim). We also see a woman track down the ice gun of Victor Fries (aka Mr. Freeze) and use it to blast Killer Frost across the room. We get a brief jailbreak at Arkham, though they understandably don’t introduce any A-list Batman baddies into the mix. Which makes sense, obviously, because you wouldn’t want to get locked into anything that could change if The CW eventually greenlights a Batwoman series down the line.
Judging by how much of the Batman mythos we see permeating this hour, it looks like they’d be able to go deep into the Bat-world with a potential Batwoman series. Kate is navigating a forgotten city, left behind by a missing Batman, but still filled with all those A-list Batman baddies fans know and love. The pitch has a ton of potential, and there are plenty of mysteries they could spend a good few seasons unraveling. Ruby Rose also seemed comfortable in the role, and certainly has the talent to anchor her own series if the network sees fit.
Fans have been theorizing that John Diggle might eventually become the John Stewart version of the Green Lantern at some point down the line, and that theory got a major bump (or at least some acknowledgment) this week. After showing up to warn the team, Earth-90 Barry Allen actually recognizes “John” — and asks him why he’s not wearing his ring. He then notes there must be a lot of differences in this universe compared to his. This is almost certainly just a bit of fun with the fan theory, but still, a great little easter egg drop that could only work in an event like this.
Even beyond the Gotham stuff, there’s a whole lot to unpack. Looking big picture, the Arrowverse just laid the groundwork for a full-on Crisis on Infinite Earths — and we could potentially see it as early as next year. The Flash from Earth-90, an older Barry Allen (quite likely the Barry from the 1990s Flash TV series), shows up to tell the team the Monitor is actually testing different realities to try and find one strong enough to do battle with a coming threat. He’s giving the Book of Destiny to villains as a way to prepare heroes to do battle with the reality-twisting villain to come in the full Crisis (in the comics, it’s a player named the Anti-Monitor).
As fans are well aware, the Flash has been planting the seeds for Crisis since its first season. It’s the future event that causes the Flash to disappear (seemingly for good) and, at least in the comics, has multiverse-spanning fallout that completely reshapes the DC Universe into one prime reality. In the comics, it also kills off major heroes such as the Flash and Supergirl (though I doubt a potential TV version would go that far). If nothing else, “Elseworlds” has made it abundantly clear we really are heading toward a small-screen take on Crisis.
So, it gets overshadowed by all the other action, but yes — that random bad guy Diggle was fighting at the start of the episode was Joe Wilson, aka Slade/Deathstroke’s son. That seems like a major baddie to pull out for a quickie cameo, so perhaps they’re setting up his return later in the season on Arrow?
We learn a bit more about Kara’s world, and she talks about how her cousin has a “frenemy” relationship with their Bruce Wayne. Her dynamic with Batwoman was also a good fit, a lot of chemistry between those characters. If Batwoman sticks around, hopefully we’ll see more of that in some future crossovers.
John Barrowman’s return would normally be the top story for an Arrow episode, but he was sadly buried to a minor cameo this week. After killing him off (offscreen, no less) last season, it’s at least nice to see him get a return trip to the Arrowverse. Hopefully there’s more to come.
The Monitor’s test isn’t over, so he gives Deegan back the book of destiny and he makes some much bigger changes to reality. Now Barry and Oliver are de-powered and on the run as a pair of bank robbers (though they’ve seemingly switched back to their proper “bodies,” it seems). Things go from bad to worse when black-suit Superman flies in to catch them, then we fade to black.
Up next: It looks like we could have a Superman vs. Superman face-off, as the proto-Justice League of Earth 1 tries to prove it’s worthy of doing battle with that looming mystery threat.