CW’s CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS [Part 2, Review.. Um.. Part 2]: Batman – The Anti-Monitor Series.

“Great Rao” Bass @kidtimebomb

It’s Brother Bass, the Anti-Bexar, blasting in with parallel reactions from the same Earth!

-First of all, this was a 500-EPISODE MILESTONE! If you add up all the episodes from this entire mad saga that kicked off with the Arrow pilot airing on October 10th, 2012, race Barry Allen through five-and-a-half seasons of The Flash, chase the Legends of Tomorrow around the timestream, let Supergirl inspire you to be your best, battle systemic oppression in Freeland with Black Lightning, and then just barely get started here with Batwoman in Gotham City, then this shared continuity has reached the 500-episode mark…

Folks come out of the woodwork every year to praise these annual crossovers, and rightly so, but this sustained multi-year narrative has really accrued into something that hits me as hard as all that MCU fun at the multiplex. Though let’s wait until another time to properly compare these 200 episodes with those 23 movies. On to the 500th episode itself! Worlds will live! Worlds will die!

White Canary (Caity Lotz), Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), and Batwoman (Ruby Rose) all getting together to toast Oliver’s memory is a quality way to open up the episode. It’s a good character moment and nice bit of mirror-symmetry that Kara and Kate both wind up abstaining in this opening scene only to share a drink at the end of the episode after their adventure.

Yes to more paychecks!

Mick Rory is never more effective than when used for light comic relief, and he certainly shows up here early on as a nanny for Jonathan Kent.

-As soon as Lyla starts stumbling around hearing voices, everyone who’s read the original knows what tomorrow night’s cliffhanger is going to be.

-Barry’s big idea to use multiversal Lazarus Pits to resurrect his friend is so on-brand for this version of the character that my daughter and I had to stop and just laugh at his earnest sweet face for a couple minutes. Barry, you caused Flashpoint and turned Diggle’s daughter Sara into a little boy named JJ, who grows up to do really quite horrible things! Will you never learn? My man has not come very far since his instant-reaction strategy after learning that he’s going to die on December 10th: Just run to December 11th and find out what happens! Time travel is easy and consequence-free.

So who brought this little runt?

Once again, in the time-honored DC-crossover tradition, a bunch of random team-ups to multiple earths happen, and this round has great chemistry:

  • Sara & Mia join Barry on his foolproof plan.
  • Kara & Kate go to a future Wayne Manor where we longtime fans finally get Kevin Conroy, the man who has logged hundreds of episodes as the voice of the Caped Crusader across Bruce Timm’s animated Batman and Justice League series. It’s so so strange hearing that voice come out of a human being. A wonderful casting choice.
  • Lois & Clark are off to find Paragon of Truth and stumble into another Easter egg with Earth-75 doing the Superman #75 cover. I should have seen that coming.
  • Matt Ryan continues to steal every scene he’s ever in as John Constantine.
  • I was never a Smallville fan, but it’s hard to find fault with any aspect of Tom Welling’s contentment. His face at the commercial break when confronted with Cryer instead of Rosenbaum is a legend all on its own. And another crazy multiversal wink bringing Erica Durance in to reprise her original role as Lois after playing Allura last night.
  • Brandon Routh back in glasses as Clark Kent is sublime. It was always his best role. I have really loved Tyler Hoechlin these past seasons in his guest-star spots, but when you see him up next to Routh, the physique isn’t even close. Their battle across the skies of Metropolis is one for the ages. Bringing in the John Williams score from the Reeves/Donner films is such a perfect decision.
  • That penultimate section of the episode is less than three minutes long but lasts forever in the best way. Conroy in the cave. Mercy.
  • I assumed having Ray Palmer leave at the end of last season of Legends was to clear him out of the way for Routh not to have to stand next to himself in the middle of all this, but it’s so weird and wild for the producers just to run up and embrace it head-on instead.
  • Ruby Rose really shows up this week. We’re only eight episodes in to her story but already invested enough that seeing the picture of her and her sister who’s completely fine in another timeline was a nice jarring shock. It is unfortunate that she now has the seed of mistrust planted within her.
  • And the big antagonist reveal at the end. This is the only aspect of tonight that isn’t a slam-dunk for me. I don’t know how you can give Tom Cavanagh the exact Pariah costume but then switch it up so much here. I wish the Anti-Monitor looked 99% like the original George Perez design and not 65% like The Night King. That’s a very perplexing call, but it’s good to have the same guy play them both.

We’ve already gotten so many iconic moments and character collisions and nostalgic callbacks, but there’s one more episode tonight before the agonizing wait. The CW Universe will never be the same!

-Rob Bass

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