The Flash Season 5 Episode 9 Review: Elseworlds, Part One

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Here’s my pitch: We cancel the individual Arrowverse shows. Instead, we run with a brand new series called Elseworlds. It plays three nights a week, and we get to see all our favorite superheroes team up together and defeat evil from every earth imaginable.

Like The Avengers, but without Thanos!

OK, maybe having all our heroes in one place on a weekly basis would end up somewhat akin to celebrating Christmas every day—the magic would eventually be lost on us.

A girl can dream though, right?

Welcome Back to Smallville! - The Flash Season 5 Episode 9

It’s not to say that Arrowverse shows can't stand on their own two legs. This season, Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash all have all been delivering quality storylines. But there is something so specifically magical about getting to watch these characters’ cross paths with each other.

Even if it only happens once and awhile.

Related: Elseworlds Trailer: Time for a Reality Check!

A crossover has yet to let me down completely, but Elseworlds (although only one episode into the three-night event) has a special gravitas the previous crossovers lacked. Whether it’s the lighter tone, the slower pace, or the incredibly clever concept—Elseworlds is shaping up to be the best superhero event The CW has done yet.

When the concept was first revealed, I thought the formula would be business as usual: An especially evil villain suspiciously appears. The team in danger calls upon other heroes. The heroes beat the villain, and everybody goes home.

Things are unfolding a little differently this time. Yes, per usual, a mysterious evil is attempting to alter the course of the universe and therefore must be stopped.

Except even though the standard larger goal remains, the story reaches beyond its basic structure to delve into something much more fascinating: the inner psyches of our heroes.

Iris and Barry Take Two - The Flash

The premise is not just Oliver with speed and Barry with strength. The two men aren’t simply dressing up in each other’s suits and going through the motions (even though watching them go through the motions is quite hilarious). It's more than that. Through living each other’s realities, they are ultimately experiencing and manifesting each other's personality traits.

We’ve seen Future!Barry evil as Savitar, but we’ve never seen this version of Barry – our Barry – uncover this kind of darkness from inside himself. The same kind of darkness and trauma that drives Oliver as the Green Arrow. 

Barry's not just leading, dressing and fighting like the Green Arrow; he is becoming the Green Arrow. For the first time, Barry Allen is using anger to drive his power, and it's making him strong in ways we've never witnessed before. 

Getting Information - The Flash Season 5 Episode 9

On the other side of that same coin, Oliver is learning how happiness can steer him into becoming a better Flash. Oliver’s life has consisted of almost nothing but pain and suffering, so watching innate positivity amplify his power is relatively shocking, even if it is also quite enjoyable. 

The switch honestly plays like it could be what’s best for both characters. 

But...what if it isn’t? 

Related: The Flash Season 5 Episode 8 Review: What's Past is Prologue

We hear Dr. John Deegan speak at the beginning of the episode about how “some people just get lucky" and are "born super." Later, we hear Oliver accuse Barry of being lucky and falling into his power. But what if it isn’t all random chance? What if it’s destiny, instead?

What if that pain Barry allows to surface destroys who he is at his core? What if Oliver gets lost in the lighthearted nature of pretending to be Barry Allen? Playing a part is one thing, but losing your entire identity? That could change everything.

Barry and Oliver are essentially direct foils for one another. What defines one, is the opposite of what defines another. 

So what are the consequences when that reality shifts? It's both a question and worry brought up to Barry by Iris, and if I've learned anything after watching five years of The Flash, it's always listen to what Iris West Allen has to say.

The REAL Barry Allen - The Flash Season 5 Episode 9

One of the best aspects of this crossover so far is the pacing of the story.

The Flash Season 5 Episode 9 was almost entirely built around Oliver and Barry discovering their new identities and attempting to figure out how to use them. A bigger evil hovers, but nothing too intrusive was brought in, taking away from the focus.

Slowing the story down allowed for a few things.

It allowed the audience time to get used to the switch between Oliver and Barry. It gave ample screentime for introducing a new (and lovely) character Lois Lane. It clearly and precisely set up the bigger overarching plotline of the event. It provided plenty of breathing room for characters to catch up with one another and play around with relationships that only cross paths once a year.

More than anything, it allowed us to laugh. A lot. 

Action is fun, but because we’ve already spent so many years watching these heroes take down bad guys, sometimes we just want to watch them have a good time together.

And a good time was most definitely had. 

A Family Reunion - The Flash Season 5 Episode 9

It’s clear the actors had a blast filming this event and were thrilled to be working together. There's no doubt they all love being TV superheroes, but just like with any other career, when you do the same thing with the same people for years on end, things can turn monotonous.

A crossover like Elseworlds allows these actors to spice things up, play with new dynamics, and approach their characters from new and different angles. When an actor loves what they're doing, that excitement flies off the screen. I haven’t seen excitement like this for quite some time.

These actors are like kids in a candy store, and I am loving every single second of it. 

A New Threat Emerges - The Flash Season 5 Episode 9

Random Thoughts:

  • Part of what makes these crossovers so spectacular is the attention to detail. John Wesley Shipp in his original Flash suit was one of those details.
  • Filming at the actual Kent farm from Smallville, as well as the integration of the theme song, was such a lovely and subtle tribute to the old CW series. Does this mean that we might be getting a Superman and Lois Lane spin-off sometime in the future? Let’s hope so!
  • Speaking of Lois Lane, we finally got to meet her! I was worried about a newbie playing such an iconic character, but her chemistry with Clark was spot on.
  • Tyler Hoechlin is phenomenal as both Clark Kent and Superman. While in the past, certain actors have been able to embody one or the other, Hoechlin is able to nail them both with flawless balance.

Related: Arrow Season 7 Episode 8 Review: Unmasked

  • I officially forgive The Flash for their lack of West Allen during the 100th episode, because they gave me all I could want and more in Elseworlds. A "love" touch, a lightning rod reference, a beautiful balcony scene. It doesn’t get better than this, West Allen shippers.
  • Candice Patton was phenomenal in this episode. So funny, so engaging, so earnest in her performance. She really is such a multifaceted actress, and I think that tends to go undervalued, as does Iris as a character in general. I’m disappointed she won’t be in much more of the crossover.
  • This episode had me laughing out loud probably more than I have ever laughed at an Arrowverse show. Just complete effortless humor. 

Related: Supergirl Season 4 Episode 8 Review: Bunker Hill

I am enthralled with this event, and loving every second! The writing is so snappy and the concept is so inventive, they've really stepped it up this year!

I can’t wait to see the repercussions of Barry and Oliver switching lives. I’m so interested to see what part Batwoman will play in all of this. And what's up with Dark!Superman?

What about you, Fanatics? Sound off with your thoughts below, and if you missed the crossover's first installment, you can watch The Flash online, right here at TV Fanatic!

Also, don’t forget to check in with Brandon Vieira and Lizzy Buczack, who will be covering the Arrow and Supergirl portions of the event!

Elseworlds, Part One Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (52 Votes)

Kat Pettibone is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Flash Season 5 Episode 9 Quotes

Barry: If you touch her-
Oliver: I didn't touch her!
Barry: You thought about it!

Iris: You, Barry Allen, have always been and will always be, the man that I love.
Barry: No matter what mask I wear I will always show you my true face.
Iris: I need you to promise me something, Barry. Promise me that when we figure out who did this to you and when you get your speed back and you're finally back in my arms, that you'll come back to me.
Barry: Of course I'll come back.
Iris: Barry I heard what you said right before you took that shot. You're the Green Arrow now. But please don't become Oliver Queen.