‘The Flash’ 4×08 Review: ‘Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3’

There aren’t enough good things that can be said about this year’s Arrowverse mega crossover. From my favorite ships journey to marriage to new relationships to the importance of heroes masked or not to the family that has been created in this universe, there are many reasons to love “Crisis on Earth-X.”

But I’m not someone that can silence my feelings. Especially in situations where honesty is required. Much like I wrote in my “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 1” review, this phenomenal crossover event was tainted by the inclusion of Nazis.

There are people out there that are all, “What’s the big deal? The crossover is showing that Nazis are bad and showing our heroes defeating Nazis.”

But here’s the thing, we don’t need this reminder of one of the darkest moments in human history or for this show to try and humanize Nazis through relationships. There is nothing human about Nazis other than they can be killed.

But perhaps the worst thing is that there was no real reason for Nazis to be included in this crossover. This crossover would’ve worked just as well — hell, better — with some other evil dopplegangers from another Earth. It never felt necessary for the inclusion of Nazis, which is one of the problems.

Not to mention, the lack of trigger warnings in “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3” was shocking. There were horrific shots of concentration camps, mass graves, and one of our own, Earth-X Felicity, nearly killed. Especially that mass grave scene. That was quite triggering. It was horrific. While some people might not feel it’s that big of a deal — that it’s just “entertainment” — stop and think about those people that this has affected personally.




I don’t count myself in that category. I’m not Jewish, and my family wasn’t affected by the Holocaust. But I’m disgusted for those people that have to watch this and deal with the ugly reality. This wasn’t something that this show made up. This event was real. The Holocaust was real. Nazis were real. The 6 million jewish lives lost were real.

I’m not asking you to change your opinion or how you felt about the crossover. I’m asking for you to understand that Nazis are a sensitive subject matter for a lot of people. To just have a little compassion. Something Nazis never had. We’re all better than that.

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. But just as you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m entitled to mine. You might not have minded the Nazis in the crossover. But I did. And this is my review. So I’m going to write how I feel. That’s sort of how this whole review thing works.

But let’s get to the good stuff, aka the stuff that doesn’t deal with Nazis that didn’t need to exist for this crossover to work. The good stuff, as in badass, non-superpowered, non-supermasked female heroes like Felicity and Iris kicking ass, Jax and Stein’s powerful father-son dynamic, Sara and Alex’s bond, and fighting for those you love.

Fighting For Those You Love

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This was the theme throughout the entirety of the crossover. I know that this review is specifically focused on “Part 3,” but I couldn’t go two reviews without getting to touch on this beautiful theme and how it was so brilliantly and heartbreakingly carried through the entire crossover event.

While this message certainly could’ve been delivered without the inclusion of Nazis, it was the driving force behind our heroes individual motivations. You had people fighting for the love of their life; you had people fighting for their family; you had people fighting for their team; you had people fighting for humanity. And no matter what your reason was, it was centered in love, which Sara once wisely said was “the most powerful emotion.” And it is.

There are some people that like to mock or complain about the focus of love in these superhero shows. Do these people watch any other television show, watch any movie, read any book, listen to any music? Most everything we do is because of love. Love is the single most important emotion that drives us as human beings. So you’re damn right it’s going to be a significant factor in this crossover event; in all of these shows past and moving forward.

I love all these heroes. I love watching them kick ass. I love those mind-blowing action and visual sequences. But more than that, I love the people that exist underneath the costumes. The costumed heroes that we watch on a weekly and nearly daily basis do not exist without the person underneath. And that person underneath is human. That person loves, loses, rises, falls, and finds purpose in living and purpose in serving as a hero.

Yes, that includes the all-important “love of my life.” Usually the complaints here stem more from personal ship preferences than anything. But such a big deal is made about that “love of my life” because it’s one of the central reasons why our hero is fighting. It doesn’t always have to be though. Sometimes family serves that role just as much if not better. Our heroes aren’t defined by one single love. There are usually several people that they love in different ways that inspire them to be courageous in the face of danger.

In “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3,” we saw our many heroes on Earth-X and Earth-1 fighting to protect those they love. Whether that were people like Oliver, Barry, and Alex fighting to get home to the people they love most in the world or Felicity and Iris using their love and courage to drive them to confront significant obstacles, love was the defining force in their motives.

Not All Heroes Wear Masks

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face. Never has a mask or a costume defined a hero. Heroes aren’t heroes because they have the suit or the codename. Heroes are heroes because of the actions that define them as so.

There are ordinary heroes that walk among us: soldiers, police, doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, teachers, you name it. They don’t have superpowers. Not unless you classify compassion as a superpower, which it actually could be. If the real-life heroes that walk among us don’t need powers to be super, why should we set a standard for fictional heroes?

Obviously superheroes are one of the biggest genres in Hollywood. The heroes that are focused on are the ones with the cool suit. It’s part of the hero persona. But that doesn’t mean that heroes are limited to those that are recognized. Sometimes, the best heroes are the ones that don’t get the glory but do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Felicity Smoak and Iris West are two of the most badass characters in the DCTV universe. They’re strong, independent, inspiring women that use their individual strengths — especially intelligent and intuition– as superpowers. They don’t need people to call them heroes. It doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t change the fact that both Felicity and Iris are superheroes.

They may not look like your typical hero or receive the glory and recognition — like Reverse Flash pointed out — but they’re still heroes. Heroes don’t do it for the glory. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if they get the recognition. All that matters is that they did what they needed to do to contribute to saving someone or the world.

With our masked friends at STAR Labs locked up by Nazis, Felicity and Iris — who had been told to hide — came out of the safety of wherever they were and took it upon themselves to save Kara, who was about to have her heart cut out of her chest by our band of evildoers. When they realized they wouldn’t be able to get the help of the others being imprisoned, Felicity and Iris didn’t hesitate to jump into action — using their skills, their superpowers — to try and save Kara. And, in the process, put their lives at risk. That’s the thing with heroes, they don’t think, they act. Consequences be damned. But the fact that it was someone they both care about — in Kara — it made the decision easy.

Felicity managed to hack STAR Labs to turn the power off to prevent Reverse Flash from cutting into Kara, and her and Iris dropped in to drag Kara to safety. While their escape plan came up short, they put their lives on the line to protect their friend. They showed bravery. They risked their lives. They don’t have superpowers. They don’t have a suit. But that doesn’t take away from their heroic actions.

Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are two very lucky men. Not only are they heroes, but the loves of their lives are also heroes.

Finding a Family

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One of my absolute favorite relationships in the DCTV universe is Jax and Stein, aka our wonderful Firestorm duo. The cool thing about their dynamic lies in how they’re connected through Firestorm. But it’s not Firestorm that’s the best thing about their dynamic: It’s their personal relationship founded in love and respect that has made for some incredible scenes through the years.

When Jax and Stein first became Firestorm, they were two people that were in search of a family figure. Jax grew up without having known his father. Martin never had children. Slowly, but surely, we watched as these two developed a beautiful father-son relationship that brought as many humorous moments as it did tear jerking ones.

But recently, things have changed. Stein now has a family. Not only does he have a daughter that’s still relatively new to his life, but he’s now a grandfather. Not to mention he has his lovely wife, Clarissa. Stein has been a Legend saving history for two-plus years. And he finally decided to hang up his hat. It was time for him to spend time with his family.

This was something that was actually Jax’s suggestion. But it was also something that he was clearly not excited about. This was the only father figure he’s ever known, someone who he’s grown used to being inside his head and knowing his thoughts leaving him. This wasn’t about losing Firestorm. This was about losing his father figure.

That’s what happens when you forge a bond; when you spend a couple years nearly inseparable; when you find a family you weren’t looking for but couldn’t imagine life without. Jax and Stein found each other at a time when they needed each other most. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Forming a Bond

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It was the ship heard ‘round the Arrowverse. Badass Legend Sara Lance and badass agent Alex Danvers had a one-night stand at Barry and Iris’ wedding — before the Nazis came and ruined everything — and it was the start of a wonderfully charismatic, humorous, and heartfelt dynamic.

I never expected this to become a legit relationship because of the logistics of everything. Supergirl. Legends of Tomorrow. Earth-1. Earth-3. I get it. But it was definitely one of those things that, come next crossover, you look forward to seeing again.

There wasn’t a lot of substance established in the first two episodes of the crossover event between Sara and Alex. It was more about the sexual tension, the flirting, the eye sex, the actual sex. But that only goes so far. Eventually you start craving some substance.

And that’s exactly what “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3” did. It not only gave us some substance in that dynamic, but it was so wonderfully paralleled that it made me even more invested. When our one group of heroes was stuck on Earth-X, Alex found herself panicked over the idea of losing Kara. To the point where you could see and hear her desperation as Sara tried to comfort her. It was the perfect opening for Sara to open up about the loss of her own sister. A shared connection. A lesson learned.

Sara revealed that Laurel’s death took her to a dark place that she had to fight her way back from. She vowed to not let what happened to her and Laurel happen to Alex and Kara. And you know what, I believed her. Alex believed her.

But the heart-to-heart didn’t stop there. Both Sara and Alex have dealt with breakups and struggled with this inner struggle to go running back to their exes because they want to feel that safety; they want to feel that comfort; they want to feel alive; they want to feel that love. But they admitted that it isn’t necessarily what’s best for them as individuals. That there has to be someone else out there for them.

Whether this is a real thing or becomes one of those amazing friendships, I love that this crossover introduced this dynamic. It would’ve been easy to use Sara and Alex for shock value. And at first it might’ve seemed that way. But they chose to unite these two powerful women by their shared experiences. And that’s the fundamental core of this entire Arrowverse — humanity.

13 Things About “Crisis on Earth-X, Part 3”

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  1. WHY COULDN’T STEIN JUST GET HIS DAMN RETIREMENT?!
  2. This crossover was everything that I’ve wanted. It managed to balance the heart and humor and action. It also balanced the many faces involved. THIS CROSSOVER WAS THE BEST YET. But…
  3. THE NAZIS have a taint on this crossover. It would’ve been fine without Nazis. Hell, it would’ve worked better without them. It just felt like shock value.
  4. WHY WERE THERE NO TRIGGER WARNINGS BEFORE THIS EPISODE? The mass graves. My God.
  5. Felicity Smoak and Iris West proving that you don’t need a mask to be a hero. Badass ladies represent.
  6. Jax and Stein’s dynamic has been one of my favorite things in the Arrowverse, and we got to see that in its beauty in this crossover. “I found a father.” “I found a son.” I FOUND MY INHALER.
  7. They made Earth-X Oliver Hitler, basically. Not a smart move. At all. Considering Felicity’s Jewish, Sara is bisexual, and so many other factors that make this such a bad idea.
  8. Can we stop with this Earth-X Kara and Oliver thing? It’s gross.
  9. Oliver will protect Felicity on any Earth. MY HEART.
  10. I got major Captain Canary feels in this episode even though it wasn’t Sara’s Leonard.
  11. Also got major Sarex feels. I love how it became more than the “hookup.” Sara and Alex shared a connection through the bonds of their sisters and through love and loss. It was beautiful.
  12. I’ve learned that I ship Sara with a lot of people.
  13. VICTOR GARBER KILLED ME.

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on the CW.

Alyssa Barbieri

Senior Managing Editor

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment. Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes. Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters. TV Editor and Sports Editor. I write about DCTV, This Is Us and so much more.
Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.

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