It's here, DCTV fans! "Elseworlds" aired its Gotham-set second episode tonight, and it was chock full of Easter eggs.
Last season, "Crisis on Earth-X" was very much a movie that had to fit into a TV format. This season, it seems more like each installment of "Elseworlds" will be a very special episode of the show in question, leaving the writers and producers a lot of room to have fun with the Easter eggs and references.
There were a lot, and we had cable issues pretty much throughout our staff (yay, living on the East coast in winter time), so we're gonna run them down here and hope we got at least most of them.
We are going to avoid repeating things that we wrote about yesterday, so stuff like the red skies, the Earth-90 Flash, and the first appearance of Batwoman herself? Read this story to get our thoughts on those. Even if it was cute that they repeated the same Freaky Friday/Quantum Leap joke.
So...check out what we spotted, let us know what we missed, and feel free to argue semantics with @russburlingame on Twitter!
Tonight's episode of Arrow began with Oliver Queen delivering his new, post-prison introduction at the start of the episode -- but it was the Oliver Queen of the Elseworlds reality -- which is to say, the character played by Grant Gustin.
That was a fun twist on the intro, which would not have worked last episode because they had not yet been "Freaky Fridayed" at the start of the episode.
They could, theoretically, have had John Wesley Shipp's Barry Allen deliver the traditional "My name is Barry Allen" speech, but it would have blown the reveal that he is in fact Barry and not Jay or someone else.
One has to wonder whether they tried to get Manu Bennett back as Deathstroke and could not manage it, but whether that is or is not the case, we got the return of Liam Hall as Joe Wilson, a mercenary who follows in his father's footsteps.
We met Joe last season on Arrow, during the storyline that also brought Roy Harper back for a short time before he left again with Thea Queen.
Here, we see him twice -- once in his regular identity, facing off with ARGUS agents in what likely would have been one of the most popular episodes of the season if it were happening as a main focus and not background noise for "Elseworlds" -- and then again as a police officer at the end of the episode alongside Malcolm Merlyn (more on him later) and Ricardo Diaz.
Crisis on Earth-X
Speaking of Deathstroke II, if that overpass looked familiar it's likely because they shot that fight in the same situation as one of the big battles from last year's crossover, "Crisis on Earth-X."
That isn't quite as on-the-nose as last year, when Supergirl took out some Dominators in an establishing shot, but close.
In the comics, Vesper Fairchild was a radio talk show host who became romantically involved with Bruce Wayne.
She was shot and killed by master assassin David Cain, who was acting on orders from Lex Luthor (then President of the United States), to frame Wayne. Her death led to Batman briefly abandoning his Bruce Wayne identity.
Given that she is still alive in the Arrowverse, we can safely rule out her death and/or being framed as the reason for Bruce's disappearance.
"Nobody talks about Gotham"
The idea that everything in Gotham City has been going on this whole time, and it just never came up, is kind of a silly idea, but it works well enough.
Certainly, the episode embraced it. The outside world does not seem to know about Bruce Wayne's disappearance, and Batman is still considered an urban myth...but even beyond that, Oliver says that the city being such a mess is "why nobody talks about Gotham."
Man, Oliver's face is going to be so red when he sees what Star City is like in the flash-forwards.
Nolan and Burton
Has anybody else noticed that the font being used on all the "Elseworlds" ads is the same font (including color scheme) from the 1989 Batman movie?
Or that the bat-signal and Wayne Enterprises logo bears a striking resemblance to the one from The Dark Knight?
Well, chalk all that up to one of the fights taking place at the corner of Nolan and Burton, continuing the long-running Arrowverse trend of naming things (often streets, especially on The Flash) after creators who have contributed to the mythos.
This could also be a minor callback to an episode of Batman: The Animated Series in which a group of kids talked about the urban legend of Batman and each of them identified with a different "version" of him, with the kids being named after famous Bat-creators.
It seems like a likely assumption, after Kate offered to help them with "one of Bruce's R&D guys," who still has an office in the dilapidated building.
Quantum Flux Anchor
This is a longshot, but the "Quantum flux anchor" being used to draw the breaches to them feels a little bit like it might be an early beta version of the "cosmic tuning forks" that appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, then popped back up again in Dark Nights: Metal.
The Shakespeare bust, spotted in Kate's office and even pointed out by Kara, was a nice touch: that is the lever used by the 1966 Batman, the first one to really take TV by storm, to open the poles to the Batcave.
As we have long suspected based on offhand comments made on Supergirl, Earth-38 has a Batman/Bruce Wayne of its own, and he is friends with Clark Kent/Superman.
He is, apparently, not missing in action as ours is.
Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin), Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy), Edward Nigma (The Riddler), Basil Karlo (Clayface), and Marc Guggenheim, who wrote the episode and served as the "Elseworlds" showrunner.
Among the items hidden away in the Arkham evidence room are Bane's mask from The Dark Knight Rises, a pair of sunglasses that look like they belong to Hugo Strange, The Riddler's cane (which looks quite a bit like the one Jim Carrey used in Batman Forever), The Penguin's umbrella, and more.
...And, of course, we get Scarecrow's fear toxin, which gives our heroes vivid hallucinations that fuel the next scene.
Anything you can spot that we didn't name?
We get the first appearance of Malcolm Merlyn since his death at the end of season five here...as well as a quick cameo by the Reverse-Flash, whom we saw last week in The Flash's 100th episode.
Both go after the "wrong" guy for reasons relating to their powers and reality being rewritten, which makes them somewhat less effective at the psychological attacks they are launching.
The fight, though, feels a little like an issue of Superman from the 1990s, when Clark Kent was passing through Fawcett City and Superman and Captain Marvel/Shazam both managed to see the other as a dangerous foe (Black Adam and Cyborg Superman), and fought over it until Jonathan and Martha Kent broke it up.
Nora Fries was one of the characters created originally for the Batman: The Animated Series. In what is largely one of the most critically acclaimed episodes of the entire run, "Heart of Ice," she was used to give Mr. Freeze a more relatable and humanizing backstory. In the show, she was terminally ill and cryogenically frozen by her husband while he searched for a cure. Her tube was apparently shut down by the CEO of the project, which drove Fries to become Freeze, seeking revenge. In his 40-year history before that, he had no ties to humanity, and Nora and his backstory were soon added to the comics (and subsequent adaptations).
It seems possible that via either an experiment by Dr. John Deegan (Jeremy Davies) or some other "Elseworlds"-related means, she is out of her tube...or maybe there was a cure? Either way, she is also pretty crazy, and was an inmate at Arkham before being sprung by Deegan. She ultimately squared off with The Flash, Killer Frost, and Green Arrow.
Supergirl and Batwoman talk things over and decide that they might make the "world's finest" team, a nod to the long-running series featuring Superman and Batman.
(And, yes, The Flash and Supergirl's first crossover episode was titled "Worlds' Finest.)
The Book of Destiny
As we had previously speculated, John Deegan is a version of the villain Doctor Destiny, and the book that the Monitor provides him with is the Book of Destiny, which can be used to alter the fabric of space and time.
It is not yet clear, other than the possibility that it is part of The Monitor's plan, what makes the book ineffective against Oliver and Barry's minds, but it will be interesting to see how that all shakes out now that neither of them have Barry's powers and they are facing an evil Superman.
Jim Lee, DC's co-publisher and chief creative officer, provided a sketch of The Monitor, John Deegan, and the Gotham City skyline for the crossover.
Yesterday, we suggested that it could be the George Perez Monitor sketch that his character description originally promised, but it seems likely that Perez did not get the sketch turned around fast enough or perhaps the story changed and they needed a different image.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
In the most on-the-nose indication that they are building to Crisis on Infinite Earths yet, the Earth-90 Flash warns of a "Crisis" that is coming, and the Monitor talks about someone who is "far more powerful than I" and who seeks to destroy the whole multiverse.
This is almost certainly a nod to the Anti-Monitor, the villain of Crisis and the one who killed both Supergirl and The Flash in the comics.
After making their way to Gotham, meeting Batwoman, and dealing with a variety of challenges in the gritty, crime-ridden former home of Batman, Barry (Grant Gustin), Oliver (Stephen Amell), and Kara (Melissa Benoist) manage to get their hands on the mysterious Book of Destiny and bring it back to Argus. However, The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) shows up and, even with the assistance of the Barry Allen from Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp) he retrieves the book, delivering it back to John Deegan who makes changes to reality yet again. Next we see of Barry and Oliver? They're dressed identically with newspaper headlines declaring them to be wanted criminals known as The Trigger Twins.
Fans of the Arrowverse suspected that The Trigger Twins would make their appearance in the crossover after set photos revealed Barry and Oliver dressed in those matching outfits with the Twins' symbol embossed in the back of the jacket, but it wasn't completely clear how the show would tackle the characters. In comics, the modern version of Trigger Twins were Tom and Tad Trigger. Introduced in Detective Comics #667 in 1993, the pair meet when they attempt to rob the same bank at the same time. Taken by how much they look alike, they end up working together to complete the robbery and escape.
The black Superman costume has been used several times -- notably in a bleak fantasy sequence in Man of Steel, but in the comics, it has been used by both Superman himself (as a recovery suit tied to Kryptonian technology after he came back from the dead) and by Superboy-Prime, a notorious villain with ties to Crisis on Infinite Earths who believed his way to be "better."
It is possible that Deegan will serve as a version of Superboy Prime, although it is more likely he will be reverted to himself when all is said and done.