DC Comics fans have been waiting for the Supergirl crossover with The Flash for months. Yes, that’s nowhere near as long as the almost three-year span Batman v Superman fanatics endured, but CBS and CW viewers still had to wait. They started waiting in November, when rumors first broke of a possible appearance by Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) in the world of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), S.T.A.R. Labs and the rogues gallery. They were still waiting when producer Greg Berlanti fielded questions in January, saying he “would love it” without confirming or denying anything. And now? “Worlds Finest,” the eighteenth entry in Supergirl‘s 20-episode first season, has finally arrived and it’s wonderful.
With a story by Berlanti and a script co-written by Supergirl and The Flash regulars Michael Grassi and Andrew Kreisberg, “Worlds Finest” delivers the superhero (and supervillain) team-up that the audience wanted, and then some. Like the Legends of Tomorrow premiere, which produced just enough cheese to appease comic book fans, Arrow and The Flash viewers, and anyone else who might like a show about time-traveling heroics, “Worlds Finest” manages to balance just enough narrative closure and development with its advertised promise — Danvers and Allen joining forces for a time. There’s plenty of cheese to go around, of course, but that hasn’t hurt Berlanti’s widening DC Comics television universe so far. (Lactose intolerant audience members notwithstanding.) How about another slice?
The premise is quite simple. At the end of last week’s “Manhunter,” Siobhan Smythe (Italia Ricci) discovered her ability to emit a high frequency series of shock waves via her mouth. In other words, she could scream really, really loud. After a brief round of testing at the Department of Extranormal Operations, Smythe attacks Kara at Cat Grant’s (Calista Flockhart) office. Her sonic blast disorients Kara and knocks her out of the building, sending her gravity’s way until… the Flash suddenly blasts into this particular earth, saves Kara from what everyone else thought was certain death and whisks her away to safety.
Even if you’re familiar with the multiverse theory posited by The Flash, that bit about “this particular earth” might be confusing. As for Supergirl viewers who aren’t as nerdy as those who tune in to The CW a couple of times a week, it’s probably really confusing. Before I explain myself, here’s a GIF:
Okay, still with me? As Barry explains later in the episode, several different versions of earth exist in the same plane of space, but they neither interact or interfere with each other since each one vibrates at a different frequency. Because the Flash can move fast enough to detect and manipulate these frequencies, he can sometimes cross from one earth to the next. Hence why this narrative conceit has become a major factor in The Flash‘s second season. As for Supergirl, this is the first time its CBS audience has encountered the idea — all they’ve ever known are aliens, more aliens and the occasional human antagonist with a few modifications.
Despite these complications, Berlanti, Grassi and Kreisberg weave them together with expert precision, rendering “Worlds Finest” into a succinct episode of television that’s more fun than anything. Benoist and Gustin’s chemistry is palpable, especially because their characters’ friendship begins from a lack of understanding rather than one of misunderstanding. Batman v Superman begins with misunderstanding, hence why Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) so badly wants to kill the Superman (Henry Cavill). Meanwhile, “Worlds Finest” is the complete opposite — Supergirl and the Flash don’t know who each other are, and they don’t understand much of what’s happening when they first meet, but that doesn’t lead to an immediate fight.
Instead, Kara and her friends offer to help Barry return to his earth. And when Smythe (as the Silver Banshee) and previous villain Livewire (Brit Morgan) join forces against Supergirl, the Flash willingly stalls his return trip in order to fight in the ensuing battle. Yes, the heroes are competitive, but Kara and Barry’s constant need to out-do each other comes off as a few playful rounds of flirtation between new friends. The possibility of anything even remotely resembling a fight occurring between these two never rears its unwanted head. They’re just having some fun — and taking on a few big baddies while they’re at it.
So were the writers, because when Barry meets Cat Grant for the first time, the media conglomerate calls it like she sees it and throws some playful shade between the networks:
“All four of you standing there, doing nothing. You look like the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.”
Watching two superheroes challenge each other to a race is fantastic. It’s the kind of thing that happened in the comics all the time, and thanks to CBS and The CW, fans got to see it come to life of those very pages. But the networks getting all meta with one another via a jokey, fun challenge like this? That’s just great television.