WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week's episodes of Supergirl and Arrow, the first two parts of "Crisis on Earth-X," which premiered Monday, Nov. 27, on The CW.
In a political climate in which an innocuous cartoon frog is transformed into a hate symbol, and neo-Confederates and white nationalists carry torches through an American city while chanting "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us," The CW's 2017 Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" seems particularly timely. However, its depiction of a parallel Earth on which the Nazis won World War II and produced evil counterparts to such heroes as Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash, also struck a nerve with some viewers, who thought this alternate reality felt a little too real.
The lines are further blurred by having Supergirl star Melissa Benoist pull double duty as the Nazi Overgirl, and Stephen Amell play both Green Arrow and Dark Arrow. Although The Flash star Grant Gustin promised the two-night event wouldn't be as bleak as we might expect, given the subject matter -- indeed, Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak parrot Indiana Jones in the promos, declaring, "Nazis? I hate Nazis!" as Stormtroopers rush in -- neither does the crossover ignore the more sobering echoes of current events.
On this week's episode of Supergirl, Part 1 of "Crisis on Earth-X," Nazi forces led by Dark Arrow, Overgirl and Prometheus crash the wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West, leading to the expected fight with the heroes in attendance. The fast-paced battle leaves little time for reflection, but once the guests are safe and the invaders momentarily pushed back, the heroes regroup at S.T.A.R. Labs to lock up the captured Prometheus, tend to the wounded and ask some burning questions -- beginning with who those Nazis are, and what they want.
"If I know my history," says Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), "ethnic cleansing, world domination." Jax Jackson (Franz Drameh) adds, "Make America Aryan Again." It's an obvious nod to Donald Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America Great Again," which has taken on a social media life of its own as #MAGA, an acronym accompanying everything from presidential tweets to political parodies to white-nationalist screeds.
Jax's comment is punctuated first by Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker), who says, "Which it never was," and then by Iris West (Candice Patton), ready with her own Twitter-friendly "Hashtag melting pot."
But it's Martin Stein (Victor Garber) who underscores the political commentary by noting that these mysterious intruders "support a cause that was defeated over 70 years ago." It's an echo of observations made in August as startling footage was broadcast of the Unite the Right rally, the event in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in violence as protestors clashed with counter-protestors. Dozens were injured, and one counter-protestor was killed when a crowd was rammed by a car driven by a man linked to white-supremacist groups.
And on Arrow, the second part of "Crisis on Earth-X," Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) arrives at her own conclusion to the ethical debate that gripped the internet not so long ago: Not only is it OK to punch a Nazi, it's apparently fun. "Punching Nazis," she says. "That was definitely as satisfying as I thought it would be!"
The four-part "Crisis on Earth-X" concludes Tuesday, Sept. 28, on The Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow.