[Warning: this story contains spoilers from Monday’s episode of Supergirl, “Star-Crossed,” and Tuesday’s episode of The Flash, “Duet.”]
Now that is how you do a musical episode of TV.
The CW’s DC Comics roster of Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow constantly prove time and time again that they know how to handle a shared TV universe. Marvel TV could certainly learn a thing (or a million) from DC TV, but that’s a conversation for another day. We’re here to talk about some singing superheroes!
What Greg Berlanti’s Arrow-verse accomplished tonight is something that most long-running TV shows have struggled with at some point over the course of their onscreen lives: how to produce a successful TV musical episode. Buffy the Vampire Slayer practically wrote the book on it, Grey’s Anatomy tanked it (don’t even get me started), Supernatural threw an actual, literal party for it, and now—after years of begging the showrunners to make it happen—the time has finally come for the world’s most musically-talented superheroes to attempt it with “Duet.”
And it. Was. Perfect. I laughed. I cried. I danced in my seat. I sang along. I clapped. And by the time the episode ended I was already asking for more. If The Flash and Supergirl teamed up for a musical episode every year, that still wouldn’t be enough. Hey, if Crazy Ex-Girlfriend can pull off a musical every week, it’s not impossible. And we all know the cast can handle it!
We could go on and on about how Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist had the talent and the right background to carry such a high-concept episode, but that’s not why “Duet” worked so well (although it didn’t hurt). The main reason why this was such a successful endeavor for both shows is the big twist at the very end. It turned out that the Music Meister (Gustin and Benoist’s fellow Glee alum Darren Criss) came to National City and then Central City to find and help Barry and Kara get back together with their respective exes. He wasn’t a villain after all! He just wanted to teach the two superheroes a lesson about love (and teach a PTSD-ridden Kid Flash/Wally West [Keiynan Lonsdale] a lesson about overcoming his fears). It was all about loooooove!
It was such a delightful surprise to see that the showrunners took a positive turn with the story. It would have been so easy for Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, etc. have Barry and Kara physically fight and defeat a villainous Music Meister, lock him up, and go back to their separate universes to deal with their broken hearts in subsequent episodes. Instead they had to “follow the script” of the movie musical they were trapped in inside their minds, which resulted in Kara learning how to forgive her boyfriend Mon-El (Chris Wood) for lying about his royal background and Barry learning that no matter what the future held with Savitar’s prophecy, he and Iris (Candice Patton) would face it together as an engaged couple. It was a happy ending for both our heroes and the audience, who have had to go along with such dark and depressing seasons for both The Flash and Supergirl.
a lot of every single comic book TV show there is, good or bad (I’m even determined to finish Iron Fist), and the reflex to make the characters of comic book stories dark and brooding can feel downright exhausting at times. Some claim it’s an over-saturation of the comic book genre (you’ll never hear me say that, for the record), but it may be more accurate to point to the excess of “gritty” comic book shows and movies specifically.
Most comic books are—by design—light, bright, and fun! That’s why, when The Flash and Supergirl both premiered, I became reinvested in the genre; I thought we were moving towards an exciting future of lighter comic book fare. Even the colors were brighter! But this season, both CW series have taken after their parent show Arrow a little too much. But this episode returned the series back to their basics, letting Barry and Kara heal their broken hearts while also strengthening them as individual people outside of romantic relationships.
And most of all, it was damn funny.
From all the ad-libbed one-liners Barry and Kara shot back-and-forth at each other, to the pun-filled tap dance routine Barry and Kara shared, to the Wizard of Oz-like doppelgängers running around the musical dream world, “Duet” reminded us all of what these two shows can be when they’re at their best. Hopefully the showrunners were reminded of this as well. No matter what Barry and Kara face as they hurtle towards some no doubt game-changing season finales, let’s keep them optimistic. Even as they face the hardest obstacles of their lives, don’t change their core character DNA. For every Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), there should be a Barry Allen or Kara Zor-El.
Now, let’s rank all the songs from the episode, shall we?
5. “More I Cannot Wish You” – Victor Garber, Jesse L. Martin, and John Barrowman
This Guys and Dolls song was a sweet addition to the episode, sang by Iris and Mon-El’s “dads” as they were entangled in a West Side Story/Romeo and Juliet love story/gang war. Iris’ dads were Legends of Tomorrow‘s Dr. Stein’s musical doppelgänger and The Flash‘s Joe’s, and Mon-El’s “father” was Arrow villain Malcolm Merlyn’s doppelgänger. First off, Barry’s shock over seeing Stein and Joe as a couple leading to their menacing, “Got a problem with that?” and his reply of, “I love musicals,” was perfect. Then watching these three talented Broadway performers absolutely crush it with the vocals and emotion needed to pull this song off was a treat. The only reason why this is ranked last out of all the performances from the episode? Because, by design of a ranked list, one had to be last. It’s that simple.
4. “Moon River” – Melissa Benoist
Major props to Benoist for being able to play both Kara’s confusion as she was thrown into this 1920’s musical world out of nowhere and giving a performance worthy of Audrey Hepburn at the same time. Add to that her moment of recognizing the real Barry Allen was also in this weird new world with her and still finishing her song, and it was a master class in acting. Plus, Benoist’s voice and charm really got to shine in this solo. It was the perfect song to lead us all into this wacky episode.
3. “Runnin’ Home to You” – Grant Gustin
Oh man, Gustin really brought the heart and soul in this solo number, didn’t he? The only musical moment in the episode to happen in the “real world” as Barry proposed to Iris (again) after learning his lesson and waking up from the Music Meister’s spell, the scene was simple. Barry queued up the music on his phone and performed only for Iris to show her how much he loved her. This was the exact moment when I cried (I’m a sucker for ballads, and I’m not even sorry). Although Iris, honey, that look of extreme surprise on your face when Barry pulled out the ring? A little much. He literally did that to you one episode ago! I think I laughed way too hard at this, and that took me out of the moment at the very end.
2. “Super Friend” – Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist
Could you tell that this was written by Crazy Ex-Girlfriend‘s Rachel Bloom? Full of puns, one-liner jokes and adorably charming and quirky rhymes, the tap-dancing and sheer joy shared by Barry and Kara made this song one of the episode’s best. It was the first moment that the superheroes accepted their mission and gave in to the “script” of the musical, and the unadulterated enjoyment of their predicament despite their lack of control really showed. Did you know Barry and Kara loved musicals? You’ll never forget it now. Bonus points for Gustin and Benoist actually tap-dancing during filming—as a seasoned tap dancer myself, there’s nothing that irks me more than seeing actors “fake” tap-dancing and knowing that the sounds don’t line up with their movements.
1. “Put a Little Love In Your Heart” – Jeremy Jordan, Carlos Valdes, John Barrowman, and Darren Criss
But the best number of the entire episode by far was the big dance number in which the Music Meister foreshadows his big plan for Barry and Kara (seriously, how did we not see his big love lesson twist coming after this song literally spells it out?!). After explaining how he had “whammied” them into their own minds and they needed to follow the script to wake back up, he kicked things off with a jaunty little number that showcased the musical talents of not only himself, but also Supergirl‘s Jeremy Jordan, The Flash‘s Carlos Valdes and Arrow/Legends‘ Barrowman. The pure shock alone of watching Legion of Doom member Malcolm Merlyn sing and twirl with two ladies was a standout moment, but watching Barry start to dance along because he just couldn’t help it and hearing him tell-off the Music Meister for taking off his jacket before starting the song were also pretty amazing.
However, the biggest takeaway from the episode? Convincing people to do things in musicals is pretty easy. Lesson learned.
What did you think of the big musical crossover with The Flash and Supergirl? Let’s talk about it! Tweet me your thoughts and favorite moments at @SydneyBucksbaum.
Images: The CW
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. and The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.