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The Flash and Supergirl: Musical Crossover Review

On March 22, the CW Network aired its much-anticipated musical crossover of The Flash and Supergirl, two of its biggest superhero shows.  The shows’ respective leads, Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist, have musical backgrounds (they were both on Glee), as do many of the supporting cast members.  In this episode, “Duet,” the Fastest Man Alive and the Girl of Steel got the chance to sing and dance instead of fight, and it was well worth the wait.

The episode begins as Kara/Supergirl (Benoist) and Barry/the Flash (Gustin), both nursing brand-new broken hearts, are put into a trance by Darren Criss’s smug, dapper Music Meister. Unconscious in the “real world,” they end up in an illusion of a 1940s-style nightclub.  Barry sees Kara on the stage, serenading the clubbers with a pretty rendition of “Moon River.”

Barry and Kara recognize some other faces in the nightclub, both friends and foes. Kara’s friend Winn (Jeremy Jordan) and Barry’s sidekick Cisco (Carlos Valdes) are employees at the club, with straight-out-of-Jersey-Boys accents.  Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), a villain on the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, is a mobster who owns the club.  As Barry and Kara are trying to piece together what’s happening, the Music Meister himself appears and tells them that they’re stuck in an illusion of their own making, and that all they have to do to escape is reach the end of the story.  But he warns them that if they die in here, they die for real, too.  Then he breaks into song.

He leads Jordan, Valdes, and Barrowman in a full song-and-dance to “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”  Jordan’s and Valdes’s voices are both excellent, and I wish they got to sing a little more.

The Flash -- "Duet" -- FLA317b_0212b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Darren Criss as Music Meister, Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Flash — “Duet” — FLA317b_0212b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Darren Criss as Music Meister, Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kara and Barry, neither of whom has her or his superpowers, are suddenly kidnapped by another pair of mob bosses, identical to Barry’s adoptive father Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Legends of Tomorrow hero Stein (Victor Garber).  Their daughter, Millie, went missing and was last seen in the nightclub, and they demand that Barry and Kara look for her.  After a hilarious back-and-forth about which hero should be the one to kick in a hidden door, they find Millie.  She wasn’t kidnapped at all—she ran away with Tommy, the son of her dads’ rival mob boss, John Barrowman’s character.  Their love is forbidden, she warns.  Even worse, the star-crossed lovers look identical to Barry and Kara’s real-life exes, Iris and Mon-El.

Barry and Kara manage to convince “Millie” and “Tommy” to tell their parents about their relationship, and the responses are surprisingly forgiving.  Martin, Garber, and Barrowman’s characters sing “More I Cannot Wish You” from Guys and Dolls to their respective “kids.”  Martin’s voice is smooth and gorgeous while Barrowman belts out some high notes. As for Garber, he is much better at singing than he is at playing a menacing bad guy. The song concludes with pretty harmonies and acoustic guitar.

It turns out that the nicety was all just a big show (pun intended). As soon as their kids—and our heroes—are out of earshot, the mobsters vow that this means war.

Back in reality, the Music Meister assures the real Mon-El and Iris that if they love Kara and Barry enough, it just might be able to bring them back.  The real Cisco offers to use his psychic powers to transport Mon-El and Iris into the hallucination.

Oblivious to the impending fight, Barry and Kara start to “rehearse” for their first show at the club.   The song is “Super Friend,” an original written by Rachel Bloom of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fame.  The heroes’ duet is the best musical moment of the episode, complete with superhero puns, tap dancing, and Barry poking fun at Superman.  However, the mood is unfortunately killed—as are Barry and Kara, almost—in a shootout that suddenly ensues between the mobsters.  The real Mon-El and Iris appear just in time to see them lying wounded. The two rush over, declare their love for them, and basically “true-love’s-kiss” them back to reality.  The ending’s a little sappy, as the Music Meister reveals that he was on the heroes’ side all along.

This whole charade was meant to get them to realize that real love is worth fighting for.  Granted, his plan remains a little twisted—he did let them both get shot, after all—but Criss made for a refreshing antagonist.  I wish he got to sing a little more, too.

The episode ends with both reconciled couples returning home.  Barry gets to sing one last song: another original, a ballad called “Runnin’ Home to You” by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (the composers of La La Land).  He sings it to Iris while assuring her that he never wants to be without her again.  The song was very pretty, but by far the least showy number of the episode, which made sense given the intimacy of the moment.

Even though it was just an illusion, I would have liked to have seen the “musical” storyline end a little happier. The carnage between the warring mobsters was an incongruous way to end a musical that began with “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.”  But all in all, “Duet” was an excellent episode: funny, well-sung, and a welcome break from the doom and gloom that’s dominated The Flash’s third season.

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