Well, Hal Jordan isn’t dead, and has in fact been blasted to another universe--a universe filled with giant steam-powered robots! A change of pace from the usual, this episode actually looks good, graphically speaking! It also gives some backstory to the Anti-Monitor and is pretty fun although I still find the whole premise weak.
Play by play
So basically Hal was warped to another dimension right next to a planet. The episode begins with him burning up as he descends towards the planet even though he has no shield. He crashes into a city that looks like England during the industrial revolution and hears the passionate protesting of a woman, before a group of giant steam powered robots march to stop her. The robots have giant screens on their torsos showing the face of a monocle-wearing man with a heavy British accent, whose name is Nigel Thorton, and he is the totalitarian ruler of the planet whom the woman was protesting against. Before Nigel manages to silence the woman, he is interrupted by a man clad in armour and a jetpack who uses an arm canon to fire green energy at the robots and he saves the lady(with the help of Hal) and takes them to a giant airship.
The man’s name is Gil Broome, known as the “Steam Lantern” by the common people of the planet and the lady, his lover, is Rebecca. Apparently his armour was developed by Rebecca and is powered by the element “hardtofindium,” so named because...well, it’s hard to find. Hal learns from him that a previous Green Lantern came to this universe, a Green Lantern who wears a red shirt and a cape. He also tells Hal of the situation of his planet. Apparently the Anti-monitor paid them a visit and Gil sent him packing to our universe--or so he claims.
Hal, however, just wants to get back to our universe. He learns that, when the Anti-monitor was sent to our universe, it created a visible rip through space-time that can be opened by blasting energy at it. He decides to contact his team and learns from Steam Lantern that the only way to do so is to use equipment in Duke Nigel’s Lab, so they decide to sneak in and Hal contacts his old mates to help him widen the rip by blasting at it with energy from their side (they also discover the Duke has a fascination with the sun, a sun that appears to be dying). However, they’re spotted and come face to face with the Duke himself who claims that Gil stole his credit for saving the world.
After they flee back to the ship, Gil tells Hal, though not Rebecca, the truth: When the Anti-Monitor came to their universe Duke Nigel decided to make a deal with him to save his planet; he decided to help the Anti-monitor to travel to our universe if he left Nigel’s planet alone. Apparently this led to the rapid industrialization of the planet, and somehow during that time Gil Broome decided to save the world himself by attacking the Anti-Monitor at the same time as Nigel teleported him away, and, well, people got confused about what happened and thought Gil was their saviour and Duke Nigel is pissed off about it.
Despite this Hal still considers Gil a hero and they go ahead with their plan of blasting the rip with energy from both dimensions. However they are interrupted when Duke Nigel, who is on a helicopter this time, attacks the ship which leads to some heroics by the two Lanterns. This fight even shows off how little Nigel cares about the citizens as the damaged ship could have crashed onto the city were it not for Hal Jordan’s heroics. Unfortunately all ends in failure when the Duke manages to gain the upper hand and holds Gil and Rebecca hostage. He takes them back to his lab and makes Gil admit the truth to the world. Unfortunately for the Duke, despite this the people (and Rebecca) still love him. The Duke wonders why this is so and Hal explains to him that the people are scared of him and his giant robots which the oh-so-smart Duke couldn’t comprehend until the screens in his lab automatically start showing him videos of the public’s reactions to his robots, and he finally gets it.
Unfortunately this comes too late as the sun dies out and the next confession, this time from the Duke, comes in: before the Anti-Monitor left the planet, he consumed most of the energy of the planet’s star. This leads to everyone completely giving up and joking about tea time until Hal gets the crazy idea of bringing the planet into our universe, with help from the Duke’s tech. They all team up and Hal using his ring and the Duke’s teleporter ray they manage to create a rip and completely move the planet into our universe, conveniently right next to a star. The episode ends with Hal, Gil and Rebecca drinking tea served by the Duke’s robots and Hal reassuring Kilowog via the Duke’s communications system that everything’s fine.
The villain of this plot is ridiculous. Well, actually the world of this universe is a problem, we learn nothing of it. We don’t know why Duke Nigel has power and we don’t know what the people thought of Duke Nigel before he became a totalitarian leader. We learn that the Duke made a deal with the Anti-monitor to build him a machine that would bring him to our universe and that this somehow is what led to the rapid industrialisation of the planet, but if this is so than why doesn’t everyone know what the Duke did?
I assumed that they worked together with him and new the plan. It’s either that or he made this deal in secret in which case the Duke forced this on the people but since we don’t know anything about his past we can’t know how he accomplished this if this was even the case. Steam Lantern, despite himself, is a jerk for not admitting the truth considering that all this mess wouldn’t have happened if he just admitted that it was the Duke who saved the world. But seriously, the Duke is ridiculous. He basically built a totalitarian regime based on pure jealousy (and manages to keep it running with no one else but himself to boot, seriously, he has no human soldiers or even advisors, just himself and the robots) and he can’t even see why people fear him until one moment where the screens in his lab just happen to show recordings of their reactions (not as if he couldn’t see them before when he was terrorizing the people to begin with).
In fact, apart from the robots, one has to wonder what did he actually do that is evil or Totalitarian. It turns out that he was right that Steam Lantern was a fraud so maybe he just sent out the robots to stop Rebecca and Gil because there aren’t any other rebels we see in the whole episode. We learn absolutely nothing of what the people think of the situation and what their situation is so the show’s writers can’t expect us to know what’s going on just because there are some Big Brother screens around town. Anyway, apart from that the rest of the plot doesn’t make much sense either: there’s the fact that Hal managed to survive in space and even burn up without any protection and the fact that, towards the end as he was transporting the planet to our universe, he was running out of energy and to preserve just enough power to make it through he decided to expend more energy, just faster.
The episode does look good though, and despite itself you may end up being engrossed due to the steam-punk world, the British accents, and the good music. There are a few funny jokes such as the “hardtofindium” (unobtainium?) and how everyone has a stiff upper lip as their planet is just about to die. Also the episode has a nice little shout-out to the original Green Lantern Alan Scott of the comics. We also learn a bit more about the Anti-monitor which is a good thing. However the plot is pretty weak and this brings the episode down a lot, regardless of how fun the episode is to look at.