The third hour of the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths brought us tough decisions, surprising cameos, and another heartbreaking death. And now we have over a month to wait for the end when Crisis returns on January 14. For now, let’s go over what happened last night. Spoilers follow for The Flash, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Hour 3.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Hour 3
Hour 3 of Crisis opened with another great cameo: Birds of Prey. While the Crisis caught the Titans and Alexander Knox off-guard in hour 1, and hadn’t yet hit Smallville in hour 2, the Birds over on Earth-203 seem to know there’s something going on. The Huntress is trying desperately to contact Oracle as she disappears. Even having watched the 2002 show myself, even I’ll admit this cameo is more fun as an idea than in practice. Birds of Prey didn’t last very long and never really embraced its comic-book roots. I suspect that many people watching wondered “who are these people?” even as they disappeared into the anti-matter wave.
Dimensions of the multiverse are disappearing rapidly now, and the Paragons are almost assembled: Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, Superman, and Canary are already onboard the Waverider. Some help from the cast of The Flash and a new scan reveals the final two: J’onn J’onzz is the Paragon of Honor, and a scientist named Ryan Choi is the Paragon of Humanity. If you’re a DC fan, you know where that last one is going (eventually). Meanwhile, Kara still wants to restore Earth-38, and she and Kate have a tough conversation about the futility of that given the current circumstances.
Two Flashes and a Treadmill
We now know the source of the Crisis, too. The Anti-Monitor is the inverse of everything the Monitor represents. With Cisco on board, this makes for some funny moments in otherwise ultra-serious goings-on. Cisco has some experience with villains who are just “the hero, but opposite” and he hates the name Anti-Monitor. He hates it so much that he can hardly say it without gagging. It’s so on-brand for Cisco, and it lets the show have its characters while still commenting on how outdated some of these names really feel in 2019.
Flash, Frost, and Cisco–once again re-powered as Vibe–head to the tunnel Nash Wells (now Pariah) found a few weeks back. With Pariah’s help, the team breaks in and discovers that the Anti-Monitor has been powering his anti-matter cannon with none other than Earth-90’s Flash, who he captured after the Monitor sent him away last year during “Elseworlds.” While we’ve seen the Flash run on treadmills in the series quite a bit, this is the first time we’ve seen something close to the Cosmic Treadmill that many of the Scarlet Speedster’s adventures have centered around.
This is a great way to bring John Wesley-Shipp back into the fold for one last adventure, which we’ll get to in a minute. Stopping the treadmill, however, triggers a failsafe that starts the anti-matter cannon melting down. Pariah breaches in Jefferson Pierce of Black Lightning to help absorb the cannon’s energy.
Black Lightning’s back
Jefferson’s entry into the Arrowverse is a painful one. When our heroes meet him, he’s just watched his family disappear in the anti-matter wave only moments before, and now he’s in a new place, surrounded by new faces. He adjusts quickly, but the show does a good job of conveying how much pain he’s really in.
He gets a more formal introduction into the Arrowverse later when he and Barry have a heart-to-heart about the similar fates their fathers suffered and the strong moral compass their fathers helped them develop. It’s touching, and I can’t help but look forward to seeing these two characters cross over again.
Eventually, though, they realize that the only way out is to reverse the treadmill, and that requires a speedster. The Flash steps up, but after saying his goodbyes, he’s interrupted. Earth-90’s Flash drains Barry’s speed temporarily, mentioning that when you’ve been a speedster for as long as he has, you pick up a few tricks. Despite young Barry’s protests, elder Barry knows he has to get the job done.
The weight of history
This works, again, because of history, but in a bunch of different ways. John Wesley Shipp was the original live-action Barry Allen Flash back in the 1990s. Since then, he’s appeared as Barry’s dad Henry and as the Jay Garrick Flash on the current incarnation of the show. Last year, Shipp stepped into the velour muscle suit again and immediately looked the part of an aging Flash.
Here, as the original Barry runs to save existence, he flashes through his life, back to a clip from the original 1990s series of Shipp and actress Amanda Pays as Tina McGee. Suddenly, this scene that could’ve been a cop-out move now has the weight of 30 years of history on it as both the actor and the character of this canceled television show get heroic closure.
Instead of a cheap way to save Barry, it was a meaningful end for another Barry and an absolute tearjerker. Shipp’s Barry Allen was the reason I initially fell in love with the character back when I was 8 years old, and the reason I dressed as him for Halloween, so this felt great as a fan of Flash, too.
A Spectre of a chance
While that’s happening, another part of the team is still trying to revive Ollie. That takes John Constantine, John Diggle, and Mia Smoak to Earth-666, home of Lucifer Morningstar. Despite denials, the dark lord himself made an appearance as he fulfilled a debt to John Constantine. Lucifer pointed the trio to Purgatory, giving them a limited-time pass to the world between worlds to find their friend.
Here, we find meaning in Oliver’s death. The three quickly find him and pull him from his wild rage, but a man named Jim Corrigan has another mission for Oliver, and puts him on the path to become the Spectre. In the comics, the Spectre united the heroes and helped them to create a single Earth for all of DC’s remaining characters to exist on.
And it seems like that’s what’s going to happen here. As soon as Oliver accepts his mission, we’re back on the Waverider, where Lyla is under the Anti-Monitor’s control and brings him onto the ship where he easily takes out the heroes. Pariah transports the seven Paragons away at the last minute, but Earth-1 has disappeared, essentially ending existence.
Lex gonna Lex
Pariah transported the heroes to the Vanishing Point, a place outside of time and space (remember it from the end of the first season of Legends of Tomorrow?). But things break bad fast when Brandon Routh’s Superman starts glowing red. Lex Luthor, who did some creative editing in the Book of Destiny, replaces him. It’s devastating, but also perfect Lex.
In the Crisis Aftershow, Kevin Smith said two important things: that Beebo needs to be in stores for us to buy (I NEED A BEEBO LIKE YESTERDAY! – Sean, Editor-in-Chief) , and that Jon Cryer is the best live-action Lex Luthor. That’s not to take anything from Michael Rosenbaum, who did a good job on Smallville, but the writers seem to really understand Lex Luthor’s thought processes and everything he does and says feels so right-on for the character.
The finale is a month away
While it’s anyone’s guess what’ll happen in the two-hour Arrow-Legends finale, it’s easy to make some guesses. With Brandon Routh stepping away from acting, Ryan Choi will take over as Atom in Legends of Tomorrow, just as he has at times in the comics. Oliver will become the Spectre, truly owning the green hood he’s been wearing for years. The Paragons will fight the Anti-Monitor and eventually win, and a new, single Earth will be created. The many earths’ doppelgangers will integrate and will not remember the Crisis. That solves the huge population problem the heroes created by bringing billions of people to Earth-1, too.
As for last night’s episode, it once again used the hard work the Arrowverse has done over the years and made the history of these shows matter, not to mention the history of DC’s live-action shows and movies. It’s smart, exciting, and emotional to see so many familiar faces putting something like this together, and I’m excited to see how it all ends on January 14.