“Crisis on Infinite Earths,” CW’s Arrowverse crossover event and an adaptation of the legendary 1985 DC maxiseries, delivered one helluva knockout punch in the closing moments of its first chapter.
We lost a hero. And a great one, too.
Sure, we had to get through some simpering melodrama and some cheesy special effects, but the payoff was shocking and brutal.
As “Supergirl” opened, red skies break out all over the multiverse, and we get some don’t-you-dare-blink cameos.
In the Gotham City of Earth-89, reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) looks up and hopes the Dark Knight is watching.
On the Gotham City of Earth-66, Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) sees the skies turn. “Holy crimson skies of death!” he says.
(Earth-89? Earth-66? Get it?)
Also paying attention: the Titans on Earth-9 and the Ray on Earth-X.
Most of the action, for the first night – and the first night only, as it turns out – is centered on Earth-38, home to Supergirl.
After saving a street prophet predicting the end of the world (thank you, Wil Wheaton, who has been promoted from Ensign Wesley to Captain Obvious), Kara learns that a wave of anti-matter is rushing through her universe. First in its path? Argo City, home to her mother, Alura, and home away from home to cousin Kal, wife Lois Lane and new baby Jonathan.
With the world falling to pieces, Alura leads Kal and Lois to an escape pod – built only for one. And so, in a moment that echoes Kal’s and Kara’s escapes from the planet Krypton, Kal and Lois put Jonathan into the pod and bid him farewell. As the ship blasts into space, the planet is destroyed.
On Earth-1, Lyla – Harbinger – gathers the heroes to save the multiverse: Green Arrow, Mia, the Flash, Batwoman, the Atom and White Canary.
She could have made a few more stops, IMHO. Mr. Terrific, Ragman, Killer Frost, the rest of the Legends. Sure, some of these will appear – but not nearly enough.
Also joining them on Earth-38: a very much alive Superman and Lois. Lyla couldn’t spare the energy to save Alura? (We’ve seen the last of Alura, but not of actress Erica Durance, who will be returning for that mini-“Smallville” reunion.)
Batwoman slugs Lyla for kidnapping her to another universe, and I start to like Batwoman.
Supergirl, the only hero she knows and trusts, courtesy of last year’s crossover, convinces her they are all on the same side.
The Monitor has installed a quantum tower, capable of repelling the anti-matter wave, at least for a short time, but the heroes are needed to guard it from his army. Superman wants to go after his son, whom Brainy tracks to Earth-16 in the year 2046, but Oliver convinces him he’s needed here to fight. Lois promises to get their son, and White Canary and Brainy join her.
The super-cousins share an especially super-mopey moment. Kal blames himself, well, for everything.
“I deserve this for thinking I could have so much,” he says.
Um, hello, Kara is the one who just lost her mother, but, sure, Kal, it’s all about you.
Kara, still feeling guilty over “betraying” Lena’s trust, sympathizes with him, but refuses to accept that her mistakes outweigh all the good she has done. She reminds her cousin that Krypton is a spirit of hope that lives inside both of them. So long as they keep fighting, it will never die.
Oliver presents Mia with her own Arrow costume.
“There should always be at least one Green Arrow,” he says.
Barry tells Ollie that the Monitor confirmed he’s responsible for that newspaper headline from the future that said the Flash will die in the Crisis (a plot point set up in the very first episode of “The Flash” in 2014). Ollie is outraged and starts yelling for the Monitor.
Transported to his interdimensional headquarters, Ollie wants answers. The deal was his life for Barry and Kara.
Can we just stop for a second and appreciate the irony that the two BIG casualties of “Crisis” in 1985 were Barry Allen and Kara Zor-El, and now the characters DC tried to eliminate headline their own successful shows?
The Monitor corrects him, saying that deal only applied to the last threat they faced, and I must confess I don’t get this writing at all. He continues to throw bullpucky at Oliver, saying, “Not knowing who you are fighting means you will prepare for every possibility.”
Maybe if you had all the time in infinity, but knowing a threat means you can better battle it.
Reminding us this is still an episode of “Supergirl,” Alex practically opens a vein when she apologizes to Lena for, you know, respecting Kara’s secret identity, and asks for her help in opening a portal to save the planet’s inhabitants.
Lena huffs that when it comes to saving the world, of course she will help, but Alex and Kara can pretty much go suck on rocks forever.
White Canary, Lois and Brainy trace Jonathan to the Arrow bunker, and White Canary has an awkward reunion with the Arrow of that world.
He has so much regret over White Canary’s death on that boat all those years ago (right from the “Arrow” pilot), and she reassures him he is a good man. He seems especially pensive as they cross back into their own universe.
On Earth-38, Shadow Demons attack the quantum tower. Lyla’s league of heroes defend it as Dreamer and Martian Manhunter round up as many civilians as they can into escape ships. Superman and Supergirl recharge the tower’s solar panels with their heat vision, but it’s a momentary respite.
Lena and Alex make a strong team, and together figure out a way to open a portal to another universe. There’s not even a second to celebrate before Lena reminds Alex they will never be friends because of her betrayal, and oh dear God, “Supergirl” writers, you have to pull the pole out of Lena’s butt. She’s exhausting, the other characters breaking their backs to atone doesn’t make any of them look good, and it’s so played out already.
“The battle is lost. We must retreat,” the Monitor announces as our heroes fight the Shadow Demons. He zaps each one away until only Oliver is left.
“Has the planet been evacuated yet?” Oliver yells, firing arrow after arrow.
“Not entirely,” the Monitor replies.
“Then it’s not time,” he says, firing an arrow at the Monitor, its energy discharge temporarily disabling him.
The Green Arrow fights alone against the horde, until at last, the unthinkable happens. He’s out of arrows.
Undaunted, he drops his bow, takes a fighting stance and prepares to take them all on, one man to save a planet that isn’t even his.
The wave of energy crashes into Earth-38.
And like that, Supergirl’s adopted home planet is no more.
In the Earth-1 Arrow bunker, the Monitor appears to the other heroes with a badly beaten Oliver.
Of Earth-38’s 7.5 billion inhabitants, about 3 billion made it to safety, he tells them. One billion owe their lives to the precious seconds Oliver gave them.
With his dying breaths, Oliver tells Barry and Kara he gave up his life for them. He needs them to be the ones to save the multiverse.
He urges Mia to find her mother and her brother.
“You keep me in your heart, OK?”
And with that, Oliver breathes his last.
The first hero of the Arrowverse is no more.
His death even stuns the Monitor.
This was not the ending he foresaw. But leave it to Pariah to get the last word.
“Everything we know is doomed.”
Now we’ve known for a year that Oliver was meant to perish in the Crisis. We’ve spent the final season of “Arrow” with Oliver trying to come to grips with his mortality and his mistakes. But did anyone expect he would be the first to fall, in night one?
This was supposed to be the closing act of the story’s climax, not the capper to the first chapter. And where do Barry and Kara go from here, now that they know Oliver was trading lives with the Monitor?
Just a moment after the hour concluded, “Arrow” star Stephen Amell wrote on Twitter, “Keep me in your heart.”
Oh, Stephen, you tease.
There’s a reason why we spent so much time with his counterpart in 2046, and I expect we’ll see how that plays out in the final hour.
Given that “Arrow” continues for two more episodes after the crossover concludes, there will be a Green Arrow, from one universe or another.
“Crisis on Infinite Earths” continues on “Batwoman.”