I’ll admit that this Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover hasn’t been perfect. Every moment is jam-packed and overflowing just due to the sheer size of the crossover, and yet, that’s exactly how I like it.
Gone are the long-winded fight sequences and unnecessary flashbacks. And for a cliffhanger, Part Three certainly left me cursing The CW for splitting the crossover apart into two parts.
So far, the crossover cameo game has been strong. From Kevin Conroy’s full role as old man Batman to shots of Walter Curran as Titans’ Jason Todd, we’ve been loving getting confirmation after confirmation of all the different universes that belong to our favorite DC media iteration.
Tonight kicked off with a shot of Ashley Scott from the short-lived 2002 WB series Birds of Prey, aka one of the most formative shows in yours truly’s childhood as far as superhero tv shows go. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but getting to see Helena Kyle running across the rooftops of New Gotham in Earth-203 made my heart sing before we saw her world get taken out by the anti-matter wave.
Damn you, Anti Monitor. You and your shitty name and your even shittier cannon.
With the wave killing more and more universes by the minute, which also includes not just earth but millions of other alien planets also filled with life, it’s up to the heroes to work faster than ever to get to the remaining three paragons.
Except, the joke’s on you guys, there’s just only one more paragon left! Either a part of the Monitor’s plan all along or simply an oversight due to the dwindling of his powers, turns out Barry and J’onn are both paragons. Barry is the Paragon of Love (awww), and J’onn is the Paragon of Honor. The final paragon, the Paragon of Humanity is someone named Ryan Choi (Osric Chau).
Yes, everyone. It’s my baby, my sweet, sweet Asian one-day superhero. Ryan Choi, for the uninitiated, is one of the few to don the mantle of the Atom. In the comics, he is an immigrant from Hong Kong and a protege of Ray Palmer, which makes his first fanboy meeting of Ray that much more precious.
So, as per the last two episodes, the teams break off. Now that Team Flash is in the house, we can add Cisco (Carlos Valdes), Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker), and Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) to the party. Ray, Ralph, and Iris go off to Ivy Town in search of Ryan as a part of Team Baby Atom.
Cisco, confronted by the Monitor in a hallway, is forcibly given his powers as The Vibe back before he and Caitlin and Barry go off in search of the door that Nash Wells opened beneath Central City. The same door that turned him into Pariah and awakened the Anti Monitor. Due to the membership, we’ll just call them Team Flash.
Finally, there’s Team We-Just-Can’t-Let-Oliver-Die-In-Peace. Now including Diggle (David Ramsey) in the gang, Mia, Diggle, Sara, and Constantine have to hope that they can somehow find Oliver’s soul in Purgatory so that the resurrected Oliver back on the Waverider can stop just being a killing machine.
So, where to start?
Well, let’s start from the potentially least significant plot point. Team Bring-Back-Oliver. Sigh, what to say about them? Well, they sure are persistent, that’s to be sure. And somehow they managed to rope Diggle into their mission as well. But somehow my least favorite plotline immediately became my favorite as the gang journeyed to Earth-666 to meet with the Devil (Tom Ellis)!
That’s right, people! LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR! Seeing as the final season is so far away from airing, and technically in the Lucifer timeline, our Prince of Darkness is back ruling hell, it’s still quite nice to see old Luci back in action on our screens. Sweeping in with the same joie de vivre that he always exudes, he offers Constantine a card that will send them to Purgatory and bring them back once the image fades.
We don’t spend enough time with our favorite fallen angel, because it’s off to Purgatory. And… yep, we’re back on this god damned island. Don’t forget, people, Lian Yu means Purgatory in Mandarin. I see the showrunners have been playing the long game with this one.
Well, the team is on a clock as they scour the tiny-but-somehow-giant island for Oliver’s soul, but just as they find Oliver and he and Diggle have a brief but bittersweet moment, we are introduced to The Spectre aka Jim Corrigan (Stephen Lobo), who endows Oliver’s soul with near god-like powers. He’s the key to defeating the Anti-Monitor, but before we can find out any more, Lucifer’s image fades on the card and the gang is transported back to the Waverider.
Then, we have Team Flash (sans Iris and Ralph). Cisco manages to vibe how to get into the underground lair after using his newly restored powers on Pariah aka Nash Wells. Remember, any time this guy is around, there’s a tragedy to be found. Getting into the lair, they see the machine that is perpetuating the anti-matter wave. It’s a cannon that is powered by a speedster.
Earth-90’s Flash (John Wesley Shipp)!
Yeah, after getting wooshed away by the Monitor last crossover, he was picked up by the Anti Monitor to use as a human battery to power his weapon that will clean out all the universes, allowing the Anti Monitor to have his own.
Obviously not content to let their friend be used to destroy the universes, the team gets old man Flash off the treadmill. But all is not well. Without him running, the Anti Monitor’s programmed the cannon to and kill all of the worlds in an instant.
Arriving just in time, Black Lightning aka Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is wooshed onto Earth-1, thanks to Pariah. Although he’s initially distraught and reasonably shocked by the idea that he just lost his entire family and his entire world, he is quick to use his own abilities to hold off the cannon from killing them all as Barry and old man Flash go into Flashtime to try and figure something out.
The two Flashes realize that to stop the cannon, they need to run backward on the treadmill to destroy the machine. But before Barry can jump on the treadmill, old man Flash steals his speed in order to make the ultimate sacrifice. Flash episodes always end up making me cry, and this was no different.
Seeing the man who looks identical to his father, and someone who has acted as a mentor and a friend to him over the years, jump on the treadmill to sacrifice himself to save the universes? It’s enough to make anyone misty-eyed. With a final flashback to the 1990’s The Flash series, we see a past Barry with his lightning rod, Tina McGee (Amanda Pays), before old man Flash sacrifices himself to save the world.
Team Flash and Team Oliver arrive back on the Waverider, the weapon destroyed, but still having suffered loss all over again. Thankfully Team Baby Atom was far more successful.
Initially, with the idea of the world ending, Ryan Choi did what most of us would have done. He packed his bags and left work early in order to be with his wife and son. He admits outright that he’s no superhero and that he’s not the one they’re looking for, he needs to be with his family. Cue the quarterback and heart of the team (and another scene that made me cry): Iris West.
She comes to appeal to Ryan. She appeals to his heart rather than any sense of duty. She tells him that humans are the ones who remind superheroes what they’re fighting for. And in a flashback to just before the teams split up to go on their missions, we see our OTP, Barry and Iris, saying goodbye, potentially for the last time.
Honestly, these two are so often the heart of The Flash that I’m surprised they don’t share the mantle of Paragon of Love together. Afraid that this will be the last time they’ll see each other, Iris wants what Ryan Choi wants, she wants to go with Barry so that she’s with him until the end. But Barry sees the value that Iris presents. “I may be the one with superpowers, but your intelligence, your resourcefulness, your heart, that’s your superpower and that’s what’s going to help you convince Ryan Choi to be the hero he needs to be,” he says, as he kisses her and tells her that he will always run home to her, no matter what.
(Yes, I was openly weeping by this point.)
Iris’ superpower worked perfectly, and Team Baby Atom return back to the Waverider with Ryan Choi.
Meanwhile, on the ship, Lois has been monitoring the worlds as they disappear, while J’onn and Routh-Superman try to evacuate any of the other earths before they’re destroyed. The scenes on the ship, though brief, held enough weight to leave a satisfying ache in the chest. We get a little insight into the Monitor as he recalls his own family to Lois and we see a flicker of humanity within the normally stoic being as he notes that he cared more about saving the universe than saving his family.
The whole crossover reeks of this theme of sacrifice. That heroes must not only hold the ones they love close in their hearts but be willing to lose them or lose themself in order to save the billions of other people. It’s that determination to save every last bit of humanity that has Routh-Clark, a man who has lost everything, continue to go back to nearly-destroyed earths in order to save anyone he can.
The same can be said for Kara. Ah, you thought I forgot about Team D? No. For those who haven’t been reading my recaps, Team D is the leftover team on the ground, normally relegated to doing menial tasks, but this time it included many of the main paragons. Left on the ship, Kara struggles with the desire to use the Book Of Destiny to bring back Earth-38.
Knowing that it might leave her mind completely destroyed (thanks to some knowledge drop from Lex Luthor) she still is determined to save her planet. Kate, realizing the bigger picture, fears that she may have to stop Kara, by any means necessary, from doing this because she is one of the seven Paragons. Despite the precariousness of her possession of kryptonite (remember that that was kind of a dealbreaker for Kara’s friendship with Lena), the two women reconcile even after Kate reveals that she has it, and decide to rely on hope and courage rather than fear and doubt.
Unfortunately, this is not the end, but just past halfway. And what’s a halfway point without a climax?
Just as everyone reconvenes to figure out next steps Lyla appears. Except Harbinger is now the Anti-Monitor. The team figures it out a second too late, as he brings back the anti-matter wave easily and it destroys Earth-1, before subduing our heroes so that he can kill his nemesis, The Monitor.
Pariah, having witnessed another tragedy, takes a final heroic step and wooshes the seven Paragons off of the ship just before the anti-matter wave destroys the Waverider.
The Paragons appear at the vanishing point, outside of spacetime. But before they can collect their thoughts, another tragedy occurs. Routh-Superman collapses to the ground, dying and disappearing in front of our heroes only to be replaced by that snake Lex Luthor. Yes, while our heroes were out trying to save lives and gather the team, he was rewriting destiny in order to make himself a Paragon.
God damn it, Lex.
With just two more episodes left, the finale of Crisis On Infinite Earths concludes January 14 (five painstaking weeks away) with back-to-back episodes of Arrow (series finale) and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.