The Universe is In Rough Shape

Arrowverse 2019/2020 Season: Week 11

This is it, the finale of Crisis on Infinite Earths where all the remaining heroes of the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. have to band together to try and rebuild something out of the ruins. Can they save everyone? Is all hope lost? Will Superboy Prime be involved? Well, probably not that last one since he wasn't introduced in this version.

Crisis on Infinite Earths, Conclusion

Obviously there are expectations about what could happen (and what would happen, too, most of which were already disproven), so now we just have to see what will come next:

Arrow, Season 8, Episode 8: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 4

When last we checked in with our heroes, the seven paragons have been warped off Earth into the the ruins of the Time Vortex (or whatever its called). There, the heroes find themselves stuck in a place with no place to go and no way to escape. Oh, and Lex had somehow used the Book of Destiny (the big McGuffin from the last crossover, "Elseworlds") to warp into the vortex as well, replacing the Paragon of Truth, alt-Superman, with himself. So the team doesn't have all the paragons, the heroes are at their wits' end, and all hope is lost.

Not to fear, though, because the Specter, Oliver Queen, arrives to whisk all of the heroes away on a journey through the Speed Force. Supergirl, Lex, and the random human with them (Nick? Dave? Jerry? Whatever) go to the distant past to try and stop Monovu, the Monitor, from testing a device that would let him travel through time and space -- if he uses the device it will open a rift to the anitmatter universe and allow the Anti-Monitor to break free, causing the whole "Crisis" to begin with. If they stop it, though, the Anti-Monitor remains caged in his universe and the Crisis never happens.

Meanwhile (after having to first re-collect them when he loses the rest of the team in the Speed Force), Barry drops all the other heroes in the crossover point between matter and antimatter universes. If Monovu can't be stopped, or something goes wrong, the team is the last line of defense for any open of the universe. Of course, back on Monovu's world Lex double-crosses Supergirl and tries to convince the Monitor to aid him and create a new universe with Lex is God. Supergirl stops this and dragged Lex, kicking and screaming, to the vantage point while Monovu is convinced that taking his trip is the worst idea ever. Problem solved, right?

No, because this is a multiverse so even if this Monovu (of Universe-1) doesn't take the trip, some Monovu will so the Anti-Monitor is still freed (I guess that makes sense, maybe?). So the heroes still have to fight the big bad. The team punch a bunch of the evil ghost minions while Oliver goes toe-to-tow with the Anti-Monitor. And then, when the time is right, all the heroes concentrate all their hopes and dreams in this world and help Oliver create a new universe, a Prime universe, before the Anti-Monitor is defeated. Earth is saved, the universe gets to start again, but Oliver dies a second time, getting the big, heroic send-off we all expected him to.

So here's the thing: I can understand that the writers were basically stuck in a corner, having used the destruction of everything as the big cliffhanger from last month. They burned it all to the ground so some big event would have to be used to restart the universe. That makes sense. But this episode is the same bloated, awful garbage that we witnessed for most of the front-half of the crossover -- heroes fighting weightless, CGI minions to break up a whole lot of talking about what's going on without a lot of doing anything. This episode might have come from the desperation of the writers having nowhere else to go with the story, but it would have been nice if this episode could have been better.

Part of what bothered me so much was that the heroes made such a big deal of going and visiting Monovu, stopping him before he caused all the problems. Then, after accomplishing then, the writers then yank the rug out and say, "lol, that meant nothing because here comes the Anti-Monitor anyway." That's a good half of the episode wiped away because it totally didn't matter. If your plot line completely doesn't matter at all and is negated in the same episode it's started, don't use that storyline because it's pointless filler.

This episode was created by the Arrow team and it has all the hallmarks of their late series awfulness -- dragged out stories, pointless filler, and story beats that go nowhere. There's a constant state of "something happens, and then we reset," and that's where Arrow has been for two years now. This episode might, eventually, accomplish what it needed to do but it spends 40-ish minutes wasting our time to get there for no reason.

Notes:

Legends of Tomorrow, Season 1, Episode 9: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 5

Now, though, we get to the fun episode of the whole crossover. After remaking the universe last episode, the adventure cut to black, roll credits. We start the next episode with Supergirl waking up back in her apartment, confused at how she got there but relieved when her sister, Alex, shows up unannounced. Kara wants to find out what happened, but she immediately has to rush off because Lex Luthor, of all people, is being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Lex! Apparently he managed to recreate some small part of the universe in his own image and now, instead of being a criminal mastermind he's a beloved hero and public figure. Only Supergirl, and Lex, know the universe was any different.

Well, and the Flash, and White Canary, and Martian Manhunter, and all the other paragons. Barry and Supergirl quickly figure out that their worlds -- Earth-1 and Earth-38 (and whatever universe Black Lightning was on) -- have been merged into a single universe, Earth Prime (and that, more than likely, there's only one version of each person in the multiverse now). Martian Manhunter than goes around and restores all the memories for all the various heroes (because that's apparently something he can do). But while Martian Manhunter can help all the people he can find, one person is missing: Oliver. Because he's well and truly dead.

While the heroes try to figure out the ramifications of what this means, they have a bigger problem: the Anti-Monitor is somehow back. The heroes have the fight this villain one last time and it'll take the combined might all all the heroes, now united on one Earth, to finally beat this foe down once and for all. Then, after the battle, Barry realizes that what the team really needs is to be united for real, so he (essentially) makes the Justice League, gives them his old warehouse (aka, the Hall of Justice) and we fade out with the heroes having their first official meeting together.

This episode isn't all that deep, or tense, or big; it's really just a fun, superhero confection with all the heroes hanging out, cracking jokes, and having a good time. That's why I think it works: the Arrowverse, across all its shows, has gotten so serious and tedious that it's nice to have a 40-ish minute episode that just has fun with itself. I mean, seriously, they bring back Beebo the giant stuffed animal to terrorize the city one last time just because they can. This is an episode that doesn't give a shit at all and it's great.

But it also serves as a send-off for Oliver as each hero, from across the span of shows, gets to mourn for the loss of the hero. There are touching moments, good character beats for each character, as the feel the loss of the character that started this whole universe. The episode handles these deep feelings with just the right amount of solemnity before moving on to another bright and shiny beat. Oliver is gone but not forgotten, loved and remembered even as the shows move on without him. This is the right way to send off a hero so I'm glad the shows took this tack with Oliver's death. Of course, we have the creative team behind Legends to thank for this episode and, as they've proven time and again, they are the best team in the 'verse; their show is, hands down, the best thing in this whole mega-series.

So with that the crossover comes to an end and, thankfully, it does it with gusto. It might not have always been thee best crossover in the Arrowverse but it certainly knew how to sell its ending. And, as a bonus, it leaves us with hope, and anticipation, for what's to come next for all these shows. There's a new status quo to explore going forward and I'm eager to see how it all shakes out.

Notes:
  • I love having all the heroes on Earth-Prime. That's a good move for the shows going forward as they don't have to try and shoehorn in reasons for the heroes to cross dimensions. All of the multiverse is cleaned up and many of the old worlds are ditched and removed from continuity going forward.
  • Merging all the worlds down, though, has weird implications moving forward. The creative teams behind the series have noted that, with this merge, there is only one version of each hero on any of the worlds (i.e., one Flash for the whole of the multiverse, one Supergirl, one Batman, etc.). I'm sure there are loopholes for this: there might only be one Barry Allen, but there could be different speedsters on different Earths (Jessie Quick, Trajectory, Speed Demon). It does mean, though, that everything is tightened up moving forward.
  • Of course, then we have to think further out about this. If there's only one Barry Allen in the universe now, does that mean Ezra Miller's Flash no longer exists? Do all the DCEU films, now and in the future, take place before the Crisis? Or did the DCEU, which was only just introduced into this muiltiverse, get split out into it's own multiverse via the Speed Force? Ugh.
  • Then there's the question of Laurel Lance of Earth-2. She saw her world get destroyed, moved to Earth-1, and now is a permanent resident there. But with the merging of worlds, and there now only being one Laurel again, what happens to this version of the character? How do they merge her with her Earth-1 version without creating a giant snarl of continuity?
  • Finally, we see a bunch of other DC shows now exist on their own universes. It's confirmed that Titans, Swamp Thing, Doom Patrol, and then upcoming Stargirl each exist on their own, individual Earths (which is useful to me since I don't have to cover them in these Arrowverse articles moving forward). In the case of Doom Patrol, though, that's really weird since originally it was a spin-off of Titans (even if it's long since tried to distance itself from that).
  • In short, then, I love that they did the merger, but damn does this complicate things more than it should. In that regard, then, the aftermath for this event will be just as confusing as it was after the original Crisis on Infinite Earths event in the funny pages. So, good work there, DC.

Final Thoughts on the Crossover

So yeah, this crossover could have been much better. It really struggled in places, obviously hampered by the budget provided by the CW which limited just how much of the destruction of everything the shows could really give us. As the executive producer for the shows commented, they had to do an Avengers: Endgame-level crossover on the budget that movie would have used just for its craft services buffet table. It's admirable how much they were able to do in Crisis considering how little they had to work with, but that didn't stop the crossover from struggling.

Still, it's hard to argue with the last episode. Whatever qualms I had about the rest of it, I really did enjoy this final part, with Supergirl being fun and happy and bubbly again and then getting to hang out with her as she found all the other heroes and they all got to fight together on a single Earth. This episode had so many great moments, and then finished strong. It wasn't all perfect, but this ending sold everything so well. I'm really excited to see what happens next.

Elsewhere in the 'Verse

  • We have only two episodes of Arrow left, and the next one is a back door pilot in the future of Star City starring Mia Smoak (or maybe she's Mia Queen now) and her friends, the Canaries. We'll get to see how that spin-off shapes up next week (and just how different the future is now that the universe has been rebooted).
  • It'll also be interesting to see how the rest of the shows handle the new reality. Some, like Supergirl and Black Lightning promise to be very different moving forward now that they exist on an Earth with Flash, the Legends, Superman, and everyone else working together. This is going to get interesting...