A pair of Sentries are teaming up to take on the five-part "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event.
Gordon S. Miller
Based on the epic 12-part miniseries “that rocked the comics community, tragically dooming some of DC's most beloved characters and drastically altering others,” as stated on the trade paperback; hinted at in the previous CW/DC crossover “Elseworlds”; and referred to frequently during this season of The Flash (the only Arrowverse series I watch regularly); “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins with a cool introduction. The writers gives the audience a few Easter eggs as characters from parallel universes, such as Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) from Batman 1989, Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) from the original TV series, and the Titans from the streaming show of the same name, experience their ends as a deadly wave of antimatter rips through the Multiverse.
The wave is headed towards Argo where Kal-El/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) are. Repeating history, they send their infant son Jonathan to Earth in a rocketship built for one (hard to believe an advance race like the Kryptonians never think to build bigger escape pods) just before Argo is destroyed
Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) is now known as the Harbinger and serves the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett). She brings Oliver/Arrow and his daughter Mia, who takes up the Arrow mantle, Kate/Batwoman, and Lois and Superman to Kara/Supergirl's (elissa Benoist) Earth-38 in order stop the antimatter wave here, a tipping point in saving the Multiverse. Barry/The Flash, Ray Palmer/Atom and Sarah/White Canary show up as do the Monitor's Quantum towers to stave off the wave, but a mass evacuation is enacted in case they are unsuccessful. The Anti-Monitor sends his shadow demons against the heroes. They are wispy CGI creatures similar to Ring Wraiths or Death Eaters, but they are defeated by touching them, so it's not clear what trouble can they cause even if there are overwhelming numbers.
In the comics and as foretold during “Elseworlds” Part 3, Barry and Kara are doomed to die, but Oliver made a deal with the Monitor to take their place to achieve a balance in the Multiverse. Setting aside that one life for two would still be out of balance, the Monitor informs Oliver this Crisis is such a threat it trumps their deal.
While battling the shadow demons in fight scenes that resemble a video game, the Monitor declares the planet lost, so he takes the heroes to Earth-1, but Oliver refuses to go because they're are still people to be evacuated. Out of the 7.53 billion lives on Earth-38, 3 billion made it to Earth-1 (although to where is not explained). A surprise only in that it occurs so early in this five-part series, Oliver makes the ultimate sacrifice. The Monitor claims “he fought to his last breath,” but clearly didn't as Oliver speaks with Barry and his daughter as he lays dying in front them back on Earth-1, brought back by the Monitor (and the writers) so he can have a touching farewell rather than dying alone. From The Flash, the latest version of Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) appears, now going by the name Pariah. Because he released the Anti-Monitor, he is destined to witness the toll caused by his folly as his penance.
Undercutting the heroic sacrifice, the Monitor states Oliver's efforts accounted for 1/3rd of the survivors, so if he saved a billion alone how many more would have lived had others fought beside him. No one mentions this while grieving during Oliver's final moments but a tactical error that enormous really should be discussed before moving forward if the Monitor is going to be calling the shots.
As someone only familiar with The Flash and the crossover episodes, I could have used a roll call at the beginning of Part 1 to help identify everyone. There were a few nice character scenes about heroism and sacrifice between Kara and Kal-El and also between Sarah and an alternative Oliver from Earth-16, a world where she died while following him and he feels responsible. There were some other Supergirl-specific scenes with a couple of women who are rivals, but worked together in the face of this Crisis. Probably great for fans of the series, but I felt at a distant. Am really curious where the story goes from here and to see some of the things already leaked to the press.
The pressure to make these CW crossovers into annual events that are marketed towards people who don't normally watch the shows has made them almost unwatchable for those of us who watch the shows regularly. I would compare it to people who watch all the weekly WWE shows and those who only tune into Wrestlemania once a year. The Crisis on Infinite Earths has played out mostly in Arrow and The Flash this season. Last year's crossover showed us that Oliver Queen would die here and we've spent all season so far dealing with Barry Allen knowing that The Flash would die in this future. The shows have dealt with these events in different ways - Arrow with multiple universes and realities and The Flash with supporting characters dealing with the thought of a future without Barry.
The remaining CW shows have been telling longer stories without much hint at what is happening on the other end of the Universe. In their own way, Supergirl and Batwoman have had much more entertaining story arcs this season. Supergirl is building a solid world of supporting characters and a budding battle between Supergirl and the Luthors. The mystery of Batwoman has been playing out as a repeat of the first season of Arrow meets the tone of the world of Gotham. Throwing them into this crossover without the context of what they were doing previously doesn't reward the weekly viewers.
The confusing start of the destruction of multiple Earths doesn't explain much. We drop in on these worlds in a way that other viewers might think they are missing some key information. There's a Monitor who is pulling together heroes and the Anti-Monitor who is releasing some form of dark matter that is destroying the worlds. Did I understand the correct gist of what is happening? Maybe. Our hero team is Arrow, Flash, Arrow's daughter, Batwoman, Atom, and White Canary.
Destroying the Earth of Supergirl is an interesting plot choice. I've always enjoyed the lighter look and feeling of the Supergirl show. I don't know how well it translate to the dark and brooding world of Arrow and Flash. The best scenes involved Supergirl characters like Alex and Lena working together to save the world. The tension between the two is delicious if you've watched this past season but might seem out of place if you don't know Lena's current situation.
The not-so-subtle launch of a Canaries show and a Lois and Clark show is almost forced. I am reminded of the comic book crossovers in this way - what is the purpose of the crossover? Is it a reward for avid viewers, is it a method of launching new shows, is it a way to get viewers of some of the shows to watch the others, or is it to entice viewers who don't watch any of them by giving a sampler platter.
Ultimately, this is Oliver's story and he makes the sacrifice here that I thought wouldn't come until the end. That gives me a bit more respect for what they are doing here - if this is the last we see of Arrow (and I doubt it is) then I'm satisfied with how it all came to an end. Next up, Batwoman.