The CW DC Universe began its biggest and most ambitious crossover in December, when they began their take on Crisis on Infinite Earths. They did some amazing things, linking previous movies, tv shows, and other programs, as characters laid down their lives to fight the unstoppable evil of the Anti-Monitor. After a cruelly long month break, Arrow comes back with part four of the crossover. It’s also episode eight of the ten in the final season as the Emerald Archer says goodbye.
Giving us some background on one of the pivotal characters, the episode starts some 10,000 years ago on Maltus. In the comics, Maltus was the original home of the beings who eventually became the Guardians of the Universe, the power behind first the Manhunters, then later the Green Lantern Corps. We see a version of the fateful experiment that started the Crisis in both the comics and the tv show, and the origin of the Monitor’s costume. At the Vanishing Point, Ryan Choi writes a journal to his wife, providing a decent recap of what’s happened so far and the current status quo of the trapped Paragons. Despite a few good efforts, nothing really works the way anyone intended, either from superpowers or super-genius.
Just as the frustrated heroes are starting to snap at each other, Oliver appears in his guise as the Spectre. The gathered heroes (and Lex) finally come up with a plan of attack, and try and take their next steps. Oliver get in one of the recurring lines from another show as they take off, splitting up to prevent the problem in the first place and fight the good fight if that doesn’t work. Supergirl, Lex, and Ryan go back to Maltus to see if they can prevent the Monitor’s tragic mistake. That plan goes off the rails almost immediately, as you might expect with Luthor involved.
The others don’t quite get where they’re heading, as the Anti-Monitor throws things off, scattering the heroes through various points in Oliver’s history (well, it is his show). Barry has to try and search the nearly-infinite Speed Force to locate his companions before they end up being destroyed. Before he can find them, he runs into a special guest star as we get the first cameo from the DC Expanded Universe. It’s an entertaining scene. Supergirl and Ryan catch up with Lex, who reveals a few surprises. He’s never one to not take advantage of a situation, and Ryan has gotten a good idea of who the man really is.
Kate Kane, Batwoman, ends up at Queen Consolidated, for one of the early meetings between Oliver and Ray, when the pair were rivals on several fronts. Meanwhile, Green Arrow and Supergirl argue back during the Invasion crossover, which is where J’Onn ended up. Ryan and Supergirl recover from Lex’s latest betrayal (in an extremely improbable order) and Supergirl talks Ryan through a new experience with a line more associated with her cousin.
Barry’s next stop is during last year’s Elseworlds event as he meets up with Superman, Lois, and Green Arrow. Barry learns something Oliver has been keeping from him, and the pair reflect on the struggle for heroes, living and dead. The next bit of the past to get revisited is the death of Sara Lance, with Barry arriving to confuse Diggle and Laurel in a very Quantum Leap moment. I will say I miss Sara’s original costume. As the heroes try and sort out their involuntary trips through Oliver’s greatest hits, Lex finds Mar Novu before he becomes the Anti-Monitor and starts wheeling and dealing, working in a spin on a classic DC Comics team-up book.
Flash, J’Onn, and Kate wrap up their visits to previous events and get reunited. Lex’s con job/high pressure sales job gets interrupted when Supergirl and Ryan catch up with him. Supergirl gets a good line about double-crosses before Ryan finally gets everyone to stop fighting and listen, which annoys Lex. Everyone ends up back at the dawn of time, where they were trying to go in the first place, and find that the Monitor isn’t as unique as we’ve been led to believe (and as he was in the comics).
The collected forces prepare for a major fight. Most of them square off with the hordes of Shadow Demons that follow the Anti-Monitor everywhere, while Oliver the Spectre (or Green Sith, arguably) clashes with the Anti-Man himself. It’s the kind of scene hero fans tend to love- a massed band of characters teaming up in a gigantic battle where everyone gets in some great moves and entertaining banter. Lex seems very bemused at fighting on the hero side of things. It all comes down to Lex remembering a hint he was given and using something he stole a while back as the others live up to their Paragon titles. I’m very curious how this would have played out if Lex hadn’t made the substitution he did.
In the end, it comes down to the Spectre versus the Anti-Monitor in a battle to decide the future of all reality. The whole thing is a simplification of, but still decent adaptation of, one of the climactic battles in the original comic series. By the time it’s over, there’s a tragic loss, a new creation, and a tearful farewell. It’s the end of this episode, and nearly the end of both Arrow and Crisis, but there’s a bit more to come of both.
What I liked: The action was great. The heroes got some great lines and I liked the fight set up. It was interesting seeing the Monitor’s origin. Jon Cryer is doing an amazing job as Lex Luthor. Ryan isn’t being given a whole lot to do, but he’s coming across as very likeable. Ryan and the Monitor talking with Lex and Supergirl slugging it out in the background was a great bit. I like the original Black Canary costume better than anything they’ve used since. I’m really interested to see what they do with the new Earth.
What I didn’t: I hate to say it, but they utterly failed to convey the power and majesty of the Spectre. It was Oliver with death makeup and voice modulation.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5, and I’m looking forward to seeing the aftermath and new set up.