written by George Hatch
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
We kick off Hour Four of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” with a way-too-fast opening montage of what’s already happened. Then we get to see where all of this started: 10,000 years ago on a planet called Maltus. So technically, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Mar Novu – the future Monitor – suits up to travel back to the dawn of time. He kisses his wife goodbye and proceeds to royally fuck shit up, accidentally traveling to the anti-universe and unleashing the Anti-Monitor.
Cut to the Vanishing Point, where apparently time still passes in a point beyond time and space because Ryan Choi has a beard. Everyone has been trying to keep busy while Lex and Ryan work on a teleporter. It fails, but Barry suddenly flails into existence. He tried to go into the Speed Force two months ago and apparently careened off of it so hard that he got stuck and only just managed to get out.
In Purgatory, Oliver relives every battle he’s ever fought in a montage of poorly lit fights that cover the use of stunt doubles. Eventually, he opens his eyes and is greeted by Jim Corrigan. Corrigan says that he’s ready to battle “the apocalypse given life and form,” as he calls the Anti-Monitor, and it’s time to retrieve his friends. Back at Vanishing Point, Barry wants to try and get into the Speed Force again, but the rest of the Paragons talk him down until Spectre!Oliver arrives and tells everyone both that there is no Speed Force, and that getting into the Speed Force is the key.
The Spectre unleashes Barry’s potential by booping his forehead and has him funnel some of them to the dawn of time to fight the Anti-Monitor, while the others go to Maltus in order to stop Mar Novu’s original experiment. Lex, Ryan, and Supergirl are deposited on Maltus, while Barry and the rest of the Paragons are attacked in the Speed Force by the Anti-Monitor and separated in time. Barry awakens in Queen Consolidated, where he and Oliver first met. The Spectre appears to tell Barry that the team has been dispersed throughout Oliver’s memories, and to use those memories and connections to find the others.
It’s then we get the most pointless cameo of cameos: Barry goes to S.T.A.R. Labs and meets Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen. They spend about five minutes gawking at each other, admiring each other’s costumes, and grinding the show to a complete halt.
Come to think of it, how is anyone technically anywhere besides Vanishing Point? The multiverse was wiped out, so there’s no other time or space to travel to. Which not only makes it impossible for TV Barry to meet Movie Barry, but there’s no time travel without time and there’s no Maltus without a universe, so…this entire episode is one gigantic fucking plot hole.
Also, it’s here where it’s really obvious that the choice of shooting the actors staring dead in the camera while center-framed becomes intensely distracting. I don’t know where they got this idea, but not only does the blocking get visually irritating, it detracts from the performances of the actors, since they can’t really react to other people in-scene.
On Maltus, Lex quickly turns on Supergirl and Ryan, revealing that he gave himself “upgrades” – energy blasts from his hands – with the Book of Destiny. He interrupts Mar Novu’s experiment and tries to bargain with him for aid against the House of El after Novu becomes the Monitor, but Supergirl interrupts and she and Lex battle while Ryan implores Mar Novu to call off the experiment and forgo his “towering ambition.” While Ryan is successful, Supergirl and Lex come to a draw before Barry snatches them up and transports everyone to the dawn of time.
The Anti-Monitor is already there, because there is always one Mar Novu in the multiverse who will travel back in time anyway. The battle begins as the Paragons fight the Shadow Demons while Oliver and the Anti-Monitor begin their war on the edge of a nearby cliff. As Oliver grapples with the Anti-Monitor, he releases energy from his mouth into the sky, which destroys the Shadow Demons. Lex finally figures out that by concentrating on their Paragon aspects and focusing them on Oliver, they can restart the universe. So they grab hands and Care Bear Stare (I assume, because there’s no CGI here to show that anything is actually happening) at Oliver and the Anti-Monitor, which triggers an explosion.
Sara has Barry speed them up to the cliff to talk to Oliver one last time. He’s created a new universe at the cost of his life, an end and a beginning, and dies a second time.
This was…disappointing. The last two episodes of Crisis were so, so good. This one feels like it’s way too long and it’s mostly filler. The whole point of the Maltus side-plot was to show that Lex now has powers (which could have been done in fifteen seconds), and to stop Mar Novu (which didn’t matter anyway). Going into Oliver’s memories was a good twist on the traditional clip show, but the way it was directed was badly executed and felt like a gimmick for a gimmick’s sake. I feel like more time could have been spent on the desperation of the heroes during their time on Vanishing Point, or Oliver’s training to be the Spectre. The biggest complaint I have – and it’s becoming more and more of a problem – is that the big CGI fight sequences are losing their luster the more they’re done, and I’m starting to just see them as people posing as action figures.
But this whole shebang isn’t over yet, oh no. One more to go, and I can’t wait to see how our very own Kate Danvers deals with this one.