written by Dayna Abel
Part Three of Crisis on Infinite Earths packs a lot into its hour. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “There is too much. Let me sum up.”
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
We kick off Part Three with a cameo by Ashley Scott, Huntress from the 2002 Birds of Prey series. She’s talking to Oracle (voiced by Dina Meyer) as the anti-matter wave consumes Earth-203. Meanwhile, Cisco, Ralph, Killer Frost, and John Diggle join the heroes on the Waverider. After Cisco and Ray fix the detector, the identities of the last three Paragons are revealed: J’onn J’onzz, the Paragon of Honor; Barry Allen, the Paragon of Love; and a person they haven’t yet met, a Dr. Ryan Choi, as the Paragon of Humanity.
From there, the heroes split up. Ray, Iris, and Ralph go to Ivy Town, where Ray went to school, to recruit Ryan. After the Monitor restores Cisco’s Vibe powers against his wishes, the O.G. Team Flash heads to the tunnel where Nash Wells found the Anti-Monitor, which is where Cisco traced the origin of the anti-matter wave. Diggle, Constantine, and Mia take a trip to Purgatory (after a stopover on Earth-666 for a way there courtesy of Tom Ellis’ Lucifer Morningstar) to retrieve Oliver’s soul, and the others remain on the ship.
I’m going to recap these by team rather than bouncing around scene-by-scene, because I tried doing that in my first draft and you don’t want to know how badly that went.
In Purgatory, which Oliver apparently decided looks like Lian Yu, Constantine explains that Oliver won’t have his memories here. On cue, Ollie’s soul attacks Constantine. Diggle tells Ollie he’s sorry he wasn’t there for him and calls him his brother, talking Oliver into remembering who everyone is. I don’t really watch Arrow, but I think this would have been more poignant coming from Mia. Oliver is about to rejoin his body when Jim Corrigan, a.k.a. the Spectre, shows up to recite his own Wikipedia page. He convinces Oliver to stay behind to, I presume, become the new Spectre? Uh, that was unexpected and kind of cool. If it plays out that way, Ollie will be the first mortal to become the Spectre out of choice, rather than vengeance or penance.
Ray, Ralph, and Iris meet Dr. Ryan Choi, who’s a big fan of Ray’s. After explaining the situation and telling Ryan he’s needed, Ryan peaces out of there, saying that if the world’s ending, then he needs to be with his wife and his baby girl Simone. I see what they did there. Iris has a talk with Ryan, human to human. She reminds him that ordinary people have a role in all this as well: to remind the heroes what they’re fighting for. By coming with them, Ryan can help ensure his family’s safety. He finally agrees and leaves to call his wife. Ray tells Iris that only Earth-1 is left, and asks how she knew what to say to Ryan. She flashes back to her last talk with Barry, who praises her heart, intelligence and resourcefulness. We get a teary goodbye with Barry promising that no matter what, he’ll come running home to her. NO YOU’RE CRYING.
Aboard the Waverider, Kate and Kara have a standoff over Kara using the Book of Destiny to bring back the destroyed Earths. Kate reminds her that using the book on that scale would drive her mad, and she’s ready to fight Kara to stop her. It looks grim as Kara refuses to back down and Kate surreptitiously palms the Kryptonite she took off of Earth-99 Bruce’s body. Kate makes one final appeal to logic, which convinces Kara to walk away from the book. Kate and the entire audience collectively breathe a sigh of relief.
Last but not least, it’s not a Crisis until a Flash gets killed, and we’ve finally come to that moment. It turns out that Vibe truly was needed. Pariah shows up in the tunnel with an infodump, and Cisco vibes the lost memories of Nash Wells in order to open the glyph-locked doorway. Inside is an anti-matter cannon powered by a speedster running on the cosmic treadmill. It’s shielded, so Cisco vibes Barry onto and off of the treadmill, along with the speedster – Barry Allen of Earth-90, who was trapped here by the Anti-Monitor after “Elseworlds.” He says he has to get back on, otherwise the cannon will destroy all of the remaining earths at once.
As an aside, it’s only just here that Pariah finally tells Team Flash that Earth-2 was the first to be destroyed, because apparently Oliver couldn’t be bothered to make a goddamn phone call all season.
On the ship, Lois and the Monitor watch as another Earth dies, bringing the total remaining down to seven. The Monitor opens up a bit to Lois, telling her about his homeworld, right before Earth-96 Superman breaches in, angry that he couldn’t save that Earth. He refuses to stop fighting, however, and tells Lois that “hope is the light that lifts us out of the darkness.” Damn, that’s a great line.
Back on Earth-1, Pariah breaches in Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning from Earth-76 – the one that was just destroyed. When Jeff learns this, he loses it and screams at Pariah that he should have saved his family instead. It’s a really great bit of acting by Cress Williams that showcases Jefferson’s rage and despair in the moment. Barry tells Jefferson that he knows how he feels, but he’s needed to contain the energy of the anti-matter cannon. Asking Jeff what his family would want him to do convinces him. As Jefferson holds the cannon’s energy at bay, the two Barrys go into Flashtime and realize that reversing the treadmill would stop not only the cannon, but the entire anti-matter wave itself. Earth-1 Barry realizes that this is his moment of sacrifice.
Except…not so much. Barry Allen, the Flash, did indeed have to die in the Crisis. Lucky for them, they have a spare in the trunk. Earth-90 Barry steals Earth-1 Barry’s speed, is breached back onto the treadmill, and reverses the polarity as he disintegrates into nothingness, dissipating the anti-matter wave seconds before it hits Earth-1.
As the heroes reunite aboard the Waverider, Lyla teleports in, claiming memory loss, but before you can say “Admiral Ackbar,” she attacks the Monitor. Harbinger has been taken over by the Anti-Monitor. The two fight (as fellow Arrowverse fan @dranj70 noticed, it’s an homage to this panel from the Crisis comics), and ultimately Harbinger destroys the Monitor. Harbinger absorbs the last of the Monitor’s power to recall the anti-matter wave and destroys Earth-1. Pariah sends the Paragons away just before the wave hits the ship, killing everyone else aboard – Iris, Earth-38 Clark, everybody.
The Paragons end up at Vanishing Point, which Sara explains is a realm outside time and space, where the Anti-Monitor can’t reach them. But just when things look the grimmest for our heroes, it gets even worse. Superman-96 collapses, consumed by dark red energy, and disintegrates. In his place appears none other than Lex Luthor, who rewrote a page of the Book of Destiny to take Superman’s place at Vanishing Point.
…WELL THAT HAPPENED.
This was a densely packed, but fantastic episode. I only have a few minor nitpicks, such as the fact that J’onn has yet to have his Paragon moment, and I’m still irritated that it took until now for anyone to bother telling Team Flash about Earth-2. On top of that, Lex Luthor read far enough into Book of Destiny spoilers to make sure he was alive at Vanishing Point, but didn’t think to scribble in something like “the Anti-Monitor and Superman kill each other and Lex Luthor finds a way to restore the multiverse without going crazy”? For a genius, Lex sure is an idiot sometimes.
Answers are going to have to wait, however, as the CW gave us a massive cliffhanger for a holiday gift, and Parts Four and Five of Crisis will air on January 14th.
The Flash airs Tuesday nights at 8 Eastern/7 Central on the CW. Dayna can be found on Twitter @queenanthai.