Updated: Jan 3
Some worlds will live and some worlds will die as this season’s DCTV primetime crossover event promises to send The CW series of shows into a tailspin as the classic comic book comes to life!
Holy crimson skies of death, is the understatement of the month! In the opening moments of Episode 9, Season 5 of Supergirl it looks like the DCTV multiverse had met its match! A wave of merciless anti-matter appeared to be moving across space making short work of prominent and all-too familiar locales including Earth-89, the earth of director Tim Burton’s Batman and Earth-X, the Nazi-occupied alternate earth under the protection of The Ray (Russell Tovey). Even Earth-9 which is designated as the home of the DC Universe Original Series content including Titans and Doom Patrol is wiped out in the blink of an eye!
Earth-66 also faces its own annihilation as unassuming ward (Burt Ward, that is) of billionaire Bruce Wayne walks a particularly famous pooch through the bright streets of Gotham City as the skies turn a blood red signaling the arrival of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and Part 1 of The CW’s annual crossover event. At the conclusion of the previous year’s event, “Elseworlds” set up the introduction of “Crisis” when it appeared that an omnipotent interloper named The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) was perceived to be testing the mettle of our heroes including Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), The Flash (Grant Gustin) and Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) in a contest of wills.
The Monitor has continued to interject himself into the various CW primetime series mostly teasing the fates of Oliver Queen and Barry Allen respectfully, and recently paying a visit to the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) on Supergirl. Kara herself proved to be very surprised to learn that the strange visitor had a presence inside their part of the multiverse, having considered The Monitor an Earth-1 villain after facing off against the alien in a stand-off that included the appearance (and almost immediate disappearance) of The Flash of Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp).
Just like in the 12-part maxi series published by DC Comics that promised to redefine the entirety of the then 50-year chronology of the imprint, the Monitor’s agent Harbinger, Lyla Michaels (Arrow recurring guest star Audrey Marie Anderson) recruits the heroic first line of defense against the anti-matter wave. Harbinger brings The Flash, The Legends: White Canary (Caity Lotz) and Ray Palmer, The Atom (Brandon Routh) and Batwoman (Ruby Rose) to Earth-38, the home of Supergirl, even rescuing her cousin Superman (Tyler Hoechlin) and Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch) from the path of the anti-matter wave which decimates Argo City.
The heroes are gathered and a part of The Monitor’s plan is set in motion as an all-out effort to save Earth-38 begins! They are tasked with defending a Quantum Tower that has emerged in the heart of National City; it is the only thing that is able to keep the anti-matter wave at bay, but the tower is under siege from an army of Shadow Beings sent by their as yet unseen enemy. In the meantime Supergirl’s friends including her sister Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) are themselves working to evacuate the planet’s population to Earth-1 using a series of alien lifeboats . Alex enlists the help of their onetime ally Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) to create a portal and safe passage to Earth-1.
Unfortunately even our heroes most valiant effort is leading to failure. The anti-matter wave may have been only temporary slowed down; the Shadow Beings continue to push forward on their attack of the Quantum Tower, and The Monitor has no other choice but to rescue the heroes from themselves. He is able to get them all out of danger, with the exception of Green Arrow. Oliver Queen stays behind and sacrifices himself to give the lifeboats enough time to escape the fate of Earth-38. Thanks to Oliver’s efforts, 3 billion souls from Earth-38 are evacuated to Earth-1 and Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) his daughter from the future inherits her father’s legacy.
Just as Oliver Queen takes his last breath, the surviving heroes are suddenly joined by a new stranger. Although he wears the face of a friend, a Wells from one of the parallel-earths of the multiverse Pariah (Tom Cavanagh) is cursed to bear witness to the tragedy; it is his penance for releasing their true enemy, the being known as The Anti-Monitor. Although it was foretold by The Monitor that Oliver Queen would meet his end during the coming “crisis”, this is not the way the hero was supposed to die, and though his sacrifice saved many lives, it has not stopped the threat of the anti-matter wave which is moving towards the focal point of Earth-1, and soon there will be nothing left!
With a story by Supergirl showrunner Robert Rovner and Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Part 1 is a cheerfully thrilling adaptation inspired by the original material. Launching the crossover on its breakneck path, the first hour has merit for placing the heroes inside of the proverbial blender of possibilities that bringing such an epic storyline to life entails. From the heroes gathering to the appearance of the Quantum Tower, these plot points are practically ripped from the books themselves and would make Marv Wolfman and George Pérez proud. The appearance of the Shadow Beings is also enough to make a fanboy quiver with glee!
Married (and some might say limited) to the existing show narratives, the crossover which historically marks the television winter hiatus for the series, very ably worked in to naturally fit everyone of the “Arrowverse” shows, Part 1 was undoubtedly at the mercy of wrapping up storylines including Arrow which is nearly at the end of its final season, and Supergirl just rounded out an untethered Season 5 arc that pitted Kara against Lena Luthor and a mythological villain that left little impact on its audience. With the destruction of Earth-38 in Part 1, Supergirl and her friends find themselves without a proper home and all the heroes are mourning the fall of Oliver Queen.
What’s the Endgame?
Marc Guggenheim has suggested that the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event was always in the cards for the inhabitants of the “Arrowverse” but admittedly the executive producer has said, that aside from a plot note that was taking shape in The Flash and introduced in the Pilot that launched in 2014, he could never have imagined that they would be able to pull off such a huge story. With six series currently on the air and on The CW it seemed inevitable especially with the decline of event television giving way to wave of subscriber services and binging becoming more common, that something “big” would be necessary especially as “superhero fatigue” set in.
With Arrow star Stephen Amell ready to sign-off and the show that “started it all” wrapping up with its Eighth Season, the timing seemed perfect, and with Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti and their team of diehard fans running the show, this seemed like the most ideal trajectory to provide their flagship show with an epic finale as well as revitalize the standing series including The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow which would benefit from a little retooling as the newbies Black Lightning and Batwoman carve their own identities. “Crisis” may feel like a natural means to an end and a way to clean house, making way for some fresh talent like Stargirl in the spring.
Supergirl | “Crisis of Infinite Earths” Part 1 | Episode 9, Season 5 | Directed by Jesse Warn and Written by Robert Rovner & Marc Guggenheim with a teleplay by Derek Simon & Jay Faerber | Original Airdate: 12/8/2019
Supergirl airs Sunday Nights @ 9pm EST on The CW and returns with new episodes in January.