This review contains spoilers.
5.9 Crisis On Infinite Earths Part One
This is how the Green Arrow dies: Not by saving the city, but by saving the entire universe.
It is the job of the beginning of the story, which Crisis On Infinite Earths: Part One most definitely is, to set the stakes for the crossover journey to come, and boy did this Supergirl starter do it. In an episode that begins with the destruction of entire worlds, including Argo City (the last remaining bit of Krypton), it might seem impossible to raise the stakes even further, but Part One does it, not only killing Oliver, but also Supergirl’s entire planet.
If Oliver Queen is the Tony Stark of this on-screen universe, aka the character who started it all, then killing him off in the first hour of a five-part crossover is a massively gutsy storytelling move and one I hope Crisis sticks with moving forward, even if it is devastating. We’ve known since last year’s crossover that Ollie would die in this Crisis—the Arrowverse told us so again and again over the course of Arrow season eight—and, frankly, it would have felt like cheating for “Crisis” to do anything else.
Still, there is killing off Oliver Queen in episode five or even epsiode four of the crossover, and there is killing him off in Hour One. While Oliver Queen might be one of the less powerful of the team when it comes to superpowers (which makes his last stand against the shadow demons even more terrifying and impressive), he has arguably the greatest narrative weight—this world is unofficially called the Arrowverse, after all. With so much hanging in the balance, it is scary to know that Oliver Queen won’t be around to help save the day.
And what is at stake? Pariah, aka The Man Formerly Known as Nash Wells, aka The Man Who Let the Anti-Monitor Out in the First Place, drops in during Oliver’s death scene to make sure everyone knows just how dire things have become: “Things are turning out differently than expected, but one thing is certain: Everything we know. Everything there is. And everything there ever was. Is doomed.” Thanks, Pariah. Great pep talk.
But before we look ahead to what might come next, let’s go back and talk about this episode, which was a non-stop delight of superhero cameos not only in terms of actors and characters, but also settings. “Crisis” had helpful location titles throughout the episode, which was, frankly, necessary given how many worlds we were jumping between. Here’s my count: Earth-89 Gotham City, Earth-9 San Fransisco, Earth-X, Earth-66 Gotham City, Earth-38 National City, Earth-1 Lian Yu, Earth-1 Central City, Earth-1 Gotham City, Earth-1 Star City, and Star City Earth-16 (2046).
These worlds and more are at stake when the Anti-Monitor lets loose a massive wave of anti-matter that, when our story picks up, is currently sweeping across the universe, destroying everything in its path. The Monitor gathers as many heroes as he can, including Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Arrow’s daughter Mia, Atom, White Canary, and Batwoman to make a stand on Earth-38. It is… semi-successful?
While our heroes might not save Earth-38, which will no doubt have massive repercussions for Supergirl moving forward, they do hold off the Anti-Monitors army of shadow demons long enough to allow a mass evacuation of the planet. I wish this show had had the budget to show a bit more of this part of the story, especially as many of the Supergirl characters, like Nia, J’onn, Kelly, and Alex were involved in it, but budgets gotta budget.
In the end, 3 billion of 7.53 billion make it off of Earth-38 and seek refuge on Earth-1, which we learn will be the last world to be hit by the anti-matter wave. It would be incredibly ambitious, both in terms of narrative and budget (they build those standing sets to last an entire season, at the very least!), for the Arrowverse to commit to such a complete change in setting for Supergirl moving forward, but what an interesting choice that would be: for a show about alien refugees to become a show about an entire universe’s world of refugees. But also very dark.
The original, comics-based Crisis was devised as a way to streamline canon after decades of storytelling that often contradicted itself. Bringing Kara to Earth-1 would mean that every Arrowverse show is set in the same universe, but it hasn’t really been much of a problem having Kara jump across the multiverse for a musical episode from time to time as is, so I’m not sure if a narrative streamlining is necessary in this case.
Part One of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” was relatively modest in its use of Arrowverse’s massive superhero cast, which I think was a very clever choice. By keeping the ensemble in this part of the story relatively small, we were able to spend more time with all of them, not to mention check in with the characters who are Supergirl-specific. In the latter case, we got one of the best scenes of a consistently great episode when Alex goes to ask Lena for help building a transmatter portal, leading with an apology she probably should have already given Lena.
“I don’t want your apology, Alex, because you will never again have my friendship or my trust,” Lena tells her. “I’ve learned my lesson from all of you. But, if the world is at stake, then of course I’ll help. It is hubris of you to think that I wouldn’t, but then you’ve made it clear how little you think of me these past few years.”
Which, frankly, yes. Lena makes some amazing points here that were hopefully interesting for even non-Supergirl viewers to watch play out. Given that The Monitor saved Lex as a resource for “Crisis,” it will be interesting to see what role Lena continues to play moving forward.
The CW superhero crossovers aren’t just about getting viewers interested in the other superhero shows currently airing on the network; they’re also, increasingly, about getting viewers excited for shows to come. In this episode alone, we get some of the foundation for two CW shows currently in development: We get to spend time with parents Superman and Lois Lane as they try to balance saving the world with keeping track of their infant son. Perhaps we can expect more of the same from the Superman & Lois Lane TV series The CW currently has in development.
The other prospective series Part One does a lovely job sowing the seeds for is The Canaries spinoff in development at The CW, which would centre around Mia, Earth-2’s Laurel Lance, and Dinah Drake as a team of female vigilantes. While the process of Oliver passing on the Green Arrow mantle to Mia may have begin in Arrow, we see it come to fruition here, as Oliver gifts Mia with a suit of her own before he dies, then asks Mia to “keep him in her heart,” which you know is going to equate to Mia going full-on vigilante just like her own father did in the wake of his father’s death.
All in all, from Oliver Queen’s apparent death to the destruction of Supergirl’s home world (again), there are some major events that go down in this episode that could ripple out into the Arrowverse’s storytelling for years to come. CW’s superhero TV has a habit of backtracking on some of its more major plot twists so who knows what will happen in the next four parts of “Crisis On Infinite Earths.” Right now, however, Part One has done a phenomenal job setting the stakes. I can’t wait to go on the rest of this journey.