This article contains nothing but Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3 spoilers.
Well, you certainly can’t say that Crisis on Infinite Earths is anything less than ambitious. The Flash episode of the massive Arrowverse crossover, long known as the one on which so much of this show would turn, is “Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Three” brought of the death of a Flash, the return of some fan favorites, the introduction of a character who will likely prove to be pivotal down the line, and a stunning betrayal. In other words, it’s Crisis through and through, and the stakes in the Arrowverse have never been higher.
Here’s that official synopsis in case you need a refresher, but really, this barely scratches the surface of what just went down here.
“Pariah (Tom Cavanagh) enlists Black Lightning (guest star Cress Williams) to help stop the Anti-Monitor (guest star LaMonica Garrett) after Flash-90 (guest star John Wesley Shipp) shares what he learned from his battle in Elseworlds. With the help of Black Lightning, Barry (Grant Gustin), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) come up with a plan that could save them all. Meanwhile, Iris (Candice Patton) has a heart-to-heart with Ryan Choi (guest star Osric Chau), while Oliver (guest star Stephen Amell) and Diggle (guest star David Ramsey) return to an old familiar stomping ground.”
Now, let’s get down to work. If you spot any Easter eggs we missed, note them in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!
Birds of Prey
The episode kicks off in the New Gotham of the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, which ran for one season in late 2002 and early 2003.
That’s Ashley Scott as Helena Kyle, the Huntress from the Birds of Prey TV series. Presumably that’s the voice of Dina Meyer as Oracle that she’s talking to.
Huntress getting wiped out by a wave of antimatter is right in keeping with the kind of hopeless “crimson skies of death” fatality that the comic was famous (and infamous).
Presumably the Earth-203 designation is for the year Birds of Prey aired its final episode, although if anyone has any additional speculation on that we’re certainly willing to listen!
The 7 Paragons
The final three Paragons are revealed in this episode. Martian Manhunter is the Paragon of Honor, Barry Allen is the Paragon of Love, and Ryan Choi (more on him in a minute) is the Paragon of Humanity.
We have more information about the 7 Paragons of Crisis on Infinite Earths here.
Incidentally, Ralph’s reaction to seeing this assembly of heroes is to say, in true Burt Ward fashion (remember we saw him in part one?), “Holy All-Star Squadron.” The All-Star Squadron were a World War II era offshoot of the Justice Society of America. Was this just a clever turn of phrase on Ralph’s part, or is it a nod to the fact that some version of this team may have existed on Earth-1 in the past? Legends of Tomorrow season 2 established the existence of a Justice Society, so it would make sense.
Unsurprisingly, we learn that the cult favorite (eh? See what we did there? eh?) Lucifer TV series takes place on Earth-666. You don’t need us to tell you that’s Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar.
In fact, there’s a stunning amount of Sandman specifically, and early Vertigo in general in here. The Book of Destiny remains a direct reference to Destiny of the Endless, and while he wasn’t around yet when the Crisis first happened in the comics, he would have probably been part of the cosmic entities involved in the fight. Lucifer and Constantine don’t appear to have regularly interacted, but they’ve crossed paths a few times, and Lucifer was an important character early in Dream’s tale.
Lucifer’s older brother is a reference to Amenadiel, played by DB Woodside on the show.
Ryan Choi is the third Atom and a direct legacy character to Ray Palmer. He was created in 2007 by Grant Morrison and Gail Simone in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths sequel Infinite Crisis. We have more info on Ryan Choi here.
Ivy Town is Dr. Choi’s base of operations. That tracks with the comics – he was a professor at Ivy University, like Ray Palmer before him. He’s also much more of an intellectual than Ray. Ivy Town is, for those wondering, a New Haven, Connecticut analogue, and Ivy University is Yale.
Ryan’s family status is a big change from the comics – he’s not married and doesn’t have a child in the books.
That’s the legendary John Wesley Shipp once again reprising his role as Barry Allen from The Flash TV series that ran for one season in 1990-1991. This is the first time we’ve seen him since Elseworlds last year, when the Monitor made him vanish in the middle of a battle. His fate was never made clear, but now we know how he’s spent the last year, powering the Anti-Matter cannon on a cosmic treadmill.
It should be noted that in the comics, Barry Allen had ALSO disappeared before Crisis began. Although there, it was because he had decided to spend the rest of his life in the future with Iris, who he had spent the last few years believing was dead. It’s…a long story, but it’s really one of the great ones. Comics are crazy, kids!
– When Earth-90 Barry says “I was married once too” he’s referring to Tina McGee, the STAR Labs chief of his world. We’ve seen a version of Tina in the Arrowverse, as the head of Mercury Labs.
– Whenever Earth-90 Flash is on screen, you’re hearing that terrific theme song by Danny Elfman and Shirley Walker.
– And yes, in the comics, speedsters are capable of stealing speed from other speedsters/things. I don’t believe it’s a power we’ve seen used in the Arrowverse yet. It makes sense that an older, more experienced speedster would know how to do it, though.
The Death of The Flash
“Let me do this. Let me save you all.”
– When Barry takes Barry aside from the rest of the team, their conversation is taking place at super speed. Presumably even more information is being exchanged than what we’re seeing here.
– As the Monitor had been saying all along, “the Flash must die” in Crisis. But as they point out here, “he never said which Flash or which version of Barry Allen.” In this case, it ends up being the Barry Allen of Earth-90. In a way, this is poetically appropriate. When John Wesley Shipp was playing the Flash in the early ‘90s, Barry Allen was dead in the comics, having died in Crisis back in 1985. So Shipp’s Flash was something of an anomaly. By the time Grant Gustin was cast as Barry Allen over six years ago, Barry had long returned from his fate in Crisis in the comics.
This Barry had lost his world already, Earth-90 was one of the first decimated during Elseworlds, and it has likely long been wiped out by the anti-matter wave. He has less to live for and willingly sacrifices himself. As most Flashes do, the last thing he sees before he dies is the face of his love. In this case, Amanda Pays as Tina McGee.
In the comics, his death is slightly different, running backwards around the cannon’s power source until it was destroyed. In the process, he disintegrated, leaving only his costume. Here, not only the full costume remains.
Batwoman and Supergirl
So, we now know why Kate kept the Kryptonite after her unfortunate encounter with the Batman of Earth-99, it was to prevent Supergirl from doing something foolish in order to save more lives. What we end up with is a wonderful reinforcement of their friendship, and a kind of inversion of the Batman and Superman relationship in the comics.
Traditionally, Batman keeps a rock of Kryptonite stashed in the Batcave. Depending on who’s writing the story, it’s either because Batman is a pointy-eared and paranoid dick (which is generally true but not necessarily the best reasoning) or because he’s Superman’s best friend. Wait, what? No, it’s true. Sometimes it’s actually Superman who gives Batman the Kryptonite, knowing that Bruce is the only person he trusts to stop him if he ever loses control. What we get with Kate and Kara is a new version of that, and it’s really touching.
– We see Earth-73 wiped out on a monitor screen that Lois Lane is watching, moments before Jefferson Pierce arrives on the Waverider. Does this mean that Earth-73 is where Black Lightning takes place? Or is this just some convenient timing?
– The fact that Superman appears to be a fictional character on Jefferson’s world is a reminder of just how far removed from the rest of the Arrowverse his show has been. Expect that to change in 2020.
– As we went into considerable detail elsewhere, the Superman Brandon Routh is playing here is essentially the same character from Superman Returns and the Christopher Reeve films, with a little of the Kingdom Come version of the character thrown in. But here, for the first time on screen or in the comics, he goes so far as to explain the red-and-black Superman logo.
“Even in the darkest times hope cuts through.” Superman: The Movie was the first version of the Superman legend to make the “S” into “not an S” (to quote Man of Steel) and rather a Kryptonian crest. Instead, it was the crest of the House of El, something that was MUCH later adopted by the comics and other media versions of the legend. The opening narration of Superman: The Movie refers to Superman as “a symbol of hope for the city of Metropolis.” It was Man of Steel that finally connected the dots between making the “S” into both a Kryptonian family crest AND the Kryptonian symbol for hope.
– There’s a slow version of the John Williams Superman theme that plays as Earth-96 Superman tells all this to Lois Lane and it’s really great.
– Kara holding Earth-96 Superman as he dies (assuming that’s what actually happens) mirrors the Earth-75 death of Superman we saw in Part Two, and, of course, the iconic Dan Jurgens spread from the Death of Superman story in Superman #75.
– So…is the Superman of Earth-96 REALLY dead at the end of this episode? Considering that he’s basically the avatar of one of the most important live action incarnations of the character ever, we’re not sure.
Jim Corrigan and The Spectre
Jim Corrigan is the Spectre, a character who was introduced in 1942, in the aptly named More Fun Comics, where he was murdered on his way to his own engagement party, stuffed in a barrel of concrete, and tossed in a river. He was sent back to Earth to exact vengance on his murderers and he was eventually revealed as Christian God’s wrath on Earth, and he would do things like “threaten the entire state of New York” or “raze a country.”
There seems to be some kind of spiritual exchange going on with Corrigan and Oliver Queen here, and it’s likely to get ugly down the line.
Harbinger’s betrayal because she has been infected by the Anti-Monitor is straight out of the original story. Although there it took place much earlier.
Miscellaneous Multiple Earths
When the heroes are assembled on the Waverider, we learn that there are only seven universes left in the multiverse. By this point in the story in the comics, it was five. Earth-1, Earth-2, Earth-X, Earth-4, and Earth-S. Those were the four worlds that ended up getting merged into a new DC Comics continuity. For here, let’s just assume that those will be Earth-1, Earth-38, and Earth-73. We tried to make sense of that entire ending here.
We’ll find out more when Crisis on Infinite Earths returns for its two-hour finale on Jan. 14, 2020!