This post contains spoilers for Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Part One of Crisis on Infinite Earths puts to bed any concern that the event taking place across five episodes would mean a lot of exposition right out the gate. We hit the ground running in basically every aspect, up to and including high death tolls. The first episode of DCTV’s epic crossover takes about thirty seconds to get those who are unfamiliar with the Crisis story up to speed. After that, no one is safe.
The Anti-Monitor’s wave of anti-matter is hurdling across galaxies, wiping out earth after earth as if they were nothing. We already saw the decimation of Earth 2 on Arrow weeks ago, with the fates of those we knew from that earth remaining unknown. There is no such question for Argo City. While Harry Wells, Jessie Quick, and other Earth 2 darlings could have been off-world at the time, there’s no question that the remaining Kryptonians were on Argo. We also know that, with the exception of Lois Lane, Clark, and baby Jonathan, none of them were able to escape.
While the quest to find young Jonathan’s pod takes Brainy, Sara Lance and Lois off-world and out of time to Earth 16 in 2046, the rest of the heroes must protect The Monitor’s quantum tower long enough for Earth 38 to be evacuated. To do so, J’onn J’onnz must convince the refugees who have been spurned by humanity to help with their ships, and a reluctant Alex Danvers has to convince a bitter Lena Luthor to build a transmatter portal. Both succeed, which means that the only thing left is for our heroes to stop the Anti-Monitor’s army from destroying the tower before the planet can be evacuated.
When he sees that the heroes are not ready for his brother’s armies, The Monitor forces all but the Green Arrow back to Earth 1. Oliver Queen, being the man that he is, refuses to leave until the planet’s fully evacuated. Even goes so far as to shoot The Monitor. In the end, they manage to get about three billion out of the nearly eight billion people that occupied Earth 38 to Earth 1. One billion of those three were because of Oliver Queen’s sacrifice.
We’ve known from the jump that Green Arrow wasn’t going to make it out of Crisis alive. What we didn’t know is that we’d watch him take his last breath in part one of five. There’s a lot of theorizing to be done over Earth 16’s Oliver Queen, or the myriad of other ways we’ll see him cheat death one last time before his show wraps. Presumably, we’ll see The Monitor explain why he can’t bring him back the same way he did Earth 38’s Lex Luthor next week. In the meantime, let’s unpack what we just watched.
Part One of the crossover is a masterclass in keeping the small in with the big. There are so many little tidbits sprinkled in amongst the monumental moments that it was almost hard to keep track. The intro alone was chock-full of surprises for long-time fans. The music, Burt Ward (on Earth 66, obviously), Titans’ Robin, and more all drove home just how hard Crisis was going to bring it with the external universes.
The emotional beats also came in the huge and poignantly small varieties. Kara and Kal-El discussing the weight of the cape and the second loss of their people on the balcony was heavy all on its own. Then it was joined by a broken Oliver Queen sputtering out his last goodbyes to his friends and his daughter. But the small moments that came along with them packed just as hard of a punch. Barry laying his hand on Mia’s shoulder after her father took his last breath, the look of pride on Alex’s face when Kelly whipped out the Guardian shield to protect an evacuee… the list goes on.
Crisis on Infinite Earths' balancing the big with the small really drives home how much of an advantage having five hours to play with your story can be if you do it the right way. Having that amount of time means you don’t have to sacrifice one over the other. It also means that you can tell an epic like Crisis correctly. Though we didn’t spend a ton of time diving into Mar Novu and his brother right at the jump, there’s still four more hours of this story. It’s also being told in a way that the backstory there might not be entirely necessary. Knowing what you’re in for is important, but not at the expense of focusing on the stories of the heroes your viewership is there for.
Oliver’s death has major implications to the story. The Monitor’s visibly spooked over the fact that he didn’t see it happening this way while Pariah’s in the corner being all doom and gloom. Said death might also come into play in regard to the Flash’s disappearance.
As expected, Oliver’s pretty pissed when he finds out his deal didn’t save Barry after all. But things are a lot more complicated now that they’re not playing out the way Mar Novu had thought. The Flash was never going to disappear for any meaningful amount of time. The show’s still running! But that doesn’t mean Barry and his team are safe from consequences. That whole area of theories boils down to us only having seen one episode so far. Ultimately, we’ll get more answers will come, as will more questions. In the meantime: Oliver’s dead, Earth 38 is gone, and about four billion people died in part one alone.
This sets big expectations for the rest of the crossover. Impeccable fight scenes are balanced with heartfelt moments. While I wish there were a few more, we did get a couple of laughs tossed in with the devastation. If Felicity and Cisco aren’t going to be around, then Mia Smoak and Kate Kane should have to work with Ray Palmer for the rest of Crisis. I don’t make the rules here, guys. All of our comic relief is gone!
Things pick back up again tomorrow with part two! We’ll be toasting the dearly departed, dealing with Crisis on Infinite Supermen, and things get a lot more Kingdom Come-flavored. As always, if you had thoughts on the episode, shout ‘em in the comments!