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Old Man Batman, wild twists, and a surprise resurrection(?!) in Night 2 of Crisis
The second night of The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths slowed things down a bit from the world-busting (and hero-killing) opening night, but there was still plenty of action to keep this crossover event rolling.
Spoilers ahead for Night 2 of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which aired December 9, 2019 on The CW.
We learn thanks to a resurrected Book of Destiny that seven heroes, dubbed paragons, exist who can stop the Crisis. So, Team Flash/Arrow/Batwoman/Supergirl/Legends hit the road to find them. With Lex Luthor on the run with the book of destiny taking out Supermen, this is where the Easter egg hunt begins for fans. The journey leads Supergirl’s Clark and Lois to the Smallville universe, where they meet up with a retired version of Tom Welling’s Clark Kent. It seems that in the years since Smallville ended, Clark has settled down with Lois, had a few kids, and chose to give up his powers. We leave the Smallville universe still intact, with Clark and Lois living a happy life. It’s a brief, but nice, coda for that story all these years later.
Their journey eventually leads them to the Superman they need for the Crisis — a Superman Returns-style Supes played by Brandon Routh. He’s gone through immense loss, after his Lois and all his friends were killed in an attack on the Daily Planet office. His suit clearly draws inspiration from Kingdom Come, and after a nifty Superman vs. Superman battle due to the Book of Destiny, this super-jacked Superman joins the team for the battle yet to come. He’s an older, wiser, sadder take on the Big Blue Boyscout.
Batwoman and Supergirl make their own trip to a strange new world, heading to an alt-universe Future Gotham. This is a world where Gotham’s hero is an aged, near-crippled Bruce Wayne played by Batman voice acting legend Kevin Conroy. Conroy is filling using his Batman Beyond Old Man Batman voice here, sporting a robotic exo-suit straight from the comics to help him move around. We learn in his universe, he played the hero long enough to finally become the villain. This Batman went too far outside the law and killed his enemies, going on a reign of terror across his Gotham. We learn he even killed his world’s Superman, because he hated Clark’s commitment to upholding and empowering institutions (governments, nations, etc.) even when they might be flawed.
He tells Kate the Kate in his universe took up the cowl, too, but was killed for it five years ago. When he realizes Supergirl is a Kryptonian, he makes a move to kill her, but Kate accidentally damages his exo-suit, which electrocutes and seemingly kills him. His dying words warn there is no hope for this world, or any other for that matter. Yeah, it’s clear this guy is no paragon, and we get confirmation of that a bit later. Turns out young Kate Kane, the Bat of the future, is actually the paragon of courage. Which isn’t much of a surprise — she’s the future of the Arrowverse, and as far as the small screen goes, the future of the Bat-franchise.
The remaining heroes pour one out for the dearly departed Oliver Queen, though this is apparently not quite the end of his story. The Arrowverse is a world where death is rarely the end, and that looks to be the case to at least some extent here. Mia and Barry hatch a plan to head to another Earth that still has a functioning Lazarus Pit, which they plan to use to resurrect the dearly departed Oliver Queen. After dispatching a rogue Jonah Hex from that universe, they take Oliver for a dip. Just when it seems like he might be too far gone, a feral Oliver bursts out from the muck and goes on a wild attack. Sara’s been through this a time or two, though, and hits him with a tranquilizer dart.
They also planned ahead and brought Constantine along to try and quickly restore Oliver’s soul, but all the antimatter disrupts his powers. So, we’re apparently left with the team holding onto a wild, soulless Oliver Queen. At least for the time being. Does this mean we’ll see Oliver back in action after his death in Night 1? Possibly, though it’d certainly take the bite out of his heroic sacrifice and death. But, this thing still has three more hours to go (plus a couple episodes of Arrow once it’s over), so anything could happen.
The Bat in the room
If you thought for a second that the Bat of the Future The Monitor was sending Kate to find was actually going to be Bruce Wayne then, well, you would have been most people, probably. As an audience, though, we should have known better than to assume even for a moment that the Paragon of Courage was anyone other than Kate Kane herself. Kate, who has always refused to back down from a fight, even when it cost her everything. Kate, who gave up everything she ever wanted - twice - in order to serve a greater truth or a greater purpose. It was always going to be Kate, even if she doesn’t believe it herself.
For the eight episodes we’ve known her (not counting crossovers) Kate has lived her life recklessly and bravely and always just this side of mind numbingly terrified. She faces fear and uncertainty the way she does everything else, with a smirk and a quip and foolhardy impulsivity but always toward a greater morality. We’ve also only ever really known her as someone who lives in Bruce Wayne’s towering shadow and tonight she stepped out from behind it.
Kate has spent all eight weeks trying to live up to Bruce Wayne and Batman and the myth of what he was to Gotham. She has never felt good enough to fill those boots. But encountering this grizzled, broken man from the future, seeing what Bruce’s life of loneliness and distrust turned him into, it has to have changed her. There’s no way she comes out of this Crisis with the same view of her cousin or her role in as a hero.
Of course, Kate is still a Bat, and a Bat who just learned of the existence of Kryptonite, so it’s only natural that she stole Bruce’s piece. While it’s possible she took it as an insurance policy with so many Kryptonians in the room, I’d bet you Batarangs to Billionaires her thought is a little more about “saving Kara from herself” than hurting her friend.
Speaking of, it felt a lot like the start of a changing of the Arrowverse guard. The relationship they started building between Kate and Kara took a major leap forward tonight and it seems like the ladies are poised to take on a bigger leadership role going forward. Perhaps the future is female after all.
The big twist: The episode ends with the Anti-Monitor finally revealed, as Lyla’s Harbinger is called upon to help him. She’s seemingly being compelled and driven there. Is it her destiny? Is Lyla switching sides, like it or not?
Tuesday night: Crisis continues. More heroes, more craziness, and Black Lightning joins the fray.