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The world ends and (a) Flash vanishes in the midseason finale of Crisis on Infinite Earths

By Trent Moore
Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3

They managed to hold a few secret cameo surprises for this week, as the Crisis takes a major turn as the Flash really does die — just not the one we expected.

Spoilers ahead for “Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3,” which aired Tuesday, December 10, 2019, on The CW.

Considering just how Earth(s) shattering the finale ended up, let’s start at the end: The Anti-Monitor has managed to destroy every Earth, with Earth-1 finally falling by episode’s end. That’s right — there are no Earths left. The Anti-Monitor has won, though thankfully Teams Flash/Arrow/Supergirl/Batwoman/Legends/Multiverse (boy, that's a mouthful) managed to send the remaining paragons off to the Vanishing Point, a spot that exists outside of space and time (which makes it pretty much the only place left at this point).

So the new status quo is that literally everyone is dead except for Supergirl, Batwoman, Barry, Sara, Ryan Choi, Martian Manhunter, and the Kingdom Come version of Superman (at least that’s how it seems at first). But it turns out Lex Luthor made a tweak to the Book of Destiny to ensure he would also make the cut among the final people left alive. To do so, he replaced Kingdom Come Superman, literally causing him to transform into Lex in a burst of red energy. So we have five heroes, a scientist in Ryan Choi, and Lex Luthor. Yeah, those final two hours are going to be fun.

The team (and the final Earth) was taken out by Lyla, who has been transformed into Harbinger, who is now fully mind-controlled by the Anti-Monitor. She’s powerful enough to deck a Superman, and takes out the Monitor (absorbing his life force, or something?) while Pariah transports the paragons away to safety. So the remaining members of the supporting casts are all destroyed, including Supergirl’s Superman, Iris, and everyone else.

Hour 3 also introduces a new hero to the crossover mix in Black Lightning, who is brought by Pariah to help stop the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter device, which is hidden in the underground cave where Nash Wells had been excavating on The Flash. Turns out it’s where the antimatter wave is originating, and it’s all being powered by Earth-90’s Barry Allen (this is the reality of the short-lived 1990 Flash TV series, and we even get a quick flashback to that series to make it clear). We’ve known for years the Flash had to die, but it was never made clear exactly which Flash. So Old Man Barry drains a bit of Earth-1 Flash’s speed and hops back on the treadmill powering the device, but reverses it to stop the wave. He succeeds but burns himself into oblivion to finish the job. So a Flash has officially vanished in the Crisis.

Black Lightning makes a great addition to the ensemble, and he gets a nice moment with Barry where they bond over their respective late fathers and the lessons they passed on to them before their passing. It really feels like a passing of the torch here, as Barry steps into that role as the “grandfather” of these events previously held by Oliver. With Arrow ending, Flash is the most senior super-show of the bunch now. So it makes sense Black Lightning would connect with him. Here’s hoping we see more of these two in the future.

As for the Arrowverse’s namesake hero: Mia, Diggle, and Constantine continue to search for Oliver’s soul, and finally track him down with the help of the devil himself. As had been rumored and denied, Tom Ellis — who stars in the Fox-turned-Netflix series Lucifer — makes a surprise cameo to give Constantine a ticket to Purgatory to rescue Oliver’s soul. It was a great surprise, and impressive that they managed to keep it largely under wraps (well, for the most part). The rescue doesn’t go as planned, though. They find Oliver in his own personal purgatory, manifested as Lian Yu (of course). He doesn’t recognize them at first, but it doesn’t take long for Diggle to break through and reach him. Through it all, they’re still brothers.

Just as it seemed like Oliver might return, a version of Jim Corrigan, aka the Spectre (though Constantine makes it clear he’s not the Corrigan he knows), shows up and tells Oliver he has a different role to play in saving the world. So Oliver decides to go with Spectre — to presumably become the new Spectre? For comic fans, it’s important to note that Spectre does show up in the Crisis comic event to help out in the battle against the Anti-Monitor. So perhaps that’s a fresh way to keep Oliver involved, but make it clear he’s not ever going back to Star City to run around with a bow and arrow.

Assorted musings

So, with every world destroyed (including Black Lightning’s entire world full stop, including his family and every character on that series), it stands to reason we’re going to get some things returned to at least a semblance of a status quo once this event is all over next year. I mean, Supergirl lost the DEO and CatCo when that world was destroyed, and now literally everyone in Black Lightning expect the title character has been dusted. Those shows are still set to continue after this thing, so we’re going to see at least some type of reset for those shows to continue. But could that happen with all of them recreated back on the same Earth? It’d make sense, perhaps when them all using the Book of Destiny to recreate the parts of their world that mean the most to them, which would provide some big multiversal consequences, while still allowing those shows to return to some semblance of what they’ve been up to this point. But that’s all just a theory.

Supergirl and Batwoman have some great moments here, establishing more of a friendship that will hopefully birth a full-on World’s Finest crossover down the line. Supergirl seems determined to use the Book of Destiny to revive and recreate her world, but Batwoman worries she’ll simply kill herself trying. After Kate decided to keep Old Man Bruce Wayne’s Kryptonite, she comes clean this week to Kara and tells her to take it — because she doesn’t want to become the hopeless, distrustful Bat she saw in Old Man Bruce. Kara says she shouldn’t worry about that and tells Kate to keep the Kryptonite, because she trusts her with it anyway. It’s a great moment.

So Ryan Choi is a paragon, and at the moment he’s just an average guy who has been studying miniaturization. As comic fans know, though, he’s also an alternate version of the Atom. We already know Brandon Routh is set to exit Legends of Tomorrow during its upcoming season, so could Choi take up the Atom mantle? It certainly seems possible, especially after he gets a front-row seat to Crisis.

Another big cameo hit this week, though it was one we actually knew was coming: We see the final destruction of the alternate Earth featuring in the short-lived 2002 Fox series Birds of Prey. Ashley Scott reprises her role as Huntress, as she reports back to Oracle about the skies turning red and the antimatter wave destroying their world. It was all too brief, but still a very fun nod to a show a whole lot of folks probably didn’t even know existed.

Oh, and Cisco got his Vibe powers back at the whoosh of the Monitor’s hand this week, because he would need them to get the alt-Barry Allen off the Anti-Monitor’s antimatter treadmill. So, Vibe is back!

Up next: Well, that’s it for 2019. With all the Arrowverse shows on hiatus for their midseason holiday breaks, the Crisis is also taking some time off for Christmas. The event will resume on January 14, and we’ll finally find out how Lex Luthor is fitting in with all the heroes.