Welcome back to the Crisis Crash Course, your weekly guide to all things Crisis on Infinite Earths-related in the Arrowverse. Last week introduced some new elements and characters to the multiversal mix, and this week’s episodes of The Flash and Arrow followed up on those things, left a few things for later, and revealed some new information about the figure at the center of things. Let’s dive in!
On last week’s episode of The Flash we learned that a new Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) had arrived on Earth-1. “Nash” Wells told Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Iris (Candace Patton) that he was looking for a “multiversal element” called eternium. His eternium detector also seemed to indicate that Iris was lousy with the stuff. I theorized last week that eternium, whatever it is, has something to do with proximity to Mar Novu, aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), someone Iris has been in the same room with but Cisco has not.
This week’s episode seemed to confirm that theory. After spending the episode getting Cisco and Barry (Grant Gustin) to build him a new antivibrational crypto-circuit for his eternium detector, Nash returned to the underground tunnel where he’d originally detected the substance. The crypto-circuit allowed him to map movement of eternium within the tunnel. It showed a figure who looked like The Monitor moving through the tunnel and seemingly walking through a wall at the end of a corridor. Nash removed a pickaxe from his satchel and set to work busting through the wall.
I’m pleased that my theory about eternium was correct, but also a little disappointed that it in fact has nothing to do with Shazam or the Rock of Eternity, as the element eternium does in the comics. Unless it does? Nah, it probably doesn’t.
Speaking of The Monitor…
Mar Novu, The Monitor
Last week’s episode of Arrow ended with Oliver (Stephen Amell), fed up with doing The Monitor’s bidding but not really understanding why or even who this cosmic being is, deciding to travel to Nanda Parbat to see if he could learn more about him. This week’s episode found Oliver in the ancient locale, reunited with his sister, Thea (Willa Holland), and teamed with Talia Al Ghul (Lexa Doig) to find the tomb of Al-Fatih, the founder of the League of Assassins who was, according to legend, gifted knowledge of the universe by a god from the sky.
Towards the end of the episode, Thea read aloud a passage from an ancient Arabic book of Al-Fatih’s:
Al-Fatih was visited by a god who possessed the power to see all that is and all that will be. He believed that if he failed to keep the balance between good and evil, this god would bring forth the end of times: the annihilation of all things.
Based on that passage, and the accompanying illustration, Oliver and Thea come to the conclusion that The Monitor’s not trying to prevent the crisis; he’s trying to cause it.
Two things are worth noting about the passage and what we see in the book. For one thing, the book never names The Monitor, either as The Monitor or as Mar Novu, as the cosmic being who visited Al-Fatih.
The other, more significant thing is the illustration that accompanies the text. The face of The Monitor appears heavily-wrinkled, and missing is the distinctive hair LaMonica Garrett sports in the role. Honestly, the drawing looks more like The Anti-Monitor than The Monitor.
But let’s suppose the figure in that illustration is actually Mar Novu. What do we actually know about The Monitor at this point? I covered most of The Monitor’s actions up until this point in the first CCC installment, but there are a couple of things I want to focus on this week.
The very first time we saw The Monitor in the Arrowverse was at the beginning of last year’s Elseworlds crossover, after he’d apparently decimated Earth-90:
Elseworlds saw The Monitor give The Book of Destiny to John Deegan, the Arrowverse’s Doctor Destiny, who used it to rewrite the reality of Earth-1 multiple times. According to The Flash of Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp, reprising his old role), The Monitor had been travelling across the multiverse carrying out similar shenanigans with the Book of Destiny, in an effort to try and strengthen those worlds for the impending crisis.
The Monitor’s sewing chaos in the Arrowverse mirrors his early appearances in the comics leading up to Crisis. He first appeared as an unseen figure aboard a satellite in the pages of Marv Wolfman & George Perez’s The New Teen Titans #21, nearly three years prior to the debut of the Crisis on Infinite Earths series. Over the course of several dozen pre-Crisis appearances, The Monitor was shown providing aid in different capacities to villains throughout the DC Universe, as well as collecting information on the DCU’s heroes. Ultimately it was revealed that this was all done to test the heroes, so that he could determine which of them might be the most useful in the battle against the Anti-Monitor.
Is The Monitor of the Arrowverse good or evil? That seems to depend on the day of the week. His actions are entirely utilitarian: everything he does is to ensure the survival of the positive matter multiverse, regardless of who might have to suffer in the process. One thing is absolutely clear, though: The Monitor can’t be trusted. He destroyed Earth-90, and he was willing to let Barry and Kara (Melissa Benoist) die during Elseworlds before Oliver made a bargain with him. He allowed the destruction of Earth-2 by the anti-matter wave, effectively snuffing out billions of lives as a way to teach Oliver a lesson not to meddle in the affairs of other worlds. He sure seems like he’d sell out his own mother if it meant getting what he wants.
Is The Monitor trying to cause the Crisis within the Arrowverse? Debatable. What does he gain from doing that? It would seem to be antithetical to everything he’s done up until this point, which I think lends more credence to the earlier thought that Al-Fatih met the Anti-Monitor and not The Monitor. But if The Monitor is in fact the one who causes the Crisis—if he somehow becomes the Anti-Monitor, or is the Anti-Monitor in disguise—that’d be a hell of a twist.
There’s comic book precedent for a Monitor going rogue on a cosmic scale…but we’ll save that for another time.
That’s it for this week’s edition of Crisis Crash Course! We very notably didn’t learn anything more about the relationship between Lyla Michaels and The Monitor this week, so look for that to be explored in the coming weeks. Beyond that, why is The Monitor apparently hiding out beneath the streets of Central City? And who’s responsible for bringing the adult children of Team Arrow from 2040 to the present, and does it have anything to do with the impending Arrowverse Crisis? Hopefully we’ll get some answers next week as the countdown to The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse event continues.