Welcome to this week’s Crisis Crash Course! Your weekly rundown of all things Crisis on Infinite Earths within the Arrowverse is entering the home stretch, with only two installments left before The CW’s crossover event begins! While Supergirl and Batwoman were in reruns this week, The Flash began its pre-Crisis midseason finale, and Arrow finally addressed some of the outstanding questions surrounding Mar Novu, aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett). Let’s get right to it!
This week’s episode of The Flash found Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) fighting off an infection from villain Ramsey Rosso, aka Bloodwork (Sendhil Ramamurthy). At the same time, Barry is forced to confront his own mortality in the face of the coming crisis, which as the episode begins is two days away, and as the episode ends is 36 hours away.
A large portion of the episode takes place in Barry’s mind as he confronts Rosso. Their first encounter, in Barry’s apartment, included Rosso discovering Barry’s upcoming fate. As the discussion within Barry’s mind continued, the skies outside the ‘apartment’ turned red and the anti-matter wall appeared, destroying Central City.
This wasn’t really anything new in the vision, but it was another look at what’s coming in a few weeks. The timeline as established in the episode, which covers from 48 to 36 hours before the event begins, really illustrates how close Team Flash is cutting it with stopping Bloodwork. Maybe they figure if they wait long enough the crisis will come and that problem will sort itself out.
Elsewhere in Central City…
The Metal Door
Last week, Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) made progress in his digging project beneath the streets of Central City. After telling Team Flash that he believes The Monitor is a fraud, and that a portal hidden behind the wall he’s been digging through will lead them to Novu, Nash enlisted Allegra Garcia (Kayla Compton) in mapping the eternium within the wall so he could avoid hitting it while digging. Her ultraviolet abilities illuminated the eternium, plus a series of characters that looked like lettering.
This week, Nash completed his dig, using a sonic device to clear away the rock and eternium. The empty space revealed a metal door, and clearly showed the symbols that were first glimpsed last week.
What I thought last week was lettering now look like icons for characters or events. The icon on the far left looks a bit like a tuning fork, which could indicate a key item from the original Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries will play a role in the event.
In the original series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, The Monitor had set up giant tuning fork towers throughout time and space as a way to prevent the merger of multiple Earths. Groups of heroes from across the multiverse were recruited by Harbinger and tasked by The Monitor with protecting the towers from the Anti-Monitor’s forces.
The second-from-left icon looks a bit like The Monitor himself, with the three lines at the top meeting at a point like his hair, and the sides of the icon resembling his muttonchop sideburns. The next icon looks like the helmet of The Atom, aka Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), which, combined with another bit of news from this week’s episode of Arrow, may support my theory that The Monitor will be responsible for making Ryan Choi (who will be played by Osiric Chau) The Atom during the Crisis.
The icon in the middle resembles the image of overlapping worlds as seen throughout Crisis, both within the logo for the series and most notably on the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #5.
The next two icons are something of a mystery. One of them looks vaguely like the symbol of the Indigo Lantern tribe, while the other looks like a mask, but not one that I readily recognize. The final icon is unmistakable, though, as an arrowhead, clearly symbolizing the important role that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) will play in the coming crisis.
Speaking of Arrow, let’s see what Oliver and company have been up to.
Time is a Gift
This week’s episode of Arrow found Oliver and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy Rodgers) trapped in a time loop, forced to relive a resurrected Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) being killed over and over again. Oliver surmised that The Monitor was behind the time loop, and that the only way to escape from the loop would be to keep Quentin from dying. He and Laurel spent the length of the episode trying to do just that—and repeatedly failing.
In the end, Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) revealed to Oliver the reasoning behind the time loop—and behind many of the other things The Monitor has done over the past weeks. No matter how many times Oliver tried to save Quentin, he failed, and the only way for him to escape the time loop was for him to accept the fact that he couldn’t change what happened to Quentin. The time loop, Lyla told him, was The Monitor’s way of getting Oliver to accept his own impending fate.
The loop had another effect for Oliver: it allowed him to trust The Monitor. In talking with Quentin, a former cop who had initially hunted the Arrow before learning his identity and ultimately trusting him, Oliver realized that he trusts Lyla, and Lyla trusts The Monitor. By the transitive property of trust, Oliver decided that he could also trust The Monitor. It probably helped that Lyla was giving him somewhat straight answers about what Novu is up to.
As for The Monitor wanting Laurel to betray Oliver, that was, it turned out, a test of her loyalty to Oliver, and to see if she’d truly changed her ways. For Laurel, the time loop was, according to Lyla, a reward for passing Novu’s test, as well as a gift. It allowed Laurel to get closure with Quentin that she never got in the real world. Novu had earlier provided a similar gift for Oliver, Lyla said, by bringing his children back from the future. Presumably the same is true for Diggle, seeing as The Monitor also brought back Connor Hawke, Diggle’s future adopted son, though his presence may be more about Connor’s potential importance in future events than it is about Diggle.
Lyla also assured Oliver that the missions The Monitor has had him completing, while seemingly random, are not meaningless. She called out the dwarf star particles from the first episode of the season, the scientist Dr. Wong from the second episode, and even the anti-matter weapon that Oliver obtained the plans for last week as all playing an important role in the coming crisis. Regarding those first two things, I’ve previously speculated that they will somehow lead to Ryan Choi becoming the new Atom (and given what looks like an Atom icon on the door Nash Wells found on The Flash, that seems likely to be what will happen).
As for the anti-matter weapon, what use The Monitor might have for that is somewhat up in the air. What good would a device that can create anti-matter do against The Anti-Monitor, whose strength grows the more positive matter is destroyed by anti-matter? Perhaps the device can be modified to generate positive matter instead of anti-matter. Or, perhaps The Monitor wants it because, as Al-Fatih’s ancient text said, he’s actually trying to cause the crisis.
Whatever the reason, we’ll find out soon enough.
That’s it for this week! There’s only one round of new episodes left before the main event begins, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next week of shows all ended with the titular heroes receiving a visit from Lyla, in her role as Harbinger. Will any more truths or teases be revealed before that happens? We’ll find out as the countdown to the Crisis on Infinite Earths Arrowverse crossover nears its conclusion!