Arrow: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part Four

Sarah: “Oliver?”
Oliver: “Yes and no. It’s complicated.”

During Arrow’s season premiere we were introduced to the concept of Paragons, a higher order of hero. This left most of us with the assumption that Oliver either was or would soon become one. When Crisis began, we discovered that he was destined to become something else.

Our story begins months after the end of the multiverse. Barry is missing, Lex and Ryan build a transporter to nowhere, and the rest of Paragons do their individual equivalent of wandering aimlessly. Until Oliver finds them and sets them on their path to save the multiverse.

Much in the same way changes to the timeline take time to solidify on Legends, the Anti-Matter’s destruction of the universe must be consolidated at the dawn of time. This provided our heroes with the opportunity to make one last stand. But just in case that didn’t work, there’s a backup plan.

Typically, Plan Bs become the final Hail Mary when Plan A inevitably gets blown to smithereens. And for a while that seems to be the case. Barry delivers Ryan, Kara, and Lex to Maltus without a hitch only to have the Anti-Monitor scatter the rest of the Paragons throughout the Speed Force. In reality, Plan B is really an excuse for a little character development in the case of Ryan and some plot continuation for Kara and Lex. This side journey changes nothing in the overall story.  While Ryan succeeds in convincing this Novu to abandon his life’s work in order to save the universe, another Novu’s towering ambition remained intact.

Just as the series revealed Oliver’s transformation from lone vigilante to the leader of heroes, this episode showcases that transition in miniature. During Barry’s travels through the Speed Force we bear witness to several key moments on Oliver’s journey. From Barry’s clumsy and endearing introduction, to Kara and Oliver’s squabble during her first crossover, to Ray and Oliver’s conflict over both Felicity and Ollie’s status as a hero. It’s all about trust.

In the beginning, Oliver’s lack of trust engendered the ill-will of most of his colleagues until his consistent display of strength and his willingness to sacrifice himself earned their trust in him and his leadership. And it’s the Paragons’ trust in Oliver that propels this story forward. They willingly follow him into the Speed Force and into battle despite his, as Lex put it, cosmic obtuseness. And Oliver delivered, just as he has always done.

My understanding of the Spectre is that he was once an aspect of God, or the Presence as He’s known in the comics. The Spectre is now tied to a mortal and is the embodiment of Vengeance.The Spectre’s relationship to the Presence leaves him outside Space and Time which is why he was not destroyed with the rest of the multiverse. It also means that his powers are near infinite.   All of which seemed like an appropriate destiny for Oliver. And left him available to finish out the season of Arrow and for potential guest appearances down the line.

So color me surprised when Oliver had his second death scene of the mini-series. First, how can he die when he’s technically already dead? Second, as mentioned above, Arrow, hasn’t finished yet, and I’m going to be one unhappy camper if his show ends without him no matter how awesome Crisis turns out to be.

OK.  Back to our story.

We are also treated to the Monitor’s origin story. Given the departure from the comics it's appropriate although somewhat anti-climactic. Novu had already admitted unleashing the Anti-Monitor explaining that his wife and his universe were among his nemesis’s first casualties. I’m not sure how watching him say as much to his wife improved the narrative. Plus, it took much needed time away from other storylines. That said, him calling his wife the Monitor was a cute moment.

The fast pace and numerous Easter eggs (Hello DCEU Flash!) made me giddy. However, in the absence of a serious grounding in the Crisis of comic book lore I felt like plot points were flying over my head. I do know that on one Earth Lex Luthor was that planet’s sole hero. So there’s that...

As an installment of the Crisis mini-series I enjoyed the episode. It honored all of our major heroes. And gave Oliver a fitting farewell for his last crossover. One of our heroes made the ultimate sacrifice in order to defeat the ultimate villain. But we still have one more episode. What am I missing?

It doesn't seem right to give this a rating when we're so close to the end.

Parting Thoughts:

For those of you (like me) who are not up to speed on your comic book lore, here is a primer on Spectre.

Loved both Flashes geeking out over each other’s costume. And BOTH FLASHES!

Diggle telling Laurel to don Sara’s mask felt shoehorned into an episode with too many storylines as it was. I wonder if there was something left on the cutting room floor that made that scene make more sense.

Quotes:

Novu: “I look ridiculous.”

Lex: “Idiot! Why couldn’t I be trapped at the edge of eternity with someone possessing more than 200 IQ points?”

J’onn: “I’ll go.
Kara: “No. We’ve lost too many good people already. Thanks for volunteering, Lex.”

Ryan: “Nice outfit. Very... Sith.”

Oliver: “There are few things more powerful in the universe than memory and connection.”

Barry: “What the hell is this?”
Barry: “I’m asking myself the same question. Literally."

Lex: “I probably should have told you I gave myself a few upgrades when I checked the Book of Destiny out of the library.”

Ryan: “I don’t know about hope but you’re definitely the Paragon of pep talks.”
Kara: “Years of practice.”

Lois: “Did you go out shopping for a new costume while you were supposed to be out saving the world?“

Lex: “Hi. Lex Luthor. I’m here to make you an offer I won’t let you refuse.”

Oliver: “You have failed this Universe!”

Lex: “So this is what being a hero feels like. Interesting.”

Oliver: “Dying is easy. The dead are at peace. The real heroes are the ones that who have to keep going.”

Here's a link to Part Five.

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for your review, Shari. It's helping me make sense of it. Not being a comic book person, I found this episode soooo confusing. Even though I also kind of liked it.

CoramDeo said...

I think this episode was written very well, and directed very poorly. The director made the choice to make most of the shots look straight on at our characters, who were centered in the frame. That made everything look flat and uninteresting. Plus, the echoes made all the dialogue hard to make out. I'm surprised, because Glen Winter usually does a competent job with these shows.

Anonymous said...

Shari, a lovely review!

I'm not caught up on Arrow, but I've enjoyed watching Oliver in these Crisis episodes, as he's changed a lot since I last watched his show. The facial hair alone...

I also found this episode confusion, so I'm happy to know that it's not just my Arrow-neglect. But ultimately I did really like it, and I'm curious enough to see what happens with Oliver that I think I might watch the remaining episodes of Arrow to complete his story.

"You have failed this universe" was a perfect line.

~Josie

Shari said...

Thanks Guys! Glad you liked the review.

Billie - I think the biggest problem was the moment they went into the Speed Force I had to watch it a couple of times to realize that Only Kara's storyline was going as planned. It wasn't clear that the Anti-Monitor had interfered so the reasons for Barry's journey felt off.

I agree CoramDeo, Glen's work has always been above par since his days on Smallville. I understood that they tried to represent the Speed Force with the center of the screen being in focus and the rest hazy. But for all the reasons you mentioned, it didn't work.

And Josie, you really should watch this last season. As much as I love the show, I'll admit it has been spotty at times. However, this last season showcases why the show was beloved. If it had to go this was how to do it.

Billie Doux said...

I'll second what Shari said. I had stopped watching Arrow at the end of the seventh season but decided to watch the eighth for the sake of completion. Eight was a really interesting season. I'm glad I gave it another shot.

Anonymous said...

I read these comics but I'm still confused. Jon Cryer is winning me over as Lex. Must be the comedic timing.
A sad farewell to a hero. Spectre!Oliver is kind of alive still, yes?
Like I said I'm confused.