By Sara Netzley
December 09, 2019 at 12:01 AM EST
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Oh, did you think you were ready for Crisis? Because no amount of watching, reading, and speculating truly prepared us for the heroism, the tears, the sacrifice, and the cameos. Oh, the cameos! And it’s only the first hour, people!

Buckle up; from here on out, the action doesn’t stop.

We open on the Monitor gravely telling us that although the age of heroes kept the darkness at bay, the entire multiverse is now coming under attack. While he speaks, we’re treated to a clip show of the greatest hits from Green Arrow, the Flash, Supergirl, Batman, Superman, and the Legends.

And now it’s time for the cameos.

Supergirl -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One" -- Image Number: SPG509c_0115r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as The Flash, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent/Superman, Ruby Rose as Kate Kane/Batwoman and Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Dean Buscher/The CW

On Earth-89, the Tim Burton Batman theme plays as Gotham Globe reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) sets down a newspaper announcing the Joker’s capture by Batman — the Keaton version, if I’m not mistaken — and looks up to see red spreading across the sky. On Earth-9, Hawk and Robin (Alan Ritchson and Curran Walters from DC Universe’s Titans) get hit by a blast of light, while on Earth-X, it’s The Ray being covered in red. And on Earth-66, a jaunty Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) looks up and exclaims, “Holy crimson skies of death!”

Do you need a second? Because I need a second. They really did the damn thing.

Now, to the main action on Earth-38, where a doomsday prophet (Wil Wheaton!) warns passersby that Supergirl won’t save them, although she does, of course, talking dragon Spike down into his lizard size once more.

She whisks him to the DEO, which has just been rocked by a planet-wide earthquake. It is, J’onn assures them, a major crisis headed directly at them, with helpless Argo City in its path.

We cut to the peaceful planet and enjoy a snapshot of domestic life as Lois and Clark coo over their newborn, Jonathan. Then a Supergirl hologram appears — “Kara? In pants?” Lois asks — to warn them to get the heck out of there.

Kara’s mother hustles them to a pod, where the new parents tenderly place Jonathan inside and launch him to safety. (A modest proposal: Consider adult-sized spacecraft in the future?) His ship makes it out, and Kara weeps as she watches the destruction of her Kryptonian family. “And we’re next,” Brainy warns.

Enter Harbinger. She first collects Oliver and Mia from Lian Yu, then hops over to Earth-1 to fetch Barry, who assures her that he’s ready for his fate. In Gotham City, she frustrates Kate by interrupting her takedown of the Wonderland Gang heist and fetches Ray and Sara from bar trivia in Star City. She escorts them all to Earth-38, along with Clark and Lois — but not Alura, who didn’t make it off of Argo.

The heroes engage in a round of introductions (what do you mean Oliver has a grown daughter?!?) before Harbinger explains the situation: The Monitor needs them to make their stand at Earth-38 if they hope to stop the destruction of all life.

So Brainy, Lois, and Sara head off to retrieve baby Jonathan, and the rest of the heroes prepare to defend the quantum tower that just appeared in the middle of National City. (The towers were placed on key Earths at the dawn of time as a quantum flux field to defend against this very situation. Just go with it.)

Meanwhile, the DEO is hustling to evacuate as many humans from the planet as they can before the antimatter wave hits, which will require the alien immigrants to share their spaceships. Dicey, of course, after the events of Supergirl’s past season, but J’onn’s optimistic everyone will agree.

In the middle of the activity, Kara and Clark share a deeply Kryptonian moment wherein Kara absolves her cousin of his guilt and encourages him to keep their home planet’s spirit of hope and sacrifice alive. These Supers are, indeed, super.

Elsewhere in the DEO, Oliver presents Mia with her own suit. “You earned it,” he says, reaffirming how grateful he is for the time he had with her. These Smoak/Queens are, indeed, also super.

Then Oliver admits to Barry that he struck a deal to spare his life along with Kara and is frustrated to hear that Barry’s spent most of this season preparing for his own death. Oliver demands an audience with the Monitor, who explains that the my-life-for-theirs deal was good for the last crossover, not this one. It’s a good reminder: tread cautiously when striking bargains with all-powerful space gods.

On Earth, a reluctant Alex turns up at L-Corp to apologize to Lena for being part of the vast circle of lies designed to keep Lena in the dark about Supergirl. Then she asks Lena to build a transmitter portal similar to the one she made for the Daxamites to aid in evacuating everyone from the planet. Lena frostily points out that Alex thinking for even a moment that she wouldn’t jump to save everyone on Earth proves how low Alex’s opinion of her is. They tensely get to work.

The Jonathan rescue squad learn that his pod was sucked into a wormhole and deposited on Earth-16 in 2046, where the Legends have been before. Prior to their departure, Sara and Oliver share a nice little moment as she tells him what a good father he is.

Then they travel to 2046 and discover that the alt-Oliver found Jonathan’s pod and took it to his bunker for safekeeping. 2046 Oliver is there, too, grizzled, tired, and wracked with guilt. He’s shocked to see Sara alive because his Sara died on the Gambit, and he’s spent his life wanting to apologize to her.

In one of the many instances of one character telling another “it’s a long story” tonight, Sara assures him that his Sara made her choice to be on that boat and that the trip was their destiny. It turned Oliver into a hero, husband, and father who’s a blessing to the multiverse, while she’s flying through time happier than she’s ever been. “You’re a good man, on every earth,” she concludes.

Turns out, 2046 Oliver Queen is the saddest Oliver Queen, and when he cries, we cry.

As this is happening, our Oliver leads Mia, Barry, Kate, and Ray into the tower to fortify it and control the battle while Kara and Clark fly off to repair the coastal damage. Oliver makes Mia promise to tell her mother how much he loves her, and then they’re attacked by shadow demons that look more than a little like Dementors let loose from their Azkaban guard duties. Father and daughter both notch their arrows in unison, and the audience experiences every human emotion under the sun.

The not-Dementors puff into black smoke when they’re hit, so the team gets to work with arrows and batarangs. (Kate asks Ray for a tech upgrade, which he provides in the field because he is the best human and thank you, writers, for pairing the grumpiest hero with the sunniest tonight.) Barry straight up speed-runs through a whole mess of demons, while Mia saves Oliver with a well-placed arrow.

Outside, Dreamer and Kelly start to usher humans toward the assembled spaceships, including the Legion ship piloted by J’onn. Now they just need Lena to finish the portal so they have somewhere to evacuate to.

At L-Corp, Alex makes a suggestion that leads to a breakthrough and saves Lena from being crushed by a chunk of falling ceiling. They manage to finish the stargate, but their success doesn’t keep Lena from reminding Alex that they’re still not friends. Ms. Luthor just can’t help herself!

With the portal up, the evacuation begins in earnest. Alex watches proudly as Kelly uses Guardian’s shield to protect a cluster of humans, while at the tower, the Kryptonians use their laser eyes to power up the solar panels necessary to keep the antimatter wave at bay.

Then our heroes assemble on the roof to destroy as many not-Dementors as they can for as long as they can while the ships move through the portal. It’s a chaotic battle, and it’s one the Monitor declares is lost. He zaps the heroes away one by one to save their resources for the next fight, and the last to go is Oliver.

“Has the planet been evacuated yet?” Oliver demands. The answer is no, and he insists on staying to fight. He hits the Monitor with an arrow and keeps firing at the not-Dementor onslaught until his quiver is empty and he’s just one man, facing down an army of shadow demons intent on destroying all life in the universe.

So Oliver does what a true hero does: He drops his bow and charges at them, hands empty, allowing the Legion ship to make it through the portal.

After the destruction of the planet, the Monitor deposits Oliver’s battered body on Earth-1 Star City. He tells the assembled team that of the 7.53 billion people on Earth-38, 3 billion made it to Earth-1 — one-third of them due to Oliver’s sacrifice.

With his last breaths, Oliver assures his friends that this was his destiny. He tells Barry and Kara that they’re the best of them and that they need to save the multiverse now. Then he again asks Mia to tell Felicity that he loves her, along with his children. “You keep me in your heart, okay?” he asks before falling still.

Everyone weeps as the Monitor is joined by Nash Wells, who’s now in costume as Pariah, a penance for freeing the Anti-Monitor. The Monitor’s shaken that this isn’t the ending he foresaw, and Pariah further brings the group down by spooky-whispering that everything there is or ever was is doomed.

And we close on Oliver’s broken body at the conclusion of the first hour of perhaps the most epic comic book television event in history.

Snaps of the cape

  • Action? You got it. Humor? But of course. (Just ask Janis Joplin the origin of her hit song Little Robot Man!) Emotions? Oh, buddy, there were more than my poor tear ducts could hold. Cameos? The first of many!
  • Trivia part 1: Alan Ritchson, who’s Hank on Titans, was also Arthur Curry on Smallville, which seems like it should count as a double-whammy cameo.
  • Trivia part 2: When Lois tells Clark that she always pictured them living on Earth with two kids, she may be on to something. The potential Superman and Lois spinoff recently put out a casting call for not one but two teenage boys. Careful what you wish for, Ms. Lane!
  • Oliver looks extremely deceased, but it’s only night one of a five-part crossover, friends. Could some powerful being have additional tricks up their sleeves? See you tomorrow to find out!

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Kara (Melissa Benoist) steps out from her super-cousin’s shadow to become Supergirl and defend National City in the third Arrowverse show.
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