On one level, the final hour of Crisis On Infinite Earths is nothing but housekeeping. The CW’s almost ludicrously ambitious crossover-to-end-all-crossovers, a flawed but undeniably entertaining affair, needed to conclude by explaining Earth-Prime and demonstrating the new status quo; “whoops, the Anti-Monitor is still kicking” feels like a flimsy excuse to keep the story going long enough to make this concept plain to the audience. Oliver (Stepen Amell) died in the previous hour, an emotional climax already somewhat lessened by the fact that he also died back in December and refused to come back from purgatory with Mia (Katherine McNamara, absent) and Diggle (David Ramsey, doing series-best work). The big bad (LaMonica Garrett) remains at large only so that Legends Of Tomorrow has an excuse to do its thing while dotting all the Is and crossing the Ts. It’s flimsy stuff.
But on another, it’s Legends Of Tomorrow gleefully tossing out bits of fan service while simultaneously exploring the grief of its characters, and it does both of those things very well.
There’s no need to show us Barry’s reunion with Iris (Grant Gustin and Candace Patton, the latter absent) or to capture the moment Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) sees his family once again, because on this earth and in this timeline, none of these heartbreaking partings ever occurred. Those losses have been wiped away, and only one big one remains.
“Sara, gone is gone,” Diggle says, standing in front of the empty space where Oliver’s suit should be. “He’s gone.”
The Super-Friends/new Justice League/Warehouse of Heroes have to team up to fight first a giant Beebo conjured by an ostentatious bank robber (hi there, Sargon the Sorcerer). Then, after some of them are hunted by the anti-matter wraiths, they realize that the Anti-Monitor must still be defeated, and Team Nerd—Ryan Choi (Osric Chau), Nash Wells (Tom Cavanaugh), and our Sweet Ray-Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh)—have to build a gadget with the eventual help of Barry that will condemn the Anti-Monitor to the “Atom-verse.” They build it, it works, and then they all get a nice new table together. That is the plot, and not one piece of it matters as much as Sara (Caity Lotz) and Diggle in front of the place that suit should be, nor as much as Sara and Barry sitting on the steps near a tree she used to climb. The plot is fine. The characters and their reactions to what’s happened, to that loss and the new status quo, is what really hits home.
Much of that centers on Sara. It’s possible that it’s simply because this is the Legends chapter of the crossover, but this episode sure seems to position Sara and, to a lesser extent, Barry as the new linchpins of the Arrowverse, moving the team forward and helping to keep them anchored amidst their grief when the shit hits the fan. She has a difficult time accepting the reality and finality of Oliver’s death—understandable, both because of the magnitude of losing the very last person who knew her from her pre-Queen’s Gambit days* and because death is often impermanent in the Arrowverse. But her acceptance of that loss gives the episode its emotional core and provides some much-needed catharsis, an important thing, given how slapdash the plot itself is in this hour.
That’s the secret strength of Legends Of Tomorrow: no matter how ludicrous the plot might be, the emotional architecture is almost always sound. It wouldn’t be a true Legends review if I didn’t find a way to praise “Here I Go Again,” so take that episode as an example: It’s a time-loop story of no real consequence to the plot, since it’s ultimately revealed that it was all a simulation created by Gideon to help Zari better understand herself and connect to the team, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s also an exploration of what makes this woman who she is, why her defenses are what they are, and how she learns to lower them at last, with a healthy dose of mortality and the question of what’s real. So it is with “Part 5.” Sure, condemn the Anti-Monitor to the Atom-verse; just make sure to stop to contemplate loss, family, and sacrifice along the way.
As good as Ramsey and Lotz are in that bunker, it’s the Flash-Canary scene by the tree that’s the clear highlight of the episode, if not the crossover as a whole. Sara Lance wasn’t around for season one of Arrow, but unless some of the characters from that series make the leap to others (Make Digg a Legend! Make Digg a Legend!), she’ll be the longest-serving hero of the bunch. That must surely be lonely, even when you’ve got a family full of time-travelers and a brand spanking new Earth-Prime dotted with heroes who also happen to be friends. Sara’s relationship with death has always been fertile ground for the Legends writer (remember her death totem experience?) and this episode proves no exception; if it’s not Lotz’s best Arrowverse outing, it is damn close, and Gustin is very good, too.
All the episode’s best scenes are like that, meditations in one way or another on Oliver’s death and what life will be from now on. Kate Kane sits on Kara Danvers’ couch with Alex. Diggle and Lyla watch their children play. The heroes of the world pause for a moment to say goodbye to a friend, and in most cases, to the person who made the lives they lead possible, even before he saved infinite earths. And they do so on one planet, because Oliver Queen’s last act was to bring these people together in a single world, just as Amell and Arrow brought them together in one big story.
The story moves on. There will be more crossovers, more heroes, and more threats to life as we know it (welcome to the club, Jefferson Pierce). Oliver Queen is dead, but the family he helped create lives on, with new faces joining and familiar ones stepping up to lead. The possibilities, you might say, are infinite.
- * Except her mother, Dinah Lance (Alex Kingston). I would not trade that scene for the world, but it is very weird that everyone pretends Dinah Lance just doesn’t exist.
- Welcome back, sort of, to Legends coverage! The hijinks resume in earnest next week.
- Edited to add: Thanks to everyone who pointed out that Diggle and Lyla have kids now and got their daughter back, which essentially reverses Flashpoint. That’s just lovely. Does that mean Cisco’s brother is back too?
- We are obviously not meant to worry about this, but if all those earths are now one earth, does that mean the population of the planet tripled? Or did the multiple versions of people get folded together? Pretend Earth-1's Lauren Lance were still alive—would she and Not-Laurel both exist, or would they be the same person? Who would be dominant? And is the reason Legends went last because it is the show on which we are least likely to care about the answers to those questions, especially when Beebo gets involved?
- Listing all the easter eggs, references, and in-jokes present in this hour would be a fool’s errand, from the headquarters to the various earths to the Marv Wolfman cameo, so I encourage you to do so yourselves in the comments. The same goes for the moments of set-up for the future—Kate on Kara’s couch, “Yeah, honey, your sons,” etc.
- I assume we’ll be seeing more of Ryan Choi in the future, given his role in the DC Universe, but they really just kinda let Osric Chau exit stage left with no fanfare, huh?
- Very glad Routh’s Superman lives on over on Earth-96, and that Lyla survived. Thought for sure she was doomed.
- “Not that I’m ever one to question a hug.”
- “There’s an evil Batman, and there’s a me that’s a Super-me?”
- “Oh, it’s like that.”
- MVP: Gustin was the MVP of the last hour, and he’s great here as well, but this seems to have been written as a bit of a showcase for Caity Lotz, and she more than delivers.
- Why the fuck not?: I mean, Beebo, but also Gleek.
- Line-reading of the week: “It’s a long story.” “That’s right, Wally told us about the time you guys used those totems to turn yourselves into a giant Beebo to fight a time-demon.” “I guess it’s not a long story.”
- Gideon, what’s the most meta moment?: Take your pick of any of the crossover jokes, or bypass them and head directly for the microverse. “Oh, that’s better. Possible trademark issues, but that’s better!”
- Here’s this week’s Legends in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song form. Had a tough time finding a good match for Sara, so here’s me, to Killer Frost and Mick Rory: