Arrow: 8.08 Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Four
Warning - contains spoilers from Crisis on Infinite Earths parts 1-4...
One of the biggest surprises in the opening episode of current Arrowverse crossover Crisis of Infinite Earths was the death of Oliver Queen - three episodes before the Arrow installment. Along with the destruction of Supergirl's Earth, it certainly raised the stakes, culminating in the big universe-ending cliffhanger in part three and topping the list of most entertainingly bombastic crossover events The CW has done yet.
Coming off that almighty cliffhanger, Part Four is a very different beast to its predecessors. The cameos from alternate Supermen, Batman, Huntresses, former Robins and even the Devil himself that have been ridiculously fun, but were largely absent from the episode, the one crowd-pleasing encounter with another Flash aside. This did allow for a somewhat more focused story that gave the audience - and the 'paragons' answers - while driving the Crisis to its end point. It also offered some lovely character work and a fitting swansong for Oliver Queen too. It probably won't top the list of crossover episodes and it wasn't quite as entertaining as parts one to three, but it was a decent breather before Legends of Tomorrow delivers what is sure to be a suitably epic climax.
I admit to finding Oliver's decision to take on the mantle of Spectre one of part three's more random developments. That being said, it allowed Oliver to be the focus of the Arrow installment and give him something his superhero friends have had all along - super powers. Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Four reminded me of the Arrow installment from 2016 crossover Invasion! That episode worked as the show's 100th and dealt as much with Oliver Queen's legacy as the chance to see characters from multiple shows in action. Part Four did something similar, having Barry, Sara, J'onn J'onzz and Kate navigate moments from Oliver's memories to find their way out of the speed force and into the Anti-Matter universe. I particularly liked the legacy of Sara and Oliver's history together, something part one touched upon and again was felt here as we looked back at her original death, before she witnessed his.
The bond between Barry and Oliver is another key theme explored this week, that level of trust Barry has in his mentor, even upon learning of Oliver's deal with the Monitor in Elseworlds last season. This was as much the Flash's episode as it was the Green Arrow, Barry finding faith in his friend after his failed attempts to naviagte the speed force and save the universe alone. It was fitting that when Oliver faced off against the Anti-Monitor and ended his life, it was Barry and Sara that was with him at the end.
Also, the idea of Oliver as some kind of aged Jedi figure? It absolutely worked in the outlandish narrative of Crisis on Infinite Earths. I still struggle with the role of Stephen Lobo's Jim Corrigan after than to serve as exposition central (was some of his story cut in the editing process?). But once Oliver was up and running, his role felt right, shepherding the rest of the 'paragons' on their path as the head of the Arrowverse universe that began with him eight seasons ago.
The side plot on Mar Novu's home planet came at the right point, giving some much needed detail behind the creation of The Monitor (and his hokey costume) as well as laying the seeds for the Crisis in his grand plan to travel back to the dawn of time. His megalomania mirrored Lex Luthor's, who quickly seized the opportunity to change history for his own ends. Jon Cryer was superb here, utterly villainous, on the right side of hammy. His role in Supergirl season four was a terrific success and it is a delight to see him here as the 'Loki' of the Arrowverse. Hero? Master of universal domination? It's all the same to him.
However, I found the purpose of Osric Chau's Ryan Choi never really delivered. The banter and conflict between Supergirl and Luthor was great, building on years of (and last season's) history as she found herself outwitted by scheme and then fought to defeat him. Choi talking Mar Novu down and changing history was the big moment, undone instantly by the Anti-Monitor announcing that another version of Mar Novu would still follow through on his plan. As likeable as Chau is in the role, I can't help but feeling having another hero in his placed would have served the story better.
The big showdown with Oliver and the Anti-Monitor might have given the episode the big climax it deserved but rest of the heroes taking on the Dementor-style creatures felt like a rehash of episode one - substituting a rooftop for a quarry. I just hope this obvious cost-cutting exercise is a result of some big superhero action in the final part. And again - what did Choi do? Punch the enemy and still survive? The big Avengers: Endgame showdown this was not...
Crisis on Infinite Earths Part Four may have been the weakest installment of the crossover, but it was still a good episode, offering some answers and greater focus on the core characters of the story, while giving Oliver a better, bolder send-off. I failed to be shocked by his demise. With Arrow ending and the stakes on Crisis on Infinite Earths, bigger than anything before, main characters needed to die and Oliver was the most suitable big-impact death card the writers could play. But it was no less satisfying. I have watched Stephen Amell bring a lot to the role over the last eight years and it was only right that in his final episode, he shepherds his successors to victory.