(Welcome to The Clock Tower, where we’ll break down the goings on of the The CW network’s Arrowverse. We’ll touch on things like themes, cultural impact, lead-ins to major events, ships, and more every other week! Warning: this Clock Tower is filled with spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.)
The boys had their week off, so it’s the girls’ turn! The Flash and Arrow hold down the fort this week and, well, things get a little sad all around. Both shows bring it with exceptional episodes, they’re just trying to prepare us for all of the death that’s coming our way very soon. Let’s dive right in!
Brother, My Brother
Before all of this Monitor business, there was a being named Krona. Krona was a scientist who wanted to see the beginning of the universe. Because science doesn’t always go the way we plan, Krona accidentally ended up creating the multiverse. Whoopsie!
What’s the deal with the “multiverse”, you wonder? It’s complicated, but in the simplest possible terms it’s essentially infinite earths operating on infinite different frequencies. But those frequencies only have the teeniest, tiniest differences. The aforementioned earths have a weakness about them. Something split into infinite pieces can never be as strong as one whole thing—this notion will be important later on.
Shortly after the multiverse was created, Mar Novu (The Monitor) and Mobius (The Anti-Monitor) were born. The former is meant to be the living embodiment of all the good that exists in the universe, while the latter is the all of the negative. There’s a third brother, Alpheus, but we’ll hop into him should Crisis on Infinite Earths decide to go down that road.
What If We Just… Gave Up?
This week was narratively difficult. Both shows focused on their respective heroes giving up, even if it was for two completely different reasons. The Flash has had Barry play the stoic hero since he learned the fate of the multiverse. That all changes when Bloodwork shows him the life that he could have if he gives his body over. It’s a good life, but the Speedforce warns him that if he does give in, the Barry Allen that will come out the other side won’t be the one his family loves. There’s a battle of wills that ultimately ends with Barry choosing Ramsey’s alternate timeline, but who can really blame him? The lie Ramsey spins is a beautiful one, filled with a baby Nora and a happy life with his family and friends after Crisis.
And then there’s Oliver Queen.
Oliver’s submission is somehow even harder to watch than Barry’s. That may be because we all know his is going to be much more permanent, or that it came with a lot less yelling. Either way, it sucked. A beautiful episode filled with heartbreak showed us the man who has never once listened to his fate submit that perhaps it’s time he does. And I don’t know if I’m ready for that?
We know he’s done. The quiver’s getting passed to Mia, and Future Team Arrow will take the reigns after the Crisis. But I don’t know if an Oliver who just accepts what’s coming almost feels like a harder watch than one who will go into Crisis the same way he always has: fighting with every last breath to do what’s right. Up to and including being around for his family. Then again, seeing him reach some surreal version of acceptance might be so hard because I’m just not there in the grieving process yet. Who knows!
What matters most here is that both of these heroes’ responses are totally reasonable. One dude literally just has a bow and arrow and suddenly he’s expected to fight some unbeatable cosmic entity? What? Who looks that in the eye and fights for as long as he has. What’s he supposed to do? He literally just has a sharpened stick, some string on a bow, and a can-do attitude. Meanwhile you’ve got poor Barry Allen who, yes, has a little bit more going for him in the superpowers department. But the poor dude has literally watched his friends and family die infinite times. His daughter’s ashes literally rained down on him not a year ago. He has got some stuff going on and he’s kind of totally right to just be like, “y’know? No. I don’t wanna.”
Just One Week Without Crying, That’s All I Ask
Arrow getting a Groundhog Day episode this week meant that we got to watch Quentin Lance die over and over again. At least when Supernatural did it they had the decency to make Dean Winchester’s deaths funny. Not here! Be prepared to watch the show’s dad die on repeat until they get to the knockout punch of Laurel finally getting to say goodbye to her father. She tells him that he died for her. He tells her it was the best way he coulda gone. It’s all fine. There are no tears here at all.
If Laurel and Quentin’s moment didn’t get you, the episode serves up another perfectly simple Oliver and Mia related gut punch after Oliver finally accepts that it’s over. She tells him it’s going to be okay, he confirms it. It’s small, it’s nothing, it made me cry for a solid minute. Crisis on Infinite Earths definitely isn’t going to reduce us all into weeping piles of nerds.
We don’t physically see The Monitor at all this week, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any updates! Lyla (Harbinger) spent the whole episode helping Oliver come to the realization that it’s time to “give in” at said cosmic being’s request. Meanwhile Nash Wells, who we’ve all basically agreed is Pariah at this point, finally breaks through the defenses of The Monitor’s home base over on The Flash.
Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel
It’s all happening. There’s going to be a zombie outbreak on The Flash while the rest of the team tries to get their dummy of a leader out of the precarious situation he’s found himself in. The fam’s back on Lian Yu over on Arrow, and Diggle’s helmet is emitting a very interesting color! Supergirl and Batwoman return as well, giving us a full week of lead-in to the biggest crossover event that none of us are ready for!
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