“Sometimes, in order to find your purpose as a hero, you gotta take a couple steps back. Reverse the way you see the situation and see a bigger picture.”
With four of the seven Paragons gathered, Team Multiverse just needs Ray’s Paragon detector back up and running so they can find the remaining three. It’s not long before we get the names of the final three: Barry is the Paragon of Love, J’onn Jonzz is the Paragon of Honor, and Ryan Choi (Osric Chau, Supernatural, Demon X) as the Paragon of Humanity. The fun doesn’t stop there; thanks to another display of genius by Cisco, the genesis of the antimatter wave is discovered and it’s practically next door, located in the tunnels where Nash Wells tracked the Monitor. Yet, before Team Flash heads to the source, the Monitor gives a most unwanted boon to Cisco; “Vibe must live again” the godlike being states before restoring Cisco as Vibe (costume and all).
Accompanied by Pariah, Team Flash heads down into the tunnels, gaining access to the chamber in which rests (i.e., in active use) the antimatter cannon. It’s powered by none other than the Earth-90 Barry Allen, blipped away by the Monitor in last year’s crossover only to be enslaved by the Anti-Monitor and used as a biological battery. Though they free 90’s Flash, it doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, it makes things worse. Knowing that without a speedster on the antimatter hamster wheel will ensure the destruction of the multiverse, in a moment of inspiration—his first of two tonight—Pariah transports Black Lightning (Cress Williams) into the chamber, using his electrical abilities to contain the energy while our Barry, after heartfelt words from the 90’s Flash, is determined to make his expected sacrifice. But the elder Flash has other plans and, temporarily stealing Barry’s speed (another nifty speedster trick Barry has yet to learn), gives his life to destroy the cannon.
Now that Oliver’s been resurrected and the magic-less Constantine can’t retrieve Oliver’s soul from Purgatory, they’ll have to physically enter the underworld to get it. But to get there, Constantine, Sara, and John, jump to Earth-666 where Constantine calls in a favor with the enigmatic and devilishly charismatic Lucifer (Tom Ellis). Ellis is masterful as always and despite the brevity of the interaction, his conversational verve to the trio is first-class entertainment. The three make their way to Oliver’s Purgatory (which is, of course, Lian Yu), quickly tracking down Oliver’s essence. Yet as they prepare to leave, Jim Corrigan (Stephen Lobo, Continuum, Travelers), a blast from Constantine’s past appears and delivers the big news to Oliver: “Only you can light the spark…it is your destiny”. With that news in hand, Oliver decides to stay and, based on Corrigan’s words, his sacrifice may be the thing which brings the multiverse back together.
As the others work their separate missions, Ralph, Iris, and Ray pay a visit to the final Paragon; Ryan Choi. He responds to talk of destiny and the end of all thinks like you’d expect; if this is the end, he wants to be there with his family. Iris hasn’t had much to do in the crossover but she steps up to the plate here, convincing Ryan that the bigger picture (you know, existence) is even greater than family. A sweet flashback to her earlier conversation with Barry provides the impetus for Iris’ resolve, which feeds her the hope and conviction that, no matter what, he’d run back to her. This has always been an underlying theme in The Flash and though Iris speaks to Ryan with confidence, getting a glimpse at her earlier doubt adds even more weight to her words.
Now that all the Paragons are gathered, it looks as if Earth-1 will be their battleground against the Anti-Monitor. But the enemy of existence is ahead of the protagonists, inserting the now subverted Harbinger to the Waverider and reinitialize the anti-matter wave. He is only partially successful, though. He defeats the Monitor and destroys the final Earth.
Pariah teleports the seven Paragons to the Vanishing Point, a place outside of time and space (and where the Anti-Monitor holds no sway), as a last gasp. It’s not much but gives the Paragons time to breathe… until Lex Luthor inserts his grubby hands into the mix. During his time with the Book of Destiny, he saw these events unfold and replaced the Kingdom Come Superman’s presence with his own. Not only is this my least favorite aspect of tonight’s episode, in part because I have no love for this version of Lex but, more to the point, it takes the greatest of the Paragons off the board.
Whereas Part 2 was a geek lover’s paradise of fan service and amazing cameos, Part 3 ups the ante. There are fewer guest spots, but its grounded nature in some exceptionally written conversations between characters that more than made up for the downtick in action. In the crossover sense, Crisis, Part 3 serves as the second act. Though the heroes (and Lex) have found one another, they have yet to devise a plan of survival, let alone returning the multiverse to its original state. Losing the Paragon of Truth is an additional blow to the gathering of heroes who, even with Kara in their midst, is running low on hope.
A Crisis of Completion
• Though I don’t believe there will be any surprises at the end of Crisis, Part 3 pulled out its fair share of “gotcha!” moments. I’ve mentioned the Lex thing already (ugh!0 but 90s Flash being the sacrificial lamb in place of Barry is a nice bait-and-switch). Oliver’s choice to remain in Purgatory and accept his role as this “spark” is another boon; I did not want to see Oliver resurrected only to die again and this was an acceptable compromise. I never expected our beloved Earth-1 to be destroyed, thinking that would be where the fight for the multiverse would take place. Had I factored in the speed at which they knocked Earths off the board, this would not have come as a surprise.
• Whoever gets the writing credits for this installment deserve gold stars all around. It’s not just the crossover story, but the intimate moments of conversational brilliance are what made this such a fantastic episode. Whether it’s Barry commiserating with a broken-hearted Jefferson, Iris convincing Ryan that there are some things bigger than family, or even Clark’s outlook of hope and how it’s represented in the black on his crest; each of these individual scenes encompasses every aspect of our characters in the most unforgettable ways.
• Deserving its own bullet is the bond that’s formed between Kara and Kate. Melissa Benoist and Ruby Rose have an exceptional chemistry, with Kate’s cynical nature a perfect foil to Kara’s hope. My lack of interest in Supergirl has nothing to do with Benoist as she has pulled out her A-game during this crossover with Rose sharing in some of the credit.
• Even though the cameos were lessened this time around, we still got a few good ones. The obvious ones are of course Ellis as Lucifer and Shipp as the 90s Flash (there’s even a cool flashback of him with Amanda Pays’ Tina). The night started with a brief stopover in Earth-203 and Ashley Scott’s Huntress from the 2002 Birds of Prey series, while Corrigan pops up from 2014’s Constantine Now that the Earths are gone, I don’t expect any more special guest stars. Then again, I’ve been pleasantly surprised thus far.