The Crisis has arrived! After a year of waiting, the promised Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover between Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwomanhas finally arrived, and the first episode of this five-hour super-thon ended with a twist no one could have seen coming.
We've known for a while now that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) would not survive this Crisis, but we always envisioned him sacrificing himself for the greater good at the very last minute. Instead, the crossover killed him off in the first episode, leaving fans reeling.
As another deadly wave of anti-matter swept toward Earth 38, Oliver, Kara (Melissa Benoist), Barry (Grant Gustin), and their cohorts rushed to evacuate more than 7 billion people to Earth 1. When all seemed lost, the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) decided to hedge his bets and started poofing our heroes back to Earth 1, but Oliver refused to go until everyone was evacuated. He stayed behind to continue fighting the Anti-Monitor's army, and though the Monitor did get him out before the anti-matter turned Earth 38 into dust, Oliver died of his injuries shortly thereafter. According to the Monitor, the extra time he gave the evacuation saved an estimated 1 billion souls, making him a true hero.
Arrowverse executive producer Marc Guggenheim explained the choice to kill Oliver this early in the crossover during a Q&A featuring fellow producers Keto Shimizu, Robert Rovner, Caroline Dries, and Beth Schwartz following a press screening of the first two episodes of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
"It really came off of Elseworlds, which strongly suggested that Oliver was going to die, and then the Arrow seventh season finale where we told the audience Oliver is going to die in Crisis. So the dilemma that we sort of presented to our own selves was that we spoiled our own story. So if Oliver dying isn't the surprise, what is the surprise?" said Guggenheim. "We've kind of figured the audience is expecting that Oliver would die in the climax in the fifth hour. So if we went in the exact opposite direction and killed him off at the end of hour one, we accomplish two things. Hopefully, we do surprise the audience. That's absolutely the intention. But we also really establish the stakes that going into the next four hours. 'Wow, if all of Oliver Queen can die, then no one is safe.'"
While the shock factor of killing off Oliver in the first hour of the crossover was certainly a major reason behind this twist, it wasn't the only reason the team of Arrowverse showrunners wanted to off him so soon. From a character standpoint, the loss of Oliver Queen, who was so important to so many Arrowverse characters, is a major story point that these heroes have to go through together. Rather than watching each of them grieve alone on their separate shows after Crisis is over, we now get to watch them go through this loss together, for better or worse.
Nearly everyone's reactions to Oliver's death will be explored in the second hour of the crossover, during the Batwoman episode, and it's definitely an emotional rollercoaster.
"The leads all have a different take on how to grieve or handle Oliver's death," said Batwoman showrunner Caroline Dries. "Some of them believe it's over, some of them believe we can fix this, some of them are not wanting to even think about it. So everyone has a different approach to it, and that helps generate their story for the episode."
"For Kara, in addition to Oliver, she's grieving the loss of her Earth and so she comes into a wanting to try and figure out how to fix what's happened," said Supergirl showrunner Robert Rovner. "And that is kind of her journey very much with Kate (Ruby Rose), not only in the Batwoman hour but in the rest of the crossover."
This, of course, leads us to our second theory about why Oliver kicked the bucket so soon. If he'd died at the end of Crisis, we would have definitively ruled him a goner, dying a climactic hero's death. Killing him off in the first episode leaves four more episodes for all the characters who want to fix Oliver's death to do exactly that. After all, even the Monitor said that this death was not the one he had foreseen for Oliver.
It's hard to imagine Arrow building up to Oliver's death all this time only to undo it lickety-split, but we're certainly more hopeful now than we were a week ago that Oliver Queen might survive this crossover after all.
Crisis on Infinite Earths continues with Batwoman on Monday, Dec. 9 at 8/7c and The Flash on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8/7c. The event will then return after the winter hiatus for its conclusion with back-to-back episodes of Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow on Tuesday, Jan. 14 starting at 8/7c.
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