The #1 question people keep asking me is "Do I need to have been watching [Supergirl/Batwoman/Black Lightning] to be ready to watch 'Crisis on Infinite Earths'?" Luckily, no. (But you really should because they're excellent!) And, your pals here at Bleeding Cool are here to give you the TL;DR on all of the shows and get you ready. We'll also provide you links to our mid-season reviews of each of the five shows to give you a slightly more in-depth look at where each of our characters is coming from.
Let's go from most to least important:
This show has been running towards "Crisis" since its first season, letting us know The Flash (Grant Gustin) disappears in the "Crisis", sacrificing himself to save the city under the cover of red skies. This entire season has been Barry Allen preparing the members of Team Flash to carry on without him, as they knew, down to the exact date– Dec 10, 2019 — when he would disappear.
They've done everything they can to try to avert it, even hooking up Barry to Jay Garrick's (John Wesley Shipp) helmet and a supercomputer to see every possible reality and permutation of choices. Barry saw only one future, one way that the city is saved, and that is if he sacrifices himself.
Resigned to this fate, they've been putting their house in order. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) is ready to take over as team leader. Ralph (Hartley Sawyer) has become a hero in his own right. Iris (Candice Patton) and Joe (Jesse L. Martin) have said their goodbyes to their family. And, perhaps most interestingly, Caitlin and Killer Frost (Danielle Panabaker) have worked out a new living arrangement for their dual-body role, allowing Frost more time "in the driver's seat." All of the previews we've seen for "Crisis" have featured Frost, not Caitlin, so expect to only see her white haired, superpowered alter ego.
Perhaps most importantly, we've been introduced to this season's version of Harrison Wells, in this case known as "Nash." He's a sort of swashbuckling inter-dimensional treasure hunter who has come to Earth-1 to find Mar Novu aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett). Deep in Central City's sewers, he finds an entrance to a hidden enclave, and at the end of last episode we saw him find a way to enter.
From released images and other clues, we know that he is searching for power and knowledge, and will be transformed into "Pariah," who has a major part to play in the "Crisis" storylines of the comics. (Of course, the shows diverge considerably from the source material, but this is just for context, not to say "He's going to do exactly what Pariah did in the comics.")
In our most recent episode, Team Flash beats down a zombie apocalypse, then gathers together one final time to say goodbye. The skies turn red, and "Crisis" is upon them.
The Flash is holding down Episode 3 of the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover on the fated date of Tuesday, December 10, 2019.
Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has been dealing with a similar weight ever since last year's Elseworlds crossover, when Mar Novu told him he would not survive the upcoming "Crisis". This entire season, The Monitor has been testing Oliver, sending him on various missions, including one where he lived the same day over and over Groundhog Day style to teach him that he can't beat fate.
One of the most important developments is that Oliver's children Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis) have traveled from the future. While it appears they are not heavilly involved in the "Crisis" crossover, they will likely provide a lot of motivation for Oliver as he takes his place as the leader of the team facing "Crisis".
This is a role Oliver should feel accustomed to playing, as he's held it in previous crossovers "Elseworlds" and "Crisis on Earth X" (Space Nazis!!!). He'll be joined in this by regular ally from Team Arrow, husband-wife team of John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson). But while Lyla has been doing her covert agent work for ARGUS, she has also been moonlighting as The Monitor's Harbinger. In this role, she has been preparing the team, and especially Oliver, for the upcoming "Crisis". She's also recently discovered some of her own power and agency, in our most recent episode of Arrow believing Oliver was a literal key to powering on a device to help save the world, instead finding it was keyed to her.
Diggle likely also has a part to play, although we cannot confirm only speculate, due to a throwaway line from "Elseworlds" where Jay Garrick asked John about his ring. (It's John Stewart Green Lantern time! More on this in a moment).
Most of Supergirl's plot this season has had little to do with "Crisis", but they have dropped a few breadcrumbs. While Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) has been dealing with betrayal by Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath) and a new enemy in Leviathan, Mar Novu has been preparing J'onn J'onzz (David Harewood) to step up during "Crisis".
At the end of last season we see him deliver J'onn's brother Malefic (Phil LaMarr) from The Phantom Zone. Malefic swore vengeance on his brother, and over several episodes they fought. Until using some advanced memory recovery techniques, J'onn discovers that he erased the memory of Malefic from all of the Martians, including his father. Using your mental abilities on other Martians is the worst crime any Martian can commit, so J'onn feels incredible guilt for this. He also learns that he has potentially misjudged his brother, whose powers allow him to "incept" ideas into others and control them. When Lena kidnaps Malefic and using him for her own experiments to control people, J'onn eventually frees his brother, reconciles with him, and turns him to doing good. J'onn becomes more powerful, more balanced, and "ready" according to The Monitor, per a conversation in our most recent episode.
The Monitor has been preparing another person since the last season finale as well– namely Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer) who the world believes is dead. In our last episode, we see he's been playing chess in some interdimensional space. The Monitor asks him if he's ready to be a hero, to which he replies that he's always been a hero. How very Lex Luthor of him.
This should get interesting given that we know we will have multiple Supermen in "Crisis" and Lex's distrust/hate of all things Kryptonian. Speaking of, where is Kara's cousin, Superman (Tyler Hoechlin), in all of this? He's not been on Kara's Earth in months, instead choosing to spend time on Argo, a planetoid that contains an enclave of surviving Kryptonians and where, without Earth's yellow sun, they have no superpowers. This makes it an ideal place to, say, have a baby with your human wife and not have to worry about the fetus kicking through her stomach. Good news! It looks like, from previews, that Lois (Elizabeth Tulloch) and Clark have had their baby!
Bad news? From other previews, we've seen the anti-matter energy wave of "Crisis" ripping across Argo. Expect this to be a major plot point in Episode 1 of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" when Supergirl's episode kicks us all off on Sunday, December 8 at 8/7 CT.
Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) has been mostly off in her own world so far this season. Her first eight episodes have mostly dealt with her origin story. It also seems likely that the events of this season have happened far in the past, even prior to Batwoman's appearance in "Elseworlds" last year. All that being said, here's what you should know about Batwoman:
Bruce Wayne and Batman disappeared from Gotham several years ago. In the vacuum left by him, Kate's father, Jacob, began a private security force, The Crows, to supplement the Gotham Police. After several years of herself being gone from Gotham, Kate returns, finds the Batcave, all of Bruce's toys and the Batsuit, and begins going out and kicking bad guy butt. Unfortunately, her main nemesis has been her long lost sister Beth, who now goes by the moniker Alice. Alice blames Kate, their father, and others in Gotham for forgetting about her and the fact that they stopped looking for her after she was presumed dead after an accident that involved Batman.
Most of this is likely unrelated to "Crisis". What does seem important is that Bruce has been long gone, and most of the episodes are book-ended by Kate writing letters to Bruce which she assumes will go unanswered. So the promised appearance of Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne is going to be vitally important to understanding Kate's motivations.
All of that will go down on Batwoman's episode of "Crisis on Infinite Earths, Part 2", on Monday, December 9 at 8/7 CT.
The City of Freeland has been under occupation this entire season. Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) aka Black Lightning and his wife Lynn Stewart have been working with government agency the ASA to keep the Markovian government from overrunning the city and kidnapping every metahuman to make them part of their superpowered army. Unfortunately, that means the ASA has placed the city under martial law and has their own plans to weaponize the metas. Black Lightning and his two metahuman children also aid a Resistance within the city to help safely smuggle metahumans out.
Black Lightning has always been a very self-contained show, with all of its action happening just within Freeland. It's almost certain none of this will have anything to do with "Crisis", but it should help give us some insight into Jefferson Pierce's state of mind. While his relationship with his family right now is incredibly strained– temporarily estranged from his elder daughter, fighting with his wife over some unethical things she's doing with the ASA (and her hiding an addiction to a powerful drug that enhances her natural intelligence)– he would do anything to protect them.
Oh, and remember how he's married to Lynn Stewart? In the regular DC canon, she is the sister of John Stewart. As stated before, if we assume that John Diggle is actually John Stewart, that makes Diggle and Jefferson brothers-in-law, potentially. Of course, we still have no idea which part of the multiverse Black Lightning takes place in (although last episode someone mentioned Obama visiting Freeland, so it's definitely not Supergirl's universe, where we know they have a fictional president), so who knows? But since we have "Flash 90" already teasing the existence of a Green Lantern and we see him interacting with Black Lightning, no doubt if there's a connection to be made, he will make it.
So when Black Lightning shows up in Episode 3 on Tuesday, December 10, it will be really interesting to see what happens.
And that's basically it. We'll have more every night after "Crisis" airs – and don't think we've forgotten about our Legends, either…