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What you need to know to watch Crisis on Infinite Earths

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The Arrowverse has its biggest cosmic snafu yet in this five-part mega-event

The Flash, Supergirl, Superman, Batwoman, and the Atom, in an Arrowverse crossover. Dean Buscher/The CW

The crossover to end all Arrowverse crossovers is almost upon us. Next week, the CW will air the first half of its adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, bringing together all its heroes in a quest to save the multiverse. There are six shows to keep track of here, some more involved than others. Here’s what you need to know going into the Crisis!

How to watch Crisis on Infinite Earths

Like the previous Arrowverse crossovers, Crisis on Infinite Earths will air across multiple nights on The CW, with the first three parts airing on the same week. Supergirl’s episode will make up the first part of the crossover on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 8 p.m.; parts two and three will air as episodes of Batwoman on Monday, Dec. 9 at 8 p.m. and The Flash on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m., respectively. Episodes stream on TheCW.com and The CW app the next morning.

Parts four and five of Crisis, which are episodes of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, will air back to back on Jan. 14. If you don’t have cable, never fear — you’ll be able to watch each Crisis-specific episode on their respective shows the day after they air if you have the CW app.

Can I get a pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths recap?

For Crisis, the two shows you need to be the most aware of going into this crossover are the ones that birthed this universe: Arrow and The Flash. In their current seasons, both shows have been building the foundation for everything to come.

During last year’s crossover Elseworlds, a cosmic entity called the Monitor arrived on Earth-1, looking to prepare its heroes for an incoming Crisis. To save Flash and Supergirl’s lives, Oliver Queen made a bargain with the Monitor that he would help save the Multiverse when summoned. But then, as always, the Scarlet Speedster messed with time and made things complicated for everyone else.

The very first episode of The Flash in 2014 ended on a tease that Barry Allen would vanish during the Crisis of April 2024. In its fifth season, Nora Allen, Barry’s adult daughter from the year 2040, came to the present day to spend time with her father. In doing so, she changed the timeline, accidentally wiping herself from existence and accelerating the Crisis’ original date. It would now occur in December 2019, with Earth-1 (the primary Earth for the Arrowverse shows) becoming the final battleground. And as Barry later learned, the only way for everyone to survive was for him to sacrifice his life.

The Monitor has also become a recurring character during the eighth and final season of Arrow. At the end of last season’s finale, not long after Oliver Queen’s daughter Mia was born, the cosmic being arrived at the vigilante’s home looking to recruit him into a fight to save the multiverse. Like Barry, Oliver is slated to die in the oncoming battle, but he agreed to uphold his end of the bargain. Along with John Diggle and the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance, Oliver has since been gathering items for the Monitor to help with the oncoming Crisis. Later, the cosmic being transported the adult, 2040 versions of Oliver’s kids Mia and William — plus Diggle’s adopted son Connor Hawke — to the present day as a way for Oliver to spend time with his family before his imminent death.

The Monitor has also made appearances in the recent season finales of Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl. While in the wackier Legends, he just showed up to eat circus popcorn and watch the time traveling heroes make idiots of themselves, his time on Supergirl was more serious. He retrieved Lex Luthor’s dead body to revive him until the day of Crisis, claiming the universe will need Lex’s mind.

Everything is in place and everyone aware of what’s to come.

Brandon Routh as Superman in the CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. Katie Yu/The CW

What’s next after Crisis on Infinite Earths?

Crisis is sure to leave a mark on the Arrowverse, but no one at the CW has opened up about it. Thus far, it’s only been made clear that Barry will be dead and The Flash will continue on without him, though one can imagine it won’t be terribly long before he returns. And there are a few concrete facts concerning the rest of the Arrowverse.

In the aftermath of this crossover, there will be at least two new shows born. Arrow’s penultimate episode, and its first to follow Crisis, will be a backdoor pilot for a spinoff called Green Arrow & the Canaries, focusing on Oliver’s daughter Mia. Another planned spinoff is Superman & Lois, starring the Supergirl versions of Lois Lane and the Man of Steel.

Should the Arrowverse version of Crisis on Infinite Earths hold true to the source material, all the shows will take place in one single universe from here out. Thus far, Supergirl and Black Lightning have been the outliers in this regard — the former series, due to its origins as a CBS show, takes place on Earth-38. Black Lightning, in contrast, has never definitively stated what Earth it’s on. It’s possible that Black Lightning will stay in its own pocket world, but it seems likely that Supergirl will become another part of Earth-1 to make the show’s frequent crossovers easier to write around.

Of course, we won’t know for sure until Crisis on Infinite Earths kicks off!