In the final moments of tonight's episode of Arrow, titled "You Have Saved This City," The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) returned, seemingly to cash in on whatever deal he made with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) during last winter's "Elseworlds" crossover event. First, of course, the series had to tie up this season's loose ends, dealing with (among other things) the final appearance of Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), whose exit in tonight's episode as there were big moments for her both in 2019 and in the 2040 flash forwards.
Tonight's episode is the first time fans have seen The Monitor appear since "Elseworlds," but it is hardly surprising; while some members of the audience might think that The Flash is a more obvious place for a cosmic being like that to appear, a myserious scene between Oliver and The Monitor in "Elseworlds" made it clear that the two have unfinished business relating to the coming Crisis. Now that we know the events of "Crisis on Infinite Earths" are coming in late 2019 instead of 2024 as originally planned, seeing The Monitor pop up again is almost a given. While he was the villain of "Elseworlds" -- in a nod to his earliest, morally-gray appearances in the comics, a tone Garrett used to shape the "Elseworlds" take on a character -- The Monitor has been long understood as generally good by most fans.
The Monitor was one of two ageless beings (the other being the Anti-Monitor) who personified and wielded the energies of the matter and anti-matter universes. Crisis on Infinite Earths dealt with the idea that since the matter universe had been split into an infinite multiverse, each of the individual universes was weaker, leaving them more vulnerable to attack by the Anti-Monitor than they otherwise would have been. At the end of the story, most of the universes were destroyed and the universe that remained was DC's only one, with all of its history merged into one, for about twenty years until the next set of Crises.
"Before I got the role, I didn't know who I was reading for. It was dummy sides, it was a dummy character name," Garrett told ComicBook.com shortly after he was cast. "They didn't let any of the actors know who it was that you were going in for. And once I got the role, they said 'The Monitor,' and I'm like, 'Well, which Monitor? There's a lot of Monitors. Is it Nix Uotan, is it Mandrakk?' And they said, 'No, it's The Monitor from Crisis.' I'm like, 'Oh.'"
That realization came with the same weight for Garrett as it did for fans upon hearing that his character had been added to the crossover, and the actor told us that he had to make a conscious effort to approach the role one day at a time, and not over-think the potential long-term ramifications of The Monitor's appearance in the Arrowverse.
"You think of the scale of it, and what this character means, and him being introduced into the DC TV world, the first person when you think when you think Monitor is you think Anti-Monitor," Garrett admitted. "So, the scale -- where's this going? And then when you think Anti-Monitor, the next thing you think of is Crisis on Infinite Earths. So if you keep doing that to yourself, it makes it too much on your shoulders when you are going into it. You have to think about it later. To me, I'm a former athlete. When you think about the big games, the bowl games, you think about the Super Bowl, you think about the World Series, and you ask those players, 'what does this mean? This is a huge game, this is the biggest game ever.' And they downplay it. They don't want to think of it. After the game, they'll tell you how much pressure they were under, and how much stress. They couldn't sleep at night. So leading up to it, it's like they're trying not to think about that, because if you make that moment bigger than what it is, it's gonna get the best of you."
Crisis on Infinite Earths was referenced in the pilot episode of The Flash, and elements of that story have been teased again this year-- just before revealing that the event would be next year's Arrowverse crossover.
Arrow airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT, following episodes of DC's Legends of Tomorrow on The CW.
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