Is Arrow Season 8 "Crisis On Infinite Earths?"

It appears to be go-big-or-go-home time for The CW's annual crossover event, as the Arrow season finale suggests that the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover could take over the show's eighth and final season. Before we continue, let's establish that there will be spoilers ahead for "You Have Saved This City," the season finale of Arrow which airs tonight. Ostensibly, the finale dealt with a plot by Oliver's sister half-Emiko to tear down his family's legacy by destroying Star City -- and doing so in Oliver's name. Along the way, she came head to head with Oliver, and a showdown between Team Arrow and the Ninth Circle was inevitable.

That confrontation had a somewhat surprising result, which differentiates Emiko from most of the Arrow big bads. But the real big news came after the battle was won and the city was saved. Leaving Diggle, the Canaries, and Wild Dog in Star City, Oliver and Felicity headed out to the country, where they could live off the grid since the Ninth Circle knew that Felicity was pregnant and there was a contract out on the lives of everyone in the family. The episode skipped forward a few months ,and after Felicity had given birth and Oliver had a little time with his daughter, The Monitor arrived.

Telling Oliver that it was time, Oliver broke the news to Felicity that he had made a deal with The Monitor to save the multiverse -- something that was bigger than the two of them. A teary good-bye later, and it was time for the audience to learn what Oliver Queen had agreed to, exactly, way back in "Elseworlds." His original deal was to do "whatever the multiverse needed" or something along those lines. But that was made much more specific during tonight's meeting with The Monitor: the cosmic being told Felicity that she had seen the future, and Oliver will die.

After that, the flash-forwards moved to Felicity Smoak in 2040, where she was visiting the grave of her husband -- his date of death listed as 2019. Oliver, in the present, bids farewell to his wife and the child who will grow up without him, and goes off with The Monitor. The implication here seems to be that LaMonica Garrett's Monitor will be a major player in the final season of Arrow, which begins in the fall and ends in late 2019 or early 2020. More specifically, it seems likely that Oliver Queen and The Monitor will be embarking on "Crisis on Infinite Earths" immediately upon the series' return.

There are questions left open about the nature of next season; our interview with showrunner Beth Schwartz seemingly confirmed that the flash-forwards woudl continue into next season if you read between the lines ("It will become clearer, I think, possibly by the finale and definitely in the next season," she said of a question we asked about the flash-forwards). it would also be strange to see even a Very Special Final Season of Arrow that did not make use of John Diggle. Granted, Felicity is gone because of actor availability and the rest of Team Arrow are holding down the fort in Star City -- but Dig?

But from the end of tonight's episode alone, it looks like the smart money is on Arrow season 8 being an extended "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline -- perhaps with the other heroes all crossing over into Arrow rather than each series having their own "Crisis" episodes. If that is the way it goes, it would allow for The CW to market the crossover as its own, standalone DVD in a way that fans have been clamoring for over the years but rights issues do not allow. And if it feels farfetched, just remember that Warner Bros. Television is familiar with building out subtitled arcs of TV seasons; it is what Gotham did for the last two seasons it was on the air.

Arrow will return in the fall. Expect more news about the series' final season at The CW's upfront presentation on Thursday in New York. Follow @russburlingame on Twitter for details live from the event.

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