"Flash Missing Vanishes in Crisis." It's a headline that fans first saw during The Flash series premiere back in 2014, a tease of red skies and a catastrophic crisis to come that would take the hero of Central City -- a hero we had only just met -- away from not just the city he protects but the people he loves as well. While some of the details have changed in the five years since that moment, most notably the timeline of that impending crisis, the certainty of Barry Allen/The Flash's (Grant Gustin) fate was assured at the beginning of Season Six when The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) confirmed that the Scarlet Speedster would, in fact, meet his end in that catastrophe. Now, that day has come. Flash missing, vanishes in Crisis.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of The Flash, "Crisis on Infinite Earths Part 3," below.
That The Flash would meet some sort of grim fate in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is no surprise. It's been hinted at, teased, and even guaranteed to the point that Barry spent the first half of The Flash's current, sixth season preparing his team and loved ones for a world without him. While many have hoped that Barry would somehow avoid this fate -- a hope that became especially strong after Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) met an unexpectedly early death in the first hour of "Crisis" on Sunday -- the end still came for Barry in tonight's episode -- just not the Barry Allen fans expected.
After heading back to where Nash had released the Anti-Monitor, Barry, Killer Frost, and Vibe discovered something terrible: the Anti-Monitor had an anti-matter cannon that was being powered by Earth-90's Barry Allen/The Flash (John Wesley Shipp). After getting him off the Cosmic Treadmill powering it, though, they discovered that there was a failsafe and that if they didn't do something soon, it would explode and destroy everything. Black Lightning showed up and bought them some time, but Earth-1's Barry realized that it was time. This was how he would die in Crisis.
Except, The Monitor said The Flash would die in Crisis. He never specified which Earth that Flash was from. Earth-90 Flash stepped up and stole Barry's speed and took his place, running backwards in order to stop the anti-matter cannon and take away the Anti-Monitor's massive weapon. He takes off running and, in a scene lifted directly from comics, Barry Allen, The Flash, sacrifices himself in Crisis. It just happens to be Barry Allen from Earth-90.
The death of Earth-90's The Flash delivers on not just what The Monitor said would happen, but it also proved that Flash showrunner Eric Wallace wasn't lying when he said that the Flash would die on December 10.
"'Crisis' turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to…The Flash because it created an immediacy to things," showrunner Eric Wallace said after a screening of the season premiere. "We know that on December 10, 2019, the Flash will die….We're not messing around."
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" kicks off on Sunday, December 8 on Supergirl, runs through a Monday episode of Batwoman and that Tuesday's episode of The Flash. That will be the midseason cliffhanger, as the shows go on hiatus for the holidays and return on January 14 to finish out the event with the midseason premiere of Arrow and a "special episode" of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, which launches as a midseason series this year and so will not have an episode on the air before the Crisis.