"Crisis on Infinite Earths" Part 1 Ending Explained

"Crisis on Infinite Earths" finally arrived tonight for the heroes of The CW's Arrowverse. With the skies having turned red all over the Multiverse, the heroes gathered on Earth-38 -- Supergirl's Earth -- to take up the fight to save not only that world but every other world not yet destroyed by the wave of anti-matter sweeping through reality. Of course, while there was a lot that came as part of that fight, the episode ended on a stunning and heartbreaking note but also gave us a very Arrowverse take on a classic moment from the comic book series the event is based on -- and we're breaking it down.

Spoilers for tonight's episode of Supergirl, "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part 1," below.

After watching Argo destroyed by an anti-matter wave and making a stand on Earth-38, the heroes find themselves on Earth-1 and dealing with a tragic situation. While they were able to save many of the lives on Earth-38 before it was destroyed, the heroes' efforts were only partially successful. Of the seven billion people on Earth-38, only three billion made it to Earth-1. Of those three billion survivors, one billion owe their lives to the heroic efforts of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who stayed behind as a one-man line of defense so that as many lives could be saved as possible in those last moments.

That action, however, costs him his life. The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) brings a dying Oliver to Earth-1 where his friends are gathered to say his goodbyes but while that's happening another visitor appears. It's Nash Wells (Tom Cavanagh) but he looks different than what we've seen before and when Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) identifies him as Nash, the man sadly shakes his head and says that he's not Nash anymore. Instead, he is now Pariah and a man serving his penance for having freed the Anti-Monitor from his confinement. He has been sentenced to bear witness to the Anti-Monitor's actions.

Nothing in this is a huge surprise. It was announced back in July that Cavanagh would be playing Pariah but for fans of the comics, this is one of those major moments that is very much a reflection of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's Crisis on Infinite Earths comics. The Crisis comics opens with a page that features Pariah standing alone on a white page, his head bowed sadly while behind him is a scene of his own horrified face watching the destruction of an Earth. As we turn the page and head deeper into the story, we find that Pariah is forced to watch the destruction of worlds, or, as he puts it "No, I am drawn to it. Forced to observe the death-rattle of the multiverse."

In comics Pariah (real name Kell Mossa,) is one of his earth's greatest scientists and it is through his unorthodox experiments to view the universe that he ends up allowing the Anti-Monitor to discover the existence of his Earth. The Anti-Monitor destroys Pariah's Earth with waves of anti-matter and while the Monitor saves Pariah, but he ends up having to watch world after world after world die as anti-matter waves wipe out the Multiverse. Given that Pariah is forced to watch countless billions of people die, the character does a lot of crying. The Anti-Monitor ends up revealing that Pariah's experiments didn't actually unleash the energy that led to the destruction of universes, but Pariah did open an anti-matter portal that the Anti-Monitor took advantage of and used to convert the energy, thus destroying Pariah's world and so many more. At the end of Crisis, Pariah and Lady Quark -- a woman he rescued from Earth-6 -- ask Harbinger to join them in exploring a new, reformed Earth.

While it's still too early to tell how The CW's "Crisis" will deal with Pariah's role -- especially since the stinger scene from last week's Arrowverse episodes that lead into "Crisis" did show Nash unlocking the Monitor's "lair," the act that we now understand to be the one to release the Anti-Monitor, Pariah's arrival at the end of tonight's episode offers fans a beautiful tie to the comics, something that fits in nicely with what Arrow co-creator Marc Guggenheim told us earlier this year about the "cool things" that would be part of "Crisis."

“Basically, we’re gonna begin — this is an exclusive — we’re gonna begin the way Crisis on Infinite Earths the comic begins, which is the destruction of various parallel universes. And the goal is for us to adapt key moments from the comic, those seminal moments,” Guggenheim told us.

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“In fact, yesterday I pitched to the network what the story was going to be and the best part of the pitch, we have a board that DC made up for me, which is covers from key issues of Crisis on Infinite Earths. And we’re like, ‘We’re gonna do our version of this, we’re gonna do our version of this, we’re gonna do our version of this.’ Our goal is, the thing we’ve been saying, is we’re going to make a list of 100 cool things that we want to do. And even if we only get to do 50, we’re still doing 50 cool things.”

"Crisis on Infinite Earths" continues on Monday night with a special episode of Batwoman at 8/7c on The CW.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.