Spoilers ahead for the Season 6 premiere of The Flash on The CW, called "Into The Void."
The Flash is back for its sixth season on The CW, and it didn't waste any time in adding some more pieces to the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" puzzle. The huge five-show Arrow-verse crossover is only a couple of months away at this point, and The Monitor dropped by the end of "Into The Void" to interrupt a sweet moment between Barry and Iris as they honored Nora, and that's not all he did. He dropped the bombshell on them that the Flash needs to die to save the universe, not just vanish.
First, The Monitor confirmed to Barry and Iris that the Crisis that has been teased ever since the first season of The Flash was moved up from 2024 to 2019. In fact, he gave the precise date of when the Crisis will begin: December 10, 2019, when Barry "will answer the call and make the ultimate sacrifice," according to The Monitor. He went on to explain that Earth-1 will fight for the fate of all the known universe, and Barry cannot comprehend the events already in motion.
Upset and angry, Barry declared that he wasn't going to leave his family, doesn't need to understand everything, and just needs to know what he can do. The Monitor dropped this foreboding message:
To survive? You can’t. In order for billions to survive this coming Crisis, The Flash must die.
Dun dun dun! Upon first consideration, The Monitor's message seems pretty clear: in the Crisis that begins on December 10, 2019, The Flash begins a fight that will culminate in his death, which comes as a sacrifice so that billions won't perish and all known universes won't be destroyed.
Not a bad reason to go, all things considered, but when you look closely at what The Monitor had to say and combine it with what we know from the "Elseworlds" crossover last year, what's happening on Arrow this year, and what happened in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" comics arc, things may be more complicated than just Barry dying by the end of the crossover.
What We Know From The "Elseworlds" Crossover
The Monitor showed up to mess with the heroes of the Arrow-verse in the "Elseworlds" crossover, which was only a taste of what would happen if and when The Anti-Monitor appeared on Earth-1. In the battle to save the day in "Elseworlds," Barry and Kara seemed doomed to die, which resulted in Oliver making a deal with The Monitor: he would make the ultimate sacrifice himself when the day came, and Barry and Kara would be spared.
So, in theory, Barry shouldn't have to die, because Oliver made a deal with The Monitor and The Monitor showed up at the end of Arrow Season 7 to collect Oliver and begin their mission together ahead of the Crisis. Oliver is the guy who's supposed to die, so what gives?
Is The Monitor's message in "Into The Void" a hint that Oliver won't die -- which we know he doesn't due to how Felicity's story ended on Arrow and the fact that Arrow runs for another couple of episodes after "Crisis" ends -- and so his deal with The Monitor is void, allowing Barry and Kara to die? Maybe The Flash has to die in "Crisis" because for whatever reason, the Green Arrow doesn't. That said...
What We Know From Arrow
It's not really in character for Oliver to pass up a chance to sacrifice himself for others, and I can't see the Arrow-verse killing off The Flash and Supergirl. Could this be a bluff from The Monitor, who needs Barry to think he's going to die in order for the plan to save the multi-verse to work? Oliver's death could simply be metaphorical, or a technicality, and still count.
After all, the end of Arrow Season 7 proved that everybody on Earth-1, seemingly with only the exception of Felicity, believed Oliver died by the time of the Star City 2040 flash-forwards, and Felicity was being taken to wherever Oliver was by The Monitor. If he technically is "dead" on Earth-1, maybe that satisfies his bargain with The Monitor. It is still a sacrifice, as he misses his daughter's entire life aside from his brief time with her as a baby, and most of his son's life, not to mention the separation from his wife, friends, and remaining family.
So, if we assume that Oliver only figuratively "dies" rather than actually really, truly, 100%, forever DIES on Earth-1 to satisfy his side of the deal -- which seems a safe assumption, as The Monitor was pretty amiable with Felicity in the Arrow Season 7 finale -- then Barry shouldn't have to die. A lot depends on what really counts as death when it comes to Oliver's end on Earth-1.
What We Know From The Comics
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" is famous in the comics for many reasons, not the least of which is the death of the Barry Allen version of The Flash (as well as Kara Zor-El as Supergirl). Although Barry does eventually come back, as most heroes do in the comics, he was gone for quite a while after perishing in the fight against The Anti-Monitor, replaced by Wally West.
Wally West hasn't been around in the Arrow-verse for quite a while, and Keiynan Lonsdale hasn't been one of the many superhero alums listed as returning for the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover. Nora is gone, Jay Garrick has his own Earth to worry about, and there's just a shortage of speedster superheroes who could step into Barry's boots as The Flash.
If "Crisis" does kill Barry, as The Monitor foreshadowed and as happened in the comics, then it seems like it would have to be the end of The Flash. While Arrow is proof that the shows of the Arrow-verse shows won't run forever and The Flash will be the longest-running of the current superhero series once Arrow is finished, I don't see it ending because Barry dies in the crossover. And wouldn't it be underwhelming if The Flash faked out a Barry death again?
What We Can Guess From The Monitor's Words
While The Monitor's comments seem pretty unambiguous about the Scarlet Speedster dying, it's possible that he chose his words carefully and left in a loophole that Barry and Iris just didn't notice. The Monitor said that "The Flash must die," not "Barry Allen must die."
"Crisis on Infinite Earths" will presumably involve an all but infinite number of Earths, which could mean an all but infinite number of Flashes. John Wesley Shipp will appear in the Arrow-verse's "Crisis." Could the crossover simply kill off a version of The Flash, rather than the Scarlet Speedster who stars on The Flash?
So, what's up with The Monitor telling Barry that The Flash needs to die? At this point, I'm leaning toward The Monitor simply bluffing and manipulating Barry into reacting like he would if he thought he was going to die, and I don't just mean that he and Iris may need to get busy now that they only have a couple of months to make baby Nora.
Oliver presumably isn't going to be telling everybody and anybody about his deal with The Monitor, so Barry wouldn't know that his pal in Star(ling) City worked out a way to guarantee his safety, and he has every reason to believe The Monitor has the power to know these things. If a Flash does have to die, my money is on a Flash other than Barry of Earth-1.
Hopefully the four shows of the Arrow-verse that will have premiered before "Crisis on Infinite Earths" begins will yield some answers sooner rather than later. Arrow is certainly likely to drop some "Crisis" details now that Oliver and The Monitor are actively working together, but Arrow doesn't return until next week. Tune in to The CW on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET for new episodes of The Flash.