Why I'm Still Torn Over Barry Allen's Fate In Crisis On Infinite Earths

barry allen the flash the cw

The first three episodes in the Arrow-verse crossover, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” have come and gone. While there’s a lot to unpack in terms of storylines, cameos, and twists, there’s one thing “Crisis” managed to avoid altogether, and that’s Barry Allen’s death. The Flash was more than ready to give up his life in the hope of saving the multiverse, but another Flash died in his place. And, after mulling it over, I’m still torn about Barry Allen’s fate in “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”

At the end of The Flash’s Season 6 premiere, The Monitor told Barry Allen that he “must die.” Instead of dying in 2024, Barry would instead vanish December 10, 2019. And so, the Scarlet Speedster spent the remaining episodes ahead of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” preparing Iris and his teammates for his demise. When it came time to sacrifice himself, though, it was Earth-90’s Flash — because The Monitor didn’t say which Flash had to die — who took Barry’s place and disintegrated. There are good and bad reasons as to why I’m still on the fence about it, but let’s start with the good.

barry allen crisis on infinite earths death

Barry Was Never Going To Die Anyway

Let’s face it, on a show called The Flash, killing off the titular character in the midst of the show's sixth season was never going to work. Unlike Arrow, which is ending soon, The Flash still has a bright future ahead. Even if Barry did die in “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” he would’ve been brought right back, anyway, so it was pointless to convince viewers otherwise.

While there was no way the writers were going to kill him off for good, resurrecting him wasn’t an option either. That storyline was reserved for Oliver Queen, after all. Since both Barry and Oliver were fated to die in the crossover, it was only fitting that Barry was the one to survive.

flash crisis on infinite earths

Barry’s Fate Proves The Timeline Is Still Malleable

The Flash’s disappearance was teased all the way back in the pilot, so his fate in “Crisis” has always loomed overhead to some degree. However, The Flash has always argued that fate isn’t always set in stone and things can change. That’s evidenced by the fact that Iris’ foretold death at the hands of Savitar in Season 3 was avoided. It happened again when Barry and Iris’ daughter, Nora, managed to change the timeline at the end of Season 4 and Season 5.

Everything written can be rewritten, so I can’t be upset that Barry lived if it continues to be proof that the timeline is in constant flux. Therefore, anything is possible. Not even The Monitor foresaw that Oliver would die so early on in “Crisis” and he had the Book of Destiny, meaning that Barry’s survival was just another “fuck you” to fate.

All of that said, though, for every good reason I've listed, there are bad ones, too.

john wesley shipp flash earth-90

Earth-90’s Flash Robbed Barry Of His Heroic Moment

As much as I love John Wesley Shipp’s version of Barry, his last-minute save robbed Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen of his heroic sacrifice, one he’d been building up to since the early part of Season 6. One could argue that we did see Barry disappear in "A Flash of the Lightning," but since it didn’t actually happen during “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” it’s a moot point.

Barry surviving “Crisis” means the crossover won’t waste time trying to bring him back the way it has tried to do with Oliver Queen, but it also stole the Scarlet Speedster’s big moment and gave it to someone else. Compounded by the fact that Barry had very little to do in the first two episodes of “Crisis,” him disappearing from scenes in Supergirl and focusing on Oliver's death instead of his own on Batwoman, his survival felt like a cop out.

the flash crisis death

Barry’s Survival Negates Most Of The First Half of Season 6

As a big Barry Allen fan, I’m thrilled that he survived “Crisis.” Truly, there's no one more deserving. That said, all the effort spent preparing the team for his death and for the big crossover now seems like a waste of precious screen time. The Flash spent six of its seven pre-”Crisis” episodes hammering home the fact that Barry was a goner and veered off course a few times trying to balance his upcoming death and the villain Bloodwork.

It didn’t take long for the weight of Barry’s death to lose its impact. It's incredibly hard to be invested in a character’s foretold demise knowing that he’ll still be around in the back half of the season. The twist that he survived might have worked better if Barry hadn’t found out about his fate until right before “Crisis" instead of waiting around to kick the bucket.

Crisis on Infinite Earths” is far from over and there’s still plenty of time for Barry to do his part in saving the multiverse, so not all hope is lost for the Paragon of Love. How it plays out and whether it’ll be satisfying, however, remains to be seen.

The two-part conclusion to the Arrow-verse crossover will air Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW, with Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, respectively. For more on what to watch next year, be sure to check out our midseason schedule to find out when every TV show is premiering.

Mae Abdulbaki