Warning: This contains spoilers for the current seasons of Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash.
After Elseworlds aired and CW announced Arrow was ending, I began viewing the Arrow-verse shows differently. I still enjoy the individual programs, but I increasingly see them in terms of how they feed into the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths narrative.
Arrow will conclude altogether with the Crisis story line after a shortened final season. In previous arcs, the show’s current Big Bad somehow set the stage for the villain following him. Merlyn paved the way for Slade Wilson. Slade Wilson and Merlyn created the conditions for the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s al Ghul transitioned to Damien Darhk. Damien Darhk created the necessary physical and psychological conditions for Prometheus. To catch Prometheus, Team Arrow came into Cayden James’ orbit. Then, Ricardo Diaz used Cayden James. Diaz then met his just end so that Dante could take center stage.
But, Dante isn’t the Big Bad after all. It turns out Emiko is. However, everything on Arrow now feeds into Crisis and the series finale. Therefore, Emiko isn’t the Big Bad. The Anti-Monitor is the ultimate Big Bad. Moreover, because Arrow has relatively few episodes left, narrative economy must come into play, so the writers can efficiently tell the rest of their story in the limited time they have. That implies that The Anti-Monitor is hiding in plain site, and the writers are using Emiko to distract the audience. Essentially, they’re using Emiko the same way they used Vigilante during the Prometheus story line. Dante remains the Big Bad. In fact, Dante, like Adrian Chase, is playing a role within a role. Dante is The Anti-Monitor.
Dante is played by the ever awesome Adrian Paul. Paul is best known for portraying Duncan Macleod in Highlander. He played a centuries old immortal, fighting other immortals in sword duels to the death as they approached the time of The Gathering. Ultimately, “there can be only one” immortal left standing. Crisis is basically The Gathering on multiversal steroids. The Monitor and The Anti-Monitor are, you guessed it, immortals in a battle to shape reality itself. The Anti-Monitor wants to destroy absolutely everything, and The Monitor wants to save what he can by compositing the strongest universes in the Multiverse into one surviving universe. Given the show runners’ penchants for genre legacy casting, Paul’s presence as the existential antagonist would be a marvelous nod to internal logic.
If I’m not mistaken, viewers have evidence that Crisis is playing out in the Star City 2040 plot line. The Ninth Circle facilitates terrorist activities. Eden Corps, which is established as a terrorist organization, is using Galaxy One as a front to run the Archer program, which they stole from Felicity. If I’m right, Dante is funding Eden Corps and Galaxy One. Galaxy One is his way of trolling The Monitor. “How can you have one galaxy — one universe — in safety when I’ve already planned so far ahead of you?”
I think Felicity will recognize Dante in 2040 and realize their problems are much, much bigger than she’s prepared for, providing context for Emily Bett Rickards’ departure. At that point, viewers can expect time travel of some description to ensue, as future meets past, facilitating the main events. Those events will involve two duels. One will be between The Monitor and The Anti-Monitor. As in the comics, The Anti-Monitor will prevail, giving Paul an excuse to intone “There can be only one,” while wielding a cosmic implement that looks a lot like a broad sword. Then, the final, fateful duel will be between The Anti-Monitor and Oliver. Oliver will be mortally wounded, but so will The Anti-Monitor. The Anti-Monitor will again utter “There can be only one” This time, the meaning will be ironic in that some have been saved in The Monitor’s planned composite universe, but the price, including Oliver’s life, will be very high.
So far, so good, but for my theory to work, I now have to account for Dante on Supergirl and The Flash. Once I started formulating my ideas, I looked for ways for Dante/The Anti-Monitor to show up on the other shows, and commonalities presented themselves. Like Diaz, Lex Luthor has cash flow problems following prison. He told the Kasnians he needed money. Otis also noted that Lex isn’t “as liquid as he used to be.”
Finally, Lex stated the central thesis in on the nose foreshadowing masked as world-view shaping literary critique of The Great Gatsby. “Money is always acquired at someone else’s expense.”
The show runners wouldn’t coordinate with DC to use one of their marquee villains in the final pre-Crisis arc just to put exposition dialogue in his and his henchman’s mouths for no reason. If I’m right, Lex Luthor is being set up for villain decay. He’s going to reveal the existence of Dante in the wider Multiverse, setting up the larger narrative relative to Earth-38. “Mr Luthor, you owe me a debt.”
That brings me to The Flash. The entire series has been preparation for Crisis. They’ve brought back their ultimate Big Bad, a now imprisoned Eobard Thawne, to set up the final leg of the cosmic race to save reality. My theory is that the bomb strapped to Thawne will detonate, killing him, his other time remnants having been eliminated. Dante/The Anti-Monitor will use his powers to resurrect The Reverse Flash. “Mr. Thawne, you owe me a debt.”
Note: I’m not including Legends of Tomorrow or Black Lightning, because we’ve gotten no word they’ll be involved in the story yet. I’ll happily revise my theory if that changes.