The Flash returns tonight for a thrilling eighth season, but this time our favorite speedster won’t be starting the season off alone. Tonight’s premiere is the first installment of a blockbuster five-part event called “Armageddon” which will unite Barry Allen with some of the greatest heroes of DCTV. If it wasn’t clear, we’re living in the Golden Age of Superhero Television, which is great, but it also means that it’s really easy to fall behind. Plus, while there are plenty of Arrowverse fans who watch all of the shows set in its shared universe, there are just as many who don’t. As a result, whenever these big events happen, we always hear from fans wondering if you need to get caught up on everything before you dive in.
First, the answer to that is always yes! At least, if you’re able to. All of the Arrowverse shows are awesome in their own way, and they’re all available for binging, either on HBO Max or on Netflix.
However, we do realize that people have lives and responsibilities, and that for most of you, dropping everything to binge seven seasons of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is probably just not going to happen. Also, “Armageddon,” just like all of these big events, is designed more or less to be a standalone adventure. You’d be fine going in fresh. However, we propose a third option—a middle ground, if you will. We can catch you up! This feature will bring you up to speed on what’s been happening in the Arrowverse ahead of tonight’s Flash premiere. So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know before watching “Armageddon.”
If You Haven’t Caught Up on The Flash
If you’ve been away from The Flash for a few years and decided to return to watch this crossover event, welcome back! You might notice a few new faces at S.T.A.R. Labs, and maybe you’re curious about some missing ones. For starters, Cisco Ramon has moved on. He was offered a leadership role at A.R.G.U.S. and we couldn’t be prouder. Cisco’s replacement is a scientist named Chester Runk, and once you meet Chester, you’ll understand why. He’s basically an enthusiastic nerd, much like Cisco was in the early seasons.
And no, you’re not seeing double, last season Caitlin Snow and Frost (who dropped the Killer from her name) found themselves in separate bodies. The arrangement took some getting used to, but Team Flash is used to dealing with doppelgangers by now. Speaking of doppelgangers, Harrison Wells is no longer in the picture. Last season all the Wells across the multiverse sacrificed themselves to help restore Barry’s powers. This process resurrected the original Harrison Wells, but he chose to go his own way.
But don’t worry Tom Cavanaugh fans, you haven’t seen the last of your favorite actor. During the epic Flash season seven finale, Eobard Thawne returned to help Barry take down Godspeed. Once the threat was over, Reverse-Flash attacked Flash, and was shocked to discover that Barry was now faster than him. However, Reverse-Flash licked his wounds and vowed to fight another day, and with Eobard set to return during “Armageddon,” it looks like that day is upon us.
As for Barry and Iris, they’re currently trying to get pregnant. A visit from their future children left them hopeful, so maybe this season will bring us some good news. They’ll just have to survive the threat of Despero first.
If You Haven’t Caught Up on Batwoman
The last time the heroes of the DC Universe got together with Batwoman, Bruce Wayne’s cousin Kate Kane was the woman under the cowl. Since then, there have been lots of changes over in Gotham City. For starters, Kate Kane was presumed dead in a plane crash, and a down-on-her-luck woman named Ryan Wilder took over as Batwoman. Ryan has plenty of training in martial arts and was easily able to hold her own against the worse villains Gotham has to offer. It took some time, but Kate’s support team of Luke Fox and Mary Hamilton came around to accept Ryan in the role.
However, it turned out that Kate was still alive, only she’d been brainwashed into thinking she was Black Mask’s daughter. Everything was sorted out, and Kate left Gotham to look for Bruce Wayne, giving Ryan her blessing to continue as Batwoman. (Notably, though, Kate’s still out there and could potentially show up in the Arrowverse again.) Meanwhile, Ryan is currently dealing with another new role—acting CEO of Wayne Enterprises, which is a big step up from living in foster homes and out of the back of her van. She also recently found out her biological mother is alive and is one the most powerful businesswomen in the world. Their relationship is a bit complicated, and don’t even get me started on her psycho brother.
The important thing is, this is Ryan’s first time interacting with other DCTV heroes, so it’s bound to be pretty exciting. If you haven’t had time to get to know Ryan yet, you can become acquainted with her alongside the Flash and everyone else.
If You Haven’t Caught Up on Supergirl
Supergirl’s sister, Alex Danvers, will be a featured player in “Armageddon,” and you might be surprised at some of the changes she’s been through since you last saw her. First of all, Alex is no longer director of the D.E.O. having left in protest over Lex Luthor’s corrupt leadership. Don’t worry though, Alex doesn’t need to be a part of the D.E.O. to kick butt. She adopted a vigilante identity of her own, calling herself Sentinel.
Alex’s personal life is also in a good place. After years of heartbreak, Alex finally found love with James Olsen’s sister, Kelly. Kelly has continued the family tradition and started suiting up as Guardian, making her and Alex a crimefighting couple. The two women even adopted an alien child named Esme, who has the power to mimic the abilities of anyone near her. During the series finale of Supergirl, Alex and Kelly finally tied the knot in an emotional celebration that also served as the show’s send-off.
As for Alex’s super-sister, the Supergirl finale ended with Kara revealing her identity to the world, which begs the question—how has this affected Alex? How have the citizens of National City reacted to this news? Maybe Alex’s return during the “Armageddon” event will answer some of these questions.
If You Haven’t Caught Up on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
When we last left Ray Palmer, he stepped down from his role as a time traveler so he could support his wife in her career as a fairy godmother.
No, I didn’t make that sentence up, if you’ve been sleeping on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, you’re missing out on what’s easily DC’s most outrageous show. After a star-crossed romance that spanned space and time, Ray Palmer married Damien Darhk’s daughter Nora. However, thanks to some magic shenanigans, Nora wound up becoming a fairy godmother, traveling the world to help children in need.
Ray’s father-in-law, Damien Darhk, is set to return in “Armageddon,” which raises some interesting questions since the former villain was quite dead when we last saw him. Darhk had been recruited by Astra Logue to join her army of demonic Encores, but Damien decided to side with his daughter and the Legends. Damien sacrificed himself, but since the Legends and Team Flash both utilize time travel, there’s no telling what version of Darhk we’re getting and what part of the timestream he’s from.
Interestingly, Ryan Choi will also be participating in the crossover event, and you might remember him from “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Ryan was a physics professor who was revealed to be the Paragon of Humanity in the battle to save the multiverse. He helped our heroes save reality from the Anti-Monitor before settling back into his life as a scientist and family man, but longtime comic readers know Ryan succeeds Ray Palmer as the Atom. Hmm…
If You Missed the Final Episodes of Black Lightning
One of the reasons we’re all looking forward to “Armageddon” is because we’re going to see Jefferson Pierce back in action! We know it’s only been six months since Black Lightning ended, but we’ve really missed Jefferson and the entire Pierce family, and it’s refreshing to know that they still have a place in this universe. Jefferson ended his series in what was inarguably a pretty fulfilling place. He finally brought down Tobias Whale, killing the crime lord after an epic battle. This brought Jefferson a sense of closure, as he was finally able to avenge his father’s murder.
His home life is going pretty well too. He and his ex-wife Lynn decided to get married again, and his daughters have established themselves as heroes in their own right. In fact, Jennifer and Anissa are doing so well that Jefferson has decided to step down as Black Lightning, leaving the city of Freeland in their capable hands. After everything that man has been through, he has certainly earned his downtime. Of course, you then have to wonder what causes Jefferson to return to action during the “Armageddon” event? We’ll find out soon, but honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
If You Missed the Final Episodes of Arrow
“Armageddon” will also feature the return of Mia Smoak, picking up where the final episodes of Arrow left off. Mia was a vigilante who had the martial arts skills of her father, Oliver, and the brains of her mother, Felicity. She fought against terrorists in Star City’s bleak future before the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event reset her timeline, changing her backstory. Mia Smoak was reborn as Mia Queen, a privileged socialite living in the year 2040.
When Laurel Lance used a special Martian ring to restore Mia’s pre-Crisis memories, it turned her life upside down. She now had memories of her fiancé John “JJ” Diggle, Jr. battling against her as the leader of the Deathstroke gang. Despite some initial reluctance, Mia chose to become the new Green Arrow to save her friend Bianca from a new Deathstroke. Unfortunately for Mia, a mysterious figure also restored JJ’s pre-Crisis memories and her brother William was kidnapped. In short, the new Green Arrow had a lot on her plate the last time we checked in with her, which makes us wonder what her state will be when she gets drawn into “Armageddon.”
As you can see, DCTV fans have a lot to look forward to. We have so many questions about how these characters will react to each other and how some of these heroes and villains have returned. We’re sure “Armageddon” will both answer some of these questions and create even more, but at least now, you know where all of the players in the event stand. Man, did we really just catch up with The Flash? Let’s all hope Despero’s not so lucky…
"Armageddon" debuts tonight on The Flash at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. CST) on The CW. For more on tonight's episode, be sure to read our interview with actor Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer).
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.