It’s finally here, the start of the Invasion crossover/adaptation for the Arrowverse. The Supergirl part of the crossover didn’t really serve as more than a prelude, so for all you CW fans, this is where the crossover really begins. To the episode’s credit, it really wastes no time getting the gang together. Considering how bloated the story could’ve been, it’s a minor miracle that within ten minutes of a nearly three hour story that everyone is gathered. But that also means concessions in narrative and character logic for the sake of pacing: like why does Thea suit up as Speedy again after spending the better part of a season rejecting being a superhero after it ruined her life? Fighting aliens. Or why does Ollie randomly hand over leadership of the combined crossover team to Barry despite having over a decade of experience? Because he gathered them. And the biggest one: several episodes of Legends were spent dealing with Ray having a midlife crisis after his Atom suit was destroyed, here it’s restored within minutes of his return to 2016.
For the most part though, the story is a fairly faithful and fun adaptation of the original Invasion crossover. Also, despite my previous complaints of Arrowverse bloat it is fun to see the entire lineup together, or for Diggle to complain about how his life has gotten unrelentingly strange since Barry sauntered into his life.
That said, this is the CW so there’s plenty of drama as well. The running subplot of the mysterious message from 2056’s Barry Allen that Professor Stein and Jax found is finally uncorked and it reveals that (surprise) the timeline has been changed and that the Legends shouldn’t trust anyone they encounter, including Barry. Which leads to Barry being forced to reveal at the worst time possible the changes he made to the timeline which more or less leads to The Roast of Barry Allen, as everyone rightfully calls him out for his recklessness and his messing with their lives. While I’ve chided the show for being unwilling to really put Barry through the wringer for his actions, it does make an attempt to do so here. As Cisco points out: he’s not so selfish that he won’t work with Barry to save the planet, but he has no desire to pretend they’re friends anymore, and he has a right to his anger for what Barry did to his brother. The show also unveils Professor Stein having a daughter he didn’t have before, and hints that his wife might be dead now, along with Diggle finally finding out that Barry’s shenanigans replaced baby Sara with John Jr…which he doesn’t take very well. On the flip side of that though, the show pays lip service to the idea of Barry facing consequences, but the universe (or the writing staff) tilts towards Barry being right, and Ollie absolves him telling him that any one of them would do the same thing, and that he’s not God.
Overall though, despite it leading to perhaps one of the Flash’s dumbest contrivances (Barry is forced to stay behind because no one trusts him, and Ollie stays as a show of support) which leads to a mind-controlled superhero fight when the Dominators spring a trap. While I get that it’s more cost effective to just use the assets you have instead of spending more money on the (painfully) CG Dominators, it really feels like this is the only trick in the book they have for these crossovers, so hopefully we get to see Ollie and the gang shoot up some aliens.
That said, the episode is a lot of fun. Despite the utter insanity of the idea, you can fit Green Arrow into a crime show, and have him and his friends fight aliens, there’s no contradiction and I admire that the CW had the willingness to play it all the way. As an episode of the Flash, it is serviceable, we finally get to see Wally begin taking the steps to becoming the Flash (I absolutely refuse to use the word “Kid”) despite odd choices like Iris in a show of overbearingness that doesn’t work for Candice Pattton demanding everyone gaslight him about how powerful he really is to keep him safe. It also leads to perhaps the first time H.R. makes the case for why he should be there. Everyone lies and blocks him out like Wally does, which leads to their bonding as Wally recruits him to be his teacher. To their mutual credit: Keiynan Lonsdale and Tom Cavanagh really sell the hurt that leads to them bonding, and well if Barry could have evil Cavanagh as his mentor, why not Wally?
The Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow cast do a great job of pulling their weight as well, along with Melissa Benoist. While that spectre of running time prevents everyone from having equal time, there’s thankfully a great amount of small moments buried there. Like the moment from the trailer with Heatwave explaining how he got his name, or Diggle puking for the billionth time after being moved at superspeed, or Wally saving Barry and Ollie from their friends. As you can see, despite my criticisms, this IS a very fun episode of television. While I have my reservations, I definitely am excited to see what happens next.
4 out of 5 Mind Control Rays
- So what are the odds the Dominators being local to Supergirl’s universe becomes important to introducing a certain superhero team from the future. We do know they exist.
- I’m kind of glad they kept the Dominators off screen for the most part. I know this is television, but once again it sure feels like Doctor Who has the market cornered on aliens.
- I can see why Oliver didn’t bring the Team Arrow recruits (who wants Mr. Terrific getting injured for the billionth time during an invasion) but we can at least agree we NEED Wild Dog just gunning down aliens.