TV Review: Arrow: ‘Invasion!’

The Cinema Sentries are having their own crossover event to cover the DC Superheroes four-part crossover event entitled “Invasion!” running this week on the CW.  It began (briefly) on Supergirl, formally began on The Flash, continued on Arrow (or did it?), and concluded on Legends of Tomorrow.

Todd Karella: At the end of last night’s crossover episode, five of the heroes ended up being abducted by the alien invaders. But tonight’s episode of Arrow started with Oliver living his dream life. He was getting married to his first love. He was surrounded by loving friends and family. He was living his dream life. But that life of his was short lived. He was getting strange flashes of memories of some other life he lived, one where he was more than just playboy Oliver Queen. In these memories he was somebody else.

While he struggled with trying to find out what was wrong, he wasn’t the only one having these flashes. There were four others in his life, Sara, Ray, John, and Thea, who were experiencing the same thing. As they slowly coalesced into a team, their friends who were not taken were trying to determine their whereabouts.

Felicity and Cisco gathered up the rest of Team Arrow and began working out a way to hack some stolen alien technology in hopes of being able to use it as a tracking system since Cisco vibed on some of Oliver’s gear and found that the missing members were in some kind of alien pods aboard a spacecraft. But even for our group of geniuses it took more than they expected to hack the technology and ended up on a side mission of their own to fight Cyberwoman and retrieve some stolen equipment.

I must admit that I’m torn over this episode. In regards to the overarching “Invasion!” storyline it really did little to advance the premise from the previous episode to tomorrow’s conclusion. Nothing new was really discovered or created other than the fact that they know the Dominators have some kind of secret weapon.

But as an Arrow episode, it was very good. Being that all of this culminated on the 100th episode of the show, it was quite special and nostalgic. All of the people in Oliver’s life who have passed away returned for one last hurrah. Even the villains like Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, and Deathstroke returned for one last battle and attempted to stop the group from escaping their virtual reality prison.

For our main characters, a lot of issues may have finally been resolved and put to rest. Oliver and Thea were able to say goodbye to their parents. Oliver also managed to come to terms with his feelings for Laurel, and along with his sister Thea, was able to say goodbye to their parents. Ray put Felicity behind him while Sara said goodbye to her sister and got revenge on Darhk who murdered her. It will be interesting to see what the lasting effects of tonight’s episode will have on the direction of the show.

Even though the Flash and Supergirl had much smaller parts this episode it’s undeniable that when the two are on screen together there is a little spark of magic between them that just isn’t found with anyone else. Hopefully, tomorrow night they will have a bigger role in the finale battle as the war against the invaders comes to an end.

Shawn Bourdo: The third part of the big CW also coincides with the 100th episode of Arrow.  It’s been a long, strange journey for this show.  I wanted to hate it mostly because it was a CW show and everyone on the show was so damn beautiful.  Then I got sucked in by those beautiful people and some really fun stories.  Eventually that wore off and by the end of last season, there was such a ridiculous stories and acting that I was almost ready to drop it from my watch list.  A funny thing happened this season, it started to find that sweet spot again.  There has been a return to the basic characters and simplification of the stories.  Until…

I knew we were in trouble when we saw Ghost Laurel to start.  This was a weird combination of a 100th episode flashback and Alternate Universe flashback.  If you haven’t been paying attention to the past four seasons, then you might not care or understand what was happening here.  What a waste of a crossover episode.  The worst thing about a majority of the episode taking place in a pod is that nothing matters.  We rehash old stories and have some fun with characters that aren’t around anymore but really nothing changes in the end.  That’s the problem with most crossovers – there isn’t any development of character or plot.

Last night, most of the episode dealt with the theme of “do you change the past if you can?”  I thought that Barry and Oliver decided it’s a bad idea.  So why do we need a full episode to go over what we’ve already decided?  There was no way that Oliver was going to change the past.  Plus, this was some vision mind-control thingy so I’m not sure what the debate was about anyways.  If one person left the pod, wouldn’t it fall apart for everyone?

While it was fun to see Deathstroke back again, I don’t know what the payoff was for this episode except to get us to the last episode.  It serves them right for not featuring Supergirl more.  On to (Legends of) tomorrow.

Gordon S. Miller: I am not an Arrow watcher, so while I aware of some of the characters that have crossed over with The Flash, I was one who “might not care or understand what was happening” that Shawn mentioned above.  As such, I was very disappointed that rather than another chapter of “Invasion!” the producers gave us an Arrow reunion episode. In large part because the whole idea made little sense.

So it turns out the heroes captured at the end of yesterday’s Flash are now trapped in statis pods sharing a dream of an alternative universe where Oliver has a great life, people who died are now alive, and someone else is the Green Arrow. Bringing all these characters back may have been fun for long-time fans to celebrate the 100th episode, but for someone looking for the third (really second) part of a story it was a waste of time because I had no connection to all these characters.

Supposedly, this mutual hallucination was created so the Dominators could search everyone’s mind for data while their brains were distracted.  Our heroes begin to have memory flashes to what is real because…well, I’m not sure why other than the aliens tech is flawed (or more accurately, the writing is terrible), since the shared dream contains a landmark that serves as an exit, allowing them to wake from statis.

It was 23 minutes before the Flash and Supergirl finally appear, and as someone who doesn’t know Arrow, I had honestly had no idea who the three masked heroes trying to catch Cyberwoman were from Arrow lab until they returned.

The writing just got worse as the episode progressed.  As the heroes looked to escape the aliens’ ship, they just happened to have a flame gun on the wall to be used against them, a ship that was easy to take off in, and were saved in the nick of time by the Waverider.  At this point, I am not looking forward to the final episode and someone needs to tell Felicity this isn’t “the Best. Team-up. Ever.”

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