Well folks, here we are with our wall to wall coverage of “Invasion,” the ‘Aliens Vs. Superheroes’ crossover on the CW. Aside from the tagline being silly (because, you know, Supergirl is an alien), this is a genuinely exciting event. Alice and Brian, our usual CW reviewers, will be discussing the crossover, show by show, and then wrapping up by talking about the crossover as a whole. Keep reading for MEDUSA – Multiversity’s Extended Discussion Unto Superhero Action!
Part 3: Arrow‘s “Invasion”
Brian: Four night event my ass.
Alice: You know, I wasn’t expecting to have called the entire episode when I mentioned ‘Perchance To Dream’ yesterday, but that was right on the money, apparently.
Brian: Yeah, that was a pretty prescient call.
So, in the broad strokes, what did you think of this episode?
Alice: You know me, I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of Arrow. Even though I’ve tried to get into multiple times in the past, I’ve never been able to stick with it and at this point I feel like I mostly put up with it because of it’s connection to the rest of the shows it spawned.
That being said, I think I really like last night’s episode. Even though it basically presented the Green Arrow version of a story like ‘Perchance To Dream’ or the “Final Crisis” tie-in issues of “Batman”, I feel like it gelled together with the larger plot of the crossover nicely by keeping the rest of the cast in focus as well as just Ollie. I know we were a bit skeptical going into this episode in terms of how it would celebrate the 100th episode anniversary while being the middle chapter in a larger story, but I think it did better than I thought it would.
How about you?
Brian: I go into more detail in my “5 Thoughts” column from earlier today about this, but I feel like the episode sort of short-changed both ideas: it wasn’t quite the celebration that the 100th episode should be, but it also wasn’t a really satisfactory crossover episode either. I feel like what made it to the screen, with a few notable exceptions, was quite good, but it wasn’t what either element truly needed to fully work.
Does that make sense?
Alice: Yeah, I can see where you’re coming from. The celebration of Arrow aspect was pretty much usurped in favour of focusing weight on the alien invasion aspect and getting out of their shared dream state (though I still think they did a good job of having those characters be Arrow characters and tying it to their history together) and the alien invasion aspect was pretty much tacked on to the end of the episode.
I think, for me, I’m not that bothered by the fact that the celebration aspect was shortchanged and that allowed me to enjoy it for what it was.
Brian: Yeah, I think that is pretty indicative of what we each brought to this crossover: I came into it as an Arrow fan, so I wanted to see more from it. But that’s fine.
So, let’s talk about the crossover part: is it weird to you that the Dominators are secretly Jewish, or at least Christians with a healthy sense of understanding of the Hebrew scriptures?
Alice: Oh, I don’t even know where to start with that. I will say that language as mathematics is a really interesting concept for me, but I feel like that entire plot point existed just to give something for Rory to do. Cisco, Felicity and Curtis were nerding out over alien tech even though none of them had dialogue that sounded like human beings, the Casey Jones dude from Reaper had his whole turnabout monologue about superpowers.
I guess the religious guy had to contribute something other than looking like Scarecrow out of the Arkham games?
What I’m mostly interested in what the show actually wants to do with that plot point. Like what does it mean for the alien language to be recognisably linked to Hebrew?
Brian: I mean, the Dominators have been to our world before – what if they first arrived during the second or third century BCE in the Jerusalem area? Could this simply be a link to their past on Earth?Continued below
Alice: If that is how they link the last episode into the Legends’ time travel stuff, with them travelling back to the first time the Dominators land on Earth, I will actually be impressed.
That being said, how did you feel about how this episode drew from Arrow‘s past? That opening shot really specifically reminded me of a similar gag from the third season opening.
Brian: I was going to mention something like that. To me, this episode did a nice job keeping it in the Arrow milieu, visually, as The Flash still felt like an episode of that show, too. That’s a small, but important, stylistic choice the producers made. While this is a crossover, each show still has its own flair.
Also, with it being the 100th episode, there were a few nods to the past, like the shot you talk about, and that was nice as well. Like I said, I don’t think this was a bad episode, I just think it was trying to be two different things at the same time, and both suffered a bit.
In terms of the crossover, however, can we agree that nothing was worse than the shit with the spaceships? Was there anything dumber than Thea Queen on an alien ship?
Alice: Oh man, I was so waiting on the episode to end with the really obvious “They’ve been in space that whole time!” reveal, but then it just kept going. Not just a really limp escape where fucking supergenius Ray Palmer assumes that he can intuit the layout of the alien ship, but the scene where a room full of Dominators watch Ollie pick up a gun just off the wall and blast them with it. Then, we get the revelation on the Waverider that the Dominators were looking for something specifically in their subconscious and we instead of a really obvious one, we end on a mildly confusing one.
And yeah, Thea was a bit of an embarrassment for last part of the episode, especially how her emotional choice to stay in the dream and live the life she actually wanted was completely undercut in the very next scene by having her do a complete 180 off-screen.
Brian: Yeah, Thea really suffered here. Her decision to stay in the hallucination could have – and, frankly, should have – been a huge character moment for her. Instead, it was tossed aside for no good reason, with just a knowing smile to thank for it.
Ollie taking a gun off a wall was the laziest bit of writing in a show that is known for its lazy writing, because that is just an abysmal solution to the problem. Thea, Ollie, Diggle, and Sara are world class hand to hand combat fighters – let them fight! Let them fashion weapons from shit on the ground, let Ray outsmart them, something! But nope, gun on the wall, and ‘we can figure out a spaceship.’
My head hurt at that part.
What was, to you, the best part of the hallucination?
Alice: My favourite part of the hallucination was clearly seeing David Ramsey try his best toe emulate the ferocity Stephen Amell brought to the first season.
Nah, in all seriousness, I think I mostly enjoyed the construction of it? Right from the off, the show wasn’t hiding the fact that these characters were in this shared dream state and that their real memories were pushing past the illusion. Stuff like Laurel’s canary necklace, Ollie seeing the Hood board in the police department, Thea seeing her mother’s death were things sprinkled throughout the episode to keep the characters uneasy with their reality.
I will say that they perhaps second guessed the idea of the illusion using adversaries of their past to keep them in line a little too quickly, but it did lead to Sara murderising Deathstroke while in a bride’s maid’s dress, which was fantastic.
Brian: To me, it was Ollie’s embrace with his parents. He had uneasy relationships with both of them, but especially with his father after his death. Ollie learned what a bad guy his dad was, and it seems that, here, he’s forgiven his father for his actions. For Ollie, that felt like a huge moment of growth, in an otherwise pretty status quo-y episode.Continued below
OK Alice, let’s get to the elephant in the room: that fucking CGI.
Alice: I would really love for someone to crunch the numbers to find out if it was really worth putting digital recreations of Tommy and Roy onscreen instead of flying them back in for one scene, because lord. The whole conceit of that scene was nonsense, it looked like the world’s worst fighting game character select screen.
I know it was trying to pull from Ollie’s history, but his scene with Thea about realising that he can’t give up being Green Arrow even in the face of other heroes like Supergirl was a way better reason for him pushing out of the illusion. Having these characters spout nonsense platitudes at them for how much he changed their lives was just completely silly.
Brian: Even just still images of those characters would have been better! Just make all of them still images, and boom, it’s done. There was no reason for it to look like the Sega Genesis Mortal Combat cut scene that it was.
Alice: It seemed like they really wanted to capture the same effect that we saw with the de-aged Michael Douglas in Ant-Man and tried to do it with a CW show budget.
So, tonight is our last episode of this crossover and we’re likely going to see the big heroes vs. aliens showdown we’ve been promised. What are you hoping to see?
Brian: I want some action, Alice! I know the CW’s budget will limit that, but we have all these amazing characters under one roof – why not go all out? I want to see Supergirl throw someone, I want to see Ray shrink down onto an arrowhead, I want to see Sara flirt with Kara so hard that Kara forgets about Mon-El for a few minutes.
Let me change my answer, slightly: since Supergirl isn’t on this Earth often, I want to see as much Supergirl interaction with the other characters as possible. Just let her do everything – I want her and Felicity to chat more, especially.
What about you?
Alice: Honestly? I want the exact same. As much as I enjoyed this episode, I’d feel remiss not to mention how lackluster the action was in taking down “Cyberwoman” or whatever the hell that subplot was. This was a drama-heavy episode and on Tuesday we got a exposition-heavy episode, so it’s time to finally put these characters to use.
I also want to see Supergirl pushed more and I think not having her or her supporting cast as part of this crossover has really buried her part in this. Both of the other two episodes across the other shows have had to continue their standalone plots leading to Kara getting a couple of scenes at most to do little more than post and heat vision someone.
I want a solid payoff for her inclusion in this crossover beyond just needing to include her.
Brian: We’ll be back for Legends of Tomorrow tomorrow, and then a wrap up over the weekend. Enjoy Legends tonight, Alice!