Arrow Review by Henry Tran

Arrow 5.08: Invasion!

Arrow 5.08: Invasion!

Written By:
Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Wendy Mericle
Directed By:
James Bamford

This second part of the "Invasion" crossover event is really a testament to the longevity of Arrow. It is a tribute to its status as the longest-running series in the DCW. So, as befitting of that status (and it being the 100th episode), a major part of the episode is a highlight reel of past moments and elements from the show. Think of it as a love letter to the fans who have stuck by the show through its better times (the first two seasons) and its not-so-great times (the third season after Oliver's "death" at the hands of Ra's al Ghul).

 


 

The episode's main plotline functions through a well-worn trope of the superhero genre: the fantasy of a life where our hero never became a hero. Instead, he (or she) lives an idealized life where they have everything they could ever want. In Oliver's case, this means that both his parents are alive, he never got on the Queen's Gambit with Sara (she wouldn't do so anyway because she's comfortable with being attracted to women), and he's set to marry Laurel, who never took the mantle of Black Canary, thus never dying. Instead, someone else is the Green Arrow (Diggle) and he sets about fighting crime in Star City.

 

Most shows would drag this sort of thing out. In fact, the plotline shares a lot of similar elements to an episode from the first season of Supergirl called "For The Girl Who Has Everything," where Kara is under the influence of a mind-altering alien plant that attached itself to her. She lives an idealized lifetime on Krypton instead of being Supergirl on Earth. The story in itself borrows elements from a famous Superman comics storyline called "For The Man Who Has Everything." Here, Oliver and company are in a shared hallucination or dream world created by the Dominators who abducted them at the end of the Flash "Invasion" episode. They can only realize that whenever they interact with each other or any other significant character in the dream world. So Oliver interacts with Laurel, bringing up memories of Laurel from the real world. Sara and Ray interact, and it conjures up memories of Ray from Sara's perspective. And so on and so forth.

 


 

Meanwhile, in the real world, the remnants of Team Arrow attempt to find out where the Dominators have taken their leader and his compatriots. It's a smaller storyline than the idealized dream world, but that only makes it more streamlined and simple. Felicity and the Arrow recruits have a problem to solve, and take the necessary steps to go about getting that solution. The pieces all come together in convenient ways, from Cisco getting the Dominator tech to a scientist fitting herself with a power regulator that Team Arrow needs in order to translate the alien tech. This is the only opportunity for a true crossover to occur, as the recruits fight alongside the Flash and Supergirl.

 

There's a bit of character development in Wild Dog revealing his personal philosophy regarding superheroes with superpowers. He doesn't trust any of them because he believes they are the root cause of all the problems they and the world have had to deal with in recent times. The Flash revealed himself to be a metahuman, allowing for more metahumans to follow in his wake, most of them cast as villains. Aliens like the Dominators come to Earth, and Supergirl, an alien herself, follows suit. I think it would have served the show better for Wild Dog to be consistent enough to hold on to that personal philosophy but that doesn't happen. It's a viewpoint that has legitimacy to some of its parts. If it weren't for Barry's decision to become a metahuman superhero, the world wouldn't be overrun with metahumans. One action sequence -- and there was a point where the Flash saves Wild Dog from serious injury -- and he softens his stance on superpowered individuals. But the brief action sequence serves its purpose: Getting the regulator to translate the alien tech to find their friends.

 


 

Only, it's revealed that they're all in a Dominator space ship, which they escape by first wholly rejecting the dream world they've all been sharing. Much of the episode's emotional power is drawn from the final sequence in the dream, as Oliver and company battle their greatest enemies. Oliver fights Slade Wilson, arguably Arrow's greatest villain thus far, making a welcome return, albeit only in Deathstroke form; Thea fight Malcolm Merlyn, making his first appearance on the show since last season's finale; Sara battles Damien Darhk, a representation of avenging Laurel's death she's been dealing with in Legends of Tomorrow. Defeating their enemies means saying goodbye to this world, which is painful for a lot of them. Thea, in particular, is hesitant to let go of this fake world. She functions as a surrogate for the audience, in that some of us would like to continue to see Laurel be alive again (the writers still want her to stay dead) and that there could be more to the story of Robert and Moira Queen's marriage.

 

But while it's undeniably powerful and still demonstrative of the fact that the show can still bring about genuine emotion and catharsis, it can't escape the notion that it's entirely a fantasy creation by the Dominators. The team snaps out of it, escape the ship, then gets rescued by Nate Heywood aboard the Waverider. Still, it cannot be denied that while The Flash and Supergirl lean more towards the fun side, Arrow has an emotional depth and maturity that those younger shows lack for the most part. It sometimes shows its age, but this resurgent fifth season has shown that it can still deliver the goods when called upon to do so. The "Invasion" crossover will conclude with Legends of Tomorrow, no doubt having everyone fight the Dominators in various historical time periods. How will they be able to bring Felicity, the Flash, and Supergirl along for the ride, though?


Our Grade:
B+
The Good:
  • A solid retrospective of the past 100 episodes of the flagship DCW series
  • Balances the needs of the series and the crossover relatively well
The Bad:
  • Wild Dog changed his supposedly deep-seated dislike of superpowers awfully fast

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Arrow by - 12/1/2016 6:49 AM167 views

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