This Week in the Arrowverse: INVASION! (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It’s DC Week! Ever since inducting The Flash into the CW world of DC shows, the Arrowverse has continued the trend of crossover weeks… this year is no exception and with Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl in full swing… it begs to be the biggest crossover ever. The Dominators are coming to Earth, drawing heavy inspiration from the comic arc “Invasion,” the aptly named crossover does just that with throwing an alien threat at the already established Arrowverse.
Now, let’s start with Supergirl where the crossover kind of starts but not really. To be honest, you could have even skipped Supergirl and jumped right into The Flash to start crossover week, but since this article series covers a week in the Arrowverse, we gotta include the Girl of Steel’s episode.
This is the midseason finale for Supergirl, so of course they needed to tie up some loose ends before jumping into crossover territory. Last we saw, the real Hank Henshaw used Supergirl’s blood to get past the security at the Fortress of Solitude; hell bent on learning about the mysterious Project Medusa. Meanwhile, back on the good-guy camp, Guardian is officially off the hook for Karnowsky’s murders and Mon-El begins making “CW-One-Tree-Hill-Gossip-Girl-I-Love-You” eyes at Kara. Opening with Thanksgiving dinner, Alex feels like she is competing with James and Winn; both parties want to “come out” in one way or another. Alex wants to tell her mother that she’s gay and the James/Winn combi want to tell Kara that they are behind Guardian. Mon-El complicates this a bit when he shows up in adorable fashion with a bag full of the stuff you find in your mattress (Kara did ask him to bring stuffing) and jumps right into trying to impress Eliza (Kara and Alex’s mother, played by former Supergirl Helen Slater). All of this get’s interrupted when a mysterious breach opens up over their dinner table, perhaps this is how they planned to tie the crossover to Supergirl?
The next morning, J’onn and company need to figure out the reason why Cadmus wanted Kara’s blood. After an unsuccessful attempt to get any real information from Lena Luthor, they call it a day before Lena ends up calling her mother; expressing that they need to talk. Meanwhile, at the alien bar, Mon-El enjoys a drink all on his lonesome with another alien eyeing him. It’s here that he finally admits his feelings for Kara… albeit vaguely. His lovelorn self reflection is interrupted when he thinks he sees J’onn leaving the bar, of course this was the real Hank Henshaw. The Cyborg Superman planted a device that emitted a lethal gas in the bar, instantly killing all the aliens inside. Mon-El rushes in but doesn’t seem to succumb to the poison himself. As Lena confronts her mother, it really goes out of its way to try and make you not trust Lena. The whole episode I was worried that Lena would turn on Kara.
They quarantine Mon-El, worried that he may be able to infect the rest of them. A few sweet moments pass, even with Kara trying to see if Mon-El has feelings for her. As he laughs, he finally succumbs to whatever Cadmus had done. After Eliza stabilizes him, they learn that this virus is Kryptonian in origin. Here is where the lightbulb goes off, and Kara realizes that the reason Cadmus wanted her blood was to get in to the Fortress of Solitude. Flying away, Alex finally comes clean with her mother… a bit anti-climactic but at least Alex has found peace. At the Superman’s home away from home, Kara learns the truth of the Medusa Virus. Developed by her father, the Medusa Virus was meant to kill all non Kryptonian aliens. This explains why despite Daxamites being descended from Krypton, Mon-El took longer to feel the effects. Years of separation made them genetically different but similar enough to not instantly kill people from Daxam. What I don’t get is why the humans weren’t affected. To Kryptonians, humans would be considered “alien” to them, so if it was meant to kill all non Kryptonians it should have killed the humans as well. Perhaps Cadmus modified it enough to protect humanity but they never explained it nor elaborated on how.
Ready to take the fight to Cadmus, they learn that a rare isotope developed by L Corp could weaponize the virus. After a fight with Cyborg Superman at L Corp, he seemingly attempts to target Lena before injuring Maggie and running off. When Supergirl confronts Lena with the truth about her mother, Lena refuses to believe it and even chastises Kara and her ilk for what they did to her family… is it an act? Afterwards, Lena calls her mother and expresses that she will help her. Before their final battle, Mon-El wakes up briefly, presumably in a sickness induced haze. Kara feels guilty that her family is the reason that Mon-El is dying, before passing out; he kisses her before telling her that she is “beautiful” when she holds the weight of the world on her shoulders.
The final showdown between Cadmus and Team Supergirl happen when Winn discovers that Cadmus now has the isotope and they are headed to the National City Port. J’onn joins them, despite the threat of his death, the Green Martian is determined to die a hero… not an alien abomination. When Lillian and Lena send the missile flying, Supergirl goes after it while J’onn faces Hank Henshaw. In a battle between monstrous forces, Hank nearly gets the upper hand when J’onn transforms into a huge White/Green Martian hybrid to even the odds a bit. Despite their best efforts the missile goes off… but somehow none of the aliens die. It’s here we FINALLY learn that Lena was never as evil as her mother and she switched out the isotope at the last minute to render the virus inert. The Police apprehend the Cadmus head and seemingly the troubles in National City are over with for now.
Tying everything up in a neat little bow; Mon-El is cured, J’onn is cured, Cadmus is out of the picture, and Alex finally kisses Maggie. All seems to be going okay for now but a new threat looms, mysterious aliens are after Mon-El… I have my theories, personally I think they are The Reach… but that’s not what we need to focus on. FINALLY Cisco and Barry make their way through the breach and work to get Supergirl on board… now on to INVASION!
Officially kicking off on The Flash, Team Flash is still facing the repercussions of the last episode when an alien ship crash lands in Central City. Cisco is still being far more insufferable than he has ever been. Arguably he’s pissed that Barry messing with the timeline is what caused Dante to die, he blames him heavily and Cisco has gone so far as to not even consider him a friend. After Barry comes face to face with the Dominators, learning from Lyla that the US Government has known about them since the 50’s. Barry jumps to Star City to gather Team Arrow (including Thea!), they contact the Legends, and the last part of the previous night’s Supergirl episode. Finally, all four teams are together… to quote Felicity, “Best! Teamup! EVER!”
Barry’s repercussions also come full circle when he learns of the of the message future Barry sent to Captain Hunter and the team of the Waverider. Apparently there is a war coming and Barry’s tampering with the Timeline has further affected everyone’s past… present… and future. Martin Stein continues to have visions of a mysterious girl and asks Caitlin if she would come with him to find out the truth. The episode is full of conflict, and not just with the Dominators. Wally is continuing the flex his considerable powers and both Joe and Iris are adamantly against him going full superhero. Wally urges HR to help train him, and after some considerable convincing the guy does finally agree to do it. When Martin Stein comes face to face with the mysterious woman, he realizes that the because of multiple times interacting with his younger self… he created a time aberration in the form of a daughter he never had before.
As the US government tries to plan what to do about the Dominators, the President is taken and the shit hits the extremely large fan. As the teams train in a STAR Labs building that looks suspiciously like the future Hall of Justice, Cisco discovers the message future Barry sent and goes full-dick-mode and forces Barry to come clean about Flashpoint. This creates a rift between the teams, with only Oliver and Kara still on Barry’s side. Sara as the experienced time master chastises Barry as Diggle even loses his trust in Barry. Oliver seems to be the ONLY voice of reason when everyone heads off to find the President. I was pained, incredibly pained during this entire episode… I get it that Barry has done something incredibly unforgivable, but going so far as to threaten the success of the mission… kinda dickish on everyones part. I kinda wish this world had a Batman because I know Bruce wouldn’t put up with any of their shit. Oliver stays behind with Barry and Kara leads Team Arrow and the Legends to an abandoned warehouse where the Dominators are keeping the President. After vaporizing the President, the Dominators emit a pulse that brings the team to their knees, brainwashing.
Back at STAR Labs, Barry and Oliver share a moment over the future newspaper article that’s been there since the first episode. Barry regrets everything, hoping that he could make things different, but Oliver acts as the voice of reason. Telling Barry that he isn’t a God but a man who can make mistakes, that he would have given anything to been able to see his parents again. He doesn’t blame Barry, but before the hugging can start… Supergirl and the team that was sent to retrieve the President come to STAR Labs and begin trashing the place. After Wally saves Barry before being knocked out by Supergirl, Barry tasks Oliver to hold them off as Barry leads Kara to the abandoned warehouse holding the Dominator device. Another race between the fastest man alive and the Girl of Steel ends with Barry baiting Kara to destroy the Dominator device. Right as Oliver was almost overwhelmed by Sara, Thea, and Diggle… Kara destroys the device and ends the whole mind control part of this episode.
I guess it was lucky that Barry and Oliver didn’t go with them, other wise it’d only be Wally vs the rest of them. Back at STAR Labs, Wally explains to both Joe and Iris that he HAD to do it, and here is where HR finally agrees to train Wally. Finally, the Team decides to work with Barry when the Dominators begin taking people. First it’s Sara, then Thea, Ray, Diggle, and finally Oliver are taken…
Continuing with the Invasion arc, we jump to Star City as the rest of the team is determined to find Oliver and company. In this, the 100th episode of Arrow, it’s fitting that this episode sees much of what Oliver has face come full circle. The Dominators have them trapped in a strange shared dream where Oliver had never gotten on the Queen’s Gambit. This means that he was never the Green Arrow, his mother and father are both alive, Tommy is alive, and Laurel is primed to marry Oliver.
Jumping from STAR Labs to the Arrowcave, Cisco joins the new recruits (minus Evelyn) and tries to vibe on Oliver and crew’s location. Here is where the rest of the team finds out that they are aboard a Dominator ship. Curtis nerds out over the alien tech and they begin to start looking for their lost pals.
Back at Queen mansion, much of Arrow’s history is coming full circle when they all begin experiencing flashes of a life they don’t understand. Robert Queen is set to have Oliver take over Queen Consolidated when an armed gunman sticks up Robert and Oliver. Before they meet a very Gotham fate, Oliver stands up to the gunman before the Arrow (clad in season 1 thru 3 garb) save them. More flashes of their real life, Oliver decides to hunt for some answers while the recruits are working to get them back. After failing at hacking the alien tech, they realize they need to find find a regulator that somehow was also stolen by a cybernetically enhanced super villain.
Hunting for answers, Oliver turns to Captain Lance. He continues to experience flashes of a life he doesn’t understand. Back at Queen manor Sara attends the rehearsal dinner and bumps into Ray… more flashes of their life as Legends. Seemingly, the Dominator dream isn’t as strong as they hoped. Oliver himself finds the Arrowcave, Felicity calls the Arrow who is revealed to be John Diggle. After saying his name, more flashes begin and John starts to remember a life he doesn’t recognize. Meanwhile back in Star City, the recruits (again minus Evelyn) track down Cyberwoman with the Flash and Supergirl. Rene greatly distrusts both Barry and Kara, calling out superpowers as evil and going lone rogue against Cyberwoman. Back in dream world, Thea begins experiencing the same flashes… seeing her mother’s death and by this point realizing the same thing Oliver has realized… something isn’t right.
Come the day of the wedding, everything begins to change for Oliver… and despite wanting to live in this dream world, he realizes just how much he loves Laurel. John comes to Oliver and the two talk about how Smoak Technologies felt like an anomaly. With these two already on board with this being a dream, they realize that the dream world will begin to push back… and Deathstroke comes back, taking down John and Oliver before Sara jumps in and saves them. Sara begins to slowly come on board with this being a dream and realizes that they were all taken. Set to find their way out, they realize that Smoak Technologies could be their way out. Back to the fight with Cyberwoman, Rene finds himself in a spot of trouble when the superpowered villain is fairly quickly dispatched by the Flash and Supergirl. Seems like Rene’s opinion has changed a bit, offering somewhat of an apology.
Back in the dream world, Sara is set to get Ray while Oliver is tasked with getting Thea. Mirroring what Oliver said the last episode, we see the most emotional Oliver has ever been. After hugging his parents, Thea is determined to stay behind. Thea refuses to lose her family again. Deciding to finally leave, Thea decides to stay when the Dominators manifest some form safeguard. Thea comes to her mind, realizes that despite it all she can’t lose Ollie. The five of them face down Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, Deathstroke, and Mirakuru Soldier, and a HIVE Soldier in one final attempt to keep them in the dream world. After dispatching them, the five begin to set off when Laurel makes her way outside. Sara hugs her sister one more time and Oliver tells her that he loves her when they make their way to the portal. With one final goodbye, they wake up. On the Dominator ship, Team Arrow and Cisco discover their whereabouts as the five find themselves trapped on the Dominator ship. After fighting their way out they hijack a ship before getting picked up by the Waverider.
With Arrow coming to a close… we prep for the final battle with a dash of timey-wimey as we jump to Legends of Tomorrow and continue to the final chapter of the INVASION! arc.
So far, every chapter has stayed true to their original show. On The Flash they focuses on a superpowered buffet full of action and drama, Arrow took everything to a street level approach and even used the real-world segments as stand-ins for the flashbacks… so for Legends of Tomorrow… we can expect some time travel.
Ready to take the fight to the Dominators, they realize that the reason for the kidnapping was to discover some form of weakness in metas. The Dominators view the metahumans as a threat, and that is the reason for the invasion. Nate Heywood mentions that they should travel to 1951 to kidnap a Dominator from the first time they came to earth. Cisco and Felicity join Nate, Mick, and Amaya on the Waverider as Martin Stein tries to come up with a plan to stop the Dominators. Caitlin brings Stein’s daughter to the lab, and despite his clear reservations… the two Stein’s begin work on a Dominator countermeasure.
Back to 1951, the Legends face down the Dominators during their battle in Redmond, OR while Cisco and Felicity stay on the ship. Mick continues to be one of the best Legends when he suggest they “wait for one of the weaker ones” before jumping in. On the ship, Felicity and Cisco have a heart to heart about how Cisco wanted to get away from Barry. Cisco still refuses to forgive Barry, calling him out and still blaming him for Dante’s death. Back in present day, Stein has been cold towards his daughter. Realizing that his daughter is a time aberration, Stein is intent on erasing the aberration after the whole invasion. After taking down one of the aliens, the US Government steps in and takes the Legends in with the alien they captured.
The Geek Squad goes full force into rescue mode, set to save the Legends and get them out. The government is torturing the alien for information while the Legends are held captive. In present day, the President is set to meet with the heroes and Oliver, Barry, Sara, and Ray are face to face with the US government… minus the POTUS. Back in the past, the Legends ask the Dominator why they are here… they learn its simply a recon mission to determine if the emergence of metas (namely the JSA) will be a threat. Back in present day, the heroes quickly take down the government agents and learn that the Dominators see metas a a future threat. In the past, the Legends are saved by Cisco and Felicity and before leaving they help the captive Dominator and free it from captivity. After setting their alien pal free, they head back to 2016.
Back in present day, the heroes learn that the Dominators find Barry to be the biggest threat. His ability to create new timelines is seen as a reason to worry and the US government has negotiated a deal to trade Barry to them or else they drop a bomb set to kill all metas. When Cisco and co finally talks to the Dominator they saved, Cisco realizes that the reason the Dominators are here now is because he was so adamant to save that one alien. To do the right thing he is the reason that they are here. At this point, Cisco FINALLY sees what Barry feels. I know I was pointing at the screen and going “DAMN RIGHT! CISCO! YOU BETTER DAMN WELL FEEL BAD!” Barry is hellbent on turning himself in while Oliver and the rest of the heroes try to talk him out of it.
Stein and his aberration daughter finally have a solution to the Dominators, and after talking Barry into staying to fight, and Cisco finally getting over his wet blanket bullshit, the heroes are now set to walk head first into the final battle. The Dominators are dropping the metabomb while Stein develops a device to incapacitate the Dominators. As the heroes battle the Dominators, Cisco and Sara trap the bomb in a tractor beam before calling Firestorm to help with disposing of it. After Supergirl and Flash plant the rest of the devices on the Dominators around the world, Firestorm is set to transmute the metabomb, and Firestorm successfully turns the metabomb into water. With that, the Dominators retreat and the heroes have won.
The heroes have won, the government has recognized them as heroes, and in a funny bit near the end… Ray says that Kara kinda looks like his cousin, a joke that alludes to Brandon Routh playing Superman in Superman Returns. Cisco makes Kara a device that can let her open breaches at any time between her Earth and Earth Prime… hopefully this can be something that can keep Kara in their lives.
INVASION! is said and done, and this was by far the greatest crossover yet. I’m a little disappointed that it couldn’t start on Supergirl first but I do understand that a four show crossover could be a bit ambitious. I loved how despite being a continuous arc, they managed to keep each show true to itself. Things are good again, Barry seems to be all forgiven, and Diggle leaves Barry with one final piece of advice. The episode ended with Oliver and Barry sharing a drink, the perfect way to close out an epic crossover… end it where you start it. With all its ups and downs, the Arrowverse has been through its fair share… but I’d like to raise a glass and call it, this was hands down one of the best weeks on TV in a very long time… now on to midseason finale week next…