TV Review: Arrow - Season 5 Episode 8 "Invasion!"
Episode 8: "Invasion!"
Synopsis: Oliver wakes up to a life where he never got on The Queen's Gambit. Robert and Moira are alive and well. Laurel is his loving fiancée and their wedding is imminent. Everything seems perfect, but Oliver starts to notice small imperfections that make him question this new reality. Meanwhile, Felicity and the recruits take on a new threat with help from The Flash and Supergirl.
Review: Last night, The Flash delivered one of the single best hours of it's entire series run. It was going to take a lot for Arrow to live up to that. But, since tonight is not just the continuation of the crossover event between Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow but also the 100th episode of Arrow, this hour is jam-packed with special appearances from friends and foes going all the way back to season one. Nostalgiac and emotional, this special episode of Arrow managed to balance the crossover storyline in a way that allowed this to be a celebration of the five year journey of Oliver Queen as the Emerald Archer of Star City but also progress the storyline started over the previous two nights. It works on all levels and doesn't have a single useless flashback whatsoever!
At the conclusion of The Flash, we saw Oliver, Diggle, Thea, Sara, and Ray all beamed away by the Dominators without explanation. At the start of this episode, all of them are seen living alternate lives as if Oliver had never boarded his father's ship at the start of the series. Everyone is alive and Oliver is about to marry Laurel while Diggle is the new Green Arrow. Fairly quickly, this dreamscape begins to unravel when everyone notices a skyscraper emblazoned with the name Smoak which is clearly out of place for this timeline. They begin having flashbacks to their real pasts but cannot reconcile what is going on. We soon learn they are in statis pods belonging to The Dominators. Cisco arrives at the Arrow Cave and Vibes the location of the hidden heroes and enlists the help of characters absent from The Flash last night, namely Curtis, Rory, and Rene. The location of Evelyn is not addressed which seems odd seeing as we learned that she is in cahoots with Prometheus, but I will allow the episode this one oversight. Rene's dislike of metahumans become quickly apparent when he meets Cisco but gets worse once Barry and Supergirl arrive.
In order to try and save the kidnapped heroes, Felicity, Cisco, and Curtis realize they need a piece of tech that was stolen by a woman who is enhancing herself with technology. Using the support of Flash and Supergirl, the rookie members of Team Arrow track down Cyberwoman to get what they need. Wild Dog goes it alone but soon gets help from Barry and Kara and changes his mind on those with superpowers. Aww, that was quick! All joking aside, it was nice to see that this crossover didn't cherry pick certain characters but instead gets everyone in on the action. Using the device, the alien tech is decoded and Rory deduces that their code is the same as Gematria, the ancient Jewish code that translates letters and words into numbers. This means that the Dominators could have a comparable language or they could be an ancient connection to the species. Either way, nice way to bring the Jewish superhero's roots into the story!
In the dream world, Oliver and Diggle compare their memories and as they realize what is going on, a manifestation of Deathstroke appears. They fight and defeat him thanks to Sara but they understand they need to get everyone together to get out of this world. Ray joins up quickly but Thea is hesitant. She is happy here with everyone they have lost once again alive and she doesn't want to go. Oliver tearily bids his sister goodbye because he understands as well as she does the pull of wanting to stay in this place. For all the suffering these characters have endured, seeing these faces on screen again is bittersweet and reminds you of who has departed the show. Heading outside as a unit, the team are confronted by the darker side of Arrow's history: the villains. Opposing them are Malcolm Merlyn, Damien Darhk, Deathstroke and his army of Mirakuru warriors. Thea changes her mind and sticks with Oliver and they fight. Unlike the prior seasons where it took 20 or more episodes, these composite villains are bested easily.
Before they depart, Oliver has a heartfelt farewell with Laurel who sees her fiance ditching her on their wedding day, which forces Oliver to relive the loss once again of an important woman in his life, but he says goodbye. The team head to the Smoak Industries building and enter an alien portal, waking up in their Dominator pods.At about the same time that Rookie Team Arrow learns where Oliver and everyone are, our kidnapped heroes realize they are in outer space aboard a Dominator ship. Trailed by hundreds of Dominator vessels, our heroes are rescued by Steel and the Legends' timeship. It is there that Ray Palmer realizes the Dominator technology is very similar to his own A.T.O.M. suit and that they were kidnapped specifically because they were not metahumans, meaning there is a purpose to the weapon being designed by the alien horde. In the closing moments of the episode, we see a massive Dominator ship headed directly for Earth.
This was a pretty gut-wrenching hour of Arrow and drove home emotionally reminders of the deaths of major characters like Moira and Robert Queen, Tommy Merlyn, and Laurel Lance as well as the departure of Roy Harper. While the climactic fight scene with all of Oliver's foes was not on par with any of the battles on last night's The Flash, it was pretty cool seeing these characters typically grounded in a more realistic setting in outer space fighting aliens. This absolutely felt unlike any other episode of Arrow we have ever seen but still kept the tone and style we have become accustomed to. Still, this was a much better paced episode than anything over the last three seasons of the show thanks partially to the lack of flashbacks. It was a fitting celebration of 100 episodes of the show that launched the Arrow-verse as well as a satisfying penultimate chapter to this crossover event. Now, lets hope Legends of Tomorrow can drive this one home.
Next on ARROW: "What We Leave Behind" airs December 7th - After Prometheus attacks Curtis, Oliver realizes Prometheus knows all of Team Arrow's secret identities and is planning to come for them one by one. Felicity and Detective Malone discover a clue that links Prometheus to Oliver's past.