TV Review: The Flash - Season 3 Episode 8 "Invasion!"
EPISODE 8: "Invasion!"
SYNOPSIS: When aliens called the Dominators attack Central City, Barry speeds over to Star City to ask the Green Arrow for help in stopping them. Realizing the battle against the Dominators is bigger than they thought, they track down the Legends of Tomorrow, and Barry and Cisco create a breach to bring back a secret weapon – Supergirl.
REVIEW: Both of the big screen superhero team ups this year featured darker takes on comic book heroes facing off against one another. While the Marvel outing claimed victory of the much more somber and gritty DC showdown, it looks like the Arrowverse may be trumping both of them with their four series event this week subtitled "Heroes Vs. Aliens". The event started, sort of, on last night's episode of Supergirl but it was actually more of a tag-on at the end of an unrelated episode that showed Barry and Cisco heading to National City on Earth-38 to recruit Kara to their ranks. But the fun truly started tonight as everyone comes together to fight a somewhat unexpected foe, the alien Dominators. The results are possibly one of the single most fun hours of television I have watched in a long time and one that still managed to advance The Flash season (and series) narratives in a forward direction.
Last week, Wally finally got his Kid Flash powers and Cisco lamented learning that Flashpoint caused his brother's death. Both of this figure into tonight's story. As the team decides to try and temper Wally's expectations about his speed, a satellite detects an incoming meteor. Barry heads to investigate and it turns out to be an alien craft. A swarm of creatures that look like a cross between stereotypical green men with Xenomorph teeth run out leaving Barry stunned. Lyla arrives with ARGUS and informs the team that they have known about these Dominators since the 1950s (presumably something we will see first hand in the Legends of Tomorrow chapter of this saga). The aliens sent a message claiming they come in peace but will not attack if we don't but when four ships appeared they feared the worst. Knowing they have to do something to defend the planet, Barry calls in Team Arrow. Rescuing Oliver and Diggle from being shot by Vigilante, he explains what is going on. Thea decides to suit up to fight aliens because, well, they are aliens. Felicity comes, too, and they also use Oliver's connections to send a message to the Legends.
Meeting at a former air hanger that Barry owns as part of his STAR Labs inheritence from Harrison Wells, the Legends arrive as Barry heads with Cisco to get Kara. Bringing Supergirl back, the whole squad make introductions to one another. It is a fun moment where we see everyone shocked at one another's abilities and Felicity declares in a meta-fashion this to be the best crossover ever. She is absolutely right as producer Greg Berlanti and his team of writers imbued this story with a lot of whimsy and fun while maintaining each character's signature style and tone. Oliver is brooding and bossy, Barry is nebbish and nervous, Mick Rory hates Supergirl's name and decides to call her Skirt, and Diggle is flabbergasted by the new abilities he sees on display and even says this is the reason he has never done drugs. They all begin training and use Supergirl's invulnerability as a benchmark to prepare for the Dominators. Dr. Stein and Jax also pull Oliver and Barry aside to share a recording they found meant for Rip Hunter which was recorded by Barry himself 40 years in the future, claiming they cannot trust his contemporary self because of changes he made to the timeline.
Barry initially decides to wait to tell everyone until after they fight the aliens but Cisco finds it and forced Barry's hand. With everyone learning what Flashpoint altered, their team unity falters and they head to rescue the kidnapped President minus Oliver and Barry. Barry's creation of Flashpoint has clearly caused issues on his own show but now the ramifications are spreading. Diggle knows he had a daughter and no one trusts Barry. But, this also reminds Barry of the future newspaper headline Reverse Flash used to look at in Season One. Reviewing the headine of his disappearance in 2024, Barry realizes this could all be part of a larger issue. I absolutely loved the decision to tie this all back to that headline (which is also no longer written by Iris) which may be teasing the eventual introduction of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
But the fractured team has another challenge to face. While Oliver can deliver a pep talk to get Barry back in fighting mode, the rest of the team realize the President was bait. A Dominator kills the POTUS and brainwashes the heroes who head back to STAR Labs to fight Flash and Green Arrow. What works with this showdown is it takes away free will which plagued CIVIL WAR and DAWN OF JUSTICE and actually turns out heroes into bad guys, temporarily. Barry forces Supergirl to follow him back to the factory where the Dominator device is working and he coaxes her into destroying it, saving the heroes. Barry's selfless act regains the trust of the team and as they recoup to face off agains the aliens, most of them are teleported into the sky, including Oliver Queen.
I had a blast watching this episode which balanced not just the expected 1:1 crossovers we have seen in the past but actually featured nine distinct heroes and they all got a fair share of screen time. We got some development on Cisco's beef with Barry, Dr. Stein recalling a daughter he never had, and H.R. agreeing to secretly train Wally to become Kid Flash. All together, this episode barely slowed down enough to acknowledge why Alchemy and Savitar would not use this chance to strike on the city but that can be forgiven because everything was just so much fun. They also managed to do it in what felt like a typical episode of The Flash which means the next two parts of the event should feel much like episodes of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Seeing as this hour was a massive improvement over anything else this season, I hope it concludes just as well.
NEXT ON THE FLASH: "The Present" airs December 6th - With Alchemy and Savitar still looming threats, Barry is unable to focus on the Christmas holiday, and especially his relationship with Iris. Determined to stop Savitar, Barry goes to Earth-3 to get advice from Jay Garrick. Wally wants to help Barry fight Savitar and reveals that he's been training with H.R., which doesn't go over well with Barry. As Cisco faces his first Christmas without his brother Dante, old wounds are reopened.