“Invasion!” Part 1 Review: The Flash Season 3 Episode 8

Photo Credit:http://mashable.com/2016/11/29/the-flash-invasion-crossover-flashpoint-wally/#IdRu8dUUySqt

With the CW’s DC shows all now comfortably established, aside from Supergirl still taking place in a parallel universe, the yearly crossover tradition seems finally primed for greatness. “Invasion!” sees an alien race, known as the Dominators according to Lyla, invading Earth and doing their best to gain knowledge on the planet through seemingly violent means. The Flash‘s piece of the crossover is naturally rooted in that show’s storylines, particularly the time-bending Flashpoint arc that started the third season, but still manages to feel like a big comic book crossover.

The first third of the episode is unbelievably fun. Barry naturally goes to Team Arrow first when recruiting help in facing the aliens, and naturally Diggle had his routine reaction, which somehow hasn’t gotten old after three crossovers. But even though Star City has its problems, the Dominators present a significant enough threat to drag Oliver and co. to Central City. Even Thea comes out of retirement for the battle, because, as she puts it, “it’s aliens!”

Then some of the Legends of Tomorrow show up, chiefly White Canary, Atom, Heat Wave, and both parts of Firestorm. Finally, Barry and Cisco quickly hop dimensions to another Earth, recruiting Supergirl as the most powerful member of the team. Kara’s introductions to everyone throughout the episode are the best thing about the first part of “Invasion!” She immediately gets Oliver’s intensity, while Sara lightly hits on her. Then there’s Heat Wave, who refuses to call her anything but “Skirt.” It’s easy to forget that across these four very uneven shows that these characters at their core are meant to be fun. Of the laundry list of superheroes in this universe, Supergirl is easily the most joyful, and she brings some much needed lightness to this rather grim third season of The Flash.

It’s when the episode turns to many of The Flash‘s subplots that the crossover almost grinds to a halt. Not all of them are bad. Cisco’s anger at Barry’s timeline tampering feels very justified, and there’s something genuine and warm about Wally just wanting to be part of this big team. But as Stein and Jax reveal Barry’s message from the future, the episode gets bogged down in unnecessary time travel melodrama. I don’t buy for a second that Diggle doesn’t understand that the reason he doesn’t have a daughter is that he has a son instead, or that the gender of his child even matters to him. Also, there are too many drawn out West family conversations about Wally’s powers and how he shouldn’t use them. Then there’s the awkwardly placed reveal that Stein now has a daughter as a result of Flashpoint. There’s just too much going on in the middle of this episode that isn’t a bunch of superheroes cracking jokes at each other and fighting aliens. It was bound to happen in the first of the three episodes, the one that isn’t Arrow‘s 100th or the conclusion of the crossover. There’s clearly not a better time for these subplots to be expanded upon within the event, I just wish it wasn’t so clunky.

But hey, the third act of the episode has the Dominators mind controlling Supergirl, Firestorm, Atom, White Canary, Diggle, Thea, and Heat Wave, leaving Green Arrow and Flash to take them on alone. These are the two superheroes who started it all, after all, so it was nice to briefly get a solo team-up, especially against so many of their allies. Naturally, just when they need a little help, Wally sprints out and subdues several of their opponents, giving this rising hero the moment he deserves. But the fight isn’t over there. With Wally knocked out, Oliver has to take him to safety, with Sara, Thea, and Diggle in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Flash leads Supergirl to the Dominator’s headquarters, in hopes of getting her to destroy the alien device causing the mind control. Their fight of sorts was very fun, with some solid CG effects as Supergirl tears through the building trying to catch Flash. It’s not too long before she destroys the device and the aliens’ hold over the superheroes’ minds is lifted.

But this wouldn’t be a “Part 1” if there wasn’t a cliffhanger. Upon reuniting, several of the heroes are abducted by the aliens, including Oliver. The screen goes black and we get a “To be continued…on Arrow” card, just like the last page of an issue of a big comic book crossover. When this episode wasn’t seriously bogged down by melodrama, it had such spirit. Supergirl perfectly fits in with the rest of the crowd, and just having everyone on screen together and hearing their little interactions is just so much fun. Hopefully now that the central conflicts are set up, the next two episodes can focus on the fun of an alien war. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • “One sci-fi problem at a time,” Oliver quips, perfectly summing up the problems with this episode.
  • Oliver runs out of arrows in the final fight. Honest question, has that ever happened in all four years of Arrow?
  • I don’t know about you, but I’m very ready for some Kid Flash.
  • If Legends of Tomorrow get cancelled, Heat Wave doesn’t need to go back to The Flash, he should be a part-timer on Supergirl. Comedy gold!
  • This is the first of the crossovers where it feels like everyone really knows each other (well, besides Supergirl). It makes for a lot of fun interplay, which also pays off for fans who’ve watched every episode of every series.
  • Thankfully missing from this episode: Oliver’s recruits and the extra Legends.

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *