written by George Hatch
SPOILER WARNINGS ARE IN EFFECT
The Invasion! has finally begun. I say “finally” because, while Supergirl is technically the first part of the story, The Flash‘s episode of the multi-show crossover is really where it starts. The opening with Green Arrow and Flash versus everyone else was a solid intro. Slowing that down with Wally’s training and H.R.’s presentation, The Flash does a good job establishing the character dynamics for new viewers. But then Barry needs to run out because all he had for lunch was a salad and he needs something a little meteor.
When we first see the Dominators, I had to stifle a laugh. This was a notch above Asylum-level CGI, and my immersion struggled as a result. Then we get the Backstory Fairy, which I guess was supposed to make the aliens seem more threatening, but it did an awful lot of talking about them and not actually showing them being terrifying or a threat. I realize that “show, don’t tell” gets overused in this day and age but I feel like this was a case that really needed some showing.
Barry decides he’s going to recruit some friends who are super at helping, and starts with Team Arrow. Now, here is where Barry ends Arrow‘s main plotline, as after he rescues Ollie and Diggle from certain death, he captures and unmasks Vigilante…wait, what do you mean “that’s not what happened”? He didn’t try and stop the guy who nearly killed his friends? Why not?
“Because the plot demands it,” I sighed to myself as the show went along.
Still, Digg’s reaction to experiencing superspeed for (I think) the first time was a nice moment. As was his learning that there were aliens. And I will say that I found Ollie to be far less annoying than usual. The writing on The Flash is at its finest when it slows down a little, ironically enough.
Here is where the Legends Of Tomorrow show up, and their part is flat and disappointing. When Green Arrow is introduced, he’s being a badass. When Supergirl is properly introduced, we see a small sample of her powers. When the Legends come in, they…land. Furthermore, except for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it line here and there, or Heat Wave’s disturbing origin story, you never really get a sense of who these characters are, how they interact with each other, or why you should watch their show. Sara especially comes out poorly, with the only things we learn about her being that she’s probably gay and uses throwing stars. Oh, and has a dead sister.
Finally, we introduce Supergirl to the rest of the DCTVU, and her awkwardness around all of them is adorkable. (By the way, would it have killed the show for Ray Palmer to compliment her symbol? The in-joke was right there, guys!). Also, I am so glad they put in the “here are the names of all of our heroes” segment. It probably helped a few viewers who don’t watch all of the shows. However, I don’t feel that following it with Barry’s inexperience with tactics and strategy was a good choice. It was too much comedy in one chunk, instead of a tone-lightener later on where we really needed one.
And then we get to the bulk of their tactics, which seemed to be “stop Supergirl’s fist with your face over and over again.” Oh yeah, this is gonna go well.
Huh, an old white guy getting snooty because a female colleague made a suggestion he didn’t like. I’m sorry, I can accept a lot of things in my TV shows, but that is too unbelievable. (Side note: there really needs to be a sarcasm font.) Suddenly, all the heroes must find out if they are, in fact, bad enough dudes to rescue the President. Only now we get Future Barry’s message, which provides the impetus for the team’s internal conflict and the only reason it’s a thing is because the plot demands it. I appreciate this might be what I feel could be a step towards Cisco turning to the dark side, and he has to get everyone to distrust Barry as much as he does, but his inability to let it go is so forced that Disney is filing suit.
So, the team (minus Barry and Ollie) formulates a plan to scan the sight where the President’s tracer was last active, methodically reconnoitering the area and assembling a plan to minimize the yeah no I’m messing with you. Of course they bumble in and get mind-controlled. Because the plot demands it. Oh, and it looked to me like the President got disintegrated, but that really doesn’t seem to matter. We gotta get to the superhuman throwdown.
Confronted by the heroes gone wild, the show drags out the battle by pretending that Barry can’t A) knock out everyone but Supergirl, B) have Wally lock them up, and C) team up with Ollie to distract the Maid of Might while they try to come up with a plan. It’s a problem the show has a lot in these crossovers: pretending that Barry isn’t OP as all hell. Instead of using this to their advantage, the writers tend to railroad the protagonists onto the plot train and they do it in the laziest possible way. That being said, I really did like Barry’s plan for destroying the mind control device. And everyone trusts Barry after that for…reasons, but some of the heroes have a probing appointment to get to in the next part of the crossover.
Overall, the show did a fine job with the overall feel and presentation, but there are some questionable writing choices that dragged it down for me. The villains of the piece are under-explored, some of the characters are just there, and a quarter of the episode could have been pared down to make room to fix both problems. Still, it was fun to get the whole gang together, we got to see THE FRIGGING HALL OF JUSTICE, and it still managed to move the main Flash plot forward a little, so I can recommend giving this a viewing. Just try not to think too hard about it.
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TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW ON ARROW
The Flash airs Tuesdays on the CW at 8 ET/7 CT. George can be reached on Twitter @Raeseti.