ARROW Review: “Invasion!”


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CW’s big DC crossover four night event continued last night with ’s entry,”Invasion!” As I wrote about, Monday night’s Supergirl merely set the table for what happened on Tuesday’s The Flash, which really kicked off the crossover in earnest. I agree with my fellow TB reviewer, Brandon, who talked about how overstuffed the episode felt at times as result of Supergirl not doing much of the early groundwork. On The Flash, our band of heroes quickly assembled to take on The Dominators. Those damned dirty aliens first put some of our squad (including mighty Supergirl) under mind control. And at the end of the episode, The Dominators whisked away many of our heroes (including Oliver Queen) into an alternate reality, where last night’s Arrow begins.

Before I move on to Arrow, let me just say one final thing about The Flash. To me, the episode featured one sci-fi element too many. While the major action revolved around an alien invasion, from an emotional standpoint, the major drama was about time travel. Yes, the space and time bending Barry Allen’s exploits totally screw over some of our friends, including Cisco and Diggle, both of whom have now lost family because Barry’s selfish choice. Time travel is my favorite sci fi subgenre, but mixing aliens and time travel felt a little too much.

Still, I think what The Flash was going for was something foundational. For Barry, his character is all about experimentation and meddling. Indeed, that’s how The Flash was born. But sometimes Barry goes too far (or too fast?), and needs to contend with the consequences of his actions.


Last night’s Arrow also went foundational, but with far more coherence and success. Yep, it’s an alternate reality episode, one of my favorite forms in the superhero genre. Basically, Oliver awakens in a new reality where he has everything he wants. His parents are still alive. The love of his life, Laurel (man, was it great to see her), is alive too. In fact, they’re about to be married. And get this, the brooding Quentin Lance is jazzed about it. Arrow was born on the island, but in this new world, Ollie never got on The Gambit, so the billionaire playboy never had the impteus to became a hero.

It’s not long before Oliver starts to see cracks in this artificial reality, though. In a scene straight out of Batman, Ollie and his father are held up by robbers in an alley, and rather than give in (again, he’s about to be married to Laurel Lance), Oliver tries to fight back. He fails, but luckily an arrow flies through the air, and the Green Arrow arrives onto the scene to save the day.

What the heck?

We come to find out later that in this new world, John Diggle is the Green Arrow.

This episode seems to channel one of my favorite superhero episodes of all time, “Perchance to Dream” of Batman: The Animated . Yes, I’m a 90s kid. The reason these episodes are so strong is because the conceit immediately allows our hero to get in touch with the foundational forces that made them. Sure, many of these forces are traumatic. Bruce Wayne lost his parents. So did Oliver. Both men also have to contend with their various foes, whom they lock up only to have to capture again. And again. These alternate reality episodes provide our heroes with an out. It’s hard to imagine Oliver walking away from Star City, even on his worst day. But in a world where he’s not the Arrow, and has the “perfect” life, will he make that same choice?

The answer, of course, is heck yes, and as Ollie comes out of his stupor, he also rallies Thea, Diggle, and Sara so that they can escape this tantalizing prison. Interestingly,  it’s Thea who first realizes that they’ve been put in a fake world, but at first is okay with the headgame. She has both of her parents and Malcolm Merlyn is cool with her too.

Once everyone’s rallied together, Oliver’s past foes (Slade, Darhk, etc), stand in their way and he must defeat his greatest rivals again in order to get out of jail and collect $200. One problem here, though, and throughout the episode, is that not all the rules of this world are established. For instance, when Diggle gets injured, he apparently really is injured, both in this world and the real one. That came as a surprise. Similarly, Darhk doesn’t have his magic and Slade doesn’t have his superhuman strength.


In any case, once Ollie and the rest awaken, they discover they’re on a space ship teeming with aliens. Our heroes find a pod and flee while being chased by like 1000 pods. Away from the alternate reality, I should mention that Felicity, Team Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash try to manage without Oliver. But really, the core of the episode is about Ollie being trapped in this fake world.

One more comment on that. As Oliver is finally set to leave his dream, he turns back and sees everyone that he’s lost, and also, everyone who’s made him what he is. He’s only the Arrow because of loss and sacrifice, and he gladly takes up that burden once more. This was perhaps the best moment in Arrow’s five season history, a newfound focus that hopefully will carry over throughout the rest of the season.

Season 5, Episode 8 (S05E08)
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8PM on CW

Read all of our reviews of Arrow here. 
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Ade writes about the philanthropy of billionaires and millionaires by day, and writes screenplays by night.
Follow Ade on Twitter: @derekadeniji
Keep up with all of Ade’s reviews here.

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