Arrow, S5 Ep08 – Invasion!

“Invasion!” is the third (but really the second) episode in The CW’s four-night crossover event which began with Monday night’s Supergirl and ends with Thursday night’s Legends of Tomorrow. In addition to being part of a four series crossover, this episode of Arrow also serves as the series’ 100th episode. Being that it’s the 100th episode, “Invasion!” tries to be both a celebration of the series so far and a necessary addition to the “Heroes v Aliens” story line. Having said that, “Invasion!” only works well as one of those.


Katie Cassidy returns as Laurel Lance

Tuesday night’s episode of The Flash ended with Oliver, Thea, Sara, Ray, and Diggle all being abducted by the invading alien race known as the Dominators. As Arrow begins, the group is seemingly trapped in a hallucination where they’re living happy lives. Oliver and Thea’s parents are both alive and well, as is Sara’s sister Laurel, Oliver is on the verge of marrying Laurel, Ray remains a successful businessman married to Felicity, and Diggle is the true hero of Star City.

The episode takes cues from the DC Comics aliens known as the Black Mercy, which were featured in an amazing episode of the animated series Justice League Unlimited,  “For the Man Who Has Everything”. In said episode, like “Invasion!”, both Batman and Superman find themselves under the influence of the Black Mercy and end up trapped in their own perfect worlds. Superman has a family and lives on his thriving home planet of Krypton while Batman’s parents are alive and well.

It’s interesting to point out that that half-hour episode of Justice League Unlimited had more emotional resonance than this hour-long episode of Arrow, though I appreciate the subtle nod to older comic book lore whether intentional or not. This aspect of the episode did provide some brief, yet emotional moments as we saw Oliver give a final, heartfelt goodbye to his parents and saw Thea refuse to leave the hallucination despite knowing it wasn’t real.

The episode worked well as a 100th episode bringing back characters we haven’t seen in a while like Oliver and Thea’s parents, Malcolm Merlyn, Laurel Lance, Damien Darhk, and Deathstroke. The villain manifestations served as a way of keeping the group in line when they tried to leave. I would have appreciated seeing Manu Bennett return as an unmasked Deathstroke, as well as Colin Donnell as Oliver’s best friend Tommy, and Colton Haynes as Roy Harper/Arsenal. I’m sure there were logistical reasons why these actors could not return, though those final superimposed ghost versions of them in the end were not satisfying.

Ultimately, the solution to Oliver and company’s problem was found fairly easily. They just had to go to the one place that didn’t make any sense in the Dominators’ recreation of Starling City, which was the Smoak Technologies building. Once the team defeated the manifestations of Darhk and Deathstroke, they just had to escape through a portal in said building and wake up from their dream. This seems like a pretty big design flaw on the Dominators’ part. At least in The Matrix you had to find a phone and have someone dial you out.

After discovering they’re located on an alien spaceship things get even easier. Oliver finds the one alien weapon mounted on a wall and defends the group from oncoming Dominators, Thea is able to activate an alien shuttle, and the Waverider from Legends of Tomorrow arrives in the nick of time to rescue them from outer space. This is a pretty rough ending for an episode that had some strong moments preceding it.



The subplot of “Invasion!” saw the rest of Team Arrow consisting of Ragman, Wild Dog, and Curtis Holt, attempting to take down an alien-tech enhanced super-villain in order to steal her tech and find the location of Oliver and the rest of the group. Honestly, this subplot was not that interesting and featured a character arc for Rene that was barely even an arc. Rene starts out disliking meta-humans, is eventually saved by The Flash and Supergirl, and then completely changes his tune because of it. I didn’t care much for this as it seemed pointless, but at least we got to see The Flash and Supergirl guest star, further cementing the fact that this is a crossover episode. Also, Cisco guest stars as well.

Overall, “Invastion!” worked well as a celebration of how far Arrow has come, but fails as a worthwhile addition to the “Heroes v Aliens” crossover event. Being that this is the third part of The CW’s much hyped four-night event, we should be seeing a full story developing around the Dominators yet these three episodes have all felt very singular. By the end of Arrow‘s addition to the event we still haven’t learned much more about the Dominators and have not received that Avengers moment where we see our DC heroes work together and fight an army of aliens.

“Heroes v Aliens” concludes with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and a review for that will be posted soon. Until then check out The CW’s official trailer for next week’s mid-season finale of Arrow entitled “What We Leave Behind,” and feel free to let us know what you though about “Invasion!” in the comments.