Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my all of my reviews of The Flash here.
Let the crossover begin! “Invasion!” is here, and it was one heck of a fun episode!
The best thing about bringing together all the major players from 4 different shows is the potential for great character interactions. This is especially true for the Arrowverse, which is populated by a huge number of excellent and lovable heroes.
True to that promise, the character interactions in “Invasion!” were probably the episode’s strongest element. Kara’s arrival alone was a treasure trove of excellent moments as she met most of the Earth-1 characters for the first time, from the no-nonsense Oliver to the villainous Heatwave. The latter continued to be a wonderful comedic asset, especially as a counterpoint to the rest of the team.
Even aside from Kara, there were plenty of funny character moments, like Oliver’s exasperation with Barry’s fantastical antics or the ongoing joke of Diggle being stupefied by the escalating craziness around him. “You know why I’ve never done drugs? It’s because I was always afraid I’d see weird stuff!”
The character moments weren’t all lighthearted though. Cisco still hasn’t forgiven Barry for the death of his brother. And the Legends’ arrival with the message from future Barry brought the Flashpoint revelations to the forefront. In fact, it surprised me how heavily “Invasion!” dealt with the fallout from “Flashpoint”. But I was glad to see it. Barry needs to feel the gravity of his actions, even though he started to atone for them last week—and even if this makes Cisco a grumpier, less enjoyable character for a while. My initial disappointment at how inconsequential “Flashpoint” seemed to be is being rectified episode by episode.
Plus, the “Flashpoint” drama led to my favourite scene in the episode, as Oliver firmly stood by Barry’s side even as everybody else refused to. Those two characters, the founders of the Arrowverse, have developed an excellent relationship over the years.
The second best thing about a 4-show superhero crossover? Action! And my God, did “Invasion!” deliver. No crossover is complete without superheroes fighting each other, and “Invasion!” used the old mind control trope to accomplish it. The result was the most eye-popping, spectacular superhero action I’ve ever seen on TV. From Oliver’s more grounded but excellently choreographed fights with Sara and Diggle, to Barry’s dazzling battle against Supergirl, Firestorm, Atom, and the others, “Invasion!” delivered the superhero extravaganza that was promised and then some.
The episode wasn’t perfect, though. I doubt any single hour of TV that juggles as many moving parts as “Invasion!” did could ever be perfect. So “Invasion!” was naturally very fast paced, to the point of feeling a bit frantic and disorienting. But at the same time parts of it were bogged down thanks to the “Flashpoint” drama.
And yet it’s hard for me to hold that against it, because what the episode accomplished was pretty remarkable. Even with so many characters and such a large-scale plot involved, “Invasion!” still found time to work in story threads from the separate shows involved. This includes continuing to deal with Wally’s newfound powers, and giving the answer to a question raised on Legends of Tomorrow, as Martin Stein discovered he now had a daughter.
Another equally expected weakness of “Invasion!” was in the villains, who were woefully underdeveloped. In fact, I don’t expect the Dominators to be explored much further as the crossover continues. They’re just plot devices to bring the superheroes together and put them in whatever situation makes for good television. Which is fine and par for the course in these kinds of stories, but it’s a notable weakness all the same. I did love the characters’ reactions to them, though, like Barry screaming “ALIENS?!” when he first saw them.
So far, “Invasion!” is everything I hoped for in this crossover, down to the expected flaws. A huge cast of wonderful characters interacting, superb hero vs. hero action, and a few Easter eggs thrown into the mix (the Hall of Justice!) made the first part of the crossover worth all the hype.