‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5 Episode 8: ‘Invasion!’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where returning Arrow watcher Chris Haley and newcomer Emma Lawson dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
On this week’s episode, the alien race known as the Dominators are here! But so are all the other CW heroes! Including Supergirl! “Invasion!” was directed by James Bamford from a script by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Wendy Mericle.
Chris: Holy cow have we got a lot to talk about this week! It feels like a lifetime ago that we were just dealing with Vigilante and Prometheus! How have you been? Can you even remember back to a time before the excitement of this mega-crossover event?
Emma: I couldn’t, but now that you mention it I’m having these jolts of memory… Nah, just kidding. Have you been watching the rest of the crossover episodes this week?
Emma: Just remember, The Flash = heroes fighting heroes, Arrow = alien dreams.
Chris: Okay, that’s probably going to be a big help. I watched these two episodes back to back, and I have to admit, when things moved to the Arrow Cave and the Arrow Babies were just standing around, I groaned a little. A groan of “no, we were having so much fun… don’t make us go back to this…” I know you pitched in on Up To Speed this week, so did you feel that way at all or were you glad to get back to Star City?
Emma: I was pretty happy to come back to the Arrow Cave, but I had a lot of fun in Central City. The Flash is fun! There’s way less moping! But I missed my sweet Arrow Babies. I talked about this with Dylan during the Flash recap, but both episodes did really feel like classic episodes from each series, despite all the crossover characters. This episode of Arrow was just chock full of emotional angst, and what can I say? I do love it.
Chris: I mostly enjoyed the episode, but that noticeable shifting of gears made me pause for a moment in apprehension of things being less fun.
This was also apparently Arrow’s 100th episode, so congratulations Team Arrow! I saw some people online lauding this as the series best episode, and while I can’t say if that’s accurate, they certainly did a good job of taking us on a greatest hits roller coaster ride of the previous 99 episodes.
Emma: I’m with you, I don’t think it was the best episode. I liked what they were trying to do with the alien dream, but to me, it didn’t have the emotional impact I think it was supposed to have. Did you feel the same way? Ollie started to figure it out way too soon; he didn’t get to sit with the fantasy life and really feel it the way I wanted him to. If he knows it’s all fake pretty much from the get-go, then what is he really giving up when he returns to reality?
Chris: That’s a good question. I will say, though, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Stephen Amell so teary eyed in an episode before, much less so many times. He gets angry sometimes on the show, but even then it’s a kind of stoic angry, so I bought some of the emotional conflict the show wanted us to believe he was struggling with. Some of those goodbye hugs when he knows the people he’s hugging aren’t really who he wants them to be, and when he tells Thea it’s okay if she stays… it kinda worked for me.
Emma: Ollie’s goodbyes to his parents killed me, just killed me. It was more his relationship with Laurel that I wasn’t feeling as much. It didn’t help that the scene of them at the beginning of the episode was just total garbage. Laurel’s joke was terrible; why was she pretending she didn’t just bang him in the shower? Was that even supposed to be a joke? I don’t know, it was that bad.
Stephen Amell did do some good work this episode, I agree. Good job, Stephen! Congrats on 100 episodes.
Chris: I hope all his hard work on this show earns him a few more wrestling matches eventually.
Emma: Wait, he wrestles? Is this on YouTube? I need to see this.
Chris: I’m going to have to make you a playlist now. I wouldn’t say he “wrestles” exactly, but he had a pretty exciting Twitter feud going with Stardust (aka Cody Rhodes) last year that led to him being on Raw a few times and then being part of a tag match at SummerSlam 2015. He did a great job and was clearly living out a dream and having a blast, but it’s also what led to Cody showing up on Arrow earlier this season.
Emma: Yes, please! But I guess we should get back to this episode. Ollie and all the kidnapped heroes are trapped in a dream world where he never got on his dad’s boat, never got stuck on the island, and never became the Green Arrow. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Arrow Babies and the scientists are trying to figure out where our heroes are and how to get them back. I greatly enjoyed Curtis’s excitement about aliens and subsequent grumpiness that they’re just kind of evil jerks.
Chris: I really liked when Supergirl showed up! She and Barry both are such a welcome dose of joyfulness. I did enjoy Cisco’s sick burn on the show when he said Team Arrow’s tech guy quoting movies all the time was “real original”. I also liked seeing Curtis keep his braids for two scenes in a row. Maybe they got our letters.
Emma: I didn’t notice that! I’m terrible. I did also like that while Curtis and Rory were freaking out about everyone getting kidnapped, Rene was just chilling doing the salmon ladder. I love you, Rene.
I had no idea about Cisco’s ability to “vibe” off objects, so Curtis’s question about that was very helpful to this non-Flash viewer. Overall, I’ve found all the crossover episodes to be pretty friendly to folks who only follow one show.
Chris: They definitely have, and can I just say, I really loved Ollie on The Flash. It’s the same kind of thing I’ve liked in this season when we see him being so good at what he does that it makes sense he’s still a force to be reckoned with, even with all the super powered characters zipping around. He’s basically this universe’s Batman, so it’s nice when we get to see him live up to that.
Also, it was very fun/cute watching him try to tell Barry what they needed to be doing when Barry was struggling to figure out how to be a leader.
Emma: He’s a great mentor when he tries. His relationship with Barry is so different from his relationship to the Arrow Babies, and it’s so much better. Like, this is how to do it, Ollie. But he’s also a pretty good strategist; his plan of action to prepare the team for fighting the aliens was fairly solid (and better than Barry’s completely non-existent plan). What we learned from that, though, is that none of them are a match for Supergirl.
Chris: Supergirl laughing at all of the regular CW-verse characters failing miserably to have a chance against her was pure, unadulterated joy.
Emma: And her high five with the Flash as they tag each other out in that fight against the tech-augmented doctor? So good.
Chris: The only thing I haven’t really enjoyed about this crossover so far is that I want every episode to be like this now, and when things go back to normal it’s going to be a real letdown. I want every week to be this much fun!
Emma: Fair! At least we’ll get back to some good old punching fights, though. Arrow’s always had great fight scenes that don’t rely on metahuman abilities.
What did you think about Rene’s issues with metahumans? Was he being fair to Barry and Kara?
Chris: Not at all, but he flipped on the issue faster than you can say “devastating tag team maneuver”, so we didn’t have to deal with it very long. I guess if I’m being fair though, if I were Rene and I was trying to be a superhero, and suddenly there are people who can just get hit by lightning and do things I’d never be able to do, I’d be kinda surly about it too.
Emma: Oh, for sure. I would also probably want to ride my motorcycle to the big fight instead of being carried by the fastest man alive, I’d definitely get motion sick.
Chris: But I might also be tempted to go, “You know what, I’m just a dude in a hockey mask that’s into crossfit. I’m gonna let you two handle this. I’ll go keep an eye out for burglars and bank robbers and such.”
Emma: Wild Dog would never back down from a fight, you know that! But this is the difference between us and vigilantes.
Chris: Yeah, I refuse to fight crime until I get superpowers.
Emma: Cool, I’ll get right on that. Just let me find something radioactive to bite you…
Chris: I know they had to give everyone that wasn’t in the dream something to do, but was there ever any doubt that they were being held in a giant spaceship above the Earth? Also, isn’t that the kind of thing that Supergirl would notice immediately?
Emma: The giant spaceship? One would hope, but maybe she was busy on the ground. All those nerdy scientists should have figured it out immediately, though; how much sci-fi have they watched? All of it, and everyone always gets taken up to the spaceship.
What did you think about their figuring out the alien writing system, though? I love the idea that Judaism saved the day, but as a former linguist I was just “uhhhhh” about the whole thing. How do you know what word/letter/symbol is equivalent to what number? How do you even recognize what’s a word vs. what’s a letter in this writing system? Do they even use an alphabet?
Chris: This is the kind of thing that drives me almost as crazy as the aliens just randomly having a huge gun hanging on a wall conveniently right next to where our heroes have just stopped walking. Or the spacecraft they escape in just coincidentally having the exact right number of seats for how many of them there are.
Emma: It made me so upset, especially since I just watched Arrival, which has some pretty decent linguistic fieldwork. The gun being right there on the wall bugged me, but Ollie being able to use it didn’t --- if the aliens are generally human-shaped then sure, they probably will operate technology similarly, I’ll give them that.
Chris: Yeah, I have no problem with him being able to shoot the thing, it’s just ludicrous that there would be a giant blaster just hanging on the wall. If they’d stumbled into the armory and there were tons of weapons, then fine, but this is one lone gun just on a random wall in a corridor.
Emma: Yep. That scene really made me miss Stargate, though. And I enjoyed the fact that is was Thea who figured out how to fly the alien ship when Ollie thought it would be anyone but her. Don’t underestimate your sister, Ollie! She’s young, and kids these days can figure out any kind of new technology immediately, right?
Chris: Yeah, she was totally the only one who tried anything besides sitting down and doing absolutely nothing but yelling about how they needed to do something. She totally touched that thing once and then the ship took off, left the larger craft, and headed for Earth. You have to give it to the Dominators, they’ve really streamlined the spaceship control game.
What’d you think of all the guest-stars from previous seasons this week?
Emma: I was really happy to see everyone come back. While I wasn’t feeling the Laurel romance as much as many fans did, it was still so lovely to see her happy and alive, and the whole Queen family just loving and being proud of each other.
The bad guy guest-stars didn’t have quite as much to do, but it was super fun to watch them all fight each other, although I wanted it to end with more wrestling on the Queen lawn. How about you?
Chris: I have nothing but ill will for the previous seasons of this show, so I have little besides awful memories of Damien Darhk, but it was neat to see all of those bad guys just standing in the yard. Did I say “neat”? I meant “silly”, but that’s okay too.
Emma: Neat and silly are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Chris: Not at all! I’ll take silly over lip-service to Mayor Queen’s administration still being a thing they have to make a few minutes for each week.
Emma: Hey now, he’s probably not the worst mayor Star City’s ever had. In the dream world, it’s Oliver’s dad who’s getting sworn in as mayor. I wonder if he would have been a real politician, unlike our Ollie.
Chris: Let’s see, old, rich white dude… he certainly seems like the type.
Emma: Ha. Okay, at the end of the episode, our heroes figure out that the aliens are “nearing completion of the weapon.” What do you think that means? Giant laser? Is Earth doomed? What’s everybody’s beef with Earth anyway?
Chris: Wait, what? I must have completely missed them saying that… oh no, wait, it was in the alien language Ray was able to perfectly recall so his computer could translate it. You know, with all the time travelling they do, shouldn’t they know about a huge deal alien invasion that happened in what would at some point be the past for them?
Emma: I just have to ignore any time travel stuff, it frustrates me too much. Presumably, yes, they would have heard about it, especially if they were able to translate the alien language perfectly --- they must have had some contact with that species at some point!
Chris: With only one episode to go, this whole thing is falling apart on us! Save us, Stargate!
Emma: You’re our only hope! Well, okay, maybe the Legends are our only hope. We’ll find out with the last of the four-part crossover tonight!
And join us next week as we get back to the usual crime in Star City and find out what Artemis has been up to during this alien invasion!