‘The Flash’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 3, Episode 8: ‘Invasion!’
Welcome back to Up To Speed, in which Flash TV show recapper Dylan Todd is joined this week by a special guest, Arrow recapper Emma Lawson, to break down the latest episode of The Flash and talk about what works, what doesn’t, and where the series might be headed.
On this week’s episode, part two of a four-part crossover week across DC shows, aliens invade Central City, Flashpoint secrets get revealed, and Barry gets the gang together. “Invasion!” was directed by Dermott Downs from a script by Aaron Helbing and Todd Helbing.
Emma: Well, that was fun! What did you think, Dylan?
Dylan: It was! So Emma, true or false: you have never seen an episode of The Flash before tonight?
Emma: True! Although I’m familiar with Barry from watching Arrow.
Dylan: Oh, Emma; my condolences.
Emma: Let me just say this: The Flash is way more lighthearted and fun than Arrow. Even the moping on this episode was like, baby moping. Oliver Queen has advanced degrees in moping.
Dylan: Ollie is a true Mope Master. So, as a First-Time Flasher, was there anything that sort of left you scratching your head in this episode? I know they try to keep it pretty new-viewer-friendly with these crossovers (the Flash/Arrow crossovers got me to watch Arrow for a bit), but anything I need to, well, bring you up to speed on?
Emma: I will forgive your pun because we’re just getting to know each other, sir.
Dylan: Ziah’s off this week, so I gotta honor his memory somehow.
Emma: There was some stuff that was confusing to me as a non-viewer, like Caitlin’s whole deal, but nothing that stopped me from being able to follow along with the story. Even the parts that had me scratching my head a bit at the beginning, like Cisco (is that how you spell it? I want to call him Sisko after my fave captain) and his beef with Barry, got a little clearer by the end of the episode.
And I wasn’t the only one meeting a bunch of new characters! Supergirl came over from a whole other Earth and got introduced to everyone too, in a super cute little scene.
Dylan: Okay, so Caitlin’s thing and Cisco’s beef both stem from Barry being a major doofus and deciding to futz around with the time-stream, rewriting reality, which left all our Flashers in a new reality where Caitlin got freeze powers that may or may not turn her evil, and where Cisco’s jerk of a brother was actually nice but also now dead.
And yeah, as I am a true professional, I watched Supergirl last night because it tied in here, even though I’m not on that beat any more, and even though it was roughly 45 seconds that also got shown here. I got Berlanti-ed. But yeah, Kara’s always fun. We also got introduced to the Legends of Tomorrow, who, if you aren’t familiar, are the world’s worst super-team.
Emma: They call themselves the worst, or they just are the worst?
Dylan: Well, I mean, they call themselves the Legends, but they just generally very bad at being superheroes. They’re fun most of the time.
Emma: They’ve got White Canary so I’m already on board.
Dylan: Sara! She’s actually the best.
Okay, so let’s dig in here. We started off with a little fast-forward, with all our heroes' plans apparently going sideways (as they are wont to do), and then flashing back to… a meteor landing! Except it’s not a meteor, it’s a spaceship and it’s filled with not-so-little green men who are eeeevil.
Emma: The aliens (Dominators, as we’ll learn later from Lyla) are definitely appropriately creepy looking. And fast! Although not as fast as some people on this show, of course. If I were in Barry’s position I probably would have screamed “Aliens!” too. Did you believe they were there just for recon, or would you have been like Lyla and the President and decide to attack them first too?
Dylan: I mean, they’re called the Dominators! They’re pretty upfront about their intentions. Which is respectable, I guess.
Emma: Okay, but did they show up 50 years ago saying, “Hey hey, we’re the Dominators” or did some government guy decide that’s a cool name for a terrifying alien species?
Dylan: Well, in Lyla’s defense, they immediately kidnapped the President and started Dominating, so thankfully for the purposes of the show, they are just good old-fashioned evil aliens.
Emma: Good point. After discovering the aliens, Barry meets Lyla at the crash site and brings her back to the lab to get the scoop about our dear Dominator friends. They’ve been here before, kicked some butt, and then left. Lyla tries to warn Barry and friends away from the case, but who ever listens to anybody on these shows?
Dylan: Nobody, Emma. Not a single damn person. But yeah, we then get a nice little “gathering the team” sequence that also allows for a lot of “people standing around talking” sequences. We get Stein and Jax finally telling Barry (and us) what Future Barry’s message was (basically: “I am a huge screw-up in 2016, so don’t listen to me”), and Stein and Caitlin talking about powers and also meeting Stein’s new daughter that he’d been dreaming of. Lots of weird mopping up for dangling Legends plot threads! I did not expect that!
Emma: Most of that went over my head, but it wasn’t off putting. I could watch Victor Garber do anything, so watching him freaking out over a daughter that he just met was perfectly reasonable.
I did love getting to see Barry come in and save Oliver and Dig from Vigilante, when he comes to recruit them. They would never admit to needing the help, but it was delightful to watch.
Dylan: I also liked Ollie talking sense into Barry during his usual second act moping. I mean, sure he changed the timeline, but so what? It’s over, bro. Like the ice lady says, “Let it go.”
Emma: Chris and I have been talking about this over in our Arrow recaps, but it’s so nice to see Ollie being a decent leader and mentor! And he’s right. Barry messed up real bad, but trying to fix it would only mess things up even more.
Dylan: And the really frustrating thing about everybody getting all bent out of shape about it is that A) Barry created Flashpoint, but he also undid it when it was gonna mess up the universe, B) he had to watch his mom die for like the billionth time in order to reset the timeline, and C) how the heck are you gonna be mad about something that, from your POV, never existed. If a guy I knew from my work stuff showed up and was like, “I created a separate reality and you had a daughter instead of a son,” I would probably just shrug and be like, “But we still have guacamole in this universe right?” and then eat some chips and guac.
But that’s beside the point, even if they spent a long time on the timeline shenanigans this episode. What were your favorite bits from the whole “everybody meets and interacts” segments? Because Heat Wave refusing to call Kara “Supergirl,” sure was fun.
Emma: I loved Supergirl showing everyone up when they questioned how “super” she was. You told ‘em, Kara! And Thea coming out of vigilante retirement to fight aliens, because it’s so real. I would put on a leather suit to meet aliens too.
Dylan: I would put on a leather suit to do just about anything. In fact, I’m wearing a leather suit right now. It’s really itchy, to be honest.
Emma: That’s more than I needed to know considering I only just met you, Dylan. Make sure you have someone help you get that off, I hear leather gets real sweaty.
Dylan: You heard very right. I really enjoyed how, despite literally everybody and their brother from the CWverse running around, they still managed to make it a Flash episode. And the Dominators, uh, dominating the heroes was a good excuse for the usual team-up fight.
Emma: It definitely felt like a Flash episode to me too, even though I’ve never seen one before this. I’m looking forward to seeing if they can keep that up on Arrow tomorrow.
What did you think about the magic mind control device? Which I guess was more sci-fi than magic. I’m not usually into mind control plot lines, but it was so much fun watching all our heroes beat up on each other.
Dylan: Yeah, I mean, it’s very much a “thing” in superhero junk, so I was not surprised. Plus, it always gives the audience a chance to see what everybody’s deal is. All that was missing was some Claremont-ian self-narration where everybody talks a lot about their powers as they use them.
We also got to see Wally cut loose with his speed! Finally! After a season of waiting for him to get and use his powers, it was very cathartic to see him rush in and save the day.
Emma: I’m team Wally. Iris and his dad and seemingly every other person around wanted to keep him on the bench, but dude’s gotta run. The only way he’s going to get better with his powers is to use them!
Dylan: Yeah, but like Caitlin’s actually super-helpful freeze-powers, Barry and Co. are all worried about Flashpoint creeping into non-Flashpoint, and since Wally got really messed up in Flashpoint, everybody’s being all weird about him actually using his powers. It’s kind of dumb, TBH, but these shows frequently are.
Emma: I can understand being cautious, but keeping him from using his powers is just going to lead to him trying to do it on his own --- or with H.R., who I know nothing about, but even I can tell he would be a bad person to train Wally.
Dylan: H.R. is a complete disaster. Do you want to know his deal or will that suffice? Because it’s insane.
Emma: Tom Cavanaugh’s performance gave me enough information to figure out that H.R. is a too wild for words. I’ll probably actually watch through The Flash after enjoying myself so much this episode, so don’t spoil me!
Dylan: Oh, you’ve got some good times ahead of you. (And also probably some frustrating moments, because this is still a CW superhero show.) What else do we need to discuss?
Emma: Well, I do wonder where the whole team (minus Barry) got snatched up to at the end of the episode, but thankfully we don’t have long to wait!
Also, very important question: do you agree with Felicity that this was the “Best. Team up. Ever.”?
Dylan: Any team up where Heat Wave is involved is a good team up. Also, I’m calling it now and the heroes that got snatched will wake up in a Friendly’s in rural Ohio during tomorrow’s episode of Arrow, which apparently I have to watch.
Emma: One can only hope you’ve predicted it correctly! Well, join me and Chris tomorrow with our Arrow recap to find out.