Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8:00am

Invasion: Heroes vs. Aliens – Arrow (Spoilers)

Arrow turned in a great episode – a bit rushed and slightly overfull, but tailored to yank on heartstrings, which is only fitting considering it was also Arrow‘s hundredth episode.

Starting with the B Plot

Our heroes need to find and rescue Oliver and Co., so Cisco arrives with Felicity at the Arrow Cave to “vibe” something Oliver owns and hopefully get a location. Cisco gets to meet nuTeam Arrow (“That’s two Rorys I know now. The other one, he’s a douche, though. You’re not a douche, are you? Ok. Good. Had to make sure, right?”) and tries to vibe a location off one of Ollie’s old bows. He gets a vision, but – as one might expect – it’s not particularly useful.

Step two is to engage in the obvious trope of having the nerds hack a piece of alien tech, a scene which made me snicker because Cisco’s all “I tore this piece off the alien ship that crash landed in Central City, we can hack it,” but Cisco never got, like, inside the ship, right? So he just tore a piece off the outside of the ship. Which means that basically the Arrow nerd crew is trying to hack the hood ornament. Okay.

Improbably, this sort of succeeds. Except the gang needs a power booster, which exists, but has been stolen by some random cyborg woman villain, which nuTeam Arrow has to go beat up. Cyborg Gal has souped herself all up with tech, necessitating the help of Flash and Supergirl, who basically swoop in and do all the heavy lifting. I’d be a little miffed about shortchanging the Arrow crew on their own show, except this happened, followed by this, which was frickin’ awesome, so that’s fine.

Tech acquired, the gang retires to the Arrow Cave where (off screen) they find the location and (one presumes) alerted the remaining Legends.

This portion of the episode was pretty rushed and fairly obviously written to shoehorn Flash and Supergirl into the action for crossover purposes. It was fun, don’t get me wrong, but there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it. We got a lot of weird, atonal moments due to that.

For example, suddenly Wild Dog has a problem with metahumans? Has this been mentioned previously? Because I don’t remember it. Also, the Dominators’ language is based on Jewish numerology, so Rory and Felicity can translate it, which was kind of bizarre. Curtis even had a translator widget, but the show had the widget not work, so they could bring in the Jewish language idea. I assume this was so that Rory had something to contribute to the effort, but it wasn’t done very gracefully.

Meanwhile, in the A Plot

The meat of the episode was in the A plot, where Ollie, Thea, Sarah, Diggle and Ray are living in a dream world based on the idea that Oliver Queen never got shipwrecked. This is as common a trope as hacking the alien tech or yesterday’s hero fight. Shoot, Supergirl even did a version of it with their “For the Girl Who has Everything” episode last season. Supergirl‘s version may have fallen flat, but Arrow‘s knocked it out of the park.

The point of a “dream world” episode like this is to underline the heroic-ness of your character(s). You offer your hero everything they ever wanted and then they refuse it because, despite the inherent suffering and sacrifice of being a hero, the world needs them. It ennobles your hero, reaffirms their herodom, and, often, provides them some closure for past sacrifices and justifies their course of action.

It’s something that Arrow – Ollie, specifically – has desperately needed. He’s been struggling, losing his way a bit, and he’s suffered through a lot. He needed a moment like this, to face the demons of his loss, make his choices, and move forward.

In the dreamworld, Ollie’s folks are alive and well, he’s not the Green Arrow, and he’s about to marry Laurel Lance. Meanwhile, Thea’s a happy entrepreneur, Sarah’s showing up to visit her sister for the wedding, Ray’s there with his fiance (notably, Felicity) and Dig… is the Arrow. Interesting how Dig dreamed himself up a world where he’s unhappy and suffering.

In short order, real-world memories start breaking through the dream and our heroes eventually realize something is up and attempt to break out, turning the dream into a Greatest Hits of all their villains – Darhk, Merlyn, Death Stroke, etc. There’s an awesome fight scene and then, despite the heartbreak of leaving “paradise,” Ollie and the gang break out.

Only to find themselves trapped, on an alien spaceship, in space, surrounded by enemies.

Okay, now, loyal Arrow viewers, think back to that very first episode and ask yourself… did you ever think we’d get this far? Arrow. Fighting aliens. In space. I did not.

Of course Ollie and Co. fight their way free, steal a Dominator dropship, and escape, to be picked up by Nate from Legends of Tomorrow in the Waverider, which neatly sets us up for tonight’s sure-to-be-epic finale.

Final Thoughts

I think the biggest thing that stuck out to me was Stephen Amell’s growth as an actor, and Ollie’s growth as a character. Seeing him juxtaposed against all the old cast members really showed off how Amell’s grown into the role.

Line of the Night Award

Ollie: “How’d you find us?”
Nate: “I didn’t. Your nerd army back on Earth did.”

“Nerd army.” Heh. T-shirt, anyone?

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