Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 8:00am

Invasion: Heroes vs. Aliens – The Flash (Spoilers)

I probably can’t just write “SQUEE!” five hundred times and call it a review, so…

There was so much to love in this episode. Easter eggs and snark, laugh-out-loud lines, Supergirl and Ollie, Supergirl and Mick (which was a team-up I didn’t know I needed in my life until I saw it), Dig’s reactions – and all that’s just for starters. I have zero complaints with this episode. I mean, I’m going to nitpick a few things, but despite one or two items being irritatingly dumb, the episode as a whole was amazeballs.

So, to recap…

An alien ship crash lands in Central City. The Flash investigates and discovers – shockingly – aliens. A quick convo with Lyla – Dig’s wife, with ARGUS – reveals that these aliens are Dominators, and they’ve been to Earth before and weren’t friendly. Flash offers to deal with things – “These things are like ‘World War Z’ zombies. If they decide to attack, no military can stop them.” – but Lyla tells him to sit his ass back on the bench. “Neither could you. Not by yourself, anyway,” she tells him.

Well, if that’s not an engraved invitation for a team-up, I don’t know what would be, so Barry runs off to pick up Ollie, Dig and Felicity. Thea (who is ridiculously excited at the opportunity to fight aliens) tags along and Team Arrow contacts the Legends for extra help. Barry decides that all this still isn’t going to be enough to handle an alien invasion, so he and Cisco pop over to Earth 38 to see if Supergirl wants to help. Turns out Kara is totally ride or die, and with that, we’ve got our team-up on.

Meanwhile, the Dominators kidnap the president of the US to – obviously – use as bait in a trap that involves a mysterious totally-not-a-mind-control pylon-type device.

Back at the Hall of Justice – no, the actual Hall of Justice, I mean, it says “STAR Labs” on the front but that’s 100% the Hall of Justice – everyone’s training with Kara except Barry, Ollie, Dr. Stein and Jax. Stein and Jax have decided it’s finally time to come clean and play their cryptic message from Future Barry:

“A war is coming, Captain Hunter, and at some point you’re gonna be called back to Central City to fight it. So you need to know that, while you and your team have been in the temporal zone, I made a choice that affected the timeline. As you know, whenever you alter the past, those changes affect the present and get compounded in the future. When you return, you will be in the new timeline I created, where everyone’s past and everyone’s future has been affected, including yours. When you come back, don’t trust anything or anyone. Not even me.”

Ollie (correctly, IMO) decides there’s no point in playing that for the whole crew and stirring up BS while they’re trying to deal with the Dominators, so they put that aside for the time being. Meanwhile, Dr. Stein wanders home to see about his wife and those weird flashbacks he’s been having, only to discover he now has a daughter. While all that’s going on, Cisco finds Future Barry’s message and throws a hissy.

Cisco reveals to the team that, oh noes, Barry is a lying liar who lies and is not to be trusted, so Barry benches himself, Ollie sticks around with him out of loyalty, and the rest of the gang goes to deal with the aliens. They are, predictably, immediately mind-controlled. Also the president is vaporized, but no one seems to care too much about that, so whatever.

Back at STAR Labs, Ollie finds Barry morosely angsting over Eobard Thawne’s future newspaper, and gives him a patented Oliver Queen pep-talk. (This is a technique Ollie’s learned from Diggle.) I don’t want to be too glib, here – it’s a really nice moment.

From there, it’s on to the completely spectacular superhero fight. As everyone knows, in any superhero team-up it’s required by law that the superheros have to fight each other at least once. This one is amaaaaaaaazing. Flash takes on Firestorm, Supergirl and Atom, immediately gumps Firestorm and Atom, and eventually uses Supergirl to break the mind control device, freeing everyone. Meanwhile, Arrow tackles White Canary, Speedy, Spartan and Heatwave, while protecting Wally. It. Is. Awesome.

As everyone settles down from the fighting, Ollie and several of the other heroes are transported away Star Trek-style, and now we’re all set up for Arrow‘s episode, tonight.

And what did I think about it?

Holy crap, people, this episode is everything a giant nerd like me could ask for out of a superhero TV show. Not only that, but it’s everything you could ask for out of a team-up between these specific TV shows.

The characters are the best versions of themselves, and everyone gets their moment to shine. Seeing Supergirl with this crew is exactly the joy you thought it would be. Diggle’s reactions are priceless. There’s real heart in a lot of moments. The superhero fight, a trope so cliched and common that it’s nothing but an eye-roller at this point, actually feels earned. The action is fantastic. Even the FX, always a concern on a TV budget, are great (with the exception of one scene with a Dominator in his spaceship which looked a little 90’s video game, as Jim said).

We also got a lot of resolution for threads that have been laid out across the various shows for the season: Future Barry’s message, Stein’s flashbacks, the effects on everyone’s life due to Flashpoint, etc. We got to see Barry actually deal with the harm he did in a way that didn’t feel superficial, as it has for much of the season. Even Cisco’s hissy fit, as annoyingly timed as it was, felt like it had been earned, and helped Barry come to terms with his actions.

But I did have a few nitpicks…

I don’t understand why everyone is so down on Wally being a superhero – to the point where Iris (flashing back to her annoying season one self) demands everyone lie to him about his speed so he doesn’t go off to be a superhero. I could see benching Wally for this episode because he hasn’t had any training and only just got his powers. That would make some sense. I could see benching Wally because of the origin of his powers. Not knowing what Dr. Alchemy’s shenanigans might have done to Wally is a good enough reason for caution.

But those aren’t the reasons Iris and Joe are giving for their attitude – they’re just scared Wally might hurt himself. It comes across very much like they don’t trust him. Wally is rightfully mad about their behavior.

Another thing I don’t get is Future Barry’s message. For one thing, it’s spectacularly unhelpful. “Don’t trust anyone”? Well what good does telling anyone only that do? If Current Barry can’t be trusted, why should you trust Future Barry? Why can’t Current Barry be trusted? Also, there’s no real indication that Future Barry’s message is actually referring to the team’s current alien invasion issue.

As soon as they played that message, Ollie should have smacked Barry up the back of the head, said, “That was terrible. Be more specific when you record the message!” and then turned to Stein and said, “Now play it again,” and we should have gotten a different, more useful message.

And finally, that old (CIA?) guy who said to Lyla, “You know, Director Michaels, the reason that Amanda Waller lasted as long as she did is because she learned how to follow my lead. I suggest that you acquire that trait. Soon.”

Like… what? Amanda “The Wall” Waller following anyone’s lead? What? Hell, no. Amanda Waller stares down the Goddamn Batman every morning for breakfast, just to stay in practice. She doesn’t follow any old fart’s “lead.” OMG. I loathe Arrow‘s version of Amanda Waller.

Line of the Night Award

“You know why I’ve never done drugs? It’s ’cause I was always afraid I’d see weird stuff.” – Diggle, upon seeing the Legend’s ship.

Other Notes

  • It’s worth pointing out that the Dominators are, among other things, Green Lantern villains, and the CW shows have been teasing Green Lantern for years now. How cool would it be if one of the Green Lantern Corp showed up? I’d even settle for a cameo.
  • We’ve got a lot of heroes saved for the second string – we know Vixen and Citizen Steel are set to show up because we’ve seen them on the promos. The Martian Manhunter is pictured on Supergirl’s crossover poster. Wouldn’t it be cool if we also got a Superman cameo? I mean, it’s an alien invasion. All hands on deck, right?
  • I’m beginning to suspect they’re going to save a universe-merging Crisis storyline for next year. What do you think?
  • Here’s the trailer for tonight’s episode of Arrow.

Other Episodes

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