TV Review: Arrow [S5Ep8] “Invasion!”

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 11.30.16

It’s night three of the Invasion

I don’t normally review Arrow (the last time I did was when Laurel died), but this is crossover week. No way we could come off that cliffhanger that The Flash gave us last night and not watch this. Kudos to the CW for setting up a ‘must see’ episode. It seems that it’s also Arrow‘s 100th episode, so lots of goodies packed in to the hour. Going into this episode I had two questions:

  1. Is Blabbermouth Barry going to tell Team Arrow about Black Siren?
  2. Is Oliver going to stay at his proper fighting level?

Perchance to Dream

So Barry didn’t tell Oliver about Black Siren. Yet. That’s still something I really want to see happen. We know immediately in this episode that something’s amiss, because it’s brightly lit, Oliver’s smiling and happy, and Laurel’s alive. I must admit that Team Arrow without Oliver is boring beyond description. And it kind of turns out that Cisco has very few lines, did anyone else notice that? After his initial attempts at humor, it’s almost like he’s a non-factor. That was just bizarre. The writing is so drastically different between The Flash and Arrow until it’s mind-boggling. Cisco vibes where they are (and his powers are selective based on plot) but they zoom in on where Oliver & company are being held.

What’s their Problem?

Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs AliensIf you’ve ever wondered why Laurel and Oliver didn’t seem to work on this show? There were two reasons:

  1. They were written to fail, like Clark & Lana on Smallville
  2. The character they wrote for Katie Cassidy is not Black Canary

After all that Laurel and Oliver went through you’d think they’d have ended up together. Laurel’s death bed confession that Oliver was the love of her life was kind of mind-blowing. It meant that after all he did to her, she still loved him. Remember, we were introduced to Oliver when he was cheating on Laurel with her sister Sara. And Laurel was willing to get past all of that. So there’s no reason they couldn’t have made it work. Except that they were written to fail. So of course they have Laurel hook up with Tommy while Oliver’s gone, because remember guys: your best friend wants your girl. And of course, there was absolutely nothing remotely resembling Dinah Lance in the character of Laurel Lance except her name. The actual Black Canary is a legacy character that was out doing her superhero thing before she met Oliver. With a mantle that she inherited from her mother. That’s not who Laurel was. So they took another iconic comic relationship and CW’d it.Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

I must say that I have been thoroughly impressed with Katie Cassidy’s professionalism throughout this whole thing. In her interview with the Hollywood Reporter she said:

“Since season two up until now, Laurel has had a truly amazing journey and [the writers] have written so well for me,” Cassidy told reporters after a recent press screening. “I’ve had such an incredible arc so it made sense to me, creatively, that we’ve told Laurel’s story. It has come to an end in the Arrow-verse.”

“I was OK with it,” Cassidy says. “We all came to an understanding that this was what was going to happen. I think the shock value is good. It’s such a jolt and such a turn in the story that it gives them so much more to do and places to go with it. Otherwise I feel like shows can get stale.”

“It was so weird because I remember we had broken for lunch, we came back and I was running to set and I was putting on my jacket and gloves and they were just calling me to set to show-wrap me,” Cassidy says. “I didn’t know that I was done. It was a bit of a shock. But it was good. I feel like there was no other way that I would want it to go.”

Aaaaaand everybody knows that every line of that statement is crap, including Katie. She was being kind and again, professional. But it pretty much proved once and for all that the showrunners had no interest in telling Oliver Queen’s actual story. That story would have included Black Canary, the actual one. Not bits and pieces of Dinah parsed out between Sara, Laurel, and Felicity (Ugh. I hate to say her name, she might appear.)

I said all of that to say that I still believe that getting rid of Laurel was a huge mistake. And they’ve never fixed it.

Paradise Lost

We pretty much knew how things were going to play out. But it was still so painful to watch. It’s the day before Ollie & Laurel’s wedding. Every single person is happy and affirming their love for one another. That’s a clear sign that this is gonna have a tragic exit. I never realized how one of the writing mandates on this show is that Oliver cannot be happy. Period.

Oh snap it’s The Green Diggle!Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

I’ve got to admit, there was something extremely…..right about seeing Diggle as the Green Arrow. He was pretty much straight up Batman, with the rage and the voice n’ all. And the tragic family past. But out of all the illusions we saw, that’s the one I wanted to be real the most. Dig proved he’s as much of a hero as Oliver.

I also don’t understand this show’s need to attack matters of faith. And then turn around and tie the Hebrew language into the Dominator’s plans. That felt really out of place, unless they’re going to use the “aliens created humans” trope.

So they have a lead that connects everything and somehow there’s a female Black Lightning on the other end of it.Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

Best. Teamup. EVER.

All of Team Arrow and Team Legends begin to sense that something’s amiss. But the best scene all episode was when Oliver finds his way into the Arrow Cave/Quiver and Felicity and Diggle are completely antagonistic towards him. He’s not a part of the vigilante war in his dreams, yet Felicity and Dig still have their same motivations. That made me wonder, does Oliver truly not want his life? Or did he need to see himself reflected back to fully break the illusion? We really now need a spinoff show where we can see that reality play out, where Diggle’s the vigilante. They started something with this, I kid you not! But Diggle makes it clear to Oliver that he has everything. Direct nod to Superman’s story.

Real World Flying Aliens

So we see Rene has a world full of attitude against metas. And he speaks truth. It’s just that his attitude will do a complete 180 ten minutes from now..

Oliver wants to elope with Laurel. They’re really laying it on thick, which means that the break is going to be awful. This is Oliver’s last gasp at having that fake life. Then Dig walks in and it’s all over, because it’s time to…..have a freaking spinning camera scene that gave me vertigo. Geez. And then it’s time for Slade in the garden fighting!Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

Now I gotta cut loose! Footloose!

Sara to the rescue! That was awesome. But then the gang does a Scooby Doo ending and figures out exactly what’s going on down to the small details. That’s mighty convenient.

The overpowered Barry/Kara duo shows up in the warehouse. Barry can suddenly fight and they do a tag team on Static Shocka and that right cross from the Kryptonian should’ve torn her head off. Then it’s followed by Barry STOPPING HER MOMENTUM IN MIDAIR which should’ve snapped her neck and broken all her bones. But okay then. And now Rene’s onboard with metas. Sure he is.

And then we get the beginning of the heartbreak scenes.

We knew it was coming, but still

Oh my word IT HURT SO BAD watching Oliver say goodbye to his parents again. And Thea is in the Nexus and so in love with this life she doesn’t want to leave. We know that’s not gonna stick, but her pain is still so very real. Her words are reflective of how Team Arrow’s reality is filled with tragedy more than anything else.Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

So all the Arrow Rogues show up and the gang gets to cut loose. Oliver, Thea, Dig and Sara are in top form. They even do a Borrowed Arrow Strike! That was awesome. And if all this stuff isn’t real why is Dig’s wound still there when they wake up? But anyway. The bitter cherry on top of this pain sundae? Laurel in her wedding dress. That was just hard. Sara said, “Some things you just can’t fix.” And Laurel is frantic. It was just….just awful. Laurel deserves to still be on this show. She’s not Black Canary, but she’s a part of this Oliver’s life. So Oliver’s Ghost Family & Friends say goodbye and we’ve gotta eat some more pain sandwiches. They include Ghost Moira, Ghost Robert, Ghost Tommy, Ghost Laurel, Ghost Roy, and Ghost Felicity (WHY???). Moving on.Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

Frying Pan

So they’re on a ship orbiting Earth. Team Arrow is reading the Calculus Ten Commandments. And quite honestly this episode falls apart after Oliver leaves Laurel. It quickly becomes a poorly written cartoon, I’m sorry to say. The Dominators aren’t ready for the heroes that are free; they just stand there and pose when they see them. Oliver grabs a weapon and DUH humans shouldn’t be able to fire it. And then MAGICALLY they find a ship and MAGICALLY they figure out how to fly it and MAGICALLY the Dominators can’t remote control it. So then they send a bustillion X-Wing alien ships after Team Arrow Legend escapes. And of course the Wave Rider shows up to save the day. Because they want us to watch Legends of Tomorrow, um, tomorrow. And then Ray completely figures out the Dominators’ plan after Gideon translates a random phrase Ray overheard. Okay then.Arrow Invasion Review DT2Comics Chat David Taylor II Heroes vs Aliens

Conclusions

Best thing all night was Green Diggle. Otherwise, this episode really loses steam after Oliver wakes up from the dream. The writing was not nearly as tight as it was on The Flash. The emotional moments were heavy and powerful. But it’s really just a fall back into the status quo. Might’ve been better if something was revealed that Team Arrow has to talk about when they wake up. Or even if Diggle was still tripping on the news that his daughter is now his son. Lots of missed opportunities here, story wise.

So, lots of fun to watch, kind of fizzles at the end. We’ll see how this thing concludes tomorrow night.

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These are all comics you need to read to get backstory and scope on the Crossover events of the week:

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