A few years ago, it would have been crazy to think of super-powered humans and aliens in a show as dark and gritty as Arrow, yet here we are. Arrow continued the four-part (Read: three-part) DC CW crossover as part of DC Week and went ahead and delivered one of the BEST episodes of its five-year run, all while celebrating its 100th episode. Featuring a ton of cameos (though we never saw Slade Wilson take off his mask) and some excellent fights, the father show to DC's #Flash, #LegendsofTomorrow and #Supergirl proved exactly what is so amazing about the show.
#Arrow has been going surprisingly well this season, and "Invasion!" was the perfect example of that. From all the touching scenes in Oliver's new life, to the friendly banter of #TheCW DC Squad and the perfectly choreographed fight scenes. "Invasion!" was a treat within a treat, brilliantly culminating the tragic events of the previous seasons, and paying tribute to the fallen while showing us how much our heroes have grown.
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It's A Wonderful Life
What would you do if you woke up one morning and everything in your life was perfect. That's the question #OliverQueen deals with when he finds himself in a life where he never lost the people he loved the most. Robert (Jamey Sheridan) and Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) are alive and healthy, busy preparing for Oliver's wedding to Laurel Lance. Seemingly inspired by the Superman comic The Man Who Has Everything, the episode differed by not only putting #GreenArrow front and center, but by also focusing on the lives of Speedy, White Canary, The Atom and Diggle. On paper, the episode seems doomed, juggling a hell of a storyline with an ongoing superhero event while celebrating the show's 100th offering. No small feat, given the quality of shows that are getting cancelled these days. Almost everything about the "Invasion!" works, and what doesn't, is so easily overshadowed by its greatness that it's almost not there at all.
In this hallucinogenic reality, Oliver and Sara never boarded the Gambit and thus nothing ever happened that could threaten Oliver's relationship with Laurel (Katie Cassidy). Malcolm doesn't know that Thea is his daughter, Ray is about to be married to Felicity and everyone dead is alive. This includes Tommy Merlyn, who, like the show stated is actually (playing) a doctor in Chicago (PD).
A Justice League Wedding
Had Laurel never been killed off on Arrow, and the #Arrowverse grown, come few years, we might have been witnessing the comic Justice League of America: Wedding Special — which chronicles the events around Green Arrow's wedding to #BlackCanary — come to life. And while that seems quite unlikely now, Invasion! was a bittersweet glimpse at what could have been.
It's always a joy to see cast members play different versions of their characters. Oliver, Ray and Sara perfectly sold their "something is wrong" scenes. This episode was that rare episode of any show, where almost everything fell into place. The interactions between the characters were solid and the script on point.
Supergirl, #Flash, #Ragman, #Wild Dog, #MrTerrific and #Vibe; now that's a team no one saw coming. The scene where Felicity and Curtis, geek out over that alien tech was pretty silly, but having Felicity punch Rory in excitement was definitely entertaining. Still, it would have been more fun to see them go up against an actual threat rather than a severely underdeveloped villain. Hell, someone like #BronzeTiger or even #Vigilante himself might have been a better choice, at least someone important. Instead, the team went against someone so forgettable, I'm not even sure the heroes who fought her remember her name. While this was the weakest part of an otherwise strong episode, it did indirectly show how much the show has expanded over the years.
The Queens Are Back
I recently wrote about how cheesy the family drama over at Flash is becoming. For some reason, that had never been a problem for Arrow. With strong, authentic and, frankly, much more interesting relationships, Arrow once again proved its superiority over its counterparts. This was clearly visible in each scene with the Queens. Whether it was the script or the acting, it was a pleasure to see the younger Queens interact with their parents.
Moira was a standout character in the two years actress Susana Thompson played her, and Thea is now following in her footsteps, becoming a strong and capable young woman. Thus, it was great joy to see mother and daughter together again, and having had her mother's validation will surely make a difference in Thea's life after the events of the crossover. Oliver and his dad's stroll through Starling City was less entertaining to watch, right up until a faux Green Arrow appeared. Many fans (myself included) were hoping it'd be Tommy under the hood because, come on, that would be awesome. But alas it was just Diggle. Strangely enough, even his perfect life was guilt-ridden and sadder than everyone else's. I guess that's what happens when you spend too much time with Oliver.
The White Canaries
Speaking of great families, I wish we'd had a scene with Quentin Lance and his daughters. The scene where Lance tells Oliver how proud he is works wonders, simply because he's the only father figure Thea and Oliver have left that feels real. Laurel and Sara soak up as much sister time as they can, with Sara being the perfect sister when she tells Oliver that he's lucky she's not an assassin, after he misses Laurel's wedding rehearsal.
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Earth To Oliver & The Gang
After Oliver finds himself in the Arrow cave, things start speeding up. Diggle, Oliver, then Sara (who makes the most badass entry ever) realize that this life isn't really theirs. Thea's decision to stay behind with her family felt really logical and that scene where she tells Oliver that maybe this is their reward for constantly putting their lives on line, is easily one of the best in Arrow history. Nevertheless, she — along with Ray — are soon convinced that going back is the right thing to do.
Dominators, however, ensure that whenever they try to act against their wishes — even in this alternate reality — something is there to keep them in check. This includes Deathstroke, Damien Dahrk and Malcom Merlyn, as well as a couple of Ghosts and Mirakuru-enhanced soldiers meant to serve as a substitute for Ra's al Ghul. The fight that ensues is pretty damn epic. I don't know if anyone noticed this, but for some reason the hand-to-hand action in Flash's "Invasion!" was pretty tame in comparison to the ones in Arrow.
The fight that should have been epic to watch was White Canary vs. The Green Arrow, given the skill Caity Lotz brings to all her stunts, yet it felt very fake. That wasn't the problem in Arrow, where the fighting scenes were a highlight. Interestingly, Ray Palmer (who had the least to do in this episode) had lost his fiancé (Anna) to a Mirakuru soldier. And while I'm not sure if it was a conscience decision to have him defeat the same people, the scene where Palmer picks up a gun and shoots the soldier seemed like a nod to his origin story (given that the whole reason he'd invented the ATOM suit was because he felt physically incapable). Whether that will have any ramifications is yet to be seen.
The best scene of the night was Oliver and Sara's goodbye to a very confused and heartbroken Laurel, along with the scene where Oliver sees everyone who he's loved and lost. #StephenAmell does a remarkable job of portraying Oliver and the array of emotions he goes throughout this episode.
How Awesome Was The 'Invasion!'?
Back when #DC Entertainment was starting the show, no one could've guessed that this gritty superhero drama would spawn three more successful #TV shows. And with this stunning, self-reflecting 100th episode, Arrow not only managed to make one hell of an episode, but also prove why five years later, it's still one of the best things on TV.
Tune in to watch the mid-season finale of Arrow Season 5. Episode 9, "What We Leave Behind" airs December 14th on the CW.