Season Three, Episode Eight — “Invasion!”
By Jarrod Jones. Something has been bothering me about the presentation of The CW’s “Heroes V. Villains” week — aside from the event’s use of “V.” in place of “Versus” (as opposed to “Vs.”), which makes it seem as though Warner Bros is somehow covertly sticking it to us that Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice really did happen and I haven’t been hallucinating in a puddle of my own drool for the last 36 weeks.
Beyond that, it’s the question as to whether Monday night’s episode of Supergirl actually counts as a chapter to the event, when all it did was present us a teeny-tiny prologue, nestled at the end of the episode just nanoseconds before the DC and WB corporate logos went flying all over the place. What bothers me especially is that Barry and Cisco’s visit to Supergirl‘s Earth-38 (Earth-38?!) takes place after the inciting events of “Invasion!”, an episode that insists on having yet another temporal wank by incorporating yet another in media res prologue before getting to the good stuff.
Anyway, ever since The CW got their mitts on CBS’ Supergirl a four-part crossover was only inevitable, so it was with a whole lot of glee that we speculated on the subject matter of said crossover. Would it be a Crisis on Infinite Earths kinda thing? Where the continuity gets all squishy, and by the end of it Supergirl and National City are an official part of the Earth-1 Arrowverse? Tee-hee? Or would it be a barrel-scrape get-together kinda thing, where the braintrust behind all these CW DC TV shows adapted a late-Eighties DC Comics trifle that’s famous largely because it was scribbled together by none other than Todd *expletive* McFarlane?
It’s the second one, but the good news is this is The Flash we’re talking about here, and the third season of The Flash has been a damn fine return to form for the series. And since crossovers like these are an ample opportunity for fans of one fine DC show to check out the other fine DC shows (and Legends of Tomorrow), this is the time for The Flash to shine.
And shine it does, by incorporating the dizzying amounts of melodrama The Flash is currently going through into the wider universe that surrounds it. That’s the best bit about “Invasion!” so far — Barry’s Flashpoint chickens have finally come home to roost, and it’s as awkward and painful (and yes, messy) as you can imagine. (The hurt expression on Diggle’s face… *sss* I’ll be feeling that one for a while.) Compound that with a Legends subplot where an unearthed message from future-Barry warning everyone that present-day Barry can’t be trusted (delivered to Green Arrow and The Flash by Team Firestorm, who are only too welcome on this show), and all of a sudden we have stakes for this crossover.
That’s a relief, because the stakes certainly aren’t coming from the Dominators, an alien race of dangly limbs, chompy teeth, and incoherent voiceover with a vague plan of, er, dominating the planet. (Apparently they already tried it once, in the past, so there’s your plot for the Legends installment.) The most exciting moment from the Dominators came when they snatched up the cut-rate President right out from under A.R.G.U.S.’ primly bureaucratic nose, and even that didn’t amount to much by the end of the episode. Unless you count the inevitable “heroes fight each other” trope that everyone who isn’t demented already decided they didn’t like after watching Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I see a pattern forming here.
“What’s another lie between friends?” – Cisco, to Iris.
“I swear to God, Barry, my life was somewhat normal before I met you.” – Diggle.
BEST MOMENT: While I can’t stomach the sight of superheroes fighting amongst themselves, I will admit to succumbing to a cheap visceral thrill when White Canary and Green Arrow got all punchy, and my knees went all akimbo at the very sight of The Flash and Supergirl racing around Central City.
EPISODE’S MVP: I legitimately want to give it to Supergirl, just for putting up with everyone else’s b.s. this week. Of everyone in this proto-Justice League, Kara was the only one who didn’t bring baggage to the proceedings.
– I think it’s hilarious that Wells-19 wants to give S.T.A.R. a “soft opening” to the public, like it’s a start-up restaurant or something.
– Diggle still can’t keep his lunch down after a speed run.
– If you think that S.T.A.R. hangar is a little too meticulously constructed, keep in mind that that’s the damn Hall of Justice. Or, at least, it’s gonna be.
– Supergirl’s Earth is designated Earth-38. I guess it doesn’t matter.
– Barry finally found out about Captain Cold sacrifice at the end of Legends‘ first season, which *sniff* I’m still not prepared to truly accept.
– Cisco is throwing more shade at Barry than usual this week, which does pay off in a big way — just not in Barry’s favor. Which, GOOD. It’s high time Barry finally felt the ramifications of Flashpoint. (It has to feel especially galling that he has to be lectured by Sara Lance about time travel ethics. Did anybody see the first season of ‘Legends’?)
– “Invasion!” marks a homecoming of sorts for Dr. Stein and Jefferson Jackson, two characters I always felt were a better fit for this show than on Legends.)
– So the Invasion! storyline ran for three issues (and a whole mess of tie-ins) back in 1989. It was written by Keith Giffen and Bill Mantlo, with art by Todd McFarlane, Bart Sears, Keith Giffen, P. Craig Russell, Al Gordon, and Dick Giordano. If you’re curious at all about the overall quality of the crossover, keep in mind that one of the other alien races in this series was called “The Gil’Dishpan”. Just know that it brought the concept of the “metagene” to the DC Universe, so writers no longer had to come up with a clever origin for their crappy superheroes. And the Nineties wept.
– On a final note, this is our 52nd recap of The Flash, so do with that information what you will.
8 out of 10
NEXT ON ‘HEROES V. ALIENS’: “Invasion!” on ‘Arrow’
Next: “The Present,” soon.
Before: “Shade”, “Killer Frost”, here.