DC on The CW: Invasion!

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DC's Legends of Tomorrow --"Invasion!"-- Image LGN207a_0021.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Maisie Richardson- Sellers as Amaya Jiwe/Vixen, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Nick Zano as Nate Heywood/Steel, Stephen Amell as Green Arrow, Franz Drameh as Jefferson "Jax" Jackson, David Ramsey as John Diggle and Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
All images by The CW.

Last week was Invasion! week on The CW, with the four-night crossover event between Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. The week was full of highs and lows, strong beats and occasional missteps, and we have Joey, Lisa H., Corrina, and Jim here to break it all down.

Supergirl, Episode 2.08 “Medusa”
Joey: I’m sorry, but I spent all of Henshaw’s screen time wondering why Cyborg Superman looks like Kano from Mortal Kombat. I understand they used the faceplate to save time and money by not having to show the exposed subcutaneous exoskeleton around his left eye, but how terrible and distracting was the faceplate?

Lisa H: Terrible. It was just terrible. He looked more like the Phantom of the Opera then he did a Cyborg of any kind.

Corrina: He called himself Superman just to set up that line of Supergirl’s, didn’t he? That’s not a good enough reason.

Lisa H: Again. Bad dialogue!

Joey: Wasn’t the point of Cyborg Superman that he claimed to be Superman (one of, what, four individuals who did so) after Superman died, but was revealed to be an unkillable cyborg upon Superman’s return? I don’t mind reimagining and repurposing characters and situations from the comics for TV, but this version of Cyborg Superman is little more than a generic villain using Superman in his handle. Feels misused.

Corrina: That was it. One of the best Superman story lines ever, with the four mystery Superman. (That said, I tend to get Cyborg confused with the Eradicator. They’re both kinda machines…)

Lisa H: I don’t have complete recall on the point of Cyborg Superman because I’m old, remembering is hard, and I blocked out everything that happened between Superman’s death and rebirth. It traumatized me. All that being said, yes this version of Cyborg Superman is just a boring generic villain. He could be anyone. And why was it such a struggle for Supergirl to fight him?

Joey: I wonder how many living rooms on how many other worlds Barry and Cisco popped into before they managed to get it right. “Hey, sorry about opening a wormhole above your fireplace. Have you seen Kara? No? Oops, wrong earth.”

Lisa H: HA! A montage of Barry and Cisco landing in the living rooms on other Earths ran through my head after I read that. They bicker like an old married couple in my mind and it is hysterical.

Corrina: I tuned into Supergirl with anticipation for the crossover….which turned out to be only a few minutes at the end. Bummer!

Jim: It’s what we comics nerds call a “Red Sky” crossover. During the 1986 Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series, every comic in DC’s line was supposed to participate, but a lot of writers didn’t want to try to stop their current storyline and try to find a way to shoehorn the destruction of the universe into their plot, so they decided to just have the big event occur between issues of their story. In the Crisis story, the destruction of the universe makes the sky turn red on Earth, so for their part of the crossover, they had the colorist make the sky red in a few scenes, then have a character say something like “Hey, the sky’s turned red! I wonder what that’s about?” Then next issue, the character says “Wow, that Crisis was something, all right!”

Corrina: Though I’m always happy to see Cisco. Now, there’s a guy who should suit up to be a superhero with the way he creates gadgets. See: cold and heat guns, plus whatever he did to make Golden Glider’s gun work. Kara should run from Barry. Barry is bad news! Run away, Kara! Run away!

Lisa H: Aww but Barry and Kara are kinda two peas in a pod. They both will do anything for those they love, however misguided, and they are both impossibly naive. Can we get a Cisco/Winn/Felicity meetup? Come on! How much fun would that be!?

Joey: I want at least one scene during this crossover between James Olsen and John Diggle, with the two comparing and complaining about horrendous helmet design when Hank Henshaw pops in, gives them a sad headshake (in his cyborg faceplate) and walks off, muttering something about why they have to go and hide all the strong black men behind a stupid looking helmet.

Corrina: However, the episode did have some compensations. Lena and her mother were the highlight for me, while I saw my Tumblr feed explode with Sanvers glee and gif sets of that kiss between Alex and Maggie soon appeared.

Lisa H: I have to say the producers totally got me. I was not surprised at all that Lena bought into the family line and became a good Luthor, was not expecting her to turn Mama Luthor in at the end.

And OMG I CHEERED when they kissed at the end. Although I also edited the dialogue a bit as well. Maggie’s last line of “I want to kiss you” was unnecessary, cut that line and go in for the kiss.

Corrina: I suspect that was added to make sure consent was clear and on-screen. While I thought it was an utterly predictable path to go down “I almost died so now I want you,” this one worked a lot better than Mon-El and Kara’s kiss.

Lisa H: But why make sure consent was clear for the Lesbian couple and not Kara? Mon-El did not have her permission in any way. If you are going to model consent…keep it consistent.

Corrina: Oh, good question! Because the plot needed Kara to be surprised? I’m going with that. Also, Mon-El isn’t nearly as grown-up and adult as Maggie. Witness him playing games and kinda gaslighting her at the end.

Lisa H: Okay I’ll buy into that. But one could argue also that Kara isn’t as grown up either, see her glee at playing Monopoly

Corrina: Aside: Is it wrong I wanted them to be playing a branded Monopoly game, like Star Wars?

Lisa H: Or Doctor Who Monopoly!

Joey: Or, to get totally meta, a DC Comics Monopoly.

Corrina: Upon reflection, I have now developed an antipathy for Mon-El. (Also, can we have a nickname for him? Typing in that dash bugs me. 🙂

Jim: I hereby declare that Mon-El’s new nickname is Spacebro. So let it be writ.

Joey: So let it be done.

Lisa H: So say we all.

Corrina: I wish they not have Kara be involved romantically for a while. Last season, that was the worst part of the show. This season? It’s kinda the worse part of the show. Mon-El is cute and all in a bland way but there’s no chemistry there.

Jim: You’re not calling him Spacebro. Nobody listens to me.

Lisa H: I agree completely. If they really want to model a strong female lead they need to show her standing on her own without a man. Spacebro (I listen Jim!) needs to back off. Period. End of story.

Corrina: Well, as a romance author, I’m fine with a good romance plot. But there have been NO good romance plots in the Berlanti-verse. They should avoid them. The only one I liked was Nyssa/Sara and Nyssa ended up being badly mishandled. I’m holding out more hope for Alex and Maggie.

Lisa H: Maybe they just have trouble writing heterosexual relationships? Because I agree Nyssa and Sara were fantastic.

Corrina: My guess? Is that the writers are mostly male and therefore have preconceptions about male/female romance–the woman is always placed in the “you are so inspirational to me” position, the “emotional rock” for our hero. Iris was awful at first but this “I need you to stabilize me” stuff for Barry is also awful. Felicity was an interesting character until she got sucked into the same. Laurel finally got interesting because she had a life away from Ollie and they killed her off. Sara had her own personality but they killed her. (Yes, I know she’s back but I suspect fan outcry had something to do with that.

Legends of Tomorrow has tried a few romances and they were, again, the worst part of the show. However, with a female/female relationship, they can’t just default to straight romance assumptions. The writers have to sort it out specific to the characters and that’s why they’re so much better.

Joey: What’s the quote attributed to George R.R. Martin when he was asked about how he writes such strong female characters? “Well, I always assumed that women were people, too.”

Lisa H: But that’s the crux of it. The writers have to write FOR the individual characters. They are not, when it comes to romance. They habitually write for generic romance tropes that don’t always, if ever, work in this world with these characters. There is never any complexity to the relationships or lasting character growth from these relationships.

Corrina: Yep. Absolutely. Instead of writing for Felicity, they wrote “Felicity is the one Ollie needs” when they got together. And it was bad. So very bad. Don’t do that, writers. Pretend they’re both dudes. Or both women. Then write it. 😉

By the way, a sizable contingent of my Tumblr feed was far more invested in Lena/Kara than Mon-El/Kara. That relationship, platonic or otherwise, has far more chemistry. Again, the complex relationship is what does it for them.

Lisa H: Now a Lena/Kara relationship–even a straight up friendship, which is my preference–has merit to me. I’m very interested in it and to see where they take that relationship now that Lena has shown she wants to be one of the good guys. OR did she turn in her Mom just to take over Cadmus? Is that where they are going?

Corrina: I had the same thought, that Lena isn’t done turning her coat. But, in any case, that relationship as a budding friendship is interesting because it’s a dance of trust and intentions.

The Flash, Episode 3.08 “Invasion!”
Joey: Once again, the best part of any episode that includes Mick Rory is Mick Rory.

I like how they connected back to the original The Flash/Arrow crossover by reminding us (with Supergirl as the audience proxy) that Ollie shot Barry during their training and that Barry was mind controlled–or emotion controlled–during the original crossover.

Lisa H: It was a nice way to show how far these relationships have actually come. These characters are so interconnected, and having them spread out across three shows makes it easy to forget that. I really liked how they took moments to highlight the individual connections.

Joey: I hope they don’t squander the Hall of Justice. You know, only bring it out every December for the annual crossover. We need Cisco, Felicity, and Ray to set it up with tech and tools before they all take off.

Lisa H: HALL OF JUSTICE! LIVE AND IN PERSON! OMG! Every single time we were shown the building I shouted it out. I was giddy. I agree 100% Joey, I hope they don’t squander it.

Joey: I particularly enjoyed Ollie consoling Barry and telling Barry that this wasn’t Barry’s fault, only to have Ollie berating Barry 5 minutes later when the mind controlled team has them pinned down.

Jim: Frankly, somebody needs to shout “Dammit Barry!” at least once per episode. It should happen so often that new viewers think his first name is Dammit.

Joey: And Iris is going to die. Future newspaper essentially confirmed it.

Jim: Slavish adherence to all the wrong continuity confirms it. If any comic book plot ever included a misguided, unnecessary or convoluted plot point, rest assured the Berlantiverse will pick it up and run with it. I’m surprised they haven’t used “Superman’s super-hypnosis power tricks people into thinking Clark Kent doesn’t look like Superman.” It’s only a matter of time before Ollie dies and is resurrected by Stanley’s Monster.

Joey: Good to see everyone aboard the “You did what? You suck, Barry” train. Sure, they’re all going to pull together in the end, but at least Barry is beginning to feel the weight of his poor decisions. Not that it’ll matter once Iris dies and he resets the timeline.

Just a thought–more of a wild tangent, really– but what if Barry completely misread Jay Garrick’s advice during Flashpoint? Jay asked Barry a question. Are you going to be the kind of hero who’s always trying to go back and fix his mistakes, or are you the kind who makes mistakes and moves forward? Barry chose the latter (for now), but what if Jay’s advice wasn’t a warning of “don’t try to fix this because you can’t ever truly fix the timeline”, but more of a, “Here are the perils of trying to fix the timeline, I never quite got it right, and with that knowledge you have to decide whether to try to fix it again or not. Maybe, if you don’t run around doing things without thinking, you might get it right.” Maybe Barry’s restraint against his impulse to fix all the things it what is botching his attempt to move forward in this new timeline.

I guess we’ll find out when Iris dies and Barry goes back to fix it.

But, if this was the bad thing that future Barry warned Rip about, why did Barry wait 40 years to send the transmission? This invasion ends on a Thursday night. Why not send the transmission right after he drops off Supergirl and just before he hits the sack?

Lisa H: I think that this transmission has nothing to do with Flashpoint. The message comes from 2056. Why 2056? Why wait 40 years to fix what he fraked up in Flashpoint? And why ask for Rip’s help? It has to somehow need Rip so I think there are a couple of options.

One theory I have is Eobard Thawne. Considering Thawne is one of the Big Bads in Legends this season, I would say there is a pretty good chance he’s involved. We know he can travel through time and does so frequently my money is on his appearance in Legends, Rip’s disappearance and Barry’s message are all connected to the season long arc on Legends and Legends alone. Although I think our heroes will have another season finale crossover type thing, even if it doesn’t involve the whole gang. (I want more crossovers!! #DCTV week was awesome!)

The other theory is Iris. We know that she is the one person place or thing that grounds Barry. Frankly, I don’t think this specifically has to do with Iris’ death because the changed Newspaper that we saw is published in 2024, so I’m thinking she dies before that headline is published, and is likely the reason the Flash disappears in 2024.

Jim: For that matter, why does he send the message to Rip, if he knows that Rip is MIA?

Lisa H: I think it either has something to do with Rip (or his family) or for some reason he’s the only one who can fix it.

Joey: If Barry’s continued meddling of the timeline is so disastrous, why aren’t the time dementors chasing him around like they did last season?

Lisa H: I asked the same thing while watching Legends. The lack of dementors is a plot hole you can drive a mac truck through!

Joey: I want to see Draco team up with the dementors to take Harry–I mean Barry–down.

Arrow, Episode 5.08 “Invasion!”
Joey: And that, my alien friends, is why you don’t leave your alien laser guns lying around in just any old abandoned corridor.

I somehow missed the part where Dumbledore slipped Ollie the snitch housing the Resurrection Stone. Apparently Savitar has an Invisibility Cloak. Does anyone know who owns (not possesses, mind you… who has dominion over) the Elder Wand, or are they waiting to reveal the last of the Deathly Hallows still?

Jim: Apparently Evelyn Sharp has it, because they never said where they packed her off to. It was most likely a case of “we have too many girls in this episode, and we need to put Thea back in costume so she can be in the Inception plot.” Interesting that they still managed to find things for Mad Dog and Curtis to do, despite all those male guest stars.

Joey: Missed cheesy dialogue opportunity–“The Dominator’s language is based on Old Testament Hebrew?” “No… Old Testament Hebrew is based on the Dominator language.” Dun dun duuuuuun! I guess they needed to give Rory something to contribute since they blew the vfx budget on aliens and spaceships and didn’t leave enough in the bank for Ragman. At least he didn’t have to wear the Henshaw Faceplate of Poor Budgeting.

Jim: I would have preferred a moment with somebody like Dr. Stein saying “No, neither is based on the other; there is this thing called parallel development, where the same idea appears in two places at the same time without any connection. It just happens that the Dominators’ language developed with structural similarities to Old Testament Hebrew. Don’t try to sell me any of that ‘Ancient Astronauts’ nonsense.”

Joey: I find the lack of cheese in your dialogue disturbing.

Seriously, though… not a good outing for the series milestone 100th episode. When the highlight is a throwaway comment about how Tommy Merlyn couldn’t come to the faux wedding because he’s too busy working as a doctor in Chicago (for those not in the know, actor Colin Donnell, who played Tommy, was prevented from appearing in the crossover episode due to his schedule in the role of Dr. Connor Rhodes on Chicago Med), then you’ve got a bad hour of TV. I caught myself thinking, “Lucky him,” and “I wonder if that show’s on right now.”

Lisa H: Guys, I have to say, I disagree completely on several things here. First and foremost, Evelyn does not have the Elder Wand. Felicity does. It’s how she gets Ollie to listen to her now.

And in all seriousness, I thought this was an excellent episode of Arrow. It had some heavy lifting to do. Not only was it part of the epic crossover, but it was the 100th episode. I thought it walked that line brilliantly. It honored the origins of this universe, the relationships that make it work and reminded our heroes why they do what they do. The five that were taken were the ones who seem to struggle (or have struggled) the most with their role. The emotional arc in this episode was fantastic.

Joey: I thought that Amell pulled off the emotional stuff really well. But–and it’s a big but–once the team learned that they were in the matrix, why did they continue to interact with the characters populating the matrix that looked like the people they have loved and lost? No need to try and explain why you can’t stay in the construct to a piece of the construct. Quit hugging that… thing. It’s not Laurel. Laurel’s dead. I kept waiting for Laurel, Robert, Moira, and the like to go all Agent Smith.

And, I don’t buy that our heroes acted that way because it was a really good trap. That’s bunk. The only one who struggled with the trap was Thea. To me, it felt a bit lazy and/or obvious to have Thea be the one to want to stay. Infantilizing, almost. Now, had it been Sara who said, “You know what, I’ve got my sister and my dad… I’m good,” then it might have felt a bit more believable. Like, wow, she’s tough and strong-willed; if the trap can hold her, then it must be a good one.

Then, of course, Thea changes her mind, because we know there’s no way she’s staying. So, we go from her making the decision to walk out of her life and live in the construct, only to have her change her mind five minutes later, with no regret or second guessing at having done so. We’re not shown the epic inner struggle that she had over those five whole minutes (my sarcasm meter is red-lining) that caused her to decide to give up the fantasy and return to the gritty, often painful, and sometimes downright nasty reality.

In fact, my biggest complaint through the whole crossover is how a character will draw a line in the sand, make a decision, or make a definitive statement, only to proclaim the opposite a mere matter of minutes later. The people I know aren’t so quick to change their deeply held beliefs–and yes, prejudices–just like that, even when presented with new evidence. If it had happened once, maybe I could overlook it, but I think it happened in each episode to one or more characters. In this episode, we got it from Thea and Wild Dog.

Legends of Tomorrow, Episode 2.07 “Invasion!”
Joey: You know, I’m glad that the crossover ended with the “big dumb fun” series. This totally felt like an episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Plenty of action, plenty of heart, plenty of one-liners. While not every episode was perfectly executed (calling the Supergirl episode a part of the crossover when it really wasn’t, Arrow was hit or miss–a hit for some, a miss for me), I felt that it ended strongly and leaves me looking forward to where these shows are going for the rest of this season. I hope mid-season finale week for the latter of the three doesn’t screw up the good times coming out of the crossover.

Lisa H: I agree, it was a strong ending. And those group shots of the heroes? LOVED IT. More of that please.

Joey: I know I’ve said it before, but I really hope the producers keep Mick in his current role. I hope they don’t try to make him the focal point or some sort of primary protagonist. He’s a trickster. He’s Captain Jack Sparrow, Hermes, and Brer Rabbit. He needs to pop in with the comic relief, the muscle, and the unmitigated glee for when the weird stuff goes south.

Lisa H: SPOILER — Snart is in next week’s promo, he’s Mick’s Kryptonite. So “I have a bad feeling about this.”

Joey: I appreciated the moment between Sara and Ollie at the end. Of the various callbacks to earlier seasons and past crossovers, going all the way back to the two of them aboard the Queen’s Gambit and kicking off this shared universe was nice. Best callback of the event.

In the end, someone from each of the three Earth-1 shows learned that you don’t keep your friends and loved ones at arm’s length. Ollie with Kara. Cisco with Barry. Stein with his daughter. It doesn’t matter if they jacked up the timeline or if they are the result of you jacking up the timeline, because someday maybe you’ll go back and jack up the timeline yourself. Or something.

crossover-hall-of-justice

Final thoughts on the crossover…
Joey: You know what I want? I want a Darth Vader helmet shaped Hall of Doom. I want that storyline to kick into high gear now. I want to see what the villains were doing during the crossover. I want to see that while the heroes were patting themselves on the back for stopping the Dominators, it was actually Malcolm, Darhk, Eobard, and Snart who ultimately defeated the alien menace without the heroes knowing that the bad guys were even involved. Maybe the frequency on the nano-tech wasn’t exactly right and the villains fixed it without the heroes knowing it. Eobard and Barry are intrinsically connected. It’s not unrealistic to think that Eobard couldn’t just let Barry lose. And, I want to see that the villains handled the situation easily and efficiently once they decided to step in. And that they got an assist from Grodd. And Solomon Grundy. Yeah, definitely Solomon Grundy.

Coming up…
The (non)crossover episode of Supergirl was that show’s mid-season finale. This week, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow wrap up the first half of their seasons by getting back to their main conflicts and plot lines. Expect Barry to call in assist to help him deal with Savitar, Evelyn to make her return and throw in with Prometheus, and the Legion of Doom to pick up a new recruit or two before heading into the winter break.

What was your favorite (or least favorite) part of the crossover event? What were you hoping for that paid off (or didn’t pay off)? Let us know in the comments section!

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