Legion contributor Andrea Levine is recapping and reviewing Arrow for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @wysefyre!
This is it, folks! It’s part three of the epic DCW four-part crossover as well as Arrow’s 100th episode! And it’s definitely a doozy.
As we saw in the Flash, Oliver, Diggle, Thea, Sara, and Ray were teleported away, but when we first see Oliver, he’s no longer in the middle of a confrontation. He’s running through the trees and it takes him to Queen Manor in all its glory. He goes into his bedroom to hear a woman in the shower ask how his run was. The woman steps out and it’s Laurel, looking clean and refreshed and very much alive. Not only that, but she and Oliver are engaged and getting married very soon. As we’re left to wonder what’s going on, the scene shifts to see what happened to the quintuplet after they were abducted. They have all been stripped of their uniforms, placed in prisoner garb, and hooked up to individual pods a la The Matrix.
We’ll get back to them in a second, but first, let’s check in on Team Arrow. Rory, Rene, and Curtis are hanging out in the Arrow Cave waiting for anyone to fill them in on the alien invasion. Felicity brings Cisco to the cave, makes introductions, and clues them in. Cisco is there to vibe on anything of Oliver’s to try and locate him. Rene doesn’t seem too happy to be around a metahuman, but he has to deal, because using a broken bow of Oliver’s, Cisco is able to get a glimpse of Oliver’s whereabouts. He doesn’t pick up much, other than an Alien/Star Trek (JJ Abrams-style) motif and some alien tech.
Tech, you say? This is music to Felicity and Curtis’ ears. Where there’s tech, there’s the ability to hack the tech. But first, they need to get their hands on some. Luckily, Cisco swiped a piece and gives it to them. This officially becomes the greatest day of Curtis’ life.
Curtis manufactures a translator chip of sorts. It’s not specific to the Dominators language, because he doesn’t know it, but it should work. But it doesn’t. The Dominator tech overloads the chip because you can’t put something made for humans into something made for aliens. I appreciate the use of logic here. They need a special kind of regulator to help support the translator. The only one available was created for NASA by Van Horn Industries and was stolen by a Dr. Laura Washington, who was into artificial body augmentation.
Given that Dr. Washington now possessed enhanced strength, stamina, and electricity-based powers, Felicity decides they need reinforcements and calls in Barry and Kara Danvers. Rene is not happy to meet them. He feels all the problems started when The Flash and Supergirl came into the world, and the supposed good they’re doing just makes things worse. He goes off without everyone to try and take on Dr. Washington by himself. Rene thinks he can just shoot her and be done with it. He can’t, because she. Has. Super. Powers. He’s an idiot and Barry has to save him. Then Barry and Kara tag team attack Dr. Washington and defeat her. Rene doesn’t do apologies, but he is glad there are people like Kara and Barry fighting the good fight.
They bring the regulator back to Felicity and Curtis. It helps, but the translator appears to produce a giant jumble of nothing. Or it is? Rory looks at what the translator gave and recognizes it as gematria, a method used to interpret the Torah by calculating the numerical value of Hebrew words based on the values assigned to the letters. That’s right. The answer is the Jews! It’s not exactly the same, but there are enough commonalities in the language that Felicity is able to extrapolate intel. She gets the coordinates for Oliver and Company’s location.
But before we talk about where they are, let’s check in with Oliver and the Matrix.
Oliver is living the dream. He’s engaged to Laurel. They’re getting married in a day. Thea is doing great. She and Oliver have never been closer, and their parents are alive. Robert and Moira Queen look radiantly happy. So, what’s wrong?
Oliver doesn’t know, but when Thea gives him a hozen, he has flashback or a memory glitch. He remembers a different time when a hozen was exchanged, but he brushes that off. He also brushes off his speedy reflexes when one of the maids drops something. It’s nothing.
But what’s not nothing is later that night, when Robert and Oliver are walking in city, discussing Oliver taking over Queen Consolidated or having to accept Ray Palmer’s buyout offer, Oliver sees Smoak Industries. Something about the building is off, but that has to wait, because Robert and Oliver become victims of an attempted mugging. A man trains a gun on Robert, and Oliver stands in his path. Before any violence occurs, a man in a green hood comes swooping down and takes the mugger away.
They head back to the mansion and fill Thea in on what happened. They don’t plan on telling Moira, Laurel knows. She comes in to comfort Oliver, but when she hugs him, he glitches again and sees her as she was in the hospital right before her death. He freaks out and leaves, promising to be at the rehearsal dinner later that night.
He goes to see Captain Lance at SCPD. Quentin lets Oliver know they know about the Hood, and he goes on to tell Oliver how proud he is of the man Oliver has turned into. They part, and Oliver starts glitching on a drawing of the Hood as well as a map of Star City. He remembers he, not his father, is supposed to be the mayor.
Oliver goes to his former campaign headquarters and remembers the entrance to the Arrow Cave. The panel is there. So is the elevator. He goes down, and there is the arrow cave in all its glory, with its one true constant, Felicity Smoak. Except Felicity has no idea why he’s there, is incredibly shocked, and calls for backup, which arrives in the form of John Diggle aka The Hood.
After a slight fight, Diggle demands to know why Oliver is there. He doesn’t know. He just has the feeling something, everything, is wrong. He knows Diggle’s name and thinks Diggle used to be his bodyguard. Diggle says that’s Andy. Oliver mentions Diggle’s time in Kandahar. That’s why Diggle became the Hood. He has regrets over things he did there. Felicity warns Diggle of stranger danger and dumping too much info to Oliver, and Oliver glitches on her. He remembers their life together. Like a fool, Oliver tells Diggle he thinks Andy is really dead and Diggle was the one who killed him. Diggle understandably get angry and throws Oliver out of the cave, telling him to get back to his life. He has everything, don’t throw it away. Oliver leaves.
Instead of talking to Diggle, Oliver is supposed to be at his rehearsal dinner. Sara arrived earlier in the day, glitched off of Laurel’s canary necklace, but otherwise seems to be perfectly content to celebrate her sister’s nuptials. They arrive at the dinner, looking lovely as ever, and talking about how Laurel once worried Sara might try to hook up with Oliver. Sara brushes it off because she’s more into women. Laurel is worried Oliver hasn’t shown up. She thinks he looked like a man who was about to give up his life. Even in the matrix, Laurel knows Oliver best.
Ray Palmer is stops Laurel to introduce himself, and she in turn introduces him to Sara. They glitch together, but don’t say anything. They just exchange pleasantries and go about their business. Laurel asks if Sara is sure she’s more into women, because Ray is hot! They laugh.
The next morning is a different story. Thea is with Moira, trying on her bridesmaid’s dress. Moira is so proud of her. The love and happiness radiates out of them, and Moira gives Thea a deep hug. Thea glitches and remembers Moira’s death.
Meanwhile, Sara is helping Laurel with her wedding gown. She looks gorgeous, but upset. Oliver bailed on the dinner. He shows up, needing to talk to Laurel alone. Sara leaves and suggests it’s a good thing she’s not a trained assassin or anything, because she is mad with him.
Oliver apologizes again, and tells Laurel he wants nothing more than to marry her. Now. He wants to elope. Forget everyone and the wedding; let’s just get it done now. Laurel thinks he’s lost his mind, but he explains he doesn’t understand what’s going on with him. All he knows is she is the only one who makes sense and he is afraid of losing her. He’s even willing to become Queen Consolidated’s CEO so he can give her the life she deserves and try to be worthy of her love. But before they get much further, Diggle arrives and needs to talk to Oliver.
After Oliver left, Diggle started glitching. He knows this life isn’t real, but doesn’t know why. He tried to draw one of the memory flashes and it’s a drawing of a Dominator. More glitching and Oliver makes a connection to the Queen’s Gambit and not getting on it. He and Diggle also agree Smoak Technologies doesn’t belong and might be important. They discuss pushback. If they are being subjected to some kind of mind control, the ones controlling them might insert obstacles to prevent them from breaking free of the delusion. But how?
And on cue, Slade Wilson arrives. Diggle and Oliver try to fight him. They do a decent job, but Slade is too good. He nearly defeats him, but Sara arrives in time to kill him.
Sara is perplexed as to how she did that. Oliver continues to remember more and more and he knows Sara was trained in Nanda Parbat. They keep remembering more. They used to be heroes. Sara remembers the original abduction and that ray and Thea were also taken with them, so they must be part of the shared hallucinations. They think the answer to what’s going on is in Smoak Technologies. The plan is to get Thea and Ray and go over there.
They head back into the mansion. Thea is talking to Malcolm. He’s very impressed with her success at Verdant and how proud Robert, her father, must be of her. Thea wishes Tommy could have come to the wedding, but as Malcolm points out Tommy’s a doctor now and based in Chicago. It’s difficult to get away. (Easter egg for the Chicago Med fans!) Ray is there and introduces Oliver and Sara to his fiancée Felicity, who shoots Oliver a concerned “please don’t reveal my crime-fighting secret” look. Sara borrows Ray and asks him if anything seems off. He remembers his fiancée is not Felicity, but was Anna. They now have Ray and go to get Thea, but Oliver is intercepted by his parents.
In what is one of the more gut-wrenching moments of the episode, Moira and Robert warn Oliver that his current behavior will ruin everything. They don’t want that for him. You can see Oliver understands the implications of what he’s about to do. He hugs his parents, apologizes to them, and non-verbally says goodbye. He goes to Thea. Sara is already there and reveals Thea knows the truth but doesn’t want to leave the hallucination. Oliver sends Sara outside, and he and Thea talk.
If you thought him saying goodbye to his parents was painful, trying to convince Thea to join them is just as bad or maybe a little worse. She doesn’t want to go back to the pain and suffering. She wants to live in a world with they are happy and their family is whole. She can’t say goodbye to them again. Even though Oliver tries to remind her of their responsibilities in the real world, he can’t force himself to take Thea away from this. With tears in his eyes, and much of the audience’s as well, Oliver wishes her well, tells her to be happy, says I love you, and goodbye.
He meets up with Diggle, Ray, and Sara. It’s now raining, where before outside had been beautiful and sunny. They know they’re about to be stopped somehow, and the Dominators deliver. Malcolm, Damien Darhk, HIVE, and Deathstroke appear. As they get ready to fight, Thea joins them, claiming a change of heart, and not wanting to say goodbye to Oliver. She chooses him and reality over her parents and a fantasy. Good choice, because she’s needed in this fight.
I don’t have the vocabulary to properly describe this fight. It’s amazing. Diggle gets shot, which sucks. Ray ends up shooting a man, Thea takes on Malcolm, Sara goes for Damien, and Oliver takes on Deathstroke. The best moment is Thea defeats Malcolm, takes his bow and shoots an arrow to Sara, who catches it, uses it to kill Damien, and then Thea throws the bow to Oliver, who uses it to shoot an arrow and kill Deathstroke. This is Arrow fight choreography at its finest.
A moment later, in the third gut punch of the episode, Laurel comes running out. She doesn’t understand what’s happening, but she doesn’t want them to go. She believes they can fix whatever the problem is. Sara explains there are some things you can’t fix, and she hugs Laurel goodbye. Oliver tells Laurel he never was deserving of her love and she always deserved better than him. He kisses her goodbye, tells her he loves her, and the five leave.
Half-carrying Diggle, they make it to Smoak Technologies. Inside, there is a giant portal. Everyone but Oliver goes through. Before he goes, he hears the voices of the people from his past.
He sees his mom saying she’s proud of whom he has become. Felicity reminding him he’s not done fighting. Tommy calls Oliver a hero. Roy say Oliver saved his life and gave him purpose. Laurel says he never gives up. And finally, his dad tells Oliver this is all his responsibility now. And with one final look, Oliver goes through the portal, and he, along with the others, wake up.
Now that they’re awake, they need to figure out where they are and how to get away. Diggle is not injured but he’s still hurting, and a little slower than usual. Ray looks out a window, and he and Felicity around the same time realize where everyone is. Did you guess space? If you did, give yourself a cookie, because they are indeed on a spaceship.
Okay. Now that’s cleared up, the next step is to find a ship. They sneak through the ship. Ray believes there are some designs which are universal, so they should be heading to wherever the spare ships are. He’s wrong. He leads them straight into a mass of the Dominators. They’re spotted. Oliver pulls an alien gun off the wall and starts firing. Ray might have been wrong about ship design, but he was right about some things have a universal design. With Oliver providing cover, they run.
They find a ship, and get in. They have no clue what to do. Thea, the college dropout, figures out how to get the ship started, and they escape. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to steer. The Dominators follow them in other vessels and begin shooting. As luck would have it, the Waverider appears and uses a tractor beam to get their ship to safety.
Nate greets them. The “Nerd Army” of Felicity, Cisco, and Curtis, sent him a message about where he should be to get them. Sara takes John to Gideon to make sure he’s properly fixed up, while Ray contemplates the bigger picture.
While they were on the ship, Ray noticed the Dominators use something called a neuromorphic interface. It’s similar to what he uses with his ATOM suit. It means the Dominators might have been able to probe their subconsciouses for intel. They might not have been taken randomly. They might have been taken because they don’t have powers and would be easier to manipulate. They might have also been programmed with some kind of subconscious instructions. They have no way of knowing.
Ray also overheard on the Dominators speaking. He recalls the phrase and asks Gideon to translate. It’s roughly translated into “They are nearing completion of the weapon.” What weapon? No one knows, but we conclude Invasion! with a shot of several Dominator ships swarming towards Earth.
Other points of interest
~ Rene is now attempting the salmon ladder and looking mighty fine while doing it.
~ Curtis is super bummed the aliens are “dickwads.” His words, not mine.
~ Curtis calls his translator 3PO, then does a decent C3PO impression to Cisco and Felicity’s amusement.
~ Cisco gets to make an Oliver and Company joke. We’ve all been waiting for it.
~ Walter even got a mention as a potential CEO instead of Oliver, but Robert shuts that down as he’s not family.
~ Evelyn is not a part of the story. This is good, since her status as a potential betrayer would only complicate things.
Invasion! was a jam-packed episode. It had to balance being a part of a crossover as well as moving the regular Arrow story ahead, and on top of that, they needed to acknowledge its 100th episode. Overall, they did a bang up job.
There is so much going on and not enough time to dissect it all. This was some of the best work Arrow has done in a while. The cast was so good, but, and I know there’s only so much story one can deal with in 46 minutes, once again, Thea got screwed. I don’t understand it. She gets time with Oliver and one beautiful moment with Moira, where she starts remembering, but I would have killed for a couple of minutes of her having flashbacks with Malcolm. I would have loved to see her interact with Robert for a moment. I just wanted her to have a little more story. Hell, I would have loved to see Ray have an actual flashback to Anna, but she’s never been as important to the story as Thea is. It doesn’t seem fair.
Can we talk about Stephen Amell’s acting for a moment? This was some of his best work. You could feel his pain as he was saying goodbye to his family. This wasn’t the usual tortured Ollie. This was Oliver making a choice. He knew what he was doing, but he was able to do it almost on his terms, so he was able to properly say goodbye.
Seeing Laurel again was bittersweet. She didn’t have much to do, but what she did, she did well. Her presence resonated. Oliver was able to say goodbye and I love you, and Sara was able to say goodbye. It might not have been real, but they desperately needed it.
But seriously, this was such a great nod to Arrow’s history. We got to see how far everyone’s come, say hello and goodbye to old friends and enemies, while moving the story along. It was funny, action-packed, interesting, and emotional. What else could a person ask for?
Did Invasion! live up to your expectations?