Arrow’s “Invasion!” aimed to move the CW crossover story forward toward its big Legends of Tomorrow finale, and to serve as a celebration of the series’ 100th episode. It satisfied in neither way.
To be fair, I’m exhausted with parallel universes and alternate timelines. I’ve been harping on that with Flash all season, and so having half this episode take place inside a forced dream sequence had me about as excited as I’d be for the world’s longest elevator ride.
What’s just as bad, if not worse, is the decision to base so much of the emotional appeal for the story on Laurel. First, I’m tired of the revisionist history here. Laurel cannot be the love of Oliver’s life, or vice versa. He put the shoes to her sister, and at the time of Laurel’s death, he was putting said shoes to Felicity. There’s not enough whitewash in any Home Depot to cover the writing on those walls. Second, they haven’t shut up about Laurel all season. Ordinarily, I’d say that’s good because characters on this show “get over” emotional trauma faster than I get over a sneezing fit, but there’s no payoff to the audience. The audience hasn’t been given time to miss Laurel, even if we were inclined to, which I, personally, am not.
The less said about the cringeworthy tongue-in-cheek dialogue, the better. I’ll just draw your attention to Sara saying, “You’re lucky I’m not a trained assassin,” during their shared dream, and trust that my point is made.
The other half of the story wasn’t any better. I’ve never cared about Ollie’s recruits, and having Supergirl and Flash tag along isn’t enough to make me start. This should, and could, have been the part of the episode that carried things forward, but all it did was end with what we already could have guessed. The space ship Oliver and company are on is in space.
How bad was this episode? Bad enough I won’t bother with Legends of Tomorrow’s episode to finish it. Can we get back to what made these shows good now? Seeing Tommy, Malcolm, and Deathstroke (even recast) made me miss the good old days.
Jim said it. “I’m exhausted with parallel universes and alternate timelines.” We—not just Jim—have been harping on Flash about doing this for longer than a season, and it’s made its way to Arrow. I’m tired of harping on it. Some of you may not know why I dislike these shows’ use of alternative timelines, so I’ll take a moment to put a finer point on why the Arrowverse should drop them: accretion.
Accretion isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can be a great thing. Adding layers to something over time, when each layer works individually and part of a whole, can lead to fantastic writing. Unfortunately, the individual parts of Flash and Arrow don’t work well on their own or as part of a whole for the moment, that’s why we get so many parallel universes and alternate timelines. It’s landfill writing.
The writers gave us garbage and it’s starting to stink—as garbage tends to do—so they dump more garbage with a slightly different scent on top of the original garbage. Before long that second layer will begin to smell, so they’ll have to add another layer of garbage until they have a landfill.
This same landfill approach can be seen in game design. Have you ever played a (free-to-play) video game with ten or fifteen types of currency? The most likely reason those different types of currency exist is that the designers screwed up the first nine or fourteen currencies and instead of fixing the underlying problem, they added a new currency. Use Foney. It’s like Money but it’s spelled with an “F,” and it’s purple. A dream sequence of an alternate reality is a parallel universe with a fancy odor. If Flash and Arrow continue to use alternative timelines and parallel universes, they’re telling their viewers they know they’re messing up and they have no intention of fixing the shows’ baseline problems.
Okay. That’s my take on alternate timelines. Let’s get to “Invasion!” specifics. I couldn’t care less about the crossover villains. They’re little, green aliens who won’t have any lasting impact on these shows or characters.
Having Laurel return in a dreamlike sequence and all the revisionist history presented in “Invasion!” made me wonder if Ollie’s love life played out the same way on Arrow after Barry changed time. Except for the Diggle baby’s gender-bender, the Arrowverse has been coy with how Flash has affected Arrow. The last I checked Ollie’s bed buddy list reads as follows: Laurel, the mother of his child, Laurel again, a stewardess, Sara, a reporter after he returned home from the island, Laurel a third time, another random woman, Huntress, Laurel a fourth time, Sara again, and then Felicity.
I don’t know what to believe. Let’s get to the other side of this Flashpoint nightmare and hope the shows return to what made them good.
Thanks for reading.