Arrow 5.08 ‘Invasion!’ Review: Arrow Reaches 100 Episodes!
Zack Phillips Arrow returns this week with Part 3 (officially Part 2) of episode’Invasion’ 4 Night a Crossover Event; Heroes v Aliens.
Aside from the current storyline that has united the four DCTV shows against a common threat, this weeks episode of Arrow is particularly significant. After five seasons, Arrow has reached its 100th episode, a feat not to be taken lightly. Whilst Arrow has had its ups and downs, it has remained consistent through telling it’s adaption of the ‘Arrow’ mythology, even if that adaptation isn’t particularly relevant to the source material. Tonight’s episode saw the return of several deceased characters who have contributed to the shows success throughout the past five years. While a vital part of the crossover event, ‘Invasion!’ successfully creates an episode which reflects on the past five seasons, and while the quality may not have remained consistant, it’s hard to deny the fact that Arrow has been one of the best superhero shows we have seen.
The episode begins with Oliver running through bushes and other assorted greenery, similar to the premiere’s of each respective season, before we see Oliver inside the Queen Mansion (which was burnt down in Arrow Season 2.5-the digital comic) speaking to a woman who is off screen. When she steps onto the screen, and kisses Oliver, the audience is given their first look at Laurel Lance; fiancé of billionaire Oliver Queen. Within the first few minutes, the audience is already aware that they are in some kind of alternate reality. While the characters aren’t aware of it themselves, they are living within a reality where Oliver never boarded the Queens Gambit, causing none of the events to ever occur to transform Oliver into the Green Arrow. Laurel’s prescence in this ‘dream’ fantasy gives fans a taste of what it would be like for Oliver and Laurel’s relationship to completely flourish. Having Laurel return shows Oliver that he still has deep feelings for her, and that her death was ultimately one of the worst ordeals he has faced. The scene where Laurel and Oliver say goodbye to each other show the chemistry and connection that the pair have, as Laurel begs Oliver not to leave, and even though he knows he has to leave the dream state, he still hesitates.
In this alternate reality, both of Oliver’s parents are alive and well; Robert and Moira Queen are both still together and the excellent examples of parents that the earlier seasons portrayed. This has extreme consequences on both Oliver and Thea, and even though they don’t remember their deaths at first, as they start remembering their real lives and the tragedies that they’ve faced, the scenes between the characters can become quite emotional. One in particular is between Thea and Moira. Personally, I was never really fond of either character. However during the scene where Thea and Moira connect over Holland’s characters life, it is nothing short of touching. Especially when Thea remembers her mothers gruesome murder, her reaction to seeing her mother impaled is significant because Thea is remembering her real life. Another particular scene which is memorable is the scene between Oliver and his parents as he’s saying goodbye to them. As Oliver said in the first part of the Invasion crossover, he didn’t have a choice in his parents deaths, and was never given the chance to say goodbye. During this episode, Oliver was finally given the opportunity to say goodbye to those he loved.
During this alternate reality, Oliver isn’t the Green Arrow. Instead, Oliver is saved by a man in a green hood while walking through the city in a very ‘Wayne murder’ fashion. The man under this hood turns out to be none other an the famous bodyguard John Diggle, who, for some unknown reason, has aligned himself with Felicity Smoak to fight the crime and corrupt of the city. Seeing Diggle in the Green Arrow suit is a nice callback to Season 1, however a new police sketch might have been nice as there is a definite difference between the suits in Season 1 and Season 5. Diggles weapon of choice, a bow and arrow, is questionable at best. Diggles past has absolutely no connection to a bow, while Oliver’s did. This could have been an excellent time to represent a more ‘Flashpoint’ style Green Arrow, one that uses guns.
While this episode was incredibly touching and one of the best episodes of the show to date, there are some plotholes. Is the audience expected to believe that Malcolm didn’t attempt to murder Robert just because he didn’t go aboard the Queens Gambit? How does Oliver not getting shipwrecked lead to the Undertaking to never occur? Did Anthony Ivo ever get his hands on the Mirakuru on the island, and what ever happened to Yao Fei, Shado, Eddie Fyres, Slade, and the rest of the island crew? Do the League of Assassins still exist? One question that seriously needed some context, however, is how did Thea get a hold of the arrowhead that was on the island which lead to the co-ordinates of the Mirakuru. If that was on Lian Yu, how did Thea some how get her hands on it? All of which don’t seriously need to be considered, as this reality clearly isn’t canon to the rest of the show. However a bit of clarification on the Undertaking would have been nice, as Malcolm was planning the Undertaking long before the Queen’s Gambit went down. And while Deathstroke did appear in the episode, there wasn’t even so much of a mention regarding Slade Wilson. All of which would have been pleasantly accepted.
This episode was full of Easter Eggs and callbacks to the comics, earlier seasons of the show, and other shows completely. Possibly the most amazing Easter egg during the episode was Tommy Merlyn’s mention. Thea and Malcolm are sitting at a table inside the Queen Mansion, and Tommy’s lack of attendance comes up. Malcolm states; “The hospital has him doing triple shifts now, and Chicago isn’t exactly next door.” This is an obvious and fun reference to Colin Donnell’s career on Chicago Med. Laurel’s canary necklace is an Easter egg referencing her career as the Black a Canary, as the pendant displays the Black Canary’s comic book symbol. There are multiple callbacks to different seasons as well; from simple name drops of Walter Steele, to similar events occurring as they did in earlier seasons. For example, Ray attempting a hostile takeover of Queen Consolidated, and Oliver catching the vase similar to how he caught the bottle of wine in the Season 4 premiere. Robert Queen becoming mayor was also interesting, considering both Moira and Oliver have both either ran for or become the Mayor of Star City. Calling Diggle’s version of the Green Arrow ‘the Hood’ was a nice touch too.
During the final battle, between Oliver, Diggle, Sara, Thea, and Ray against Malcolm, Deathstroke, Damien Darhk, Slade’s Mirakuru army, and the members of H.I.V.E, it is amazing to see the amount of detail that the producers put into this scene. The fight itself was memorable; the shot where Oliver flips Deathstroke in the rain looked phenomenal. But not only was the directing on point, but the attention to detail as well. Each of the heroes went up against villains that had some sort of significance in their lives. Thea went up against Malcolm Merlyn, as he is more or less her worst enemy, with Merlyn being her biological father who switches sides between good and evil more often than can count. Thea goes up against him because he is the one who has turned her into what she is today. Oliver goes up against Deathstroke, as he is always going to be the worst enemy Oliver ever has. While Prometheus is shaping up to be a monster, and Ra’s was a challenge, Deathstroke is the only villain who Oliver really has a connection to, due to his and Slade’s time spent on the island. Sara goes up against Darhk, who killed her sister, Laurel, during the fourth season. While both Malcolm and Deathstroke have each effected Sara in some way of form, Darhk is definitely the one who has impacted Sara the most. Diggle goes up against the members of H.I.V.E, who represent his brother Andy Diggle, after Diggle killed him during the fourth season after he turned out to betray the team. Ray fights the Mirakuru soliders, as they killed his fiancée Anna, the event which ultimately turned him into the man he is today. Thea killed Malcolm the same way Oliver ‘killed’ Malcolm during the shows first season, Sara killed Darhk in the same was that he killed Laurel, and Oliver shot an arrow into Deathstrokes eye.
One major issue with the episode was the over-importance of Felicity. Aside from the fact that she had no real reason to even know John, Felicity herself seemed like she was worth more than what she needed to. Perhaps this was just because the producers wanted to use something that nobody had seen, but the fact that the only way to escape the reality was through ‘Smoak Technologies’ seemed tacky. It’s fairly understandable why it couldn’t be Queen Consolidated, or even Palmer Tech, but was resurrecting Smoak Technologies from the Legends of Tomorrow episode really the answer? Perhaps that is just me being picky. The scene where Oliver sees Felicity and backs away scared was absolutely priceless.
The ‘crossover’ side to the episode itself seemed minimal at best. While that is completely okay, the episode lacked what the other two episodes of the Invasin crossover possessed, and that was that the other two followed a distinct plot. While this part was required for the crossover to make sense, it felt more like a standalone episode rather than a crossover episode. However, the banter between Cisco and Curtis was humorous, and seeing how Cisco reacts to the technology in the Bunker was quite enjoyable. Seeing Wild-Dog react toward Supergirl and Flash was also enjoyable, and he made a lot of sense about not trusting meta-humans. The battle between Flash, Supergirl and Wild-Dog against Cyber-Woman was amazing, especially Barry and Kara’s ‘tag team.’ Nate’s appearance at the end of the episode was also enjoyable, especially seeing his and Oliver’s interactions, and Diggle and Thea’s reaction to the Waverider.
Arrow’s 100th episode was one of the best episodes in the entire series, and really sets the bar high for future 100th episodes of each respective DC Show. The return of Katie Cassidy, Susanna Thompson, and Jamey Sheridan really made the episode memorable and significant, and having watched it three times already, the plot doesn’t get old. Another fantastic episode in Arrow’s fifth season, and if you say that the scene where Oliver is about to leave the alternate reality where he sees all the people he has sacrificed/people who have made sacrifices for him didn’t make you cry, you’re lying. Congratulations to Stephen, David, and the rest of the cast to 100 episodes, and here’s hoping for many more to come.