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‘Arrow’ Recap and Reaction: “Invasion!”

Between a sudden hostile alien invasion (that the government knew about) and the apparent betrayal of Barry Allen (that about half the good guys knew about) “Invasion!” is off to a brilliant, if turbulent, start. But just when they finally had the situation under control, the Dominators teleported all the heroes from Star City away from their friends. All Arrow lovers should get ready for some serious feels in its 100th episode.

arrow-invasion-title-card

A New Life

Back in the very beginning of the Arrowverse, we saw a grizzled man running through bushes. Now Oliver Queen is at it yet again — but this time in the woods behind Queen Mansion. Following a much-needed shower, his cleaning companion and fiancée emerges — Dinah Laurel Lance. As she walks off, reality warps to reveal five alien pods, each complete with a sleeping prisoner.

arrow-invasion-pods

In the Arrowcave, the junior heroes are struggling to locate the missing members. Felicity has called in our favourite psychic to Vibe their location. But all he can see is their sleeping forms in an alien room. Going to their backup plan, Cisco makes Holt’s life complete by giving him some recovered Dominator technology to hack.

Back in Queen Mansion, Thea gives Oliver an early wedding present of the Hōzen arrow head. The pair are then met by none other than Robert and Moira Queen. As Oliver instinctively catches a falling vase, Dinah welcomes her sister to the house. Seeing a canary necklace in a brilliant homage to the Birds of Prey momentarily shocks Sara for some reason. Out in Star City, the father and son Queens are discussing their futures when Oliver is confused to see a Smoak Technologies building and the pair are almost mugged. Only a certain bow and arrow vigilante saves the pair.

Smoak Technologies building at night
The impossible building

Cracks

Now safely at home with his family, Oliver starts having flashbacks of memories that never happened. The Queen’s Gambit sinking, his father’s suicide, and him giving Thea the Hōzen. Seeing Dinah momentarily replaces her with an ill figure in a nightgown. Dazed and confused, the young millionaire makes an exit.

With the entire nerd herd assembled, nothing can stop them hacking the Dominator technology. But a setback has them looking for a new toy which, unsurprisingly, has already been stolen by someone else — a cyborg doctor augmenting herself with technology. Concerned with the powers their target has, Felicity calls in some backup.

arrow-invasion-hood-green-arrow-police

Oliver calls in on his future father-in-law to check out any leads on ‘the Hood’ the police may have. Seeing a board of information unleashes another wave of impossibility and Lance offers to buy drinks at the rehearsal dinner. Despite their differences in the past, the policeman is proud to call the new Oliver family. Another wave of memories forces the groom away as the Lance sisters host the rehearsal wedding reception and Sara meets Ray — both of them enduring their own impossible flashes.

In an abandoned office, Oliver somehow uncovers a secret lift which leads him to the hideout of Hood. Despite somehow catching the first punch, the next knocks him out.

Secrets

As the Hood starts choking the life from him, memories begin surfacing, and Oliver can reveal John Diggle as the Star City vigilante. This John came back to redeem himself for actions in the army. More memories surface to reveal Felicity Smoak. But Oliver overshares when he reveals John killed Andy. Only Diggle’s compassion spares Oliver’s life, but he is thrown out.

Felicity’s backup comes in the form of Supergirl and the Flash. But Wild Dog hates superpowers, and he thinks they bring trouble. Splitting off, he encounters Doctor Washington and is phasered for his troubles.

Laurel looking in mirror wearing wedding dress, Oliver entering the room to elope
Oliver tries to elope with Laurel

Moira and Thea Queen enjoy a touching moment as the youngest Queen is trying on her bridesmaid dress, but another explosion of memory ruins it for Thea. Barging in on his fiancée, Oliver attempts to elope with her, but with two hundred guests waiting, he is overruled. The arrival of normal civilian John Diggle calls Oliver away — the Hood has a problem. Smoak Technologies shouldn’t exist as Felicity claims to have never owned a building or company. John started having memory flashes after Oliver left and drew a Dominator. Together, they begin to uncover the truth and are ambushed by Deathstroke.

arrow invasion deathstroke

Crumbling

Right on the verge of being killed, Sara Lance arrives in the nick of time and manages to disarm and impale the attacker. Retreating to the house, they all try and uncover more memories with their real lives bleeding through. Sara is able to remember Ray and Thea while Diggle realises that the erroneous Smoak Technologies must be an escape.

For the meta-human-hating Wild Dog, there is nothing worse than having the Flash save him from a painful death. Teaming up with Supergirl, the Scarlet Speedster takes down the Cyberwoman, and Curtis retrieves the technology they need.

Oliver says goodbye to his parents

At the formal wedding party, Thea is discussing Tommy Merlyn with Malcolm as Sara questions Ray. With one of the most brilliant minds on the planet, Ray can remember his past as Oliver encounters his parents. Realising that none of it is real, Oliver embraces his parents for the last time only to discover a more horrifying truth — Thea already knows but wants to stay. Everything is real enough for her. Unable to convince her and unwilling to force things, the siblings part ways. The remaining heroes decide to leave immediately.

Back to Reality

The fake world has several failsafes built in, and personal villains turn up to stop them: Deathstroke, Darhk, Merlyn, and several henchmen. As the teams line up, Thea finally returns to the group to take on Merlyn. Oliver fights Deathstroke, and Sara can finally kill Darhk as Ray and Diggle take on the stragglers. Alerted by the commotion, the bride arrives, and the White Canary can embrace her sister one last time before leaving.

arrow invasion battle

With Diggle wounded in the battle, the heroes finally manage to escape the world but Oliver pauses on the threshold. Assembled behind him are ghosts of all the people he loved who didn’t — or couldn’t — join him in the virtual world.

arrow invasion oliver ghosts

The writers then made a weird choice of plot. Instead of simply throwing enough computers to solve the Dominators’ code until they make some sense of it — as we generally do in reality — they settle for divine intervention. It appears that Dominators language is similar to old Yiddish because God made the universe and the homicidal aliens trying to destroy it. Go figure. But the information they decipher has a slight problem. Namely, the phrase ‘where on Earth’ falling short.

Escape!

Operating under the assumption that certain aspects of design are universal, such as shorter cables losing less charge, Ray manages to walk them right into the middle of a busy corridor. Luckily, Green Arrow grabs an alien gun and the group manage to stumble onto a hangar. Seating themselves in a convenient five-seater spacecraft, the bid a hasty retreat from the mothership, pursued by the rest of the fleet. Right before they can be destroyed, Heywood is able to pilot the Waverider to save them.

The Waverider saves the stolen ship just in time

But that’s far from the end of their worries. Ray overhears two Dominators speaking telepathically and Gideon translates what he heard: “we are nearing completion of the weapon”. They had better hurry up though because the mothership is now headed for Earth.

Observations

  • I don’t think that there have been plot twists this heartbreaking since Zoom killed Henry Allen right after he said he was moving back to Central City to be with his son.
  • With the entire history of Arrow rewritten, why not mention Mrs. Merlyn? ‘Yes, she’s busy blah blah blah’. Her death was the cause of The Undertaking and why Robert turned on Merlyn and so on. Her living would perfectly sell the new reality.
  • Who sat down and said “Guys, we need to bring God in somehow. The universe has a plan!”? For an almost perfect episode, crappy writing there.
  • This episode played a perfect tribute to the entire history of Arrow and how it has changed over the years. Everything in the fake reality, down to the smallest detail, references some past event that happened or almost was.

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