Monday, December 5, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 2, Episode 7: Invasion!

Welp, The CW's big Invasion! Four Part Crossover Event is now history.

Overall the Crossover was a lot of fun, although not quite as epic as it could have been. I'm betting a lot of that was due to that ol' debil the TV budget.

The Crossover allegedly began in Supergirl, even though no one actually crossed over until literally the final thirty seconds of the episode. The Flash chapter was a big improvement, as it was fun seeing the various heroes meet and interact. Unfortunately The CW couldn't afford to show us any hero-on-alien action, and we had to settle for the Flash and Arrow fighting a group of their mind-controlled Super Friends.

The Arrow chapter was the worst of all, as ninety five percent of the episode consisted of Oliver & Company living in an alien-induced dream world. What the hell?

Fortunately they saved the best for last, and this final chapter managed to redeem the Crossover, finally giving us near-movie quality scenes of the Super Friends battling the Dominators. It was just like reading a Silver Age comic!

This isn't the first time characters from one series have crossed over into another. The first example of this I can think of is The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres in the 1960s & 1970s. All three sitcoms were produced by Paul Henning, and were part of the same universe (the "Hooterverse, as I like to call it). Characters from one series would occasionally pop up on another late in the various shows' runs.

In the 1980s, a few characters from St. Elsewhere appeared on Cheers, and in the 1990s, NBC aired their "Hurricane Saturday" event, in which a single storyline ran through The Golden Girls, Empty Nest and Nurses.

None of these instances were anywhere near as epic as what The CW attempted here though.

In terms of spectacle and character interaction, this episode was easily the best of the Crossover chapters. That said, it wasn't really a very good episode of Legends Of Tomorrow. Most of the cast was shunted to the B and C storylines, while the Flash and Arrow hogged the A plot. Unfortunate, but probably par for the course. Legends is an ensemble show, made up of lesser-known (at least to the general public) characters. There's no actual "star" of the show, like there is on The Flash and Arrow. So it's not really surprising that they were shoved aside.

A few weeks ago on The Flash, Cisco found out his brother Dante's death was a direct result of Barry's altering of the timeline. This drove a huge wedge between the two, as Cisco said they could never be friends again. Oddly enough the matter's resolved in this episode of Legends Of Tomorrow.

It seems a bit odd to me for a major plot point on The Flash to be resolved on someone else's show. Flash viewers who didn't catch this episode are gonna be mighty confused when they tune in next week and Barry and Cisco are bros again.

Lastly, the Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow chapters of this Crossover were ALL titled Invasion! That's gonna make it tough to figure out what order to watch them in years from now when you're binging the shows. Would it have killed them to have labeled them Invasion! Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3?


The Plot:
Picking up right after the disppointing non-events of Arrow, the Waverider, carrying Arrow, White Canary, Spartan, Steel and Vixen, returns to Central City (I guess they tossed Speedy out the airlock along the way?). The heroes decide that since the Dominators abducted humans to study, they should return the favor and interrogate one of them. Unfortunately the aliens are in short supply, and they don't know where to find one.

Just then Steel remembers the Redmon, Oregon Incident of 1951 (wrong!), in which the Dominators first attacked Earth. Steel, Vixen, Heat Wave, and for some reason Cisco and Felicity, take the Waverider back to 1951 (wrong!) to kidnap an alien.

Meanwhile, Professor Stein is at STAR Labs, working on a way to destroy the Dominators, Caitlin invites his daughter Lily, who has a PhD in nanotechnology (who doesn't?) to help. As we all know, Stein accidentally altered his timeline a few weeks ago, resulting in a daughter who never existed before (dontcha hate it when that happens?). He's visibly unnerved by her existence, as one is when one discovers they've inadvertently created an adult daughter. He secretly tells Caitlin that Lily is a time aberration, and once the crisis is over he plans to erase her. Dayum, Stein! That's pretty cold!

The Waverider arrives in 1951 (wrong!). Steel wears his new costume for the first time, which Heat Wave finds hilarious (he's not the only one!). They see the Dominators defeat a squad of soldiers and drag them into their ship. They spot an alien who wanders away from the others, and they knock it out. As they're about to take the Dominator back to the Waverider, a group of, well, Men In Black arrive. The leader of these men, King Faraday Agent Smith, tranquilizes the Legends.

Heat Wave, Vixen and Steel wake up some time later in a locked room. They've been drugged so they can't use their powers. The Dominator they were trying to abduct is in the room with them, strapped to a table. They figure they might as well go ahead and question it. The Dominator tells them there's been a recent uptick in metahumans on Earth, and they're trying to determine if they pose a threat to their planet (?). Suddenly the Men In Black burst into the room. Agent Smith orders his men to take the alien away and begin torturing it.

Meanwhile, back in 2016, the heroes get a call that the new President (the old one was vaporized in Invasion! Part 1) wants to meet with them. Flash, Arrow, Atom and White Canary go to a deserted airport for the meeting. They're surrounded by government vehicles. Agent Smith, now sixty five years older (!), steps out of the lead vehicle. He orders his men to fire on the heroes.

The Flash catches all the bullets at superspeed, and the other heroes knock out the government goons, leaving only Agent Smith standing. Flash questions him, and Smith says the aliens consider metahumans to be a threat, and so does he.

Agent Smith somehow knows the Flash is really Barry Allen, and that he created the Flashpoint timeline. He says this violated a truce humanity's had with the aliens since 1951 (wrong!). He says he made a deal with the Dominators— they'll leave Earth alone if Barry turns himself over to them.

Back in 1951 (wrong!), Cisco and Felicity use blasters from the Waverider's armory to bust the heroes out of their cell. They hear the Dominator being tortured, and Steel says they have to save it, to show the aliens that all humans aren't bad. They rescue the alien, give it the Dominator ship the Waverider captured in Arrow, and send it on its way. Cisco says he stole a transponder from the ship before it left, so they can communicate with the alien. They return to 2016.

Cisco calls the Dominator they just left in the past. Amazingly it answers, and says it will spare their lives for helping it, but the Invasion will go on as scheduled. It then launches a gigantic bomb from the Dominator mothership. When detonated, this bomb will kill every metahuman on Earth, as well as millions of normal humans.

Cisco realizes that by saving this alien in the past, he's doomed the present. He's now guilty of making the same mistake his pal Barry did.

Back at the STAR Labs hangar, Barry says goodbye to everyone and prepares to turn himself in to the Dominators. The other heroes refuse to let him do so, and say they're willing to fight to protect him. Professor Stein enters, and says he and his daughter have come up with devices that will inflict excruciating pain on the aliens— but the catch is they have to be placed on ALL of them before they can be activated. Cisco and Canary take off in the Waverider and use the tractor beam to stop the bomb. Unfortunately the weapon is too large, and they only manage to slow it down a bit.

The heroes then make a final stand, battling an army of Dominators. The Flash and Supergirl race around at superspeed, placing Stein's devices on every alien across the entire country (!!!!!). Firestorm flies up to the bomb and attempts to transmute it. Sadly it's just too big.

The Flash and Supergirl finish planting the devices, and Felicity activates them. Every Dominator nationwide doubles over in pain. Firestorm gives it the old college try, and finally transmutes the bomb into water at the last second. The Dominators all beam up to their ship and hightail it out of our solar system.

The new President (who's a woman-- if only!) holds a ceremony in the hangar to honor the heroes for their help. They all have a party afterwards
. Agent Smith crashes the party. Supergirl tells him that on her world she works for the DEO (Department of Extra-normal Operations) and she spoke to the new President about starting up something similar on Earth-1. Oh, and also he's being transferred to Antarctica. 

Supergirl prepares to return to Earth-38. Cisco gives her a device that will allow her to generate a breach and visit anytime she wants. Stein tells Jackson he's decided not to erase his new daughter. Everyone forgives Barry for changing the timeline— even Cisco. The End.

• There's no opening narration this week, but Professor Stein does do the "Previously on..." announcement.

• The title screen in this episode incorporates the icons of The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl into the Legends Of Tomorrow logo. As each icon appears and slams into place, we hear a brief snippet of that show's theme. Because the sequence is so short, all four themes end up playing at virtually the same time, which sounds every bit as lovely as you'd think it would (that was, I say that was sarcasm, son!).

• Despite a few glitches, I'd just like to point out how much I actually enjoyed this episode. We got a much closer look at the Dominators here, and the final battle between them and the Super Friends was absolutely glorious

Seeing Vixen channel the powers of an elephant, Heat Wave and Arrow fighting side-by-side and Firestorm using his transmuting powers while Professor Stein chatters away in his head perfectly captured the spirit of the comics. I think I may have even squealed like a little girl while watching.

• Early in the episode, Arrow tells Supergirl to sit out the battle, because he's having trouble dealing with the reality of superpowered Kryptonians or some bullsh*t like that. His exact words are:

Arrow: "Can I talk to you for a second?"
Supergirl: "I don't know." 

Arrow: "I would like to minimize your involvement in this." 
Supergirl: "Why? Because I'm an alien? I also happen to be your biggest weapon." 
Arrow: "You are an unknown quantity, and this is not personal."
Supergirl: "Except that's exactly how this feels."
Arrow: "Kara, when I started living this life, it was just me. I was going up against human threats. That I could handle. Then it was meta-humans, and I can handle that. Now I learn that there are multiple Earths, and I was brainwashed aboard an alien spacecraft."
Supergirl: "I am sure that was unnerving, but I don't…"
Arrow: "I don't get unnerved. But when I go up against something new, I push back. Right or wrong, it is who I am, and it is what I do, so I'm asking for a little bit of space because I have to draw the line somewhere. I need to claw back a sense of normalcy. Please stay here."

Like I said, complete bullsh*t. As a fighter and a strategist, it makes absolutely zero sense for Arrow to want to sideline Supergirl, ESPECIALLY for the new age, wishy-washy reasons he tries to articulate.

I can think of several possibilities for this clumsy bit of writing. It could be yet another example of this Crossover's increasingly obvious budgetary limits. Those flying Supergirl effects probably ain't cheap!

It might have also been a case of power overkill. Supergirl could have dealt with most of the threats in this episode single-handedly, without even breaking a sweat. This would have given the other characters nothing to do but stand around and watch. It would have also wrapped up the storyline twenty minutes too soon.

Or it could have just been a case of availability. Melissa Benoist, who plays Supergirl, may have been busy filming her own series, and there just may not have been time for her to appear in more than a couple of brief scenes here.

Whatever the reason was for sidelining her, it was poorly written and executed.

• In The Flash chapter, Lyla mentions the Redmond, Oregon incident of 1951. The heroes reference it again in this episode.

The Redmond Incident is a real thing, and pertains to a famous UFO sighting in that area. Unfortunately the actual incident happened in 1959, not 1951 as everyone keeps saying here. Sloppy!

By the way, I'm not some conspiracy theory nut or UFO expert who lives and breathes this stuff. I found out the year of the incident with about thirty seconds of googling.

• When the Waverider arrives in 1951 (wrong!), Felicity reacts badly to traveling through time. She vomits on the floor and suffers from "linguistic disorientation," as she begins spouting gibberish. At one point she blurts out, "Darmokandjaladattenagra!"

This is a reference to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Darmok, in which Captain Picard is abducted by the Tarmarians, a race with a complicated and indecipherable language. The Tamarian Captain keeps saying, "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra," to Picard, which makes no sense to him. He eventually realizes that the Tamarians speak in metaphors, and Darmok and Jalad were ancient warriors who became friends after overcoming a common ordeal.

Yes, I'm a big nerd, and knew all this without having to look it up.

* A few weeks ago in Compromised, Professor Stein accidentally altered his past, resulting in him now having an adult daughter named Lily. In this altered timeline Lily has always existed, but Stein has absolutely no memories of her. You're probably asking how the hell that's possible. Good question!

Legends Of Tomorrow has always played fast and loose with causality, but occasionally they do try to explain their time-travel inconsistencies. Last season Rip Hunter said that time is like cement, and any changes made to it in the past will take a while to "harden." This would explain why Stein doesn't remember his daughter, because his altered imeline hasn't  yet "set."

Does this make any sense? Or course not. But it shows me that the writers KNOW it's silly, and they're at least made an attempt at explaining it. So I'm willing to give them a pass on this one.

• Steel's new costume makes its debut this week (OK, we saw it in Outlaw Country, but this is the first time he's actually worn it), complete with be-finned helmet. Note that Steel's sporting some very extensive black makeup around the eye-holes of his helmet.

Note that Michael Keaton did the same thing in his two Batman films. Actually EVERY big screen Batman has done this, from Keaton all the way up to Ben Affleck. I guess this is done to help his skin blend in with the rubber mask? Or to make him look more mysterious or menacing? Honestly I don't know why they do it.

The makeup really a problem until Batman decides to remove his mask. As you can see in this scene from Batman Returns, he's wearing the black makeup around his eyes.

We cut away from him for a second, and when we cut back— suddenly no makeup!

He then rips the top of his mask off, revealing his secret identity. You can see why they removed the black makeup right before he took off the mask. If they hadn't, when he tore off his cowl, he'd have had two comical raccoon spots around his eyes.

I GUARANTEE this same thing is going to happen at some point with Steel and his helmet. He's going to have black makeup on his face, then suddenly it's gonna disappear right before he whips the helmet off his head.

I honestly don't know why they bother with the whole makeup thing anyway. I performed a quick makeup-ectomy in Photoshop, and honestly Steel doesn't look that bad without it.

• After being drugged by the Men In Black, Heat Wave, Vixen and Steel wake up in a locked room. Heat Wave tells the others to use their abilities to escape, but Steel says, "Whatever they tranqed us with is screwin' with our powers."

Hey, wait a minute. Steel's powers come from within him, but Vixen gets hers from her mystical amulet. Which she's still wearing! Whoops! Would a drug really stop her magical necklace from working? I don't see how.

• It's pretty obvious to any comic fans out there that Agent Smith is supposed to be King Faraday.

He was a secret agent character who first appeared in DC Comics in 1950. in 2004, he played a big role in the New Frontier miniseries, in which he lead the government effort to control the large amount of metahumans that began appearing throughout the world. 

Which is pretty much the exact same thing "Agent Smith" did here. I don't know why they didn't just call him King Faraday in this Crossover event. Maybe it was some sort of rights issue with the creators of the character?

• When Felicity sees the Dominator bomb enter our atmosphere, she utters, "Oh, frak!"

That's a Battlestar Galactica reference. In the original show, "frak" was a mild expletive, roughly akin to "darn." In the revamped series from the early 2000s, it unmistakably became an otherworldly substitute for "f*ck."

Coincidentally, actor Donnelly Rhodes, who plays Agent Smith in this episode, starred in the new Battlestar Galactica as Doc Cottle, the chain-smoking chief surgeon of the fleet.

• At the end of the episode, Agent Smith gets his comeuppance by being exiled to Antarctica. Oddly enough this is played for laughs, despite the fact that the man has to be at least ninety by now, and a week in such a climate would surely kill him. HAW HAW HAW!

• At the after-party, Supergirl walks past Atom. He takes a long look at her and says,"You know what's funny? She really kinda looks like my cousin." Get it? Actor Brandon Routh, who plays Atom, was also the Man Of Steel in 2006's Superman Returns. Get it? Eh? EH?

• Before she leaves for her world, Supergirl tells the Flash and Arrow that they're "Earth's Mightiest Heroes." Hey, HEY! Be careful what you say there, Supergirl! 
Marvel's got Disney's highly litigious army of attorneys on their side now!


  1. Presumably the eye makeup is for the same reason football players do it? Something to do with reducing glare, I always thought.

  2. Maybe. But no one else is wearing it, mask or not. I always wondered about the football players wearing the black under their eyes. Is there REALLY that much glare? Off what, their cheeks? I can't ever remember walking around outside and thinking, "Man this glare off my own face is killing me!"


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