Arrow: Invasion! (Review)
By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)
Arrow’s “Invasion!” had the tricky task of servicing both the epic CW DC crossover while also paying tribute to their legacy with their 100th episode. The series hit all the emotional beats while still excelling as part of the crossover extravaganza.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Even though there can be many arguments made against this, I believe there is no one perfect episode of television. Instead, there are perfect episodes for each particular series (i.e. Lost’s “The Constant,” Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias,” and The X-Files‘ “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”) When the series eventually wraps up, “Invasion!” will be remembered as one of Arrow’s great episodes, maybe even its perfect episode.
This episode could have been, and probably should have been, a train wreck. The Flash found a balance in “Invasion!” of their own series plot and the alien invasion. With Arrow, servicing both a 100th episode celebration and a crossover could have ended badly. But Arrow decided to put their own show first. It’s commendable that they didn’t get caught up in worrying too much about the crossover. It was the trailblazer for the current group of CW superhero shows. Because of their accomplishment, they deserve to be somewhat self-indulgent, which they weren’t. It was decided to make the 100th episode celebration a priority, and it paid off.
In an episode where Stephen Amell never dons the archer suit, he does some of his finest work on the series to date. There were many standout moments, but two were head and shoulders above the rest: Oliver’s final goodbye to his parents and his conversation with Thea at the pre-wedding party. Amell does some wonderful work during these two scenes.
Speaking of Thea, like many characters on the series, she has had a rough time. However, we’ve never really seen her emotionally deal with the losses she’s endured. “Invasion!” finally gave her a voice to express her emotional state. Understandably, we have seen Oliver’s reaction to all of the losses they have endured over the course of five seasons as he is the main character. However, Thea has had the exact same losses, but she has rarely been showcased. This dreamland they were in allowed Thea to express her sadness and heartbreak. She was completely justified in her position of wanting to stay. It was a beautiful scene between the two siblings. Sadly, their sibling bond is something that Arrow rarely takes advantage of. Sometimes, I even forget they are brother and sister.
In the non-alien dreamland, Supergirl, Flash, and Wild Dog were a nice trio. Even though the Arrow newbies are still underdeveloped – another problem for another time – seeing them get their due in this episode was very considerate, but it acted as purely filler. If this wasn’t the crossover, I would have wanted the entire episode in the dreamland and scrapped the real world scenes completely. Unfortunately, it was a necessity to have these scenes.
The continuous shot moving through the party was made of awesome. It’s very reminiscent of You’re the Worst’s episode-long continuous shot that consisted of characters moving through a wedding pre-party and reception. It was genius. Anyways, clearly I’m a sucker for the continuous shot, so I was bummed when Arrow’s shot eventually broke.
Shoutout to all of the returning characters and their actor counterparts. It was wonderful to see Jamey Sheridan, Susanna Thompson, and Katie Cassidy return to portray their characters.
Lastly, did I enjoy Tommy’s hologram? Of course. But I am thoroughly bummed that Colin Donnell couldn’t actually come back as Tommy (and Manu Bennett as Deathstroke). I know, I know, Chicago Med. And I did hear the clever reference Malcolm and Thea made during their pre-wedding chitchat. So I do give them credit for trying.