Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: CW Invasion

There is no new Supergirl episode this week ... or even this month. But that doesn't mean that there isn't stuff for me to talk about. And with Wednesday as a sort of 'show slot' I thought I'd talk about #DCWeek

Last week was the Invasion crossover of the the four CW DC shows and I have to say it was pretty entertaining. There were plenty of tiny flourishes for old school comic fans. There was a feeling of 'my god I'm watching a Justice League live action show'. Each chapter did a good job of both pushing the story along while staying true to their individual show's character and style.

It certainly wasn't without its story flaws. There were plot twists that seemed forced. The ending seemed a bit rushed. Maybe there was a little bit too much angst. There were things that happened which I meta-textually explained away as scheduling issues and budget constraints.

But I am going to be honest here. In the end we saw a bunch of super-heroes fighting a bunch of Dominators. I got to see minor characters from my comic childhood on the small screen interacting with each other. And Supergirl played an important part. How can I not be thrilled! Giddy!

Look at the picture at the top of this post. What world am I living in when this is something that actually happened. It wasn't perfect. But it was and it was a ton of fun.

I'll try to do a relatively brief review, highlighting the parts I loved, probably focusing on Supergirl too much. But settle in because I'm going to try to review the last three parts in one post. At the very least, enjoy the pretty pictures.

We start out on The Flash were everyone is still sulking a bit about Flashpoint. Cisco's brother is dead. Caitlin has powers. Wally has powers but is linked to a villain. And then the Dominators arrive.  This isn't the first time the aliens have come to Earth. ARGUS has footage of them from the 50s.

Despite warnings from the government, Barry decided that the metas need to unite to fight this threat. So the Arrow family and the Legends and the Flash team all show up at the Legends Hall of Justice/STAR Labs hangar.

Cisco and Barry head to Earth-38 (nod to Superman's first appearance in 1938 I'm sure) and get Kara to join in. She meets everyone and is eager to join in. We hear that she is stronger than might rivers. Huzzah!

And to show why she is super, she floats in the sky and blasts her heat vision. But the big joy here is the big, goofy smile she is sporting. She is thrilled to be part of the team!

Flash gets elected leader of the squad but Ollie ends up organizing the training sequences. Basically he asks everyone to attack Supergirl. It is an amusing scene because she clearly outclasses them. She just floats there, absorbing their blows and smacking everyone around. So much fun.

But everything isn't as sunny as Kara's disposition. Barry's cryptic future message heard on Legends is revealed to everyone. In it he confesses to Flashpoint. Everyone's life has been changed because of Barry's selfish act. In particular, the Legends, whose job it is to stabilize the timeline, take umbrage to this.

When the Dominators kidnap the President, the team needs to act. But Barry decides to sit out this mission because he doesn't want to be a distraction. And Ollie, loyal to Barry, decides he won't go either.

Everyone heads to an abandoned warehouse where a Dominator has the President captured.

Outside, Supergirl hears Heat Wave's origin which she laughingly calls a 'colorful backstory'. Such a fun moment. And Rory remains a surly dude, telling Supergirl he'll call her 'Skirt' if he needs here. (Remember he calls The Atom 'Haircut'.)

Inside, the Dominator vaporizes the President and then activates a red crystal which takes control of the heroes' minds.

Back at STAR Labs, we see that the classic 'Flash Disappears' article is no longer written by Iris Allen-West. It now has a byline of Julie Greer. Arrow ends up retelling his origin story (Dad kills crewman and himself so Ollie can live; his mother dies at hands of Deathstroke) and how anyone would try to change their past. Flash needs to stop beating himself up. As I said, I don't watch Arrow. What a brutal origin!

The mind controlled heroes attack Flash and Arrow. Luckily, Flash is able to lure Supergirl towards the mind control device. Standing before it, he vibrates so she flies right through him, destroying it. It works well as an action scene as Barry keeps taunting Kara so she'll follow him. Nicely done with good effects.

Suddenly freed from the device, the heroes reconvene only to have the non-powered Arrow team members (Arrow, White Canary, Rigg, Speedy, and Atom) teleported away.

And so the Flash episodes ends.

The Arrow episode follows and my guess is this episode meant a lot to folks who have watched this show since season one. The Dominators have placed their captives in a 'For the man who has everything' shared perfect universe. The Queens are alive. Ollie is engaged to Dinah. Rigg is Green Arrow. Speedy is successful. Sarah is happy. I am sure all the poignant moments mean a lot for viewers who are fans. But I could only intuit which scenes truly tug the heart strings.

Having lived through 'For the Girl who has Everything' on Supergirl, I know how powerful these episodes are, especially when the hero needs to abandon this heaven and face reality. So watching each character realize something is wrong, to see Speedy struggle with leaving, to see Ollie say goodbye to these people was powerful stuff.

Meanwhile, the heroes on Earth need to get a McGuffin off a super-villain so they can activate Dominator tech to figure out what the aliens' plans are.

As a DC fan, it was great to see Mr. Terrific and Ragman live. But the winner here is Wild Dog, an angry vigilante who has little time for super-powered people. This scene were he shakes his head in disgust at the super-cheery Supergirl waving to everyone was great.

But the best scene was seeing Supergirl and Flash tag team to beat up the cybernetic nameless villain woman. They literally tag each other in an out.

Eventually the Arrow team extricate themselves from the dream device (fighting all their villains on the way out of the scenario). They jump into an escape ship on the Dominator mother ship and are whisked away by the Waverider which arrives just in time.

But the teams have learned the Dominators' plan. They are creating a doomsday weapon.

And so on to Legends...

On Legends, the teams realize that kidnapping and interrogating a Dominator might give them even more intel. The Legends will go back to the 50s and grab one of the Dominators from that time. (Does that make sense? How is that Dominator supposed to know what the current ones are up to?) Vixen, Steel, Heat Wave, Cisco, and Felicity all travel back in time.

In one of those plot points that I chalked up to Melissa Benoist needing to film her own show, Green Arrow tells her that he can't trust her and asks her to step down. Now this makes absolutely no sense. If I think too much about this, my head hurts.

Back in the 50s, Heat Wave, Vixen and Steel to grab a Dominator. But then everyone is captured by the US Government. The alien admits that the Dominators sense when Metas are manifesting on a planet and fear they will be a threat to the Dominion. In the 50s, that's the JSA.

Eventually, Cisco and Felicity rescue the Legends. They, in turn, rescue the Dominator the government is torturing. Everyone makes it back to the present.

There the Dominator the team rescued in the 50s, now with a much bigger caste mark, tells the team that the Dominator will drop a meta-bomb, killing all metas on Earth (and 2 million normal folks as well) unless Barry turns himself in. The Dominion know about Flashpoint too and think Barry is a universal threat. (Wow ... Flashpoint is a really big deal!) And Barry being Barry, he agrees to do it.

But now Cisco realizes how changing time and history is easy and flawed. His rescuing the Dominator in the 50s has changed things. They won't let Barry do it.

Now faced with an armada of Dominator ships in Earth's atmosphere, the heroes finally completely unite and decide to fight. Armed with tiny devices which cause intense pain on Dominators when attached, the war is on.

In a scene oddly reminiscent of Captain America:Civil War, we see the heroes and the Dominators race towards each other.

We then get some great action and effects. Everyone gets a little moment.

Flash and Supergirl use their speed to attach the pain devices on the Dominator troops.

White Canary and Cisco use the Waverider to grab the bomb with a tractor beam. But the bomb is massive. They can't hold it.

And so Firestorm arrives. Straining, Firestorm uses his transmutation power to turn the bomb to water. Yes, Supergirl could punt the bomb away if she wanted but Firestorm deserves a moment too!

With the troops in agony and the bomb gone, the Dominators beat a swift retreat.

There is nothing left but the wrapup.

The new President holds and press conference. She states these are heroes. Nothing like a medal ceremony!

And then a party. We get a group hug from the CW Trinity.

Yeah ... that's right ... I called them the CW Trinity.

I love seeing Kara in her work clothes. And even Ollie has to admit she is an asset.

And Cisco gives Kara a device where she can open a breach to their world on her own or even communicate with them. Suddenly crossovers are easy! With the war over, Barry and Ollie head to a bar for a quiet drink.

Okay, first off, I glossed over some subplots like Professor Stein having a daughter, an 'aberration' he created on Legends but comes to love. There is a government official who hates metas and aliens alike and was active in the 50s and now. Wally again tries to join the action. But overall I think I covered it.

I'll also reiterate that I loved Wild Dog in this crossover. He might be enough to have me check out Arrow.

And yes, there were some plot speed bumps. But I am willing to blink and miss them given the fun we got to see. Sometimes you just need to enjoy the popcorn movie and not dissect things. And when you compare this to the trainwreck of the cinematic universe, this made me very very happy!  Thanks CW! This was great fun!


Anonymous said...

I thought it was a fun cross over overall and what they managed to do between the three shows (and the 30 second at the end of Supergirl) was quite the feat overall.

So many good easter eggs and references, but hands down the end scene with Ray, Felicity and Kara in the Legends of Tomorrow episode has to be the best.

Starting off with Felicity's "It's like looking into a mirror" comment, followed by Ray saying "You know what's funny, she really kind of looks like my cousin" and then ending with that confused stare at each other. An obvious reference Brandon's time as Superman. So good.

It'll be interesting to see what stories would bring Kara back to Earth 1 and maybe vice versa too would be nice.

SG Fan said...

I enjoyed the crossover a lot too. While it seems based on what I've read they couldn't achieve a true 4-episode crossover due to the sheer logistics involved, I think they were fair successful as you said Anj is creating well, a proper Justice League in live action TV. Seriously haven't had this much fun seeing heroes together since the DCAU Justice League.

My only real complaint with the crossover was Supergirl sitting out a lot of the Legends part; not Ollie's decision, I took that to be well within in his character and he admitted to Kara it was a mistake. What I really wanted was just one more character scene with Kara, maybe talking with Ollie and Barry as the two work to convince Barry to not turn himself over to the Dominators.

I do think though they made up for Kara's missing bits in the end though with her saving and earning Ollie's respect, tagging the Dominators, and the big trinity moment at the end. Her Barry and Ollie talking, it really was a CW Trinity and I hope for next years crossover maybe they have a tighter focus, have be mostly centered on Supergirl, Flash, and Green Arrow with side characters from the shows as needed. Not trying slight Legends just if they can only do 3-shows at a time, I'd like them to get Supergirl's larger cast more involved going forwards.

Anonymous said...

"Liked It Didn't Love It" is my main takeaway, the connect-the-dots aspect of it made the enterprise seem a tad convoluted. As observed above Ollie's "I Don't Trust Supergirl" seemed enormously contrived. On the other hand the Berlantiverse shows are across the board well cast, no second raters in any of the line ups and the character's "fit together well" even if the writing gets labored.
I'd love to see Ollie and Kara team up just to clear the air in respect of their working methods and approaches to the job....that'd be fun to watch indeed.
Up until now my theory was that Earth 38's US President was a Dominator imposter, and was supposed to fold into this storyline, now I got no clue, White Martian Anyone? Supergirl is gonna be heartbroken when that tale unfolds...


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I assumed that Ollie left Supergirl behind simply because she could finish the fight with the Dominators in about ten seconds, as well as showing us that even the Legends trust Supergirl. That made me like Ollie's thinking...his trust issues. Sort of like Batman not trusting Superman in the comics.

KET said...

"In one of those plot points that I chalked up to Melissa Benoist needing to film her own show, Green Arrow tells her that he can't trust her and asks her to step down. Now this makes absolutely no sense. If I think too much about this, my head hurts."

Well, one has to consider where Oliver's head was at this point in the storyline. He just fought off a dreamscape world where everything was 'perfect' with family and former friends still alive, only to find out that it was a mind trick by the alien invaders. Before that, he nearly got fried by Supergirl's heat vision, when SHE was under the Dominators' mind-control weapon. Certainly, Oliver's worldview was being shaken from what he formerly believed was 'normal', which he finally resolved when he had a drink with Barry at the end.

However, BTS, Melissa's schedule was reportedly pretty hectic while the crossover was being filmed at the same time as the last couple of her Supergirl episodes, which made it quite a logistics challenge for her.


Anonymous said...

> Green Arrow tells her that he can't trust her and asks her to step down.

What worked for me was to just think "Ollie either hates or doesn't trust anyone," Supergirl included.
Or to quote that Russian proverb, "Doveryai, no proveryai."

Given the sheer logistical challenge of crossing 4 series together, I have to give props to TheCW letting
Berlanti and co try this one... and yes, till we get the live action Justice League movie, this is what we'll
have to content ourselves with.

I do wish there were more Kara / Barry moments, and more Kara on Arrow and LOT, and ESPECIALLY between
Ray Palmer and Kara herself -- the "she looks like my cousin" comment would have worked so much better if
it had been face-to-face rather than an on-the-side comment, but I do agree the times they had Melissa B
onscreen, she just SHONE!


Anonymous said...

Figured I'd share this as well; seems there were more scenes they wanted to include but couldn't due to time constraints. Again, those Supergirl scenes would have been EPIC and made it more of a "Team Earth" kind of thing.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments. So cool to hear everyone's opinion!

This was a blast!

BigShadow said...

great crossover only bummer is the writers said that this ep would allow a chance 2 create more meta's like in the original storyline eye was hoping that if the bomb dropped that would happen but Firestorm put a stop to it in an awesome way

Scrimmage said...

One of the main threads throughout this crossover, and especially in the Flash series, is the idea that Barry's attempt to alter the timeline by creating the so-called Flashpoint Universe was A) Irresponsible on his part, and B) Resulted in major changes to the "original" timeline, which in turn created even MORE problems, like angry aliens, dead relatives, and displaced villains. What this fails to take into account is the fact that the ORIGINAL time-traveler who changed history first, was ZOOM, when he went back in time to kill Barry's mother. THAT was the event that caused the temporal disruption. (Why he didn't go back to a time before Barry was born to kill her is a subject for another debate!) Barry was only trying to RESTORE the universe to what it would've been had Zoom not interfered, but having no memory of that life, he couldn't be sure if he succeeded or not. Such are the vagaries with time travel, but the bottom line is, if the Dominators have a problem with ANYBODY, it should've been with Zoom, not the Flash. I also thought it was a very clever twist at the end when Cisco realized that by rescuing the alien in the past, he inadvertently changed the future for the worst, just like Barry did. It was a well written resolution to the subplot of the falling out between Barry and Cisco after Flashpoint.