Legends of Tomorrow Review: “Invasion!”

The CW DCU crossover event concludes unevenly, but memorably.

If you ever doubted that Legends of Tomorrow is the weaker cousin to the other shows, consider how much this episode was about Oliver and Barry.

…Their problems have developed naturally (well, for a comic-book ‘verse). Martin Stein’s emotional issue involves a character we’ve had no time to get to know.

Title: “Invasion!”

Cast and Crew
Director: Gregory Smith
Writers: Phil Klemmer, Marc Guggenheim, Greg Berlanti

Victor Garber as Dr. Martin Stein / Firestorm
Franz Drameh as Jefferson Jackson / Firestorm
Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer / The Atom
Caity Lotz as Sara Lance / White Canary
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen / Green Arrow
Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers / Supergirl
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash
Willa Holland as Thea Queen / Speedy
Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Amaya Jiwe / Vixen
Nick Zano as Nate Heywood / Steel
Dominic Purcell as Mick Rory / Heat Wave
Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon / Vibe
Christina Brucato as Lily Stein
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow
David Ramsey as John Diggle / Spartan
Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak
Amy Pemberton as Voice of Gideon

Premise

Several heroes take the Waverider to 1951, where they hope to learn why the Dominators have invaded earth.

In the present, as Supergirl, Flash, Green Arrow, and the others try to fend off the aliens, Dr. Stein and his newfound daughter try to counteract the invaders’ ultimate weapon.

High Points

I appreciate the success of these shows at creating a crossover event that resembles very much the comics that inspired them. As in the comics, several personal problems get addressed as the heroes fight, with the Fate of the World in the balance!

In that spirit I’ll accept the ending, including the Steins’ comic-book science, and I liked seeing the heavy-hitters using their godlike powers.

I just hope they remain aware of the scope of their powers when they return to their respective shows.

Low Points

I wish these series treated time-travel in a vaguely consistent way. Barry messed everything up by creating Flashpoint, and that has become a major plot point in his show. The Legends mess with history every week with few real repercussions (Lily being a noteworthy exception). And no one, not even Cisco, worries much about creating problems this week when they head back to 1951.

(On that point, whatever happened to those Dementor-like characters who patrol the timeline? Did they get wiped out in the Time War over on Doctor Who?)

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6

Effects: 5/6 They manage a range of effects this week. No, the CGI isn’t top-notch, but it’s pretty good for regular series television.

Acting: 5/6

Story: 4/6

Emotional Response: 4/6 The show made a noble effort to balance super-heroics with quieter emotional moments: Barry and Cisco, Martin and Lily, Barry and the superhumans. I cannot fault the actors or even, entirely, the script. They don’t have the time to truly develop these emotional arcs, given the sheer number of characters involved in this story.

Trying to connect us emotionally to the invading CGI aliens is the right move. Unfortunately, the attempt doesn’t go far enough. That really should have been the emotional core of the episode.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, “Invasion!” receives 30/42

Some Thoughts

The episode features a party at Not-The-Hall-of-Justice, a throwaway reference to Routh’s past as a certain other superhero, a quotation from Star Trek: TNG‘s “Darmok” ep, and (ha!) a reference to “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

They almost made it through an ep without the Canary commenting on another woman’s hotness. Look, it’s okay that she does it. She just doesn’t need to do it every single episode. Sara’s sexual orientation may be the least interesting thing about her (comparatively) complex character, and her sexuality shouldn’t be emphasized more for her than it is for, say, Stein or Jefferson.

Is the Fable of the Mouse and the Lion different after Flashpoint? Because, last time I checked, it’s not a story about someone big and scary being “felled” by someone tiny; it’s a story about someone big and scary being saved by someone tiny.

Speaking of Flashpoint, both CW DCU USAs have female presidents. Cisco may have forgiven Barry for messing with reality, but if I find out he’s responsible for the situation in our universe….

14 replies on “Legends of Tomorrow Review: “Invasion!””

  1. “her sexuality shouldn’t be emphasized more for her than it is for, say, Stein or Jefferson. ”

    I agree, but they are playing it up for Mick, too. He doesn’t seem to meet a woman without commenting on her. His last line is “Call me.”

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      A fair point, though that has always been his character. I don’t recall Sara on Arrow, even after her sexual orientation was clearly established, being like this. I don’t know if this character development is shameless exploitation, or if they’re differentiating her from the 2-3 other visible LGBTQ characters in the CW DCU shows.

      • pythor says:

        Well, to be fair, her character arc essentially started with “I’m sleeping with my sister’s boyfriend,” so sexuality was always part of her thing.

  2. pythor says:

    While the mouse is tiny, and saves the lion, the thorn is even tinier, and is what brought the lion down in the first place.

    Wasn’t there a different president in Arrow? I thought it was a guy the Dominators kidnapped.

    Also, it seems that the point of Cisco not caring about going back to 1951 was to get him to understand Barry so they can repair that friendship. Which is a bit of a cop out, but will at least mean that we don’t get an evil Cisco arc, or 5 minutes of each Flash episode spent on how Cisco hates Flash now.

    • The Dominators didn’t kidnap him….. That’s why the V.P. was being sworn in.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      The thorn would be from Androcles and the Lion. The Mouse and the Lion had no thorn.

      But then, these stories do get retold, adapted, confused, and conflated:

      • pythor says:

        Well, hell. I had totally forgotten that those were two different stories. In the Mouse and the Lion was it ropes the mouse chewed through, then?

        • JD DeLuzio says:

          Right. Lion captures Mouse. In Aesop, the Lion just lets him go because a prey as puny and pathetic as a mouse would bring Lion no honor. Mouse promises to help Lion. In later versions, Mouse pleads, or whatever, says he would be kind/helpful to Lion in the future if he lets him go. Lion laughs heartily and lets him go because it’s so entertaining and ridiculous.

          Lion gets captured by hunters who tie him up. Mouse chews ropes and frees Lion.

  3. Kiersten says:

    Really been disappointed in all of these shows this season.
    Well, never have cared for Supergirl.

    but this week, after all the hype, was just additional disappointments.
    *sigh*

  4. Fez says:

    Felicity next to Ray, about Kara: “It’s like looking into a mirror”
    Ray: “She kinda looks like my cousin”

    Ray and Felicity used to date, so… He wanted to date his cousin?

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      I think it’s an unfortunate confluence of two unrelated comments.
      Felicity is commenting on the resemblance between herself and Kara.
      Ray was making an Easter Egg joke about his past role as Superman.

      Then again, some studies suggest we tend to be attracted to (unrelated) people with, literally, familiar looks.

      • Fez says:

        Yeah I figured it was a side effect of cramming the in-joke there but it struck me as weird given the relative (pun intended) context.

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