The Flash: Season 3 Episode 8 review – Invasion!
While Supergirl failed to begin the crossover as promised (but produced a strong episode nonetheless), this week The Flash jumped headlong into the Heroes Vs Aliens arc, bringing The Dominators into full focus and the heroic teams into cohesive unison. Below you’ll find our spoiler-heavy review of this week’s episode.
We heard it pointed out before (in the Supergirl Radio podcast) that The Dominators appear to look a little like the aliens from M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Not only was that proven true this week in such subtle visuals like the hazy photo of a Dominator stalking through the woods, but the show also took the whole UFO conspiracy motif and ran with it wholeheartedly, to our glee. It was revealed that The Dominators appeared previously in 1951 in Redmond Oregon (there was a real Redmond Oregon UFO case, but in 1959 not 1951) and that the government covered it up – both of which no doubt put a smile on the faces of anyone who, like Joe and like us, enjoys a good alien conspiracy theory.
Then there was that familiar SF-conundrum of whether the visitors hold peaceful or malicious intent, made even more difficult a question here by the fact that The Dominators voiced their passive intentions. Even the title of the episode alone, with the exclamation mark closing out the word, puts classic SF films of old (or even Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!) firmly in mind, not to mention the great comic book covers of old. We’ve included the Invasion! comic book cover below that features The Dominators, because of how closely the episode exuded the feel that this cover creates.
The tag lines on this cover reveal that the intent of The Dominators is to rid the world of superheroes and if you read the title of Issue 3, ‘World Without Heroes’, it seems like in the comic The Dominators might have achieved this or come close to achieving it, which makes us very excited at the kinds of avenues that this Heroes Vs Aliens arc could go down before it closes out (yet 4 episodes is not a lot of time to play with, especially given how they wasted their first crossover episode). You’ll also notice that The Dominators in the show look very close indeed to how they look in the comics (with the expected gritty CGI update), which we’re glad to say the show has got right for once.
If the intent of these invaders is to rid the world of superheroes then turning a group of them against The Flash and Green Arrow makes a lot of sense; it would be an attempt to make them thin their own ranks before the aliens engage the superheroes in battle themselves. The Dominators are a highly advanced and very intelligent race, so clever tactics such as this would make sense. No doubt they have a robust battle plan in place with many elegant steps like these. Like one of our characters pointed out – this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen heroes brainwashed. We can forgive the cheap plot device, however, due to the sly machination of the aggressors in question.
No doubt Captain America: Civil War will be called into comparison by some here also, with the grand scale superhero on superhero fight, but the two situations are so vastly different that it’s hardly a fair comparison to make and a lot of your enjoyment will come down to where you place your character love (for us, it’s with these DC characters and therefore we enjoyed this showdown more).
As a crossover, the episode worked remarkably well. The stakes felt high, the dialogue felt honed and realistic, the pace flowed well and even the side dilemmas about Barry’s mistakes felt pertinent enough to be broached, despite the much larger threat at hand. They even kept room for some apt comedy too; we loved Sarah’s comment about finding Supergirl “kind of hot”. We really enjoyed it as a whole and it’s the kind of episode that we hoped would kick off the crossover. Instead we were subjected to the same scene that we witnessed in Supergirl again, which rubbed salt in the wound a little as to why they bothered calling that a crossover episode at all (if you’re going to show the same scene again, then was it really required at all?).
It’s nice to see a villain so outside of the group’s control that our heroes are essentially putty in The Dominators’ hands. Some speculate that any superior intelligence coming into contact with us wouldn’t end well for us and the writers are flexing that theory out well here. The episode closes out with all of Barry’s allies being beamed up except for Barry, leaving him helpless and alone. Never have we had a foe as formidable as this (even Zoom was beatable by finding out who he was and don’t even talk to us about Savitar, who has been terrible so far) and we’re loving the high stakes involved.
The sub plot of whether Wally is ready or not to enter battle was also worked in without force (it was great seeing him take a shot and then get messed up by Supergirl). One thing we absolutely love about this episode is that it showed just how devastatingly powerful (and terrifying) Supergirl can be, which is something that even her own show doesn’t ever highlight fully. Like Kal, she’s closer to an invincible deity than anything else (which Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice showed well with Superman), the results of which are rarely fully explored in the Berlantiverse. It was great seeing her do something akin to exactly what Oliver asked of her earlier on in the episode (foreshadowing perhaps), which is to not hold back, even though free will wasn’t involved in the act, and it was a marvel to behold.
This has been the best episode of The Flash this season by a long mile. We’ve not found much quality in this season so far, which is a shame, but this episode swung back into greatness and proved that the show still has some surprises up its sleeve and some clout left in it. Now our only dilemma is that the next crossover episode will be in Arrow and we haven’t even started Arrow Season 5 yet. We also don’t like to skip episodes of a show (one of our pet hates), but that’s our problem to face (we see a highly concentrated Arrow binge in our future).
Image credits: The CW