Thursday, December 1, 2016

Neglect The Team: The Legends Of Tomorrow Are Minimized For "Invasion!"

The Good: Moments of plot motivation, Special effects, Performances
The Bad: Minimizes the Legends Of Tomorrow characters, Minimal character development, Surprisingly few big moments for the actors to rise to.
The Basics: "Invasion!" concludes with the Legends Of Tomorrow, who get pushed aside for big moments for Cisco, Barry Allen, Supergirl and the Green Arrow.

If there was a show that needed a crossover episode with another show or shows less than Legends Of Tomorrow, it does not come readily to mind. After all, the super-team-up series was created out of supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash and in its second season, the series ditched its only unique character (and adversary) and introduced more new characters, while borrowing villains from both The Flash and Arrow. And yet, when the Dominators were introduced in The Flash episode "Invasion!" (reviewed here!), the Waverider crew was called back to Earth, 2016 to help in the fight. The story that climaxed with several members of the Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends Of Tomorrow team getting abducted by the Dominators continued on Arrow with their "Invasion!" episode (reviewed here!), which included the Legends Of Tomorrow heroes White Canary and Ray Palmer (who originated on Arrow). Legends Of Tomorrow concludes the "Invasion!" and finally informs viewers where Firestorm was while Sara Lance and Ray Palmer were aboard the Dominator ship and The Flash and Supergirl were working to save them!

For fans of Legends Of Tomorrow who have skipped the crossover episodes on the other shows and are picking up "Invasion!" right after "Outlaw Country" (reviewed here!), the main continuity issue to grasp with is that between the final shots of "Outlaw Country" and the beginning of The Flash's "Invasion!" Ray Palmer built a brand new Atom suit . . . and at some undefined point within the episode, during an alien invasion, he found time to paint it. And the content of the mysterious message that Barry Allen sent to the Waverider was revealed.

The five abductees are returned to Earth and after Thea is returned home, Dr. Heywood pitches going back to Redmond Oregon, 1951, when the Dominators first visited Earth. Oliver Queen asks Kara Danvers to stay in the present, even though he acknowledges it is wrong for him do push back that way. While Felicity and Cisco geek out on the Waverider, Dr. Snow brings Lily Stein (Professor Stein's daughter) to S.T.A.R. Labs to help Dr. Stein figure out how to use nanotechnology to defeat the Dominators. In 1951, Rory, Heywood and Jiwe witness the Dominators taking out much of the Army. While the trio is able to incapacitate a Dominator, they are abducted by men in black.

While The Flash, Arrow, White Canary and Atom prepare to meet with the new President Of The United States and are abducted instead by the men in black, in the past, Heywood learns why the Dominators are on Earth. The Dominators came to Earth when they recognized a potential threat from the J.S.A.'s metahumans! The leader of the men in black explains that Barry Allen broke a silent truce Earth had with the Dominators when he created the Flashpoint-tangent. The Dominators are willing to live in peace again if Barry Allen turns himself over to them. Cisco vibes him and Heywood into the Dominator ship where the Dominator they saved declares that metahumans must be stopped before they become a threat to the Dominator homeworld. When the Dominators drop their anti-metahuman bomb on Earth, Dr. Stein's anti-Dominator weapon must be deployed on them while the Waverider stops the bomb.

Most of the best character moments in "Invasion!" are preoccupied with other characters and subplots. Cisco Ramon and Felicity Smoak spend a decent amount to time working to resolve Ramon's post-Flashpoint issues with Barry Allen. Ramon is deeply hurt having learned that Barry Allen's temporal meddling was directly responsible for his brother Dante's death in the new timeline. But around the moment Cisco Ramon mentions he and Felicity will fix the Dominator ship stored aboard the Waverider, fans of Legends Of Tomorrow are compelled to ask "Where the hell is Jax?!" Ramon's arc in "Invasion!" is strangely inorganic, moving the character to a place where he can simply accept and forgive Barry Allen.

Similar odd failures of characterization come from Mick Rory, who seems to rely upon Dr. Heywood for time travel issues. Rory was Chronos; he knows what a time jump is!

For the Waverider crew, the main character development comes when Dr. Stein properly meets his daughter. It makes no genuine sense that before visiting Lily, Dr. Stein would not have asked Dr. Snow about her (or his life/their prior interactions together). Dr. Stein recognizes that he caused Lily to be created as a result of a pep talk he gave his earlier self. He commits in "Invasion!" to returning to rectify the problems in the timeline and eliminate Lily from ever existing. When Lily freaks out, Stein has to step up to become a better parent to her.

Barry Allen is the character who is given an important character choice in "Invasion!" and the whole team that has been assembled for the crossover event steps up to change his mind. But, like so much in this episode of Legends Of Tomorrow, before the real character weight of the moment can be realized, a big plot event (in this case, a literal bomb) is dropped into the episode.

The Legends Of Tomorrow are presented mostly as an afterthought in "Invasion!" Rory and Lance garner a decent laugh with their shared reaction to the new President and Brandon Routh gets a laugh by making an oblique reference to his role from Superman Returns (reviewed here!), but outside of Stein and his brief scenes with Jax, the Legends Of Tomorrow are poorly used in "Invasion!" Indeed, when Amaya channeled an elephant, my first thought was "cool, she'll knock out all of the Dominators on the rooftop and surprise all of the other heroes" . . . but "Invasion!" was not her moment to shine.

The special effects in "Invasion!" are amazing, save a single shot of Supergirl rescuing Arrow.

Ultimately, the Legends Of Tomorrow episode "Invasion!" feels rushed and utilizes characters from the other DC Television properties in more significant roles than the characters one might have tuned into this show for. Indeed, if the Legends Of Tomorrow had just left the Waverider when The Flash called for help, they would have contributed about as much as they did in this episode.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Legends Of Tomorrow - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season of the time traveling hero team here!


For other television season and episode reviews, please visit my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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