Warning: the following recap contains major spoilers from Arrow‘s 100th episode, “Invasion!” Seriously, do not read any further until you’ve watched the second episode of the DC TV crossover with The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow. You’ve been sufficiently warned …
Arrow just delivered one of the best hours of the season, if not the entire series.
Sure, every single crossover episode from any of The CW’s DC Comics series inevitably earns that title. But what made “Invasion!” such a special hour was the fact that it was also the 100th episode of Arrow. So instead of just focusing on the fight against the invading alien force the Dominators (along with characters from The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow), the entire hour was spent looking back nostalgically at what made Arrow the hit show it has come to be. I mean, we’re talking about a show that was pitched to the world with just a shirtless photo of Stephen Amell before it premiered for the first time in 2012, Five seasons and 100 episodes later, it has spawned three other series with a shared universe. This is a show that is making history.
So how did Arrow accomplish celebrating 100 episodes in the midst of a giant crossover with an alien invasion? Let’s get to recapping! After the Dominators kidnapped Oliver, Thea, Diggle, Sara, and Ray at the end of The Flash, Arrow opened much like it did back in the series premiere, with Ollie running as fast as he can through the woods. But he wasn’t running on the island, he was on his morning run in the woods behind the Queen Mansion where his fiancée Laurel Lance was waiting for him in the shower! That’s right, we were officially in an althernate reality where Laurel was not only alive and well, but was about to tie the knot with Oliver.
Here’s the thing: usually I am not really a fan the whole Sliding Doors/It’s a Wonderful Life “alternate reality” concept for episodes of television. While they always offer a fun look at what life could have been like if characters had made different choices, there’s never any real stakes involved. You know everything that you’re seeing is not real. Laurel was not still alive. Oliver was not going to marry her. All the character interactions with people who have been killed off the show over the past five seasons were a real treat to see, yes, but it’s not like we were going to see any of them stick around after this one episode. The hour was essentially taking a break from the series and crossover plot to reminisce on how far the show has come over 100 episodes.
And that’s exactly why it worked as the 100th episode of the series, but not as one-third of the biggest crossover event The CW has ever attempted. This device should have been a reserved for separate occasion, not as a part of the DC TV crossover. As much as I wanted to see more and more memories of Arrow episodes past, I also knew that it was eating up precious crossover time. I didn’t want to have to choose between Arrow 100 and the crossover. Extend the fun and give the fans both in separate weeks!
But I digress! Oliver, Thea, Diggle, Sara and Ray were all trapped in the same mind-melding hallucination aboard the Dominators ship. Oliver was engaged to Laurel, Thea gave him the arrowhead that he gave her in the pilot as a rehearsal dinner gift, Moira and Robert were alive and happy and proud of their two children. Robert was getting sworn in as Mayor and Oliver was going to take over as Queen Consolidated CEO in his absence. Diggle was the Green Arrow with Felicity as his sidekick. Quentin was still an SCPD Captain and a proud father-in-law-to-be to Oliver.
Oliver and Sara never hooked up behind Laurel’s back and never got on the Queen’s Gambit, meaning that Sara never became a member of the League of Assassins. Ray and Sara never even met, and he was engaged to Felicity. Diggle’s brother Andy was still alive and in personal security, being the bodyguard that Diggle used to be. Tommy (sniff!) was alive and well, working as a doctor in Chicago (ha!) and his father Malcolm was actually proud of him. There was so much season one goodness in this episode! Who else kept rewinding after every scene and interaction?
But once they all started to get flashes of their real memories, they quickly realized that what they were all living was not real life. The biggest clue was a giant building, Smoak Technologies, in the middle of Star City that they all knew didn’t exist because Felicity never owned a building or company. As soon as they all started to realize this, the Dominators pushed back and threw obstacles at them, like making them fight Deathstroke, the Dark Archer, and Damien Dahrk. When they all realized they needed to get to Smoak Technologies to escape the alternate reality and get back to the real world, Thea decided she was going to stay behind. Even knowing that it wasn’t real, she wanted to stay behind with her parents and Laurel, because it was “real enough” and she couldn’t lose her family again.
Oliver, tears in his eyes, let her stay behind, but she quickly realized that Oliver was her family and she couldn’t stay without him, so she joined the other four in their fight. Once they defeated all the villains coming at them, they made their way to Smoak Technologies and went through the giant portal in the lobby. But before he went through, Oliver took one last look at the visions of his loved ones behind him: Moira, Robert, Felicity, Laurel, Tommy and Roy, while memories of inspiring and meaningful things they said to him over the years played. If you didn’t tear up hearing all those old, iconic Arrow quotes, then you’re totally lying. This was, hands down, the best part of the entire episode. I wanted more!
Meanwhile, in the real world, the new Team Arrow recruits were finally included in the big crossover when Felicity brought Cisco down to the Arrow Cave to help find their missing leader. Curtis was excited about finally getting to meet real aliens while Rene was firmly in the anti-alien camp. He even tried to keep Kara of all people at arm’s length, and she’s the embodiment of pure joy and sunshine! Cisco vibed Oliver’s old bow, saw the five were being held on an alien ship, and so he gave Curtis and Felicity a piece of the Dominators ship that crashed in Central City so they could hack the alien tech to get a location on their missing friends. But they needed a regulator to handle the alien tech juice, and a technologically enhanced doctor already stole it. So they had to steal it back!
Felicity called in reinforcements, and it turns out Rene is just as much prejudiced against metahumans as he is against aliens. He refused to let Barry carry him at superspeed, but when he was about to get killed in a fight, Barry and Kara saved him, changing his mind about how it’s a good thing there are people with superpowers willing to fight on the side of good. Team Arrow got the regulator, and after Curtis used his translator, they realized the alien language was actually written in Gematria, the numerology of the Torah. Who knew the aliens were Jewish?!
Felicity found the latitude and longitude coordinates of the missing five team members in the translation, and she freaked out when she realized they were being held in one of the Dominators’ space ships … in freakin’ space. Oliver and co. hijacked a drop ship while trying to escape the aliens, and watching the five of them try to fly an alien space craft with no controls or screens was downright hilarious. Dig saying they had “incoming” when the aliens started following them in more ships was followed up by Sara asking, “How do you know?!” This was pure comedy, y’all.
Thankfully, Felicity contacted Nate and Amaya aboad the Waverider and they swooped in just in time to save them and help them get onboard. But that’s when Ray delivered some bad news: he could tell from the Dominators’ tech that the aliens were probing all of their subconcsiouses during the shared hallucination for intel because none of them were metahumans. And their weapon was ready and being brought on the main Dominator ship on a direct course for Earth. What are the aliens planning? And what intel were they after? We’ll have to wait to find out until Legends of Tomorrow finishes telling this crossover story tomorrow night.
What did you think of Arrow‘s 100th episode? Tweet me your thoughts at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. The DC crossover concludes with Legends of Tomorrow on Thursday at 8 p.m.
Images: The CW