The following is the eighth installment in my weekly The Flash reviews for Culture Fly
Crossovers are frustrating to review. The story doesn’t end, but unlike a cliffhanger, it doesn’t continue into the next episode. It continues on a different show. Spread over four shows — Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow — ‘Invasion!’ is an extreme example of a superhero crossover. Fortunately, it is a nerdy delight, able to balance the demands of The Flash‘s current storyline and the required elements of a team-up story. There is banter. There is emotion. There is, of course, a superhero-vs-superhero smackdown.
The plot is simple: a literal named alien race, The Dominators, land in Central City. Barry (Grant Gustin) can’t handle this type of threat alone, so he calls upon Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and the Legends (so many people) to help him.
The joy of this type of story is seen early on as the different character personalities and each individual hero’s tone clash. Oliver’s no-nonsense seriousness acts as a counterweight to Barry and Kara’s goofiness. The behind-the-scenes team have somehow been able to blend each shows tone and visual style seamlessly. As the original CW hero, Amell’s droll quips (“one science-fiction problem at a time”) and comic timing proves his experience. He, like Oliver, knows what he’s doing.
It is interesting to see the actors take up a similar dynamic as their characters. The CW cast clearly enjoys spending time together. As the newest member, Benoist’s enthusiasm is reflected in Supergirl’s. If Benoist is the newbie, and Amell is the head, then Gustin is the heart.
Gustin gives a stellar performance as the scarlet speedster. Barry is forced to deal with Flashpoint’s full fallout, as the rest of the Arrowverse react to the news he has changed their lives. The handling of this storyline is blunt, but the inclusion of Arrow‘s grounded nature humanises Barry’s problem. Oliver, quite rightly, reminds Barry he is not a god. He is human. He will make mistakes. How he gets over them is what counts.
‘Invasion!’ also places Barry in a position he has never been in before: an appointed leader. Team Flash works like a socialist economy, everyone is sort of equal, so watching Barry struggle to lead reveals new facets of his character. He doesn’t demand respect, and he is full of regret when he makes mistakes.
Barry’s leadership is also played for laughs. Oliver, the natural leader, determines Barry should lead, before unsubtly whispering in his ear what he should tell people to do. These characters are all different. They exist in different corners of the same world and their interactions are a joy to watch.
Unfortunately, The Flash‘s supporting stars are sidelined. It is Barry and Cisco (Carlos Valdes) who rub shoulders with the other heroes. However, they are worked into the final with satisfactory results, as the storyline involving Iris (Candice Patton), Joe (Jesse L Martin), HR (Tom Cavanagh) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) merges with the rest of the alien narrative. They do get some great moments though. Iris’s admittance that Oliver is now hotter once she knows he’s the Green Arrow, is a nice throwback to the first crossover in season one and speaks to Barry’s insecurities.
‘Invasion!’ is so much fun to watch, the flaws don’t distract from the pure awesomeness of the Flash vibrating fast enough to allow Supergirl to fly through him.