Thursday, December 1, 2016

REVIEW: 'Legends of Tomorrow' - Barry Considers Sacrificing Himself to the Dominators to Save the World in 'Invasion!'

The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 2.07 "Invasion!"

After learning the Dominators plan for the world, the Legends must work together with the Flash, Supergirl and Green Arrow to kill them once and for all. Stein figures out, with the help of others, how the team can terminate the Dominators, but is distracted by the aberration he realizes he created in 1987. 

The epic four-show crossover event between Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow concludes tonight with a plan to defeat the Dominators before they destroy the world. The conclusion is the Legends of Tomorrow portion of the event. However, there are moments where this hour feels like a second episode of The Flash for the week. It feels that way because both Barry and Cisco reach some big emotional realizations that will dramatically affect their relationship moving forward on their show. Plus, it's reveal that this entire invasion by the Dominators is because Barry created Flashpoint - which the legends didn't even know about until now. The aliens have the technology to see that that had happened and realized the meta-human threat from Earth was just becoming too extreme. They invade because they want to kill humans before they can kill them. This is the hour that fully reveals the Dominators motivation for this invasion. It's an important part of the plot. But it has bigger repercussions for Barry and Cisco than it does for any of the Legends. So, that ultimately doesn't make this is a great episode of Legends of Tomorrow. But it's still a fantastic conclusion to this huge crossover event.

Of course, the structure is familiar to a Legends of Tomorrow episode. A crew boards the Waverider to travel to the past to deal with a problem that has arisen. This time it's a mission to witness the last time the Dominators arrived on Earth. Amaya, Nate, Mick, Cisco and Felicity go off on this journey. It's just a ton of fun to watch. Those are some unique character pairings that haven't been highlighted so much in this big event. Over time, the legends and the audience have gotten used to the Waverider. But it's still amazing to watch people continue to discover and be amassed by this technology. Cisco and Felicity force their way onto this mission just to experience it for themselves. Sure, it's weird that Cisco is mad at Barry for traveling through time and messing up everyones lives and then is so excited to time travel himself. Their estrangement has been an important part of the story of this crossover. And now, Cisco gets to personally see just how disruptive time travel can really be. Of course, it's fun when Mick, Nate and Amaya are out in the field trying to capture a Dominator. They then need to be rescued by Cisco and Felicity after being captured by the government. All of that is a lot of fun - especially Mick's line about being rescued by geeks. But it's all building to that realization for Cisco that messing with the timeline can be very destructive. He gets that now even though he's still understandably upset about the death of his brother.

Time aberrations have been important for this season of Legends of Tomorrow. The team has been hunting down rogue time travelers wishing to do harm. They are the ones responsible for protecting history. They understand how dangerous it can be to make alterations. They know what the consequences can be. And yet, Stein has created his own aberration. The introduction of his daughter, Lily, at first felt like a result of Flashpoint. It was a story introduced on this week's The Flash where the Flashpoint reveal caused tension amongst the team. But now, Stein accepts that it was a direct result of his own interactions with his younger self. He takes responsibility for that. And yet, her existence may be a good thing for him. She is smart like him and is able to create the weapon that ultimately defeats the Dominators. She has purpose for existing. And yet, Stein needs to keep her a secret from the rest of the team. That's an annoying development because all of these shows have shown a great fondness for keeping secrets only for them to cause great tension after being exposed later on. That may be a mistake for Stein. He tells Jax and Caitlin but that's it.

Stein's story is the most nuanced for any of the regular Legends characters. Instead, this hour is primarily about all of the superheroes coming together to defeat the Dominators. That's a strong premise. The weight of the world is once again on Barry's shoulders because he's responsible for this invasion. Again, it's important that people call him out for how reckless he was with the creation of Flashpoint. But it's also important for him to rebuild that trust by doing something incredibly heroic in this war with the Dominators. At first, it seems like all he has to do is hand himself over to them and they'll leave Earth alone. He's ready to take responsibility for his actions knowing that Earth has all of these other people to protect it from the ever-growing threats. Unsurprisingly though, no one on the team is willing to have him make this kind of sacrifice. Despite his reckless behavior and personal failings, they still support him as a hero. It's a little cheesy when only Oliver steps up and Barry asks what army he has to stop him from this sacrifice. He knows that there are many other heroes in the room, right? But it's still an effective way to unify the time as they head into this final battle.

Legends of Tomorrow is known for having climatic and a little chaotic action sequences. It works as a show with an ensemble of heroes with wildly different abilities. So, it knows how to capture this type of action when the heroes fight against the Dominators. It's a wonderful sequence to end this event on. It's the heroes versus the Dominators on a rooftop. It's a somewhat weird location - especially considering armies of Dominators have landed throughout the entire world. But it's still exciting to watch as these heroes work together to fight and emerge victorious. Supergirl helps Green Arrow. Captain Steel helps Spartan. Felicity anxiously waits until she can activate the weapon that will hurt the Dominators. The Flash and Supergirl race around the world to make sure that every alien invader is hit with this device that Stein and his daughter have created. Meanwhile, Sara and Cisco are aboard the Waverider trying to stop the bomb the Dominators have dropped to eradicate meta-humans from the planet. They need an assist from Firestorm who is able transmute it into water. That's a power that Jax and Stein should really try more often. And in the end, the heroes are victorious. The Dominators flee in defeat and Earth is safe once more.

The battle is so important and so much fun to watch. But the aftermath is also key. The characters are taking in all that has just happened to them across all of the episodes of this crossover. Yes, they are celebrated in a special ceremony by the President. That puts all of them on a more global stage as the defenders of this planet and not just their respective cities. But it's also just nice seeing everyone say goodbye to Kara. Cisco gifts her with a device that can open breeches to travel through or just call the team to talk from time to time. That will be crucial for all future crossover between shows. Meanwhile, Oliver and Sara have a nice moment together as they realize this all started when both of them survived The Queen's Gambit. And yet, all of this is just building to that final moment between Oliver and Barry. Their worlds have gotten so crazy and complicated. Both of them have experienced the happy realities they wish they could be living. But all of this ends with both of them being content with the worlds they now have. Everything is so complicated. And yet, it is real. Their friendship and teamwork is real. It means so much to both of them to know they can always count on each other and the team that helped in this fight against the Dominators. Hopefully, this whole experience will be an uplifting thing for all of the characters as they look to the future with hope and dwell less on the misfortunes of the past.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Invasion!" was written by Phil Klemmer & Marc Guggenheim and directed by Gregory Smith.
  • That moment where Mick is more than a little intimidated by the Dominators is pretty nice and unexpected. He hopes there's a weak one to pick off from the group. Fortunately, he does get to catch one and have a little fun in the process.
  • Of course, that one Dominator becomes important to the plot because the team makes sure to rescue him from government torture. Because of that decision in the past, it opens a means of communication in the present.
  • When Cisco vibes to somewhere else in the present, can the people actually see him? Or do only aliens and speedsters have that ability? He travels to the alien ship and talks with the Dominator from the past. That effectively reveals that he too is a meta-human.
  • The shady government figure who is antagonizing the group in both the past and the present is just a little too one-note. He's a serious threat to Amaya, Nate and Mick in the past. But in the present, he's a non-factor. Though it is nice when Kara gets to tell him off in the end.
  • Kara also suggests to the new President the creation of a DEO on this Earth. And yet, doesn't that already somewhat exist with ARGUS? Lyla was the one who told Team Flash about the Dominators in the first place. 
  • So, Amaya touches her amulet and obtains the powers of an elephant. And then, she's doing roundhouse kicks against the Dominators? How does that make sense? It was mostly used for the visual. The show just didn't follow through with it.
  • Oliver pushing Kara away after his experience on the alien ship is a forced plot dynamic. It's a regression of sorts. He doesn't want to accept his changing world. It's just hard to accept that considering Kara has proven to be a good alien to have in this fight against the Dominators. Of course, they make up in the end too. They even seal it with a group hug with Barry. Another nice moment.
  • This crossover event was so ambitious for the creative team. And yet, it mostly paid off. These three episodes were filled with some fantastic dynamics. But most importantly, it was just a ton of fun to watch.