After a slow burn sort of character & plot building start to the event with Supergirl, writers wasted no time at all diving into things with part two in Arrow. Diving into fan theories from season five the evil Nazi Prometheus is revealed to be the long-dead on Earth One Tommy Merlyn, the former best friend of Oliver and Thea’s other brother. Most fans assumed he was who was behind the Earth One Prometheus mask last season of Arrow before Adrian Chase was revealed as the villain. Right on his heels comes the plot dump of what Earth X is from Harrison Wells who knows all about the unnamed 53rd Earth in the multiverse. Jumping right back into things once again proves that the producers are keeping the promise to treat this event like a four-hour film chopped into four pieces, as this episode loses no beats from the previous one. It’s a shame that Colin Donnell’s return was so disappointingly brief, it would have been nice to see him get far more time causing drama for Oliver and getting in on more of the action.
Episode one of the event dwelt on character moments and drama as the build-up to the main storyline as it had time for that, the threat was not revealed yet. This second episode tries to keep that but it’s not working as well. Evil metahumans and Nazis are breathing down their necks, and as usual, Oliver and Felicity are finding time to drag out their baggage again and flaunt it all about. At least Jax has the right mindset to try and tell Professor Stein that there is no time for them to have their issues with Nazis around but that doesn’t stop them. After watching the heroes fight at the end of part one it’s a bit sad to see the second episode continue to slow burn things when we could have seen so much more action. It is nice that there is a throughline where the characters like Ollie & Felicity, Alex & Sara, Jax & Stein and Kara & Alex and their issues with their exes and such are not just dropped for other stuff, much like what happened in the Invasion! crossover last year where only the main plot really carried from episode to episode.
At least the heroes aren’t the only ones burdened with their interpersonal issues dragging them down. The villains have a mission to get some prism to maybe build a bomb but are also dealing with the fact that Reverse Flash and the Dark Arrow can’t stand one another and are any moment way from killing one another, with Overgirl as the only thing potentially standing in the way, though with her connection to the evil Oliver romantically she could change that at any moment as well. Watching Stephen Amell and Melissa Benoist get to play darker versions of their characters was really fun though. Amell is, of course, used to getting to stretch out and play various versions of Oliver from the different seasons and the years on the island, Benoist really gets to try something a bit newer here with playing a truly evil version of Kara on a prolonged basis.
Tom Cavanagh, of course, continues his trend of getting to play various versions of a character, this time he’s back to playing season one’s Harrison Wells disguised Eobard Thawne, just a Nazi this time. It certainly makes more sense and has far more impact to have the evil Thawne be one that is known rather than just another Earth’s version of the same character. While many are likely tired of seeing Thawne in different forms over and over, I’m quite fond of seeing the various versions of the villain really get to do more than he did in season one. Though the time travel and multiple deaths of the character are starting to be a bit confusing for the timeline. No doubt this could open the door to Thawne coming back later, depending on how this event ends, but maybe it would be best to rest him for a bit longer after this.
One aspect of the these villains and why this is likely such a slow burn for things is that three powered villains and a bunch of nameless Nazi hordes don’t seem fully as threatening as a full-on alien invasion over the world. Even with the decompressed three episodes, the stakes felt a bit higher last year. That being said, there are still two episodes to go where things could take on a much bigger scope before all is said and done. Seeing evil versions of more than just the three heroes could have helped but it’s understandable how that might be taxing on everyone if so many of the cast was pulling double duty for this event. No doubt the budget was already taking a beating with the effects and having stand-ins so that Kara and Oliver could face off against their doppelgangers. Though having all these heroes available to fight and then only the three main heroes with shows named after going to fight did feel like a bit of a waste. One that was rectified by the end though. Also, it’s really standing out that a whole swath of characters is just not here for some reason. While team Arrow makes some sense, how come Ray isn’t around for the wedding he at least knows Barry and Iris somewhat.
Despite all the flaws, the episode did have a lot of great moments that continued that fun feeling from the first episode. Oliver whipping out a Kryptonite arrow at the right moment felt like a very badass thing to do and was so fitting for the way that Oliver has been. All the heroes suiting up and heading out was great and so well shot such iconic moments. Love how they all went to various areas of STAR labs to do their change and posing though, can’t ruin one another’s moment after all. While the warehouse fight was a bit frantic in how it was shot, the Dark Arrow breaking into STAR labs was so great and much better in the choreography department & that solid reveal of Team Arrow was pretty great. So was throwing in a version of Metallo at the last moment to wreck the other heroes in the warehouse.
So far this crossover is bigger in scale compared to last year in many ways but it’s also suffering from not being as defined as last year. With Invasion! the title spoke to what the Dominators mission was and the aliens made it clear right away what their intent is. The Earth-X villains are not as clear and it was very hard to follow along with the whys of what they were doing. Other than them just being pissed that there is a world with “weak” hero versions of themselves. It was revealed at the end that all of this is to get Kara to save the evil Kara, but that seems to be too simple a reason for all this. I really hope there is something more. Hopefully, part three brings more to the plot and clears things up a lot more.
Score: 7 out of 10