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Recap / Arrow S5E8 "Invasion!"

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This episode is the third of a four-part Crossover event between Supergirl (2015), The Flash (2014), Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. The episodes in chronological order are "Medusa", "Invasion!", "Invasion!", and "Invasion!".

In Part 3 of the "Invasion!" Crossover event, Oliver wakes up to a very different world and begins to question its reality.

Tropes in this episode include:

  • Actor Allusion: Malcolm mentions that Tommy is a doctor in Chicago, referencing Colin Donnell's current role on Chicago Med (and why both the character and likely the actor cannot be here).
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  • And Starring: Melissa Benoist, again in the "Special Guest Stars" lineup.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Oliver actually has two to "Laurel":
    • First when he's apologizing for missing their rehearsal dinner and is slowly realizing something's wrong:
      Oliver: I'm—I'm sorry if this is confusing or I'm scaring you, but the only thing in the world that makes sense to me right now—is that I love you, and I'm going to take that job at Queen Consolidated, and I swear to God I'm going to work every single day to be the man you fell in love with.
    • And again when he and the others leave, he whispers, "I love you," before he walks away from her.
  • Arch-Enemy: At the climactic confrontation, 3 out of the 5 heroes fight their respective nemeses. Thea fights Malcolm, Oliver fights Slade, and Sara fights Damien Darhk. Only Diggle and Ray are left fighting the Mooks, though Fridge Brilliance adds some sense to this: Diggle's most personal fight previously was with his brother, so Andy's likely the H.I.V.E. Ghost that he's fighting, and Ray's up against a Mirakuru goon, probably representing the one that killed his fiancée Anna.
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  • Arrow Catch: No, not that one. Thea fires an arrow toward Sara so that the latter can snatch it out of the air to use to stab Darhk.
  • Battle in the Rain: It is lightly (very lightly) raining in the climatic fight.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Played with at first, but ultimately averted. It starts off with Curtis respectfully telling Rorynote  that he finds the notion of a Divine Plan put in place by an All Powerful Being hard to believe, but later on it's Rory's knowledge of The Old Testament that allows them to find Oliver & Co. due to the fact that the Dominators' coding language matches up with the Ancient Hebrew Numerical Alphabet.
    Rory: [to Curtis] You wanted proof of a Divine Being, didn't you?
  • Big Brother Instinct: Sara makes it clear she is very upset with Oliver for missing the rehearsal dinner, and only sending a text message as an explanation.
    Sara: You're lucky I'm not a trained assassin or anything.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Diggle, as the Hood, saves Oliver and Robert from a mugger.
    • Flash and Supergirl save Wild Dog from "Cyberwoman".
    • At the end, the Waverider (piloted by Nate) shows up in the nick of time to rescue the jump ship carrying Oliver and the others.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Oliver getting an arrow in the shoulder by the illusionary Malcolm Merlyn causes him no visible injury. The enemies they fight are also stabbed and shot without so much as a mark being left. Possibly justified by the whole thing being a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • Bowdlerise: Warner TV Philippines edited some scenes, specifically: Oliver and "Laurel"'s Shower of Love, his and Felicity's sex scene in his flashback, and Sara's lines about her preference for women. All the other channels in that country that also air the show retain everything.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Robert and Moira Queen, Laurel, and Slade all return. Malcolm Merlyn also appears, having not been seen since Season 4, and Damien Darhk shows up to fight Sara, but all their appearances are subversions because they are all hallucinations.
    • Played straight with Ray and Sara, as this is the first time they have appeared on Arrow since leaving in season 4 to be on their own show.
  • But Not Too Bi: Sara in the virtual reality is portrayed as a Lipstick Lesbian when she says that she prefers women and when she and Laurel are discussing her past relationship with Oliver. Her bisexuality is only hinted at when, after she has flashes of her real life when she greets Ray, making it seem like she is stunned by his good looks, Laurel jokes, "Are you sure you only prefer women?" Generally this has been an ongoing theme with Sara since she came back from the dead and went to Legends.
  • Call-Back:
    • In the virtual reality, Oliver shoots an arrow into Deathstroke's eye, mirroring how he nearly killed him on the Amazo (and recreating the iconic visual of a green arrow through Deathstroke's cowl that first appeared in the opening moments of the pilot). Also, the virtual Damian Darkh is stabbed through the chest with an arrow, identical to how the real Damian was killed. Also, Diggle shoots dead a 'Ghost' (presumably supposed to represent his brother Andy, whom he also shot dead).
    • Sara stabs Deathstroke with a katana, similar to how Deathstroke killed Moira Queen.
    • At the Queen Mansion, in the virtual reality, Oliver catches something falling, demonstrating quick reflexes, much like he did in the pilot.
    • When Diggle, as the Hood, attacks Oliver in his lair, he says, "Nobody can know my secret," mirroring what Oliver said in the pilot (and in a more recent Call-Back in the Season 5 premiere).
    • The "Oliver running through the greenery" used for season openers is used—this time he's running through the grounds around the Queen Mansion.
  • Call-Forward: The Smoak Technologies building was last seen in the titular setting of the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Star City 2046", as the successor to Palmer Technologies (itself the successor to Queen Consolidated). Oddly enough, neither Ray nor Sara comment on this, despite having seen it before.
  • Cardboard Prison: The Dominators put their prisoners in a Lotus-Eater Machine from which they can escape by sheer force of will, they don't even bother to put a locked door between them and the rest of the ship or spare a single guard to watch them, and there's no alarm or signal when they escape, as shown by the fact that they wander the ship for several minutes unimpaired. All this on a ship where they leave weapons casually hanging on walls completely unguarded. It's like they want them to escape.
  • Compressed Vice: For a brief time in this episode, Wild Dog has a problem with Differently Powered Individuals of any kind, be they metahumans or aliens. This is in spite of the fact that he had no issue working with Ragman before.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Being the 100th episode of Arrow, this is perfectly Justified. The episode is a celebration not just of Arrow but also of its legacy in terms of being the inception of this Shared Universe.
  • Continuity Nod: Multiple examples, many of them owing to the virtual reality that the Dominators place the characters in.
    • The characters have flashbacks to major events in the show's history—the sinking of the Queen's Gambit, Deathstroke's murder of Moira Queen, the death of Laurel Lance, the beginning of Oliver's partnership with John Diggle, Oliver's relationship with Felicity Smoak, John's killing of his brother Andy, Oliver's mayoral campaign, etc.
    • Ray witnessing the death of his fiancée Anna at the hands of one of Deathstroke's minions also serves as a plot point. Also, in the virtual reality, Ray is about to buy out Queen Consolidated, just as he did in Season 3.
    • Adam Hunt is mentioned, and the board in the SCPD with the sketch of "the Hood" makes a return after over a season. Also, in the virtual reality, Quentin Lance is a Captain (as he was in Season 3 and 4) and his initial disapproval of Oliver is alluded to.
    • In the virtual reality, Thea still owns and runs the nightclub Verdant, as she did in Season 2 and 3.
    • Thea gives Oliver a 'hosen' in the virtual reality, something which actually happened the other way round in the very first episode.
    • In the virtual reality, Laurel mentions how she believes Oliver and Sara would have hooked up at one point—something which did happen in the real world and which is what set into motion the entire show.
    • Felicity gives Cisco the remains of Oliver's bow from Season 1 (broken during his battle with Merlyn) so that Cisco can vibe his location.
    • In the virtual reality, Ray Palmer is dating Felicity, much as he did briefly in Season 3.
    • Oliver attacking a paparazzo in 2007, an event first mentioned in the opening moments of the pilot, is referenced in the alternate reality.
    • Diggle, in the virtual reality, mentions a "Russian lady" directing him to Oliver's room at the Mansion, an obvious allusion to the Queen family's maid Raisa from the pilot.
    • The 'Merlyn Global Group' building appears for the first time against the Star City skyline since Season 1.
    • Walter Steele is also mentioned by name.
    • After his Big Damn Heroes moment, Nate mentions his and Oliver's first meeting during the Legends Season 2 premiere.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Kara and Barry make quick work of "Cyberwoman".
    • Oliver and the others are able to defeat the hallucinations of past enemies more quickly compared to their real-life confrontations with them.
  • Dances and Balls: Oliver and "Laurel"'s rehearsal dinner and wedding have these.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Referring both to the ongoing physical Alien Invasion, and the mental one into Oliver, Thea, Sara, Diggle, and Ray's memories/minds.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Oliver ending up in a world where his parents are still alive, after the conversation he had with Barry in the previous episode about how he would do anything to bring his parents back.
    • Most of Sara's arc on Legends is her attempts to prevent Laurel's death; she also finds herself in a world where Laurel is still alive.
  • Expy: Cisco even lampshades how much Curtis resembles him, movie references and all.
  • Fake Shemp: Deathstroke is clearly not played by Manu Bennett, and Eugene Byrd was presumably not available to play the HIVE goon that John Diggle fights.
  • Family of Choice: A literal version when Thea eventually rejects her Lotus-Eater Machine family for her True Companions.
  • Fanservice: The second scene has Oliver and "Laurel" sharing a Shower of Love clad only in Modesty Towels.
  • Fantastic Racism: Cisco gets this firsthand from Wild Dog, which eventually spreads to Barry and even Kara (ironically, the abductions have left the white people of the cast as the minority).
  • Five-Man Band: The captive heroes; Oliver is obviously The Leader, Sara is The Lancernote , Diggle is The Big Guynote , Ray is The Smart Guynote , and Thea is The Chicknote .
  • Get Out!: Diggle as the Hood yells this at Oliver when he finds the Arrowcave in the dream world.
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: The Dominator virtual world isn't able to fully suppress the memories of those within, causing them to remember things in flashes whenever they interact with each other or characters they have strong memories of.
  • Gunship Rescue: Things are looking grim for the jump ship containing Oliver, Thea, Sara, Diggle, and Ray, until Nate swoops by in the Waverider and rescues them.
  • Irony: Rene really hates metahumans, despite the fact that he was once responsible for the creation of one.note 
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Sara kills "Deathstroke" in her bridesmaid dress.
  • I Choose to Stay: Thea initially wants to stay in the virtual world, believing a world where Laurel and her and Oliver's parents are still alive is far better than the real world, but changes her mind in time for the final battle.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: After Cyberwoman gets knocked out, Curtis mentions how attached she is to the Dominators' tech.
  • In-Joke: When Thea muses on Tommy not being around, Malcolm points out that Tommy is too busy working long hours as a doctor in Chicago. This is obviously a nod to how Colin Donnell stars in Chicago Med.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Wild Dog inexplicably blames Supergirl for the invasion of the Dominators, reasoning that she's an alien and now there are bad aliens. Kara never bothers to point out that the Dominators came first. It also makes even less sense to blame superpowers and hate everything about them when Ragman, who has a multitude of powers, regularly works alongside him without any issues whatsoever.
  • Insecure Love Interest: It's shown that as much as Oliver loved Laurel, and is implied to still love her, he sincerely believes he's not good enough for her.
    Oliver: That man you fell in love with, that's not me. And I never deserved that love, and you always deserved so much better.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The premise of the episode. The virtual world shows what Oliver's life could have been like had he never gotten on the Queen's Gambit. This life includes Diggle being the Hood, Ray being engaged to Felicity, Oliver being engaged to Laurel with Sara as the maid of honor, and both of his and Thea's parents still being alive, with their family living a life of wealth and privilege.
  • Kick the Dog: Darhk may only be a projection created by the Dominators, but he still gets in a vicious taunt to Sara.
    Darhk: Unfortunately, this is going to be a little less satisfying for me than killing your sister.
  • Legion of Doom: When Oliver and the others start fighting back against the virtual world, it manifests copies of past enemies to try and stop them—Merlyn, Slade, a Mirakuru soldier, Darhk, and several Ghosts.
  • Little Black Dress: The Lance sisters wear them during the rehearsal dinner.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Dominators have Oliver, Thea, Sara, Diggle, and Ray wired into a virtual world which is meant to fulfill their every desire while the Dominators probe their minds.
  • Manly Tears: Oliver when saying goodbye to his parents, and again when he says goodbye to Laurel.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Oliver and Rene provided two separate Shirtless Scenes (see below).
  • Ms. Fanservice: The Lance sisters. "Laurel"'s first scene has her only in a Modesty Towel, and her wedding dress ain't that bad either. Sara's bridesmaid dress shows her nice rack.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Curtis and Rory have a mild debate over the latter believing in the divine, like their characters did in Infinite Crisis.
    • Oliver is referred to a couple of times as something along the lines of "A man who has everything".
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Subverted for Sara, as she uses the chance to finally say goodbye to "Laurel" and alleviate some of the guilt she had for not being there to save her.
  • No Such Thing as Wizard Jesus: A variant; when it's figured out that the Dominator coding using the same principles as Gematria (Jewish numerology), Rory acts as though this proves without a doubt that the Dominators were inspired by the Torah. The possibility that it could be sheer coincidence, or that it might be the other way around, is never brought up.
  • Not Named in Opening Credits: For some reason, Amy Pemberton (the voice of the Waverider's Gideon) is not named as a guest in the opening credits, although Nick Zano (Nate/Steel) is.
  • Odd Name Out: To date, this is the only episode of Arrow where the episode's title contains an exclamation point. Justified, in that the title is directly taken from the comic book series it's based on.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In the virtual world, Oliver complains when Thea brings up his assaulting a paparazzo since it happened 10 years ago.
  • One Steve Limit: Lampshaded by Cisco, who notes that "Rory" in the Arrowverse doesn't just refer to Ragman, but also Heat Wave.
  • One True Love: This episode all but confirms that Laurel Lance was this for Oliver Queen. In this perfect fantasy, Laurel, not Felicity, is Oliver's ideal lover, and Oliver admits that the one thing he's sure of, the one thing that he knows is true even as this fantasy world falls apart, is that he loves her.
  • Planet Terra: The Dominators refer to their prisoners as Terrans in their internal communications.
  • Recycled Premise: Whilst the general idea of a superhero being faced with a world where their origin story never happened isn't original in 2016, it should be noted that this episode is the third time in less than a year that the Arrowverse has used this plot, after "For the Girl Who Has Everything" & "Flashpoint" put Supergirl & the Flash through the ringer.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: In the virtual reality, Diggle's reason for becoming the Hood is atoning for the things he did as a soldier.
  • Shirtless Scene:
  • Ship Tease:
    • Ray and Sara got a minor one. "Laurel" seems to approve.
    • A curious one given that back in the real world Laurel is dead, but this episode seemingly confirms that Oliver is still in love with her, and always will be.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Cisco says that they have to find Oliver and company, and he's not talking about the cherished Disney film starring Billy Joel.
    • Cisco says that the appearance of the Dominators brings to mind J. J. Abrams' Star Trek films.
    • Curtis is having fun with the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial references he makes when attempting to hack into the alien tech.
    • When the abducted Team Arrow members noticed a giant portal inside of Smoak Tech building, Ray comments that either they get out through there or click their heels three times and say "There's no place like home".
  • Shower of Love: Between Oliver and "Laurel".
  • Silent Antagonist: Slade never talks once in this episode due to Manu Bennett not returning.
  • Special Edition Title: Featuring all of the show's title cards, due to the episode being a Milestone Celebration.
  • Spoiler Opening: Nick Zano, who plays Nate Haywood, is listed as a guest star in the episode, so it was fairly obvious to guess how the jumpship with the heroes would be rescued.
  • Spotting the Thread: Oliver and John realize that the Smoak Tech building shouldn't exist in this world.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: As Cyberwoman has super powers, Barry and Kara are called in to help capture her.
  • Superhero Paradox: Wild Dog considers superpowers evil, because they have (unintentionally or not) caused many problems in the world. Thus, he is first cold towards Cisco, Barry, and Kara because they have superpowers, even though he also says that it's Nothing Personal. The argument sort of falls flat when it comes to Kara, who was brought in to help because of the arrival of the Dominators, not the other way around. He gets over it after Barry and Kara save his life.
  • Take That, Audience!: Sara telling Laurel that "some things can't be fixed" as she says goodbye one last time is directed to the fans who keep clamoring for Laurel's permanent return despite the production team's insistence that she's staying dead despite the massive unpopularity of that decision.
  • Tempting Fate: Ray is confident that certain design principles are universal and is sure they're heading to the Dominator ship's launch bay. Instead, they wind up in the armory where numerous Dominators are getting geared up. Fortunately, Oliver is able to grab a blaster off the wall and hold them at bay ("certain design principles are universal"), and Ray gets it right on the next attempt.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill: After the Terran prisoners escape by hijacking one of their jumpships, the Dominators launch several dozen jumpships to pursue them.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer implied this episode's changes to be the result of Flashpoint. Turns out to be the Dominators' Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • True Blue Femininity: The hallucination of Moira is consistently wearing a blue dress.
  • The Unreveal: A laughably minor one, but we never do get to find out what Oliver's occupation is in the virtual reality, despite references being made to his wanting to be his "own man" and having "grown up". Its clear he isn't running Verdant (Thea is) and he isn't working at Queen Consolidated (which his father is pushing him to take the reins of, rather than sell out to Ray Palmer). He's also clearly not the Mayor (Robert is about to take office).
  • Wave-Motion Gun: The Dominators' ships can produce one and is about to attack the escaping heroes with it until Nate makes a timely save.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The episode has essentially the exact same premise as the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Perchance to Dream" as well as the classic Superman story "For the Man Who Has Everything" and in turn, the spin-off episode "For the Girl Who Has Everything" from fellow Arrowverse program Supergirl.