Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Legends of Tomorrow-concluded “Invasion!”:

I wasn’t nearly so fond of Arrow’s 100th episode “Invasion!” midway as its Flash-y predecessor, and it’s probably safe to say that tonight’s Legends of Tomorrow confirmed a certain ceiling to these CW crossovers. Just as Arrow had to balance a retrospective of its five seasons with an ongoing Dominator invasion, so too did Legends mostly take a backseat to the overall conclusion, apart from the initial mission to retrieve a Dominator, or the running thread of Stein’s daughter.

Don’t get me wrong; there’s a spectacle unmatched in TV superheroism at work here, and an incredible celebration of this franchise as a whole, but just enough sprinting to the finish line that the less elegant mechanisms (Oliver’s sudden distrust of Kara conveniently sidelining her) shine through. In a perfect world, all three of these stories could have woven together as one event, allowing Oliver and Kara’s relationship to expand or contract far more organically, but each hour very clearly set its own needs. In a broader sense as well, the final showdown between all three crews and the Dominators is clearly intended as an Avengers-type invasion of the city, but practically contained to the span of a single rooftop. There’s no shame in a TV budget, but we’ll certainly notice when it’s maxed.

Still, it was nice of Legends to flesh out the Dominators a bit before their exit, even as an already-convoluted* exposition dump included capturing, then rescuing a Dominator from 1951, who himself apparently cemented the invasion in the first place, owing to distrust of Metahumans. I even admire that their ultimate grudge against Earth again boiled down to punishing Barry for his Flashpoint misdeeds, despite the reminder largely serving to speed up Cisco’s forgiveness. There’s still atonement to be had, and “Invasion!” couldn’t bother to pretend that Barry might really sacrifice himself for the world, so we’ll surely return to that in the coming episodes.

*How do you get rid of a planet’s worth of invaders with only five minutes of runtime to spare? Super-speed across the country to tag them all with horrible pain devices, and hit buttons until they flee! Turn a giant bomb into water!

Hit on Kara for bonus points!

If anything, what likely resonated the most was the aftermath’s endearing mix of celebratory in-jokes, like Brandon Routh’s Superman history, or Oliver and Sara marveling at everything their island adventures had wrought. Giving a dressed-down Kara the chance to fraternize also felt like the most involved she’d been all week, and of course enabled easier crossovers by Cisco’s portable breach device.

In the end, there probably wasn’t any avoidance of the crossover boiling down to Oliver and Barry, to say nothing of Legends’ outlying role among the four CW series. Still, I adore that the two both got to look back on their own respective Flashpoints and ultimately embrace their weirder, fuller lives, and I’m ready for smaller, more intimate crossovers like Barry and Kara’s musical adventures to take the stage.

Who can even begin to imagine how they’ll follow this next year, anyway?

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • Granted Amaya’s role was small, did anyone take the time to explain, or at least acknowledge an entirely separate Vixen than the one Oliver (and others in the cartoon) have met?
  • At some point, we need to address the guy with steel skin wearing shoulderpads and a helmet.
  • I’d overlook that we managed to avert the invasion without any significant bloodshed between the two species, but they did still disintegrate the President.
  • Let’s … overlook the abortion subtext of Stein planning to erase his daughter.
  • How many times has The Flash messed with time, whether Barry or others? Now the Dominators decide to get involved?
  • Let’s … also overlook Stein’s hasty justification of “it’s horrible agony, but eh, it’s war!”

Legends of Tomorrow will return Thursday, December 8 with winter finale “The Chicago Way,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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