I admit, there were points where I was only half watching part three (or two, depending on how you're counting it, but officially part three) of this crossover, largely due to also gaming at the same time. In spite of that, I think I managed to soak up most of it, largely because it was actually a pretty good episode that did a fairly good job of keeping hold of my attention, especially during its major emotional beats.
In this week's episode, Barry, Kara, and Cisco join Felicity and Ollie's apprentices in Star City as they attempt to figure out where Ollie, Sara, Thea, Ray, and Diggle were taken. Meanwhile, on the Dominator ship, Olllie and the others are trapped in a shared hallucination in which most of their lives are seemingly perfect, and where Ollie is preparing to marry Laurel. As they begin to realise that the world they live in is false, they are faced with the choice of whether to give up their perfect lives, or dwell in the fantasy forever.
So, I've seen sites describing this episode as the best one in series five, and honestly, they're not wrong -- and I say that even while believing that series five is the best series of Arrow we've had since the second series. The 'everyone is trapped in a hallucination of their perfect lives' plotline is a very far cry from a new and original story, and in fact I'd go so far as to say it is a cliche by now, but it's handled here with a certain amount of weight and deftness, especially towards the end, that works in its favour.
|A charming moment between a daughter and her hallucinated mother.|
It is, of course, at least partly a vehicle to get back old actors, as part of this crossover's remit is 'let's get as many of our cast members back as possible.' So we get to see Susanna Thompson back as Moira Queen, John Barrowman back as Malcolm Merlyn, Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk, and, of course, Katie Cassidy back as Laurel, giving us what might be the most heartwrenching performance of the episode.
In a way, I think the biggest problem with this episode is that it kind of holds itself back from going as far as it could. The characters figure out that they're in a hallucination with, to be honest, a minimum of hassle, and when it's time to make the big decision to leave, Thea refuses, only to then change her mind and leave with them. Why not make the process of realising more harrowing, and have the characters themselves push back against it because they don't want to realise? And if you're going to have Thea refuse to leave, have her refuse to leave, without a sudden take-backsie two minutes later.
Still, the episode makes for a solid tear jerker, and its final stroke, where Oliver sees the ghosts of the people he's lost, encouraging him and accepting him, is, once again, staggeringly cliche but deftly handled. I've said before that I'm not against the use of cliches so long as they're well-handled, and this episode makes for a pretty good example of why I take that stance.
|Man, Brandon Routh is really tall.|
(Wait, hang on, why was Roy among the dead people? Roy's alive. This is effectively the 'sometimes I can still hear his voice' meme in televisual format.)
The subplot we have while that's going on involves Barry, Kara, and the Green Arrow ducklings going after a cyborg doctor to get some tech-y gadget to do something else with a tech-y gadget and locate the kidnapped people. We also get clarification that only the non-metahumans(/aliens) were abducted, so why on Earth aren't Jax and Stein helping out here? Not to mention, why wasn't Mick abducted?
|Awkward. That is a nice wedding dress, though. Not the style I would pick, but you know.|
Anyway, that subplot doesn't get a lot of time devoted to it, and its big character development thread is Rene not liking metahumans or aliens, but learning to like metahumans and aliens because they can punch things real good. It's rushed, and it doesn't really pan out in a way that makes sense, and given that Rory is right there while he's talking about this, it's weird that Rory doesn't point out that he has superpowers as well and Rene has never had a problem with him. What, does Rene's hatred of superpowers not extend to those granted by magic?
Incidentally, Felicity and Cisco's interactions are still a joy to watch.
Anyway, the episode ends with the Dominator ship heading for the Earth, and the crossover will be concluding tonight, in a Legends of Tomorrow episode that will apparently be working Nate and Amaya in to the story, so that's always nice. Maybe Rip will even show up! But probably not, he's probably not going to make his triumphant reappearance for a few episodes yet.