DC's Legends of Tomorrow S2 E7 (The CW) Invasion!
The Flash/Arrow?Legends of Tomorrow? The CW? Who Me?
One of these things might not be like the others, but yes, I am doing recaps of The Flash (The CW) this season. I don't usually cover Arrow (The CW), but I have watched the show a few times, and I did commit to recap the entire crossover series, so here we are (I have never watched DC's Legends of Tomorrow until tonight (but it is a Flash spinoff). I watched Supergirl for the first time ever on Monday night).
Anyway, I have watched every episode of The Flash since its inception and I find it both a starkly different (lighter) take on Superheroes but also occasionally provocative (sometimes in ways that the writers might not have intended).
Yesterday I talked a bit about one aspect of "Geek Magic (Computer Magic)."
Geek Magic, in all of its forms, is the idea that because someone on television or in the movies or fiction is a "geek that they can magically solve any problem related to computers, technology in general, engineering, and physics (often immediately).
Usually, they are also really good at every video game and fully pop-culture literate (one begins to wonder how we/they were ever the kids that got beaten up as kids in the first place).
Don't get me wrong, it is good that Geeks are finally being transformed into heroes and positive depictions could contribute to whole scale transformations in our current bizarre hostility towards science and reason.
But that is exactly my point, you don't dispel myths about science by mythologizing science. Science, computer science, programming, and engineering are HARD painstaking pursuits, they do not traffic in magic.
One of the reasons I am so in love with Mr. Robot is their advisors, like Kor Adana, work very hard to ensure that every hack done on Mr. Robot could be done in the real world. Why do they commit to this level of detail, I suspect it is because they want to inspire people to buy Raspberry Pi devices and start to learn to program and hack the future themselves.
One of my working theories about Mr. Robot is that the protagonist ElliotAlderson (Rami Malek) breaks the 4th Wall to include "us" as his "friends" is because the corporate, governmental, and cultural problems raised by the show are ultimately in "our" hands. Elliot may be the main character, but to Sam Esmail, I suspect WE are the heroes.
In addition, by showing people how the "magic" is done, they demystify the process and bring ALL people inside the big tent of science and technology.
Making science look like magic might make geeks feel like Wizards but it reinforces all of the barriers between people and science that have been at least partially to blame for our woefully inadequate response to the Greenhouse Effect. Our cultural distrust of science is why a second POTUS just appointed several science averse people to serve on his Cabinet.
Science and Technology are not magic. The methods used are rigorous, results are rigorously tested, and hacking (for instance) is often massively time-consuming and requires massive planning and discipline.
The truth about "Geek Magic" is that it is a substitute for lazy or sloppy writing. It allows you to write yourself into or out of almost any character situation.
Stuck on an alien spaceship? No worries, we can figure out how to fly it, we are geeks.
Hold on, you are probably saying, this is a show about Superheroes and a fun goofy one at that so, of course, they don't do deep dives into engineering or technology.
But the Superheroes (or Meta's) are presented as extraordinary but grounded in an ordinary world. In fact, it turns out the entire Crossover Invasion was prompted by a group of aliens paranoid about what could happen as Earth 1 Meta's gain more powers and make more bad judgments that could affect the Alien's very existence (like creating Flashpoint).
So why am I ranting? This episode of Legends was laughably reliant on Geek Magic.
Geeks Vs. Aliens
Before I get started, one Mea Culpa, yesterday I asked why they weren't trying to save the President but it appears that they somehow found out that the President had been killed and not abducted (I clearly missed a scene somewhere).
So anyway, I don't watch Legends of Tomorrow, and I am not sure I even recognize most of the team members (the group mostly originated on The Flash). But, since "The Dominators" have been abducting and studying humans someone on LOT suggests that maybe they should abduct some aliens of their own.
They decide that they could nab an alien if they take a trip back to Oregon and grab an alien from when "The Dominators" first invaded Earth.
For some reason, they don't want to take Supergirl (Mellissa Benoit) or The Flash (Grant Gustin). Why, after all, would you bring two powerful meta's to an alien fight when you have a guy with a heat gun and a dude who dresses like a low-rent Captain America?
They do, however, take Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdez) "Back in Time."
BTW, I am pretty sure that this reference was part of the design, listen to the first few lines of the Huey Lewis song.
I don't want to get too far off track but before they leave, but The Flash and the rest of the folks staying behind are going to go to an arranged meeting with the new POTUS. After this announcement, there is a bizarre (and unnecessary side conversation) between Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Supergirl where Queen tells Supergirl that he doesn't want her coming to meet the President with them.
Supergirl rightly asks Queen, wouldn't you want your most powerful team member with you? And Olver says some nonsensical stuff about needing to hold some imaginary line firm? There have been some head-scratching moments during the crossover, but this one, for me, is way up at the top of that list.
Supergirl = invulnerable. She can fly. She can melt things with her eyes. She is really strong. She is really fast. If I am going into battle with this group of heroes, Supergirl is number one on the list of people I want up front.
Now, if Oliver had said, "I want you to stay back because if they use mind-control again, you are too powerful for us to stop." See that would have made total sense (Of course, on the other hand, they all are susceptible, and none of them were invulnerable).
And by the way, why would aliens only build ONE mind-control device before an invasion? And during this whole thing, when the aliens arrive or land, where is the military? So many questions.
Anyway, team Geek Squad is in Oregon in 1951 while all this is shaking out. The superheroes insist that the Geeks stay on the ship while they find the aliens.
The heroes manage to find one, knock him out cold and are preparing to fly him back to the future when the Men in Black show up and use, and I couldn't make this up, dart guns to knock out the heroes.
The Geek Squad (Felicity and Cisco) sees all of this from the ship, grab some guns, and go to the Men in Black's secret lair (which seems to be right next to the battlefield in Oregon). The Geek Squad walks right in, frees the heroes, and then decide that they should save the alien Dominator from the Men in Black (who are clearly torturing him).
At one point, someone asks what they will do with the alien once they escape. Either Felicity or Cisco replies that they have a smaller alien ship on the Legends of Tomorrow time travel ship and that Felicity and Cisco will put their heads together and "fix it."
Next thing you know, lickity-split, they are flying away and the alien is happy as a clam flying back to wherever in the universe planet Dominator is.
Not since Jeff Goldblum gave alien computers a virus in the original "Independence Day" has something this ridiculous happened. Cisco and Felicity in mere minutes figured out how to not only understand alien tech but fix it, with only the Earth tools that were handy on the LOT vessel?
But that is not even the most egregious version of Geek Magic on the trip. What finally starts to heal the festering rift between Cisco and Barry Allen is that during this trip, he and Felicity figure out that the reason the entire alien invasion happened is because Cisco and the Legends of Tomorrow saved this one Alien.
Oh, and Cisco also stole a communicator from the ship, so now they can communicate in 2016 with the alien that they saved in 1951.
The alien they saved was so freaked out by the "Meta powers" displayed in capturing him that he started to be concerned that humans with this imbalanced level of power would be a real danger to the universe. So, when Barry almost erased the aliens existence by creating and almost locking in the Flashpoint timeline, the aliens decided they needed to attack Earth and destroy The Flash.
So, yes, technically, it was Cisco and Felicity who created the invasion (by saving the alien in 1951). This helps Cisco realize that because he didn't intend to create a full-scale invasion of Earth by saving the alien that maybe Barry also didn't intend to ruin everyone else's life by creating Flashpoint.
When they reunite with the team that met with the President, they find out that The Aliens want humanity to turn over Barry to the aliens in order for them to call off the attack.
Only two problems.
First, Cisco and Felicity are excited to time-travel because they are geeks, they so themselves.
The implication is that they are pretty aware of all the pop-culture depictions of time-travel and of time paradox.
This means they must understand that every single thing they do while they are unnaturally in the past, not just saving the alien, can change the future in the same unpredictable ways that Flashpoint did.
And, this is particularly true of Cisco. There is NO WAY that Cisco is smart enough to fix an alien spaceship in ten minutes while he is FURIOUS over Barry causing Flashpoint but then wants to jump right into time travel himself.
Cisco, because of what happened to his brother, would be the LAST PERSON ON EARTH to be up for time-travel hijinks.
Second, why would the aliens only attack Earth One? Why would the aliens only want The Flash?
Last I checked, even if you eliminated The Flash on Earth 1, there are speedsters on almost every other Earth in the multiverse. Oh, and remember Kid Flash and Savitar are also on Earth 1 (not even counting Jesse Quick and Jay Garrick on different Earth's).
Why would the aliens call of the attack on Earth once Barry is turned over despite Savitar still being on Earth 1? What the heck were you folks smoking? This makes NO SENSE (I mean that with love). If speed force is an existential threat to "The Dominators" why would you leave the "God of Speed" behind?
I can handle Cisco being able to hack every car in a parking lot in five minutes (The Flash S3 E6: Shade) but the basic logic of the plot still has to make sense. You can't make smart characters into idiots or aliens smart enough to invade earth into total morons just to make your crossover plot work for you.
Tying Up The Loose Ends & Reflecting on the "Invasion!" DC Crossover Event (The CW)
Two more geek magic incidents happen:
First, when Dr. Martin Stein's newly discovered daughter Lily (Christina Brucato) uses her PhD. in Nanotechnology to create anti-alien bomblets that destroy The Dominators. In her case, at least she spent a few hours, between the human interest drama between her and her father, to actually design them on a computer (fabrication is magic too apparently).
Second, when they find out that the aliens plan to detonate a massive Meta-bomb, Felicity somehow knows that Firestorm can use his powers to transmute it's fissile material into something harmless? Why? How? Who knows?
I mean it would be fair to say that Firestorm could detonate or destroy the bomb before it's warhead detonated the core? I mean that is theoretically possible. But, how did she know any of this on the fly? It is alien tech and a bomb nobody has ever seen before.
There is a Legend's subplot where Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) realizes that he interfered with his younger self in the past causing a daughter to be born that he never knew existed. This is the hard edge of time paradox because HE has raised her but has no memory of it (because he raised her in the timeline where he interfered in his own life but he lived a different timeline himself).
Originally, his goal was to go back and set the timeline right (reset the timeline) erasing his own daughter from existence. But, then he gets to like her. So, now, like a kid with a puppy, he wants to keep her.
Nobody on these shows ever seems to learn any lasting lessons about time paradoxes, everything Lily has done and everything she has touched changes the world all of them have lived in millions of ways.
As I have explained at length before these changes are unethical, for the same reason that changing John Diggle's baby from a girl to a boy was unethical. The people in the original timeline who were changed or erased by paradox had a right to exist and live their lives without you playing God and interfering.
Just one small example, say someone who got married and had kids in the original timeline falls in love with Lily in college instead? Now, as a result of his decision to play God, that marriage and those kids are erased from the universe (because of paradox).
Every time that I start to think the writers are starting to "get it" they start doing crazy stuff again (The Flash writers seem to truly be addressing the moral implications of paradox recently but I am not sure the memo has gotten to the LOT writers yet).
One last little thing, why was it okay to blow up all of the invaders? I get that they were attacking but they had a hotline to one of the leaders and certainly did not kill all of them in the universe. In truth, The Dominators, evil as the CGI looked, kind of had a valid point. The Flash arguably almost eliminated them from existence.
Just saying, parlay might have been a more strategic option (not that the heroes ever showed any gift for strategy throughout crossover).
Oh, and Barry and Olver had a beer after it was all over, that was pretty cool.
So, what did I think of Invasion!?
I loved the Matrix-esque stuff on the Arrow episode. I enjoyed most of The Flash episode (in particular forcing Barry to see the full scope of what he did in creating Flashpoint). I feel like Supergirl was kind of wasted throughout.
It was fun, but I have real issues with the logic behind the Alien invasion and the sloppy "Geek Magic" used to make the crossover work. I know I am not a particularly good writer, but I do know that good writing is seamless.
I saw many seams.
Okay, next week is the mid-season finale for The Flash before the absurdly long month-long break the CW seems to think is good for maintaining interest in their shows.
See you next Wednesday!
Normally, I write a recap of Mr. Robot called “Who Is Mr. Robot's Landlord.” I also recap Black Mirror, Game of Thrones, Halt and Catch Fire, The Flash, Better Call Saul, and put out new Spotify playlists every Tuesday (among other music content).
If you are not familiar with my writing on Mr. Robot, check out The complete #OPS Guide to Season 2 of #MrRobot. Mr. Robot tries to hack tv and I try to hack Mr. Robot.
What did you think of the Invasion! Crossover?
Do you love or hate "Geek Magic?"
What was your favorite plot element of Invasion!
Let me know what you think, leave a comment!