With their friends freed from The Dominator mothership, The Legends elect to send a team to 1951 to capture and question a Dominator as to the reasons of their invasion. Meanwhile, back in 2016, a shadowy government agent approaches the superheroes with an offer they can't easily refuse. And Martin Stein is shocked to discover the source of his visions - an aberration he accidentally created back in 1987!
The Superfriends cartoon (appearance of the STAR Labs hangar resembles Hall of Justice), the film Independence Day (battle against multiple alien ships), the Men In Black movies and the Netflix series Stranger Things ("Agent Smith" and his fellow government men in the black suits), The 1988 DC Comics crossover event Invasion! and various Gardner Fox Crisis comics.
How exactly can Martin Stein go back in time to prevent his daughter from coming into existence? His younger self is unlikely to listen to instructions to not have sex wife for the next year and is unlikely - at this point - to listen to anything his older self says in any case.
Stein's behavior is a little off in this episode. Given his past squeamishness regarding violence and taking lives, it seems out of character for him to be so clinical regarding the idea of erasing a person from existence - much less his own flesh and blood! It's also odd that he refers to Barry as "your friend" when talking to Caitlin, when Barry is just as much a friend to him as anyone else on the show.
Also, logically, if Lily Stein developed the nano-weapon used to defeat The Dominators, won't Stein's erasing her from history cause The Dominators to win the Invasion war?
It's rather hard to get invested in the possibility of Barry Allen sacrificing himself to save humanity when we see commercials for next week's The Flash in the middle of the episode. (This isn't a goof on the episode, but it's still rather annoying and could have been easily avoided.)
Just how does Stein mass-produce enough of his pain-causing device to plant an individual one on every Dominator on Earth? Did he return to The Waverider and use the facilities there while outside of time before Sara and Cisco took off to catch the metabomb? We know he didn't ask Barry for help. (Maybe Caitlin Snow called in Wally West, handed him a screwdriver and told him to go to it?)
As with The Flash part of this crossover, it's hard to single out any one performance given the ensemble nature of this production. However, if pressed to narrow it down to one or two, I'd say it's a tie between Victor Garber's performance as Martin Stein and his conflict regarding his sudden fatherhood and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon coming to peace with Barry's accidental wrong-doing.
The special effects used to bring The Dominators to life are of cinematic quality.
The fight between Green Arrow, White Canary, The Flash, The Atom and the Men In Black - both in terms of special effects and choreography.
The fight between the heroes and The Dominators is the stuff of... Legends.
Trivia Of Tomorrow
This episode was the fourth part of a four-part crossover between all of The CW Network's DC Comics superhero shows.
As the title suggests, the main inspiration for this four-part crossover event between all of the DCTVU shows was the 1988 crossover event Invasion!
Invasion! was based around the idea that an alliance of alien worlds - led by The Dominators - attacked Earth due to their concerns that Earth's growing metahuman population would become a threat to their planets.
The Dominators in the original comics had yellow skin, a red circle in the middle of their foreheads, claw-like fingernails and sharp fang-like teeth.
The DCTVU Dominators look much the same, save that their skin is more grey than yellow. Also, the comic book Dominators wore clothing whereas the DCTVU Dominators do not.
The abandoned STAR Labs hangar/hall used as a based of operations by the combined teams resembles The Hall of Justice from the classic Superfriends cartoon.
Nate discovered video footage of The Dominator's first invasion of Earth in Redmond, Oregon in 1951 that the US government covered up. This is a reference to a famous real-world UFO report that was debunked by the United States Air Force.
Cisco and Felicity quote the Ciara song One Two Step when describing The Waverider ("automatic, supersonic, hypnotic, funky fresh...").
The meta-bomb developed by The Dominators is taken directly from the Invasion! storyline. One of the Dominator scientists isolated the gene that gave ordinary humans super-powers and developed a weapon - the meta-gene bomb - that would kill or severely weaken any humans who possessed the meta-gene. Unfortunately, this weapon ran counter to the plans of the Domianators to enslave Earth's metahuman population. The scientist was tortured for what he had done and eventually turned against his race. Ironically, the bomb's detonation wound up causing multiple metahuman's genes to activate, thus creating more superheroes!
In the DCTVU, the meta-bomb is a weapon that will kill every metahuman on Earth.
At the party at the end of the episode, Felicity comments that seeing Kara in her street-clothes is like looking in a mirror. On Supergirl, Kara wears glasses and ties her hair back in a ponytail when she's in her secret identity. Felicity also usually wears her hair in a ponytail and wears glasses.
Ray comments that Kara looks almost exactly like his cousin. This is a joking nod to the fact that Brandon Routh - who plays Ray Palmer - played the role of Superman in the movie Superman Returns.
Nate uses the phrase "Strange visitors from another world" at one point. This is a nod to the old 1940's Superman radio show and the introduction to the 1950's Adventures of Superman show - both of which described Superman as a "strange visitor from another world."
Cisco says the construct on the bow of The Waverider could be a Time Sphere. He also says the ship would require a quantum neural chipset and would make use of deep-link nets.
Stein says he doubts they could fashion a weapon of sufficent force to overcome The Dominators. He suggests attacking them with something infinitesimally small.
Amaya describes the first Dominators invasion as an RIF mission - Reconnaissance In Force.
The tranquilizers used by the MIBs prevent Nate and Amaya from using their powers.
Lily Stein complains that she can't stabilize a nano-molecular reaction.
Eventually, Lily figures out that the nano-molecular reaction won't stabilize because the replication is sequential - not exponential. The reaction requires greater complexity.
Stein mass-produces a small device that, when placed on individual Dominators, will cause indescribable agony.
Cisco builds an inter-dimensional extrapolator for Kara - a device that creates small breaches, that can be used to cross between her Earth and the Earth One any time she wants. The device also has a communication function, so that she can call them.
Oliver: I would like to minimize your involvement in this.
Kara: Why? Because I'm an alien? I also happen to be your biggest weapon!
Oliver: You are an unknown quantity and this is not personal.
Kara: Except that's exactly how this feels.
Oliver: Kara, when I started living this life, it was just me. I was going up against human threats. That I could handle. Then it was metahumans. And I can handle that. Now, I learn that there are multiple Earths and I was brainwashed on board an alien spacecraft -
Kara: I'm sure that was unnerving.
Oliver: I don't get unnerved. But when I go up against something new, I push back. Right or wrong, it is who I am and it was what I do. I'm asking for a little bit of space because I have to draw the line somewhere. I need to claw back a sense of normalcy. Please... stay here.
Cisco: We made it! This is the '50s! Sick!
(Felicity keels over and vomits.)
Nate: Severe time jumps can cause nausea, temporary deafness...
Felicity: (tries to speak but total gibberish comes out.)
Nate: ... linguistic disorientation...
Felicity: (more gibberish)
Mick: (pointing to Cisco) You. Clean it up. We're going to go kidnap an alien.
Cisco: (chuckling) Okay. I know I did not just travel through time so we could stay on the ship.
Mick: (To Felicity) Ponytail? You're staying on the ship.
Felicity: (angry gibberish)
Nate: I'll take that as "Have fun storming the castle."
Cisco: Oh? For real? You're gonna used Princess Bride against me? Against me?!
(Felicity falls to her knees and throws up again. Cisco grabs her ponytail and holds it up.)
Cisco: It''s okay. I've got you, girl.
Cisco: You know all this time traveling, fighting aliens... this is stuff I used to dream about as a kid.
Felicity: Yeah. Me too.
Cisco: But it doesn't feel like a dream. It just feels weird.
Felicity: Well, exactly! And it's only going to get weirder. So that's why we've got to be able to rely on our friends.
Cisco: I really wish I could right now, Felicity. But he's not my friend.
Caitlin: You know, you're really taking this whole absent-minded professor thing to a new level.
Stein: I don't know what you mean.
Caitlin: Your daughter - ever since you've come back, you've treated her like a total stranger!
Stein: That's because she IS a total stranger!
(Caitlin looks at Stein shocked)
Stein: I'm sorry. It's just that... when I last left 2016, that... young woman did not exist.
Caitlin: Wait... you're saying that Lily belongs to another timeline? That, when Barry created Flashpoint-
Stein: Unfortunately, this is all my fault. You see, a month ago I interacted with my younger self back in 1987 and unwittingly motivated him ... me... to sire a child. So it's because of my carelessness that this... time aberration exists.
Caitlin: She's not an aberration! She is brilliant and funny and a lot like you. Just a little less uptight.
Stein: Please...stop talking about her like this. She is not a real person.
Caitlin: She is a real person. She's your daughter.
(Realization dawns on Caitlin's face.)
Caitlin: Wait... when we finish fighting the Dominators, you're going to go back in time and... erase her?
Stein: No. I am going to restore the timeline. Unlike your friend Barry, I have the luxury of fixing my mistakes.
(Cisco and Nate are suddenly standing on a deck in the Dominator mother-ship. The Dominator Cisco saved turns to regard them.)
Dominator: What an unusual gift. You appear to be a meta-human as well...
Cisco: Yeah, well, I figured you'd cut me some slack seeing as how we saved you back in 1951. Remember that?
Dominator: Much has changed on your planet in the last 60 years. The threat of your kind has become imminent.
Cisco: Listen, E.T. - we're not a threat! Metas are protecting this planet.
Nate: And besides, the guy who tortured your ugly ass back in 1951 was human.
Dominator: But what happens when a man like him inherits abilities like yours? We have seen it happen on countless other worlds. Which is why we must exterminate your kind before the scourge of your planet becomes the scourge of ours.
Barry: This isn't up for debate. It's not even a close call. Turn myself over to The Dominators, they leave the rest of the world alone. Simple.
Felicity: No, it is not simple!
John: Barry, it doesn't matter what you've done. You can't do this.
Barry: It has been a honor and to know all of you. To fight alongside of you. Now it's up to you to keep our home safe.
(Barry turns around and starts walking to leave the hangar.)
Oliver: Barry! I'm not letting you leave.
Barry: No offense, Oliver but you and what army?
(Barry turns back around to see assorted members of The Legends, Team Arrow, Team Flash and Supergirl staring at him.)
Kara: This one.
(Barry looks at them all, clearly touched.)
Mick: Listen Red - I don't like you. But when you've got a crew, you don't take a hit for the rest.
Barry: That... was actually pretty inspiring. I mean, up until the point that Mick compared us to a bunch of criminals
Amaya: According to the Dominators, we might as well be.
Nate: And maybe they're right. Maybe we do more harm than good. But this is our chance to find out.
Cisco: We're not letting you sacrifice yourself. There's no way. I don't care if that's what it means to be a hero. You're not a hero to me.... you're my friend.
(Felicity is watching the progress of the battle from a monitor at STAR Labs)
Felicity: Good job planting Professor Stein's nanoweapons, but we've still got Dominators all over the country. This looks like a job for Supergirl!
(We see Kara flying across the ocean just as we see Barry running across the countryside.)
Barry: (dryly) Thanks Felicity. I'm not the least bit insulted.
Felicity: Uh- sorry! I meant Supergirl AND Flash. This is totally a job for the both of you. That's what I meant! Supergirl and... Flash.
(Kara - now dressed in her street clothes with her glasses and her hair in a ponytail - walks past Felicity and Ray)
Felicity: It's like looking into a mirror.
Ray: Yeah, you know what's funny? She really kind of looks like my cousin.
Kara: Either of you ever save the world before?
Ollie: Last year.
Kara: It doesn't gets old, does it?
Barry: Nope. It sure beats screwing up the world.
Kara: Hey You're too hard on yourself.
Oliver: That's what people usually tell me.
Kara: And for good reason, I'm sure. But, back on my Earth, it's just me and my cousin. Between the two of us, we're more powerful than...
Barry: ...everybody in this room combined?
Kara: (laughing) No, no! That's the point. That's what you've all proven here. Meta-humans or not, super-powers or not... you are Earth's mightiest heroes.
Oliver: Um... I owe you an apology. Keeping you at arm's length was the wrong move. And uh... well, the truth is that this Earth could probably use a Supergirl.
Kara: Well, that's funny. Because I was just thinking that my Earth could use an Oliver Queen. (Kara pauses and looks at Oliver thoughtfully) I know you said you don't get unnerved... but if you did, I think hardship is what makes us stronger. That's probably why these people look to you as their rock.
Barry: You guys feeling a group hug?
Kara: Come on!
(Oliver sighs with annoyance as Barry and Kara both hug him.)
Jax; Alright Grey. Spill. How is it you had a kid?
Stein: I didn't think I had to explain such matters to you, Jefferson.
Jax: Oh, come on! You know what I mean!
Sara: It's weird to think that all of this started with the two of us. You ever think about what it would be like if we never got on that boat?
Oliver: I don't know if I have to think about it. I mean, maybe The Dominators showed us what our lives would have been like?
Sara: I know it was a prison but in a way-
Oliver: In a way, it was a gift?
(Sara nods and the two hug.)
Sara: Stay out of trouble.
Barry: We ought to do this more often. Get together, I mean.
Oliver: I don't know if the world could take it.
Barry: I meant, like without the world being threatened.
Oliver: If the world wasn't being threatened... what would we do?
(Cut to Barry and Ollie sitting in a bar, drinking beer together.)
Oliver: I told Kara that I was looking to reclaim some normal. Thinking on it now, I'm... I'm not so sure.
Barry: I know what you mean. We both got a look at what life would look like normal.
Oliver: It would have been happy.
Barry: But not full.
Oliver: No. No, nowhere close.
Barry: (raising his beer) To things not being normal.
Oliver: (raising his own glass) To life being full.
(The two clink their bottles and drink.)
Between the end of A308 and the start of this episode, Thea "Speedy" Queen returns to Star City while Green Arrow and Spartan join White Canary and The Atom in returning to meet up with the rest of Team Flash, Team Arrow, The Legends and Supergirl in Central City.
The new President of the United States is a woman.
Amaya, Nate, Mick, Cisco Ramon (from The Flash) and Felicity Smoak (from Arrow) make up the group that goes to 1951.
Sara, Ray, Barry Allen (from The Flash) and Oliver Queen (from Arrow) make up the team that goes to meet with The President.
Professor Stein and Caitlin Snow (from The Flash) focus on the problem of how to fight The Dominators directly.
Martin Stein apparently loved telling Lily the story of The Lion With The Thorn In His Paw to his daughter when she was young.
Dr. Lily Stein spent six years at MIT and holds a doctorate in nanotechnology.
As noted in the past, time jumps can cause nausea, temporary deafness or blindness and linguistic disorientation.
Cisco refers to the events of F307 and his discovery that Barry Allen's attempt to save the lives of his parents through time travel indirectly caused the death of Cisco's brother.
Lily Stein stayed up all night with Martin working on her seventh grade science project. It was the first time she was allowed to drink coffee - much to Clarissa Stein's disapproval.
Martin Stein refers to the events of F308 and how he discovered that the visions he began having in 206 were of a daughter who didn't exist in his original timeline.
The Dominator Nate speaks with in 1951 says the reason The Dominators came to Earth was to study the emergence of meta-humans and determine if they were a threat.
The first Dominator Invasion coincided with the emergence of the JSA. Apparently World War II was the first sizable collection of meta-humans on Earth.
Cisco makes the call to rescue the captured Dominator in 1951.
Cisco and Felicity are able to repair the Dominator pod used by the captured heroes to escape the Dominator mother-ship in A508, allowing the Dominator to return home.
Cisco takes a transponder from the Dominator ship. He thinks he can use it to communicate with The Dominators in 2016.
The Men In Black know that Barry Allen is The Flash. It isn't made clear what other superhero identities they might know. Given that they apparently outrank ARGUS in the chain of command in dealing with The President (based on F308), they probably have access to their records.
The Dominators have the capacity to detect the alteration of time. This is how they knew that Barry Allen was responsible for altering the timeline.
The Men In Black brokered a peace-deal with The Dominators in 1951. The Dominators agreed to leave Earth in peace provided Earth's meta-humans took no hostile actions against them. Barry Allen's altering the timeline to create The Flashpoint Reality apparently broke this treaty.
The Men In Black negotiate a new deal - give Barry Allen to The Dominators in exchange for continued peace.
It is unknown how many metahumans the meta-bomb would kill. It is guessed, however, that it might kill two million non-meta-humans.
Cisco is able to use his Vibe powers to project himself and Nate onto the Dominator mothership.
The metabomb is massive enough that The Waverider is just barely able to hold it up using its tractor beam.
Firestorm is able to transmute the metabomb into water.
The Legends, Green Arrow, The Flash, Spartan and Supergirl are acknowledged by The President, despite the nature of their role in stopping the Invasion needing to remain secret.
Cisco builds a device that will let Supergirl travel between her universe and Earth One. It also has a communicator, so she can contact the heroes on Earth One for help.
Professor Stein asks Jax to keep the nature of his daughter a secret to the rest of The Legends.
Supergirl apparently talked with The President and told her about the Department of Extranormal Operations on her Earth and how they dealt with alien affairs. She apparently liked the idea so much that she was shutting down Agent Smith's agency in favor of creating something similar.
Agent Smith is apparently reassigned to Antarctica.
Cisco and John both forgive Barry for the changes his time-traveling brought about in their lives.
Central City - November 2016
Redmond, Oregon - 1951
The Bottom Line
For all the build-up over the Dominator invasion, this episode is far heavier on quiet, character-building moments than scenes full of alien-fighting action. Thankfully, this proves to be to the episode's benefit. The ensemble casts of all the shows play well with each other and not one subplot misfires. Hopefully we won't have to wait another year to see all these characters together again.