[Warning: The following is a recap and contains full spoilers for the ninth episode of The Flash's third season.]
If you loved Mars Attacks! then this is your week. We've got some very bad aliens and a lot of embarrassing superhero mind control making friends fight friends. And I think we've all fought over who would run in a footrace between The Flash and Supergirl! (It's neither of them. Sorry. Back to the drawing board on that.)
Barry Allen now has a Kid Flash in this timeline, and the entire team seems committed to keeping him from becoming a superhero; except his dad who suddenly just seems glad that his boy is going to win state everything. Wally even asks the outcast H.R. if he'll handle the training but that's a no go, as H.R. is busy trying to sell the team on a rebranding effort for S.T.A.R. Labs.
This week's setup is based in "How many boring plot threads can we introduce before an alien invasion seems like a good idea?" And in that way, it is a massive success.
Soon, a vessel arrives from space and a group of green screaming teeth-monsters emerge from the ship and disappear into the city. The government anti-fun team A.R.G.U.S. is there to explain that these aliens are called The Dominators and no one breaks down laughing and tells A.R.G.U.S. that this is too dumb and everyone should just go home. Instead, the government says that these aliens showed up in the '50s and killed more than 100 dudes, but that this time we should all just play it cool and see what they want.
Team Flash is having none of this diplomacy shit, so they assemble the biggest superhero team of all time. We got your Legends of Tomorrow. We got your entire extended Arrowverse. We've even jumped a universe over to grab Supergirl. This makes is pretty chill to just call her by name instead of worrying about secret identities.
Once this unreasonably large cast of superheroes is collected, they begin training so we can return our attention to Wally and Caitlin — yes, two more superheroes — and decide whether or not anyone wants them to use their powers. Why not? Why can't we just finally give Joe and Iris powers and call it a day? Yes, Wally should use his powers and no, it still doesn't make sense that Caitlin turns evil and maybe killed someone last week? Man, I can't imagine this show not caring about a character getting murdered.
The Flash from the future sends the Legends back with a message that he can't be trusted, so he has to explain Flashpoint. By the time we're done introducing everyone and explaining timelines, this episode is basically kicked. Or so you would think! Because in the next scene, aliens straight up laser-murder the President of the United States into dust and no one ever brings it up again.
That dude got straight Mars Attacks'd and we do not bring it up again. The President. To death, bro.
The Bad XCOM CGI monsters turn on the mind control devices from Saints Row 4 and pretty soon all the good guys we brought together turn into bad guys. WHOOPS. Now it's up to Flash and Arrow to save the day.
They do. Wally helps and also gets hurt. Duh.
The alien devices get all blown up all over the place and everyone does a hug. It's all the nuts and bolts you'd expect from an episode used in a four series cross-over. Unfortunately, the best character development we get comes in the form of people monologuing at Barry about responsibility in times when they should be saving the earth from goddamned aliens. Aliens ... which seems to shock some of the characters even though an entire team in this team-up travels through time in a spaceship. So, whatever. Supergirl is great and she and Barry should totally date or keep racing each other or whatever supercouples do.
There is so much potential fun contained in this episode, and it gets wasted in a wash of explanation, setup and that old chestnut of superhero mind-control turning friends against each other. The stakes are sort of unchanged for the cross-over event moving forward, although it is kinda fun to watch everyone get mad at Barry for being bad at his job and choices. I'm always in favor of that. Still, this crossover event seems poorly timed for how spotty the Flash arc has gone this season, and I hope the show overcomes these events quickly.