Precursor to a Crisis
The final season of Arrow began with one of the biggest surprises the Arrowverse has ever given us. With a shortened season and with most, if not all, of the episodes meant to tie into both the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover story and the spinoff focusing on older versions of Oliver Queen’s kids and his allies, the first episode does a perfect job at setting all of that up.
A Slight Recreation of the Pilot
Starling City starts out with a recreation of how the first episode of Arrow started, with Oliver being rescued after being found in Lian Yu, an island in the North China Sea that translates to “purgatory”, and being brought back home. It is after he comes back home that we see that Oliver is actually on Earth-2, sent there by the Monitor as part of the mission to save the multiverse.
Pretending to be his doppelgänger, Oliver learns that he’s been missing for over a decade, the other version of his mother and Malcolm Merlyn have married, and that this Earth’s Thea, Oliver’s sister, died of a drug overdose. Oliver’s mission is to retrieve specific Dwarf Star particles only found on Earth-2 and the only place to find it is in Malcolm’s company. He reluctantly gets help from his version of John Diggle, following Oliver with a device that helps him jump from one Earth to another, and allies with the Earth-2 Laurel Lance and Adrian Chase, who has taken the mantle of The Hood at Laurel’s behest.
Much like with the storyline of the first season, Oliver has to stop a Merlyn from destroying the Glades, a section of the city riddled with crime. Only this time it’s the alternate Tommy, who was Oliver’s best friend, and is doing it for what happened to Thea. With all the help he has, Oliver manages to get to Tommy, beat him in a fight, and manages to convince him to turn of the machine that would have destroyed the Glades. Once the particles are taken out of the machine, he visits Tommy in jail, and gets to give his alternate mother a proper goodbye, Oliver prepares to continue on his mission until all of a sudden Earth-2 is being vaporized and manages to get him, Diggle, and Laurel to jump to Earth-1.
The Future of Arrow
Beside this story, there is another that flash-forwards to 2040. In this future storyline, a new Arrow team fights against a team of Deathstroke-inspired criminals. The New Arrow team consists of Oliver and Felicity Smoak’s children Mia Smoak and William Clayton, Diggle’s adopted son Connor Hawke, and Oliver ally Wild Dog’s daughter Zoe Ramirez. While the Deathstroke Gang is led by John Diggle Jr., Diggle’s biological son. The Deathstroke Gang wants to take over Star City and the destruction of the wall, instigated by the new Arrow team in last season’s finale, that separated the Glades from the rest of the city has only strengthened them.
Hitting the Mark
This season premiere is filled with great writing, amazing acting, well done fight scenes, memorable and surprising moments, and some fun references. Unlike the past Arrow premieres and most of the series, this episode takes away the more grounded and realistic approach that the show focused on more compared to the other Arrowverse programs and goes for the more spectacular and fantasy style without sacrificing its look and tone.
The main story with Oliver is the most important part, though not to say that the 2040 scenes don’t have their merit, what with the twist of Diggle’s son being a villain. Fitting a lot of references from the first season into one episode is done well without making it feel bloated. Oliver’s failed attempt to escape what he thinks is Earth-2’s Diggle in a similar fashion to their first interaction shows how much the two have bonded since then. Reusing similar forms of dialogue when Oliver first meets Earth-2’s Tommy and his mother as he did when reuniting with his versions, being kidnapped by Tommy, and their final fight are all reminiscent of what happened in the first season. Oliver’s interactions with his alternate mother and Tommy, especially the reused conversations, show how much Stephen Amell has grown playing the role.
While other recent episodes of the Arrowverse have only mentioned or hinted at the seriousness of the upcoming Crisis event, this episode outright shows the true danger of the multiverse’s destruction after Earth-2 is destroyed by antimatter. Whether this universe, and the people who live in it, will be restored or not by the end of the story is yet to be known but this sets the stage for how epic the multi part episodes will be compared to the original comic event. And since this is the version of Earth from which Jesse Quick is from, we’ll have to see how The Flash will address it.
Even with all these amazing moments and epic ending, Starling City does have some issues in it, though fairly small. When the episode opens just like the pilot, we see Batman’s cowl in place of Slade’s mask on the beach with an arrow sticking out of it, while later on Adrian comments about advice Bruce Wayne once gave him. They never give a precise detail on whether Batman really was on the island, why he was there, if he’s still in action, or if he and Oliver fought.
In a previous Flash episode, it was established that the Earth-2 version of Oliver’s father survived the boat sinking, became The Hood, and had his identity revealed when he was captured by the police. Not once does anyone ever mention or what happened to him. One last problem, though smaller, is they never establish when all of this takes place, whether at the same time as the Flash episode that aired before it or much later.
Regardless, the eight season premiere of Arrow is the first sign that the Arrowverse will change soon.
You can watch Starling City as a rerun on The CW or stream it through the CW Seed.
How did we rate the premiere of the final season of Arrow? Rating: 6 Sodas.
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