Arrow returned for the first of its final stretch of ten episodes tonight. Following last season’s finale, Oliver Queen and The Monitor are making ready for the coming Crisis on Infinite Earths. Where will their journey take them? And how will the flash-forwards to the Star City of 2040 fit into the coming crossover? The eighth season premiere reveals more about what Oliver and The Monitor are going to be up to this season, with a cliffhanger that unofficially kicks off the Crisis. It’s time to talk about Arrow S8E1!
(Before we get into the recap, check out this great flash-forward art by Emanuela Lupacchino, Brett Breeding, and Dave McCaig that series executive producer Marc Guggenheim shared on Twitter this morning:
#Arrow's final season bows today, so it feels appropriate to share this glimpse of its future. Many thanks to @DCComics @manulupac @DaveMcCaig & Brett Breeding for this stunning art. #TheFutureIsFemale@Kat_McNamara @MzKatieCassidy @JulianaHarkavy @SchwartzApprovd @ojbalderrama pic.twitter.com/i6H0WEZAEn
— Marc Guggenheim (@mguggenheim) October 15, 2019
Seems like a solid teaser image for that spin-off they’re working on!)
The episode opens a sequence reminiscent of the first scene of the series’s first episode – Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) running through the jungle of Lian Yu, firing a flaming arrow into a pyre that alerts a passing fishing boat. We learn something is amiss when a camera pan reveals, where previously there was a Deathstroke mask on a pike, now a Bat-mask sits with an arrow through its eye. Narration from The Monitor reveals a hierarchy for humanity, with heroes sitting above normal humans, and a group of heroes called Paragons above other heroes. As the camera pulls in on the newly-rescued Oliver Queen’s face, The Monitor calls those Paragons “the only hope of all creation.”
We next see Oliver’s hospital room reunion with his mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson) and return to the Queen Mansion, where they’re met by Malcolm Marlyn (John Barrowman). Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) then ascends a staircase, and he and Oliver embrace. Oliver asks where Thea is, and Moira reveals to tells him that Thea overdosed on Vertigo on her eighteenth birthday. Later, at dinner, Oliver deflects questions about how he survived on the island for so long, and learns that Moira and Malcolm are married. He excuses himself and heads up to his room.
In his bedroom, Oliver looks at a photo he carries of he, Felicity, and their newborn daughter. Moira comes in to comfort Oliver about all the changes he’s come back to, and says she can tell Oliver has changed as well. Oliver asks her if she would ever agree to leave her family behind in order to protect them. Moira says everything she’s ever done has been to protect her family. They embrace, and Moira leaves to let Oliver rest. As she exits, Oliver holds up a Queen-Merlyn Enterprises keycard that he swiped off of his mother.
That night, Oliver (as Green Arrow) breaks into the Queen-Merlyn applied sciences division using his mother’s keycard. There he discovers a group of bodies, all riddled with arrows. He turns to see another man in a similar costume nock an arrow and growl “You have failed this city.’ The two engage in a truly brutal fight, which is broken up by Black Siren (Katie Cassidy), who asks Oliver what he’s doing on Earth-2. The other man stands and unmasks, revealing Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra), who on Earth-1 was the villain called Prometheus.
Return of the Dark Archer
Back at the bunker, which on Earth-2 is Black Siren’s headquarters, Siren reveals that she and Chase are working together to protect Starling City. When Chase comes within earshot, Siren protects that Oliver is from a parallel earth, saying he has apparently spent the last twelve years on Lian Yu. Siren and Chase are working on identifying a Dark Archer who’s been killing people in Starling, and Oliver believes, as it was on his earth, that it’s Malcolm Merlyn. He heads off to talk to his step-father.
At Queen-Merlyn, Oliver finds The Monitor waiting for him. The Monitor reminds him not to meddle in the affairs of this Earth, and Oliver says he only got caught up in this by doing what The Monitor requested of him: breaking into Queen-Merlyn to steal dwarf star particles. The Monitor says these specific particles can only be found on Earth-2, and Oliver says he was looking for Malcolm because the particles had already stolen when he arrived.
From there, we flash-forward to the first 2040 sequence of the season. Since Star City and The Glades were reunified at the end of last season, crime in Star City has dropped, while crime in Star City has risen. William Clayton (Ben Lewis), now going by William Harris, is hosting a unification fundraiser, with Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara), Zoe Ramirez (Andrea Sixtos), and Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) all working undercover to protect the party’s host, Mr. Vasquez. Mia immediately goes off-book to investigate movement outside the party, where she encounters a security guard (Charlie Barnett) who warns her against being outside. The guard uses a device to secretly scramble her earpiece comms before escorting her back inside. As they walk away we see the real security guard, out of sight and dead on the ground.
Back in the Earth-2 present, Oliver grills Malcolm about the dwarf star project, and Malcolm assures him the project is simply about alternative energy. Oliver excuses himself to the bathroom, but instead sneaks off, at first finding a blonde woman he assumes is Felicity, then asking her who runs the IT department. Entering the office belonging to Curtis Holt, Oliver accesses the dwarf star project files and discovers Malcolm is managing the project. That night, Green Arrow smashes into Malcolm’s office and confronts him before being fought off by the Dark Archer, who is decidedly not Malcolm. Oliver briefly subdues the Archer, unmasking him to reveal Tommy. The surprise allows the Archer to escape.
The next day, Malcolm and Moira are speaking with the police—specifically Sgt. Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy)—about what Malcolm saw take place in his office. Oliver and Tommy are also present, and Tommy says it’s clear someone is targeting his father. At that the head of Malcolm’s new security team, Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez), escorts Sgt. Drake out. Moira then introduces Oliver to John Diggle (David Ramsey), who she has hired to act as Oliver’s bodyguard. As they drive away, Diggle reveals that he’s the man Oliver knows from Earth-1. He says Cisco gave him a device to travel between worlds, and he expresses frustration that Oliver would go off on his own yet again. Oliver tells him he didn’t ask anyone to help him because he knows he’s headed towards his own death, something that Felicity did not tell Diggle.
In 2040, the security guard has escorted Mia back inside just as a gang wearing Deathstroke masks enters and starts shooting up the place. Mia and the team engage with the guard and the Deathstrokes, while a pair of Deathstrokes kidnap Mr. Vasquez. As the dust settles, Connor reveals that the security guard is his brother, John ‘J.J.’ Diggle Jr.
On Earth-2, Oliver’s welcome home party is underway at the Verdant club. Oliver is keeping an eye on Tommy, who slips away. As Oliver follows he runs into Diggle, who again admonishes him for working alone. Oliver reluctantly subdues him so he can continue after Tommy. He confronts Tommy in the parking garage before being shot with a tranquilizer dart by Rene.
A bucket of cold water awakens a chained-up Oliver. Rene and Dinah are excused by Tommy, who berates Oliver and tells him the city is beyond saving. Oliver realizes that this is The Undertaking, and that Tommy stole the dwarf star particles so he could destroy The Glades. Tommy says he’s out for vengeance for what happened to Thea, and Oliver tries and fails to appeal to Tommy’s better nature.
In 2040, Mia and Zoe snipe at each other over Mia leaving her post, and the team speculates on what the Deathstroke gang wants with abducting Vasquez. William has tracked their location, and as the team prepares for battle, he pleads with Mia to follow Connor’s lead. She reluctantly agrees.
The chained Oliver manages to free himself, and is joined by Diggle. They get into it again about Oliver going it alone, and Oliver argues that the people of Earth-2, many of whom are dead on Earth-1, were better off without him. Diggle points out that Thea is dead, and that their friends are all evil on this world. Oliver finally agrees to let Diggle help him, and the two go to Black Siren’s bunker to recruit her and Chase to help. They determine that Tommy is going to strike at the location where Thea died in The Glades, and they suit up.
In The Glades, Oliver, Diggle, Black Siren, and Chase (as The Hood) engage Tommy’s goons. They fight through them, and Oliver takes down Rene and Dinah before finding Tommy on the roof. The two fight, and Oliver takes Tommy down, but finds he can’t deactivate the dwarf star bomb without a code only Tommy has. Oliver again appeals to Tommy’s better nature, this time successfully, and Tommy deactivates the bomb.
The Crisis Begins
Back at the bunker, Chase dismantles the dwarf star bomb and gives Oliver the particles. Chase reveals that he’s figured out Oliver is from a parallel earth, and Oliver suggests he change his name from ‘The Hood’ to ‘Green Arrow.’ He tells Siren that the city is lucky to have her, and he and Diggle head out. Diggle asks Oliver if they can go home, and Oliver says there’s one thing he has to do first.
In 2040, the team is raiding the Deathstroke gang’s location to rescue Vasquez. Connor says he’s going to use himself as bait to distract J.J. while the others save the hostage. Vasquez is being tortured by the Deathstrokes, and he finally enters a set of codes into J.J.’s tablet. Just then Connor arrives and takes on the gang, and Mia arrives to save Vasquez, but is attacked by J.J. who quickly gains the upper hand. He tells Mia he “owns this city” now, grabbing the tablet and escaping out the window. As he escapes, Mia snaps and Connor that from now on they’re going to do things her way.
On Earth-2, Oliver visits Tommy at the police station. They’re interrupted by Moira and Malcolm, who say they’re going to get Tommy out of there, but Tommy apologizes for what he’s done. Oliver and Moira exit the room, and Oliver hugs his confused mother goodbye. As Oliver and Diggle exit the precinct, every phone begins to ring, and Laurel (Black Siren) rushes in and says the city is under attack. Just then a wall of white energy surrounds the building and begins closing in. Diggle opens a portal back to Earth-1, and Oliver watches as both his mother and Tommy are consumed by the energy. Diggle, Oliver, and Laurel escape through the portal, and Earth-2 is apparently no more.
What a way to end an episode! If this whole season is going to be Oliver travelling from earth to earth, encountering alternate versions of characters we know and love, I’m more than on board for that. Still no indication of how the 2040 sequences will play a role, if at all, unless it’s revealed that that future is itself an alternate earth, which would be a heck of a twist. We’re sure to learn more as the final season of Arrow continues next week!