Last week, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) learned that Mar Novu, aka The Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), for whom he’s been working to help stop the coming crisis, might actually be the cause of the event! In 2040, Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) led Team Arrow 2.0 on a raid of the Deathstroke Gang’s HQ—which ended in Zoe Ramirez (Andrea Sixtos)’s death and Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) on the verge of killing his brother, J.J. Diggle (Charlie Barnett)! Before Connor could deliver the killing blow, a blinding white light enveloped him, Mia, and William Harris (Ben Lewis), and brought them to 2019—face-to-face with Oliver, John Diggle (David Ramsey), Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), and Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez)! This week’s episode, Arrow S8E4, “Present Tense,” saw the two teams struggling to work together as they cope with events in 2040 and try to determine if they can change that future.
The episode opens exactly where last week’s left off: with the Team Arrows of 2019 and 2040 trying to figure out what the hell is going on. William hugs Oliver, and Mia keeps her distance from him. Diggle is taken aback at Connor calling him dad, saying that he hasn’t adopted anyone. William surmises that they’re somehow in the past, and Oliver guesses that Novu is behind it.
Later, after Oliver has explained the situation with The Monitor and the coming crisis to the rest of the team, he apologizes for not telling them all sooner. Rene, who’s running for city council in The Glades, wonders if they can ask their future children questions about what’s going to happen, but Oliver suggests giving them space. They all wonder aloud why The Monitor would bring Mia, William, and Connor, but not J.J. or Zoe, and what he’s trying to accomplish. Oliver says he’s working on figuring out how to stop him.
Meanwhile, the 2040 team discusses what to do. Connor tells Mia he didn’t have a chance to kill J.J. before they were brought to the past, but wryly tells her she has a chance to do it now since he’s only about 6 years old in 2019. Mia dismisses it, and they all agree not to tell their parents anything about the future, in particular that Zoe is dead or that J.J. killed her.
At Oliver and Felicity’s old apartment, Oliver, William, and Mia get acquainted. Oliver asks if they grew up together, and William says they only met recently. Mia excuses herself to a bedroom, and Oliver pulls out his phone to call Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), which William warns against until they have a better idea of what’s going on. William tells his father about his successful business in 2040, and then tells Oliver that he’s gay. Oliver says he and Felicity already knew, and they were waiting for William to tell them when they were comfortable. He apologizes for William never getting the chance to, and he says he hopes Mia will open up a bit.
At Starling General Hospital, a man in a wheelchair is having chest pains. His wife flags down a doctor to check him out, snootily saying that they’re donors to the hospital. The doctor opens the man’s shirt to reveal a bomb has been placed under his skin, and the people scatter as the bomb explodes. On a rooftop across town, a figure watches the explosion—a figure wearing the mask of Deathstroke.
Days of Future Past
Back in the bunker, Oliver, Rene, Mia, and William watch a news report about the hospital attack. Oliver confirms that it’s not Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), saying that someone has co-opted the Deathstroke identity. Just then Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) arrives, introducing himself to the kids from the future. Mia and William leave quickly, Mia saying they’d like to see the city. Curtis asks Oliver why he called, and Oliver tells Curtis about the destruction of Earth-2. He hands Curtis a piece of fabic that he says was touched by the energy that destroyed that world, asking him to analyze it to find out what it is. He says they may be able to use it to kill The Monitor.
At the SCPD, Connor arrives to help Diggle and Dinah with the investigation. Dinah presents a card they found on the victim, which Connor recognizes as something the Deathstroke Gang uses, though he does not tell Dinah and Diggle that. He also recognizes the words on the card as something that J.J. says frequently. He gets a text from Mia and exits, leaving them to continue the investigation.
Having met up with Mia and William, Connor tells them what he saw, and they discuss whether J.J. could have come back to the past with them. William wants to tell Oliver and the team what they know, but Mia insists that this is their fight, and Connor suggests that he knows where to look for J.J. if it is him.
The three arrive at the location Connor knows as the birthplace of the Deathstrokes. William stays behind as Mia and Connor head further in, unknowingly triggering a sensor as they enter. In an open room they find another dead body, and Mia steps on something that activates a bomb across the room. A group of Deathstrokes enter, and Connor shouts at who he believes to be J.J., demanding to know why he’s doing this. The leader removes his helmet to reveal Grant Wilson (Jamie Andrew Cutler), the son of Slade Wilson. He and another Deathstroke exit as Oliver, Dinah, and Black Siren (Katie Cassidy Rodgers) enter, taking out the other Deathstrokes. Oliver fires a freeze arrow into the bomb and the team narrowly escapes the explosion.
Having returned to the bunker, Oliver asks the kids what they were doing without backup. Connor tells them about the Deathstrokes in the future, but says that Grant is their leader. Dinah says she heard Connor call him J.J., and Diggle demands to know what’s going on. Connor explains that J.J. is the leader of the Deathstrokes, and William tells them about Zoe’s death at J.J.’s hands.
Outside, Diggle and Rene vent their anger at each other. Diggle says maybe they can change the future, but Rene says it might not make a difference and storms off. Connor, who followed them out, apologizes to Diggle for not telling them sooner. He explains that J.J. resented the attention that Diggle gave to a rebellious Connor when they were growing up, saying that if he’d been a better son none of this would have happened. Diggle says that all Connor’s done since his arrival is lie, and asks what it is Connor wants him to say.
Inside, William and Mia bring Oliver, Laurel, and Dinah up to speed on what’s actually been going on in the future. Dinah wonders how J.J. could do something like this, and Mia snaps that they need to accept who J.J. really is. Oliver asks what they know about Grant Wilson, and William tells him how Grant established a reputation as a hero to the poor of Star City by targeting the rich. Dinah leaves to check on Rene, William sets to work cracking a drive that they took from the Deathstrokes’ headquarters, and Oliver says they need to sit tight until they know what Grant’s plan is.
Later, Dinah finds Rene and young Zoe (Eliza Faria) walking through the park. Zoe heads home, and Rene asks Dinah how he can go on knowing exactly how and when Zoe’s going to die. Dinah says they can try to change what happens. Meanwhile, back at the bunker, Oliver finds Mia preparing to go out to find the Deathstrokes. He tells her he won’t let her leave without backup, and she rails against him for leaving his family behind so he could go play hero. Oliver refuses to let her leave alone, and Laurel says she’ll go with Mia. As they leave, William and Oliver see Grant Wilson on TV basically declaring war on the 1%. William says this might be how the future he comes from begins.
We Can Fix It
Shortly, Dinah, Diggle, and Connor have returned to the bunker, and the team plans their next move. Connor says Grant’s next attack won’t be against the rich, explaining it’s a typical Deathstroke mislead. He’s not sure what they’re going to do next, though, since they’ve changed the Deathstrokes’ past by destroying their headquarters. William says he was able to hack the drive they found, but that it’s encrypted, so he’s called Curtis for help. While they work, Dinah asks Diggle if he’s avoiding Connor. Diggle says he doesn’t know what to do or think, and that he blames himself for not being able to save the city or J.J. Dinah reiterates what she said to Rene earlier about working to change the future now.
At the hospital crime scene, Laurel and Mia are looking for clues. Laurel says she knows Mia is planning to kill Grant, but that she’s not going to try to talk her out of it. Mia says she has to kill Grant to stop J.J. from killing Zoe in the future. Laurel tries to talk her out of it by telling her how Felicity was going to kill Ricardo Diaz last year, which Laurel also talked her out of. She says Felicity never regretted not going through with it, and maybe Mia should change her approach.
Back at the bunker, William finds Oliver brooding. Oliver says Mia had a point about his leaving his family behind to go with The Monitor. William says he felt the same way when he left Oliver and Felicity to go live with his grandparents, explaining that he wanted Oliver to try harder for them to be together, and that all any kid wants is for their parents to try hard. Curtis interrupts and brings them back to the rest of the group (minus Rene), explaining that he’s finished translating the drive, and that Grant is planning a siege similar to the one his father carried out years earlier. Bombs are planted around the city, and if the team takes out the relay Grant has set up, they’ll disable all the bombs at once. Rene enters and tells them they can’t stop this the way they did last time. Dinah and Rene say they’ll work with the police to keep the public calm. Oliver suggests that William stay in the bunker with Curtis while he, Diggle, Laurel, Mia, and Conner take care of Grant and the bombs.
In the tunnels beneath the city, Oliver and Mia have split from Diggle, Laurel, and Conner. The latter team finds a pair of guards dead, while Oliver and Mia find Grant recording another message. A group of Deathstrokes appear behind them, and a fight breaks out. At SCPD, Rene has organized a press conference in The Glades, and Dinah finds a bomb planted by a recently-arrested drunk who turns out to be a Deathstroke. Back underground, Oliver and Mia fight their way to Grant, and the others make their way to the relay, which none of them knows how to disarm.
Mia engages Grant in a brutal fight that ends with her holding a knife to Grant’s throat, while William and Curtis talk Connor through how to deactivate the bomb. Connor removes a wire from the device, and Oliver fires a bola arrow at Grant, restraining him and keeping Mia from killing him. Grant is still able to trigger the relay via his phone, but it does nothing since Connor has disarmed it. Mia nocks an arrow to kill Grant, but Oliver stands in her way, saying he won’t let her do it. She lowers the weapon.
Back at the bunker, Dinah says Grant is being sent to Blackgate prison in Gotham (so look for him to show up on Batwoman at some point). Oliver says removing the Deathstrokes will hopefully change things for the better, and Diggle says if not they’ll make their own hope. Oliver asks Mia if she’s okay, and Mia thanks him for not letting her kill Grant. Diggle invites Connor to stay with him, accepting Connor as part of his family. Rene, Dinah, and Laurel talk about whether or not they really changed the future, and Dinah and Laurel both agree that the Canary network that’s been set up in 2040 is a good idea. Rene suggests they start working on the future now.
At the graveside of Oliver’s father, he tells Mia that he didn’t truly know who his father was until after he died. He says he doesn’t want that for he and Mia. She asks him if the guilt over losing people ever leaves, and he says it doesn’t. He offers to help her learn to live with it, and she nods.
That night, Rene makes his speech to The Glades. He talks about being tired of waiting for things to get better in the future. Meanwhile, Diggle and Connor train back at the bunker, while Dinah and Laurel have a discussion over a bag of Big Belly Burger. Back at Oliver and Felicity’s old apartment, Oliver makes grilled cheese sandwiches for William and Mia before getting a call from Curtis, who has finished his analysis of the fabric. He says the substance is able to be replicated, but he’ll need plutonium in order to do it, and he knows a Russian general they can get some from.
As Laurel leaves the SCPD building, she’s confronted by The Monitor. He offers to restore Earth-2 for Laurel in exchange for one thing: she has to betray Oliver.
While this week’s episode did relatively little to move the overall crisis-tinged storyline forward, it did feature some nice character moments between the present-day heroes and their future progeny. It looks like Connor, Mia, and William are here to stay – just what role will they play in coming events? Is their original future effectively gone? And will Laurel turn on Oliver in order to get her world back? Come back next week to find out.