What a fun episode, full of time travel shenanigans and a pretty cool villain.
This episode was packed, almost too full of things to talk about. It was all over the place thematically, with most of the stories relating to regrets about choices made in the past. It also introduced a new time travel paradigm, the idea that killing a past version of a character will kill the version of that character in the present. I say version, because this veers pretty heavily into paradox territory. Case in point, the solution to fighting off the Pilgrim was to kidnap the past versions of all of our team (except for Kendra and Rip). While that did solve the problem in the short term, the long term consequences of our characters being missing from their timelines is massive.
For example; Sara would never have gotten on the boat with Oliver, which would splinter time into thousands of permutations. Quentin and Laurel would have lost Sara earlier than before, from a random attack on the police station by a woman dressed in black. Sara would have disappeared, leaving those two characters grieving, but in a different way than before. They would never have blamed Oliver for her death when he returned to Starling City. Heck, without Sara on Lian Yu, it's possible that Oliver wouldn't have survived his confrontations with Slade. Then again, Shado might still be alive, so Slade would have never blamed Oliver for her death, leaving him an ally instead of an enemy. And that's just one of our heroes removed from the timeline.
Couple Sara's disappearance from the timeline with Ray's, and that creates a totally new timeline for Arrow, where things would have played out in a completely different way. That's not even counting the potential changes to the timeline created by a world without Snart, Mick, Jax and Stein. Look at those changes on the surface: the Flash wouldn't have had key allies in some very dangerous situations. Without project Firestorm, who knows what would have happened to Ronnie after the particle accelerator explosion? What about Lisa Snart? Her life would have been even more incredibly traumatic without her older brother protecting her from her father, or maybe she might not have been born at all.
In short, there is no way these characters can be removed from the timeline permanently without totally erasing years of continuity on the two mother shows. While it is a neat idea to contemplate and could potentially create a fun alternate universe for all of our shows to explore, it feels like it would be too much to tackle, and far too much to expect the audience to track if Arrow and The Flash were altered in such dramatic ways.
Moving on to the actual episode, there was a lot to like. While I didn't care much for Kendra's ongoing struggle with fate (i.e. Carter being the 'love of her life'), I thought her scenes with Sara were pretty strong. Especially the one where they kidnapped baby Snart and went all goo goo gaga on him. The introduction of the Refuge was also really neat, meeting a young Rip and learning his real name (Michael) and his adoptive mother (Mary Xavier). And pretty much all of the scenes between Jax and his father were well done.
My only real gripe was with how the writers of the episode ignored Ray's potential conflict upon seeing his dead wife again, because he seemed very ambivalent about her presence. She was killed by Deathstroke's attack on Starling City, so returning her to her own timeline would be essentially sentencing her to death. That seems like a pretty big thing for Ray to be upset about, or at the very least it should have been brought up. Instead we got drama associated with his deathbed proposal to Kendra.
Everybody remember where we parked:
Where they went: Central City 1990, Starling City 2007, Star City 2014, Central City 1972, Ivy Town 1950, Central City 1993 (whew, that's a lot of jumping around).
I loved Mick trying to talk himself out of being evil, and all the character building that went into learning about what happened in that focal point in his history. The idea that his evil was based on his inability to forgive himself for what happened to his parents was very much the kind of storytelling that a show like this needs.
Mary Xavier runs an orphanage for future time masters. That doesn't sound at all like Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, does it?
Rip got some character building as well, learning that he had an Artful Dodger-esque childhood until he was scooped up by the Time Masters. He also trusted his younger self to act in a very specific way, which was the key to stopping the Pilgrim.
Speaking of the Pilgrim, she was a fairly effective villain, and one I was sad to see defeated so quickly. Of course this is a time travel series, so it's very possible this isn't the last time we'll see her.
The interactions between the younger Mick and Sara were fun, and I loved how older Sara basically told her younger self that she wasn't into guys anymore.
Ray: "Could I be dead right now and not know it? Maybe I am dead right now. Hello? Can anybody hear me?"
Kendra: (checking out the babies) "Which one is Snart?"
Sara: "Look for the one with horns."
Quentin: "I always knew that you'd end up caring for people, protecting people."
Sara: "Well, I learned it from my dad."
I think what this episode proved was that the Time Masters are a much more credible threat than Vandal Savage, and maybe the focus of the series should shift to that conflict. Either way, episodes like this one show the promise and potential for future seasons.
3 1/2 out of 4 Mincemeat Pies
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.