Arrow: Starling City

“Oliver, what the hell are you doing on my Earth?”

If this season has to serve as Arrow’s swan song then this episode is a love letter to its longtime fans. Taking the events of season one and turning them on their head both to propel the Monitor’s mission to stop the Crisis and to look back on how far Oliver has come.

Oliver is sent to Earth 2 in search of the Dwarf Star particles needed to avert the coming Crisis. The reason for this adventure is far less interesting than the method of recovery. Oliver is sent back to Lian Yu to be rescued by eerily familiar Chinese fishermen.

As Oliver relives season one, sometimes with shot-for-shot and word-for-word accuracy, there are some notable changes. Moira married a kinder, gentler Malcolm Merlyn instead of Walter Steele and in the absence of Oliver’s intervention, Thea died of a Vertigo overdose on her 18th birthday. In this world, Tommy is not only alive but well aware that Thea was his sister. Her death presumably sent him packing to Nanda Parbat instead of his father.

Oliver’s family dynamics isn’t the only area of his life Earth 2 has rewritten. Quentin is replaced by a rogue version of Dinah, and Rene appears to be Tommy’s answer to Diggle. Felicity never slummed in Queen Consolidated or rather Queen-Merlyn Enterprises’ IT department. Instead, she runs Smoak Tech. The department at Queen-Merlyn is led by none other than Mr. Terrific himself. And if the picture on his desk is to be believed, Curtis is as happily partnered with Nick on Earth 2 as he is back on Earth 1.

Earth 2 also has its own “Hood,” none other than Adrian Chase. This should not come as a complete surprise considering that Adrian and Oliver’s histories seemed to mirror each other. It appears Laurel recruited Adrian’s assistance upon her redemptive return home, just as she recruited Felicity’s assistance in the creation of her very own bunker. Hero looks good on the former Black Siren.

But how can Oliver’s world be complete without Diggle? Not an alternate version but Oliver’s Earth 1 brother-in-arms. Oliver may be prepared to face his fate and make the ultimate sacrifice but Diggle refuses to let him go alone, not if there is an infinitesimal chance that fate could change. After losing most of his family and abandoning the rest for their safety, Oliver respectfully disagrees. I expect the argument to continue until the bitter end.

Some of the changes don’t hold up under scrutiny. Like how or even why Moira hired Earth 1 Diggle as Ollie’s bodyguard. Where is his Earth 2 counterpart? Or the purpose of the Dark Archer’s defense of Malcolm, other than a kick-ass fight and an excuse for Oliver to learn Tommy’s secret identity.

But who cares when it allows Moira, Malcolm, and Tommy to grace our screens once more? Unfortunately, we are reintroduced to these beloved (or beloved-to-hate) characters only to lose them again, as we are forced to bear witness to Earth 2’s complete destruction. I can only imagine the psychological toll it will have on Oliver.

Things aren’t going much better in the flash forwards. Now that the wall between the Glades and the rest of Star City has come down, the citizens of the Glades are forced to deal with crime and poverty once more. The fact that the vigilantes have reduced the overall crime rate leaves them unimpressed.

This is made worse as members of the fledgling vigilantes vie for the role of leader. William, while being the face of the team, as well as benefactor and tech guru, cannot command anyone’s respect. Connor may be uber competent but getting Mia to fall in line is beyond even him. And Mia’s ability to sniff out trouble is spot on but her lack of discipline continually puts the team at risk. But when Connor’s plan nearly costs Mia her life, she decides to take charge.

We also finally meet JJ, Diggle’s son, Connor's adopted brother, and leader of the Deathstroke Gang. And while Team Arrow 2.0 are convinced JJ kidnapped Vasquez for his money, JJ seems to have a larger agenda. I don’t know what those codes unlocked but it does not bode well for our heroes.

When the series began, the question to be answered was could Oliver move past his violent vigilante origins and become the hero his city needed. For better or worse, The Powers That Be answered that question last season with a definitive yes. The Monitor opens this season by posing and by implication answering another one: if Paragons are the only hope of creation. Is Oliver up to that challenge?

Oliver wins the battle by redeeming Tommy and recovering the Dwarf Star particles. But he gets a firsthand look at the fate that awaits his Earth and his family should he fail to win the war. The stage is now set for Arrow’s final season. Impressive.

4.5 out of 5 Dwarf Star Particles

Parting Thoughts:

The title card was the same as season one.



Deathstroke’s mask on Lian Yu was replaced by Batman’s.

Adrian Chase and Bruce Wayne are friends. And Bruce is either a big Arthur Conan Doyle fan or this world’s Sherlock Holmes. Mind blown.

Does this mean Harry and Jesse Quick are no more? Say it ain’t so!

Quotes:

Tommy: "Come on, man. Why are you looking at me like I’m the one who’s been gone a decade?"

Moira: "Whether right or wrong, everything I’ve ever done was to protect my children."

Adrian: "Still doesn’t explain why you’re running around in my hood."
Oliver: "I needed an identity to work under, and yours seemed convenient. Sorry."

Malcolm: "I didn’t know you had wi-fi on Lian Yu."

William: "No one listens to the Tech Guy."

Oliver: "I can’t prevent whatever it is that’s going to happen to me, but I will be damned if I’m going to put other people at risk."
Diggle: "And I’ll be damned if I just let you go gently into that good night."

Tommy: "What happened to you on that island?"
Oliver: "What happened to you while I was on that island?"

Zoe: "Speaking of your evil brother and his masked maniacs, we’re going to talk about that, right?"
Connor: "Wrong."

William: "I believe that fate brought the four of us together for a reason. Just like it did for our parents when they decided to save our city. Now it’s our turn. We don’t want to mess it up, do we?"

Oliver: "If I let you help me, you will get hurt or you will get killed and it will be because of me."
Diggle: "You don’t know that."
Oliver: "I do know that. Because everyone else in my life is either dead or alone."

Diggle: "This world isn’t better. It’s much, much worse. You know why? Because you weren’t in it."

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

What a terrific episode. I'm more of a casual viewer of Arrow than a fan, and it still blew me away. The part that made me go awwww the most was the Earth-1 Diggle showing up. Awwwww.

Shari said...

I've watched the first season more times than I care to admit so what got me were the tiny things that they mirrored perfectly. From Moira calling Oliver "My beautiful boy." to Oliver patting Tommy's shoulder as he left the dinner table. I did take particular pleasure in Dig locking the door and preventing Ollie's disappearing act yet still falling for Oliver knocking him unconscious. Or, or, or... It took everything for me not to gush over the entire episode. It was like a present just for nitpickers like me!

CoramDeo said...

Loved the episode, but you're right, the timeline and Earths stuff has some issues. Plus, wasn't Earth-2 Arrow explicitly revealed to have been Oliver's dad in an episode of The Flash?

CoramDeo said...

Also, here's your best answer to the Harry and Jesse Quick question right now. https://www.cbr.com/arrow-clear-destruction-earth-2-flash-writers/