Arrow: Reset

“I remember it differently.”

Live. Die. Repeat. Arrow-style.

This episode took the Groundhog Day approach to answer two long-standing questions and gave us a reminder of why we loved Quentin so much. The debate of whether Mar Novu is The Monitor or the Anti-Monitor is now over. As I predicted, he is on the side of angels. Also answered is the question of why William, Mia, and Connor were transplanted from 2040 to 2019. If Mar Novu is a space god, he’s at least a benevolent space god. But we’ll get to that later.

The need for logical plot progression takes a back seat to Laurel and Oliver's emotional journey. How did the mercenaries take over a police station? “Long story.” How did they discover the merc’s secret hideout? “A.R.G.U.S. superior analytics.” I give it a pass since the events are beside the point. The point is to teach Laurel and, more importantly, Oliver a lesson.

Well, in Laurel’s case it’s a back-handed gift. As a reward for not betraying Oliver, Laurel is offered the closure she never got with either her Earth-1 or Earth-2 father. The only problem is she has to watch Quentin die several more times before she figures that out. She’s made of stronger stuff than I am because after seeing my entire world destroyed, this would have left me a puddle on the floor.

Oliver had to learn two things. The first is that The Monitor is not evil. I’m as confused about how he came to that conclusion as I am about how he decided The Monitor was evil in the first place. I know when it occurred – during Oliver’s final discussion with Quentin. Which means it has to do with his gut instinct and mutual trust.

The instinct manifests as Oliver’s belief that his current predicament feels the same as his first encounter with The Monitor, i.e. it’s a test. That he’s right has nothing to do with any actual facts. But since he’s going on his gut, no facts are required.

As for mutual trust, the comparison is made that Quentin learned to trust Oliver because Quentin's daughters trusted him. So who provides that seal of approval for Oliver? The obvious answer is Lyla. But Oliver’s faith in Lyla is about the same as his faith in The Monitor himself, which is hardly a ringing endorsement.

The alternative is more implicit than explicit. In a previous iteration, Quentin states that saving him may not be the point. Oliver weighs it carefully and comes to the conclusion that Quentin is right. And if he's right about that, by extension Quentin's right about fate which, in this case, is synonymous with The Monitor. I lean towards this explanation although I admit it makes less sense.

In some ways that first lesson was just a symptom of the second. After all, if The Monitor is the bad guy, then Oliver doesn’t need to sacrifice himself. Maybe, just maybe they can destroy Mar Novu and Oliver can go home to Mia and Felicity, bring William home, and live happily ever after. Alas, that dream was also put to bed. If The Monitor is who he says he is, then his prediction must be true. Oliver must die.

However, as I said above, Mar Novu is a benevolent space god. In light of Oliver's ultimate sacrifice, the least he can do is give Oliver time with his children. As with Laurel, he's been given an opportunity for closure that he never should have had.

Due to the structure of the episode, all the other characters simply served as constructs in The Monitor’s personal Matrix. They don’t bear discussing. Although, I do have to mention that it dawned on me after last week’s episode, that if Lyla had been a villain, then Connor’s history would have been very different. Just sayin'.

I liked this episode but that had more to do with having Quentin back than anything else. The Groundhog Day structure has been done to death so while this was competently handled, it held few surprises. Especially since I’d come to the conclusion that The Monitor wasn’t The Big Bad weeks ago. That said–Quentin!



Next week, we head back to where it all began. Lian Yu. I can’t wait.

3.5 out of 5 time-resetting bombs

Parting Thoughts

David Ramsey directed this episode. Props Diggle!

I agree with Laurel, this episode has more in common with Edge of Tomorrow than Groundhog Day but since Groundhog Day is the Granddaddy of this genre that's the one I kept referring to.

Oliver asking Lyla why The Monitor went to such extremes to convince him he had to die made me laugh. The Monitor told him about his impending death multiple times and Oliver never truly believed it before. So he got a little more forceful.

As far as I can tell, Gwespin has no counterpart in the DC Comics. Is this some inside joke I’m unaware of?

Quotes:

Quentin: “What’s the matter, Oliver? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Oliver: “You actually believe me?”
Quentin: “Oliver, I’ve seen one daughter die and come back to life twice. I’ve seen another come from some other earth. I’ve seen a guy in red run so fast he can reverse time. This is not exactly outside the norm, is it? Also, I’m done learning my lesson about doubting you because that always bites me in the ass.”

Laurel: “Well, actually, since you’re not going to remember anyway, there is a crazy space god who has me trapped in a time loop.”
Oliver: “Yeah? Me too.”

Laurel: “I’m really not in the mood for small talk with The Monitor’s Bestie.”

Diggle: “You know what makes me so sure? You. You, Oliver. You always figure it out. You never stop fighting. You never give up. You always keep at it. Why should this be any different?”

Laurel: “How did you find this place?”
Oliver: “We analyzed the bomb and traced the chemical signature back to this building.”
Laurel: “Interesting.”
Oliver: “What?”
Laurel: “Your mouth but Felicity’s words.”

Laurel: “We’ve had to watch Quentin die over and over again, and we can’t save him. If I had to design hell, this would be it.”

Quentin: “That should disable the bomb.”
Laurel: “Well, I certainly hope so because I’m tired of getting blown up."

Laurel: “You believed in me when nobody else did.”
Quentin: “Well, that’s what dads do.”

Quentin: “I’ll see you on the other side, Oliver.”

Lyla: “Time is a gift.”

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

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

After so many seasons as a dud, how did Laurel get to be such a compelling character? It's almost like the haircut made her a different person, and I know that can't be it.

I love the Groundhog and I really liked this episode. So far, this season of Arrow might well be my favorite.

CoramDeo said...

I think Arrow has been hurting for a good older mentor character ever since Quentin died. The Flash still has Joe and Cecile as good, strong mentors to the cast, and when they stepped out of that role a bit last season, the quality tanked. I flipped out when I heard Paul Blackthorne's voice in this episode, and I think the reason I've missed him so much is because he was the 'Dad' character. Now that I think about it, actually, the CW kills off 90% of their Dad or Mom characters. Huh.

Shari said...

I agree with you about Laurel but I think it's because Earth-2 Laurel's journey is both more believable and more compelling. Or maybe it's just that I personally find redemption stories more interesting.

As for the death's of parental figures, I think that's the nature of the hero's journey and not unique to the CW. Although, in Paul Blackthorne's case I think it had to do with him wanting to spend more time back in the UK.

I'm not sure if this is my favorite season because season 2 is pretty hard to beat but it is certainly a close call.