Arrow’s Final Season Opens With An Intriguing Spin On “Starling City”

Credit: The CW

Here we go again, once more with feeling. For the last time I would like to welcome you to our recap of the season premiere of Arrow. Season eight picks up where season seven left off, which is in a place where no one was quite sure what was going to happen. With fan-favorite Felicity out of the proverbial and literal picture, Oliver was left to save the world all on his own. What he didn’t expect was John Diggle.

When “Starling City” first opens, it seems like we are taken back to the pilot: Oliver is running on Lian Yu, he is saved by fisher men, he is brought back home and reunited with his mother. However, a few things seem off. Oliver was gone for twelve years in this reality (which we learn is the Earth Black Siren is originally from), and his family now includes Moira’s new husband, Malcolm Merlyn and Tommy. When Oliver enquires about Thea’s whereabouts, his mother tells him she died from an overdose on her 18thbirthday – an event Oliver was able to prevent on his earth.

Oliver is tasked by the Monitor to retrieve dwarf star particles (in true Oliver fashion he not once stops to question what the other creature might need these for), but runs into trouble when the Dark Archer steals them first. Oliver consults Black Siren on the matter, who has teamed up with Hood, Adrian Chase.

At Queen Consolidated Oliver looks into confronting Malcolm, when he runs into the IT support, a young blonde woman, and learns that on this Earth, Felicity has successfully built up Smoak Tech. Oliver later attacks Malcolm as the Arrow, only to be interrupted by the Dark Archer, who turns out to be Tommy Merlyn. Oliver learns that Tommy has stolen the dwarf star particles to weaponize them and level the Glades, which he blames for Thea’s death.

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After the attack Moira decides to hire a bodyguard for Oliver, none other than John Diggle. But this John (plot twist!) is actually John from Oliver’s Earth, who has magically found a way to track him and join him on this alternate Earth. Oliver originally tries to shake him off and convince him to return home, but John Diggle is as stubborn as he is loyal, and ultimately Oliver decides that he could use the help.

Oliver confronts Tommy and appeals to him to be the better person, which he does. He deactivates the machine and hands over the dwarf sign particles. Mission completed, Oliver decides to return home to his Earth. Just as he bids his goodbye to Tommy and his mother, the reality is being attacked and ultimately completely erased. He is able to use Cisco’s alternate universe device to save himself, John and Laurel, before the rest of that Earth disappears.

The episode also dips into Star City in 2040, and Team Arrow 2.0 is experiencing some growing pains. When a mission goes sideways, Mia, William, Connor and Zoe are confronted with the fact that they are not quite as experienced and well-balanced as their parents. The conflict further escalates when they come across the head of the Deathstrokes, JJ Diggle, whose strength has clearly been enhanced by Mirakuru.

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Season eight of Arrow definitely kicks off what feels like a whole new era. The first episode is almost an exact re-run of season one, with a delicious “It’s a Beautiful Life” type twist, where Oliver is confronted with the things that could have happened if he hadn’t returned home – and it is incredibly interesting to watch. It remains unclear whether this is what the rest of the season will consist of – a quick refresher of every episode, including a new spin on its villains including Slade Wilson, Ra’s al Ghul, and Damian Darhk and other featured characters.

Either way, it was a delight to have Susanna Thompson, John Barrowman and Colin Donnell back on our screens, even though it was just for one night only. There will never be enough Tommy Merlyn content out in this world. Sadly, it feels like Josh Segarra was absolutely wasted on his episode, playing an even more broody and tight-lipped version of the Hood.

Frankly speaking, I’m intrigued to see where this is going, and I really, really didn’t think I would be. I will be the first to admit I was critical of a post-Felicity version of this show, but her presence was felt. So good for you Arrow, for keeping me interested long enough to finish the episode.

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Catch Arrow Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

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