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“Arrow” Season 8, Episode 1: “Starling City” Recap

It’s the beginning of the end for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and company. Welcome to the final season premiere of “Arrow” everyone. And boy was it a good one!

“Arrow” season eight episode one, titled “Starling City,” is a fantastic premiere. The callbacks, the fun moments, the emotions: It was definitely a premiere like no other, and having to say goodbye to this show soon is making me emotional.

Oliver Queen takes a trip down memory lane, hitting us with all the hidden Easter eggs and nostalgia that come with it. There are a lot of nods to the past. The premiere opens with Oliver back at the darn island, Lian Yu, and from there we can already tell what’s about to happen. After the season seven finale, Oliver is committed to his mission, his sacrifice and the deal he made with the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett). Basically, Earth-2 is destroyed and Oliver is back to another alternative earth where he’s introduced to a life that has moved on without him: an earth without Oliver Queen. 

“Hi Mom,” Oliver says as Moira (Susanna Thompson) comes rushing into the hospital room to see him, as they tearfully reunite now that he’s returned from the island, after 12 years! The premiere has a lot of callbacks to the pilot, and this moment is one of many moments we see in the premiere that gets us into our feels. Remember, Oliver is not on Earth-1 anymore. When they arrive at the Queen mansion, Oliver is hit with many more surprises in this earth. He is greeted by his new stepfather Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), WHOA and Tommy (Colin Donnell) as his stepbrother. As he takes in this new information, he also finds out that Thea overdosed on her 18th birthday because the disappearance of Oliver and their dad took a big toll on her. The face Oliver makes is heartbreaking, and Stephen Amell delivers the emotions oh so well.

Arrow Season 8 Episode 1
(L-R) Susanna Thompson as Moira and John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn | Photo credit: The CW Network

Seeing Oliver back in the Queen mansion definitely brings the nostalgia of season one. A lot of life-changing moments were held in the Queen mansion. After dinner, Moira enters Oliver’s room and they share an endearing moment. Oliver asks her if she was ever forced to leave her children to protect them, would she? She tells him that everything she has done was to protect her children and lets him know that it’s all that a parent can do. She also tells him that when he has children, he’ll know. In that moment, you can see how crushed he is that he can’t tell her about William, and that he too has a family of his own and he’s only trying to protect them from harm’s way. Felicity, William and Mia are never far from Oliver’s heart. It’s a tender moment between them really. Moira has been dead for most of the show’s run, and this moment between them is definitely one that’s been robbed for them.

As if his visit to Earth-2 hasn’t already been a doozy for Oliver, it gets even more odd when he embarks on his mission to Queen-Merlyn Consolidated to pick a dwarf star as requested by the Monitor. When he breaks in to take it, he’s interrupted by this earth’s very own Green Arrow (but still called the Hood) and look who it is: it’s Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra)! I giggled a bit, but wow, what a strange reveal it is for Oliver. They didn’t forget to bring out the Prometheus motif as well. That sound always creeped me out. Not only is he the Hood, but he’s also working with Laurel/Black Siren (Katie Cassidy) on their earth — interesting team-up. These two are in the works of taking down the Dark Archer, who Oliver is sure is Malcolm Merlyn behind the mask.

When Oliver goes back to ensure that it is Malcolm who stole the dwarf star, we get our classic “You have failed this city” saying from Oliver, only to be interrupted by the Dark Archer instead. After these two have their own fighting session, the Dark Archer’s identity is revealed to be Tommy! Crazy, right?!

Arrow Season 8 Episode 1
(L-R) Stephen Amell as Arrow and Colin Donnell as Tommy | Photo credit: The CW Network

Meanwhile, in 2040, Future Team Arrow are faced with their own problems: They’re teenagers left unattended without adults. Mia (Kat McNamara) finds it hard to play well with others; she’s truly her father’s daughter. William (Ben Lewis) is more like Felicity in his ways. We get to meet Diggle’s son, JJ (Charlie Barnett), aka Deathstroke. It’s a family affair once again, and I’m curious to see how all their dynamics will be, especially with JJ around.

After Moira learns of this attack, she does what a mom does best. Well, what Moira Queen does best: Hire a bodyguard for Oliver — another callback to the pilot. Surprise, surprise: Diggle (David Ramsey) is at the door. Oliver’s smile gets to you as he sees the man that is now in current time his brother from another mother, his confidant and partner in crime. He thinks this Diggle has no idea what he’s capable of and asks him what he should call him. After that, Oliver tries to make a run for it in the car and, much to Oliver’s surprise, the back door is locked. It’s the John Diggle from Earth-1! He tracked him down there because he won’t let him work alone. He scolds him for doing so (typical nods to the earlier seasons) and they remind you of how strong their brotherhood is. However, due to Oliver’s dismay, he pushes him away in order to protect him from what’s about to happen in the crisis to come.

Oliver has a run-in with Tommy and he ends up being captured by him. Tommy then reveals why he’s the Dark Archer and it’s because of Thea’s death. He wants the Glades to pay, hence why he is creating his own undertaking — just like Malcolm did in season one. It’s an interesting twist to see Tommy behind this all. After he leaves Oliver in chains, of course he finds a way to escape as Diggle comes to the rescue as well.

When Oliver sees how Earth-2 is so far off from Earth-1, he tells Diggle he doesn’t want him tagging along with him on his own. After seeing Moira and Tommy alive like that, Oliver goes in with the guilt trip like he always does and faults himself as the one that got them both killed in Earth-1. He still blames himself, and I wish he hadn’t. In fact, when you think about it, this earth is worse. It’s weird. He would have lost his sister, and his best friend would have been the new vigilante.

Arrow Season 8 Episode 1
Photo credit: The CW Network

The two of them then head back to Laurel’s own bunker (which by the way looks very nice!) to have them help out in stopping Tommy from moving forward with his plan in destroying the Glades. Oliver gets to Tommy on the rooftop and conveys his speech to him about choosing lightness over darkness and this isn’t the way to go to grieve their sister. Oliver knows more about loss than he wants to, but he’s learned a lot about himself through it all. He then convinces Tommy to stop his plan.

Oliver saves the city and as he bids his final goodbyes to Tommy and Moira at the police station; he is ready to head home to Earth-2 with Diggle. Right as they’re about to leave, Laurel rushes towards them in fear. An anti-matter wave hits, and you know what that means: The crisis has begun. Oliver sees it take Moira and Tommy and before it kills him, Diggle and Laurel they enter the breach. I wonder what the next mission the Monitor has in store for Oliver is.

What did you think of the final season premiere of “Arrow”? Share your thoughts with us in the comments. “Arrow” airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.

Featured image credit: The CW Network

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