REVIEW: ‘Arrow,’ Season 8 Episode 1 – “Starling City”

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Starling City

Arrow is the CW’s long-running series. It follows Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his mission to save his city as the Green Arrow. At the end of Season 7’s traumatic season finale, we saw Oliver make a deal with the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) by saving the multiverse from the upcoming Crisis. After being told by the Monitor that he will perish in the forthcoming event, Oliver has no choice but to help prevent the calamity – leaving his family and friends behind.

Season 8 will be Arrow‘s final season, consisting of ten episodes and having a strong focus on the lead-up to the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. This unique circumstance provides the creatives with an excellent narrative structure for visiting old friends and locations once thought gone in a meaningful way. It’s almost perfect how this significant event, set up by the success of the show that kickstarted it all, provides such a fitting way for Arrow to say goodbye to the fans.

The premiere of this season, titled “Starling City,” begins with Oliver once again on the island of Lian-Yu lighting a bonfire to gain attention from a nearby boat. If you think that this is familiar to the opening sequence from the pilot, that’s because it’s pretty much the same thing except for some subtle differences. For example, where there was once Deathstroke’s mask on the island, now we see a familiar Bat-Cowl. Oliver finds himself back in Starling City and reunited with his mother Moira (Susanna Thompson), best-friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), and apparent step-father Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). It’s great to see the return of these favorite characters and actors who do such a fantastic job in this episode. It feels like they never even left the show in the first place.

It becomes clear that this Oliver is indeed ours – the one audiences have watched struggle and grow over the past decade, but on ‘Earth-Two’ as seen previously on The Flash and Arrow. Earth-Two as we know is home to the Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy-Rodgers) who has been present on the show since Season 5. Although this provides Oliver with an ally he can trust with his true identity, it also creates a minor continuity issue. We’re introduced to this world’s version of ‘The Hood’ aka Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) who played the main villain Prometheus in the Fifth Season of the show. This version doesn’t match up with The Flash‘s explanation that Robert Queen was their version of the Green Arrow. In the broader scheme of things, it’s not a big deal but maybe grating to those in the fanbase who focus on every detail.

It’s kind of interesting that while’alternate worlds’ are commonplace on The Flash, Arrow often does a better job at fleshing out and exploring the possibilities of the multiverse in an emotional way. When Oliver sees his mother we can feel the importance and heaviness of that scene. Not only because Oliver’s real mother has long been dead, but because of the fact he has had to leave his own children behind, without the opportunity to say goodbye or explain his actions. Stephen Amell, who always seems to have a great understanding of the weight on Oliver’s shoulders, does an excellent job here with Thompson. Whenever those two actors are in a scene together, you know that tears will be shed. The conversation between Oliver and Moira not only acts as a goodbye of sorts to a character introduced in the first season of the show but genuinely provides some emotional catharsis for Oliver and his journey.

Like Season 7, this series continues to use the ‘Flash Forwards’ showing us what becomes of Oliver’s legacy in the form of ‘Future Team Arrow, consisting of his children Mia Smoak (Katherine McNamara) and William Clayton (Ben Lewis) as well as Zoe Ramirez (Andrea Sixtos), and Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones). It’s interesting to watch the future team begin to form together despite the trials and tribulations as we also watch the final act of Oliver’s life. It’s bittersweet but reminds audiences that his hard-work continues to fight on in the form of this new crew, who are all excellently cast. It’s also an excellent introduction for future Deathstroke and his role in the final season.

The writers, crew, and actors have put their hearts into this final season. Logistically, introducing such a grand concept in just ten episodes for the last season of a show should be such an impossible task. But much like Oliver himself, the Arrow crew are more than up for the challenge. Notably, watching Stephen, Katie, and David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle, all reunited as part of the original Arrow crew is a joy to watch. With the vital duo and friendship between Diggle and Oliver being set up for this season and the multiversal nature of the Crisis, it’ll be interesting to see if this sets up the CW equivalent of ‘Hard-Travelling Heroes’.

Overall, “Starling City” is a fantastic opening episode for this final season of Arrow, providing active emotional sequences alongside some exciting setups for Crisis. “…A Crisis is coming, John”. 

Arrow airs every Tuesday at 9 PM ET on the CW

 

Arrow Season 8 Episode 1 - "Starling City"
  • 9.5/10
    Rating - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Overall, “Starling City” is a fantastic opening episode for this final season of Arrow, providing active emotional sequences alongside some exciting setups for Crisis. “…A Crisis is coming, John”.