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Recap / Arrow S 8 E 1 Starling City

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The Monitor sends Oliver to Earth-2 as part of his plan to prevent the Crisis. In the flash-forwards, the new Team Arrow struggles to work together against the Deathstroke gang.

Tropes

  • Alternate Universe: The episode is set on Earth-2.
  • Ambiguous Situation: So, Bruce Wayne is obviously still alive and well...then whose mask was on Lian Yu? Also, how long was Oliver actually there and what happened to Robert before him?
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
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    • Oliver refuses to consider for a second that the Dark Archer could be anyone but Malcolm because it was on his world, even when the heroes tell him he's been considered but ruled out. In a world where Prometheus is the hero and Malcolm and Moira are married, he considers it totally impossible that Malcolm just might not be exactly like the one he knows.
    • Adrian scoffs at the mention of an earthquake machine, saying it sounds like science-fiction. He's a superhero who lives in a world with metahumans (one of whom spent two years terrorizing a major city), and works closely with a woman who spent four years on an alternate Earth.
  • Arc Number: 4587 shows up yet again; specifically, the Thea of Earth-2 was killed on 4587 Burke Street.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Oliver assumes that Malcolm is the Dark Archer as he was on Earth-1, but it's Tommy on this Earth.
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    • Oliver naturally assumes this is the Earth-2 Diggle hired to protect him. It's the Earth-1 version, having followed Oliver.
    • Oliver mistakes an assistant at Queen-Merlyn Consolidated for Felicity.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The Deathstrokes crash Vasquez's party.
  • Blood Brothers: If Oliver thinks escaping to another Earth to fulfill the ultimately fatal demands of a Cosmic Entity is going to stop John from joining him, he’s got another thing coming.
  • Cain and Abel: John Jr. and Connor hate each other.
  • Call-Back: The entire episode is a Call-Back to Season 1 in general, and the pilot and the Season 1 finale "Sacrifice" in particular.
    • Oliver is once again 'rescued' from Lian Yu, and reunites with Moira at the hospital...except that this time its on Earth-2.
    • Oliver's interactions with Moira and Tommy in this episode mirror his interactions with them in the pilot, right down to specific lines of dialogue.
    • A number of scenes mirror scenes from the pilot - Oliver's return from Lian Yu, reunion with Moira, return to Queen Mansion, welcome home party, meeting at the Queen Mansion with the SCPD (albeit this time with Dinah rather than Quentin) etc.
      • This is played with in the case of Oliver's 'first' meeting with Diggle - Oliver assumes that he's reliving the same moment with Earth-2 Diggle, but it turns out that its Earth-1 Diggle after all (and this time, he uses his memory of the original meeting to stop Oliver from escaping the car!) Later, at Oliver's party, Diggle tries to stop Oliver from running off on his own (much like in the pilot), and once again Oliver manages to knock him out just like he originally did!
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    • At Queen-Merlyn Consolidated, Oliver wanders into the IT department and sees a blonde woman whom he initially assumes is Felicity (identical to how he first met her in the Season 1 episode "Lone Gunmen")...but who as you'd expect is in fact someone else.
    • Thea is said to have died of a Vertigo overdose on her 18th birthday on Earth-2, mirroring how, on Earth 1, she got into a car crash after taking Vertigo at her 18th birthday party in the Season 1 episode "Trust But Verify".
    • Oliver uses Earth 1 Adrian Chase's Catchphrase on the latter's Earth 2 counterpart, telling him "I'm 10 steps ahead of you".
    • Oliver confronts Earth-2 Tommy in the same parking lot where, in the pilot (on Earth 1) he confronted Adam Hunt in his first outing as the Hood.
    • Oliver crashes into Merlyn's office at Queen-Merlyn Consolidated, similar to how he crashed into Moira's office at the end of the Season 1 episode "Betrayal".
    • Scientists are murdered by the Dark Archer at the Applied Sciences Division of Queen-Merlyn Consolidated, much like they were in the Season 1 episode "Darkness on the Edge of Town".
    • Earth-2 Tommy's plan as the Dark Archer mirrors Malcolm's plan on Earth-1 - he intends to use advanced technology to destroy the Glades to avenge the death of a loved one (in this case, Thea).
    • Tommy has Oliver chained up in one of his hideouts in an identical manner to how Malcolm had him chained up at the start of the Season 1 finale. Oliver escapes in an identical manner. Diggle even mentions how he knew where to find Oliver because it was the same place where Malcolm took him on Earth 1.
    • Oliver's final battle with Tommy mirrors his final battle with Malcolm - though this time Oliver successfully gets Tommy to surrender and stop the Undertaking.
  • Composite Character:
    • John notes how Adrian is acting like Oliver, Curtis and Felicity all rolled into one. Additionally the other characters also take roles of their Earth-1 counterparts: Malcolm Walter’s, Tommy Malcolm’s, Dinah Quentin’s, and Thea Rebecca Merlyn’s (as the catalyst for the Dark Archer’s Start of Darkness).
    • Batman of this universe is attributed with a quote by Earth-1 Sherlock Holmes (Or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle if you prefer). Appropriately both are the Great Detective.
  • Continuity Nod: John asked Cisco for help to get to Earth-2.
  • Corrupt Cop: Dinah and Rene are this on Earth-2, being Co-Dragons to Tommy.
  • Crapsack World: Oliver and Diggle debate whether Earth-2 Starling City and specifically the absence of Oliver's presence or not makes it this or not. Oliver points out that his mother, Tommy and Laurel are still alive and Malcolm and Chase are good decent people there, but on the other hand as Diggle points out Thea is dead, Dinah and Rene are corrupt criminals and Tommy himself is the Dark Archer attempting to do the same thing his father did on Earth-1 (although unlike Malcolm Oliver could and did talk Tommy down.) They don't quite reach an answer and the ending makes it a moot point anyway.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Oliver dishes one out to Earth-2 Dinah and Rene. The explanation: they're not as tough here because they've never worked with him!
    • In the future, Deathstroke delivers one to Mia.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Oliver poses as his Earth-2 counterpart and tries to make it seem like he was simply rescued from the island 7 years later than he was on Earth-1. It doesn't fool Laurel since she knows him but neither his family nor Tommy ever suspect the truth.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: As on Earth-1, the Undertaking ultimately comes down to one man trying to take out his grief and anger on hundreds of people; Tommy tries to level the Glades to spite the place after Thea overdosed there.
  • Doppelgänger Gets Same Sentiment: Downplayed; Oliver shows a lot of affection to Earth-2's Moira and Tommy, distrusts Malcolm, and butts heads with Adrian, but he doesn't have too much trouble keeping in mind that they're not the same people he used to know (Malcolm being a notable exception, although Oliver is quickly disabused of this notion). With regards to Rene and Dinah, he barely spares them a second thought, taking them down without hesitation when they get between him and stopping Tommy.
  • Downer Ending: At the very end Earth-2 is destroyed by a wave of antimatter, forcing Oliver to watch its versions of his mother and best friend die right in front of him. The only things that go right are that Oliver got what the Monitor needed and was able to bring Laurel with them.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Earth-2 gets destroyed at the end.
  • For Want of a Nail: It is suggested that Thea might not have died of a drug overdose on Earth 2 had Oliver been there; Diggle also explicitly attributes Tommy, Dinah and Rene's moral corruption to Oliver's absence.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: From Oliver's, Diggle's (and the audience's) perspective, it can feel like this, given how many scenes and dialogues are repeated from the pilot...but in reality, it is not a "Groundhog Day" Loop, but rather, similar events playing out on a parallel earth.
  • Headbutting Heroes: In the future, the new Team Arrow has some serious problems working together. At the end, Mia takes over leadership from Connor.
  • History Repeats:
    • There's a feud between brothers in the Diggle family again - this time it's between Connor and John Jr.
    • Once again Team Arrow ends up going up against a Deathstroke.
    • A lot of events in the present this episode play out almost exactly the same as they did on Earth-1 during the first season, only with a few key differences:
      • The opening shot is Oliver sprinting through the woods on Lian Yu and being rescued by the fishing boat. Only this time, Batman apparently took Deathstroke's place as the island castaway's mentor and Oliver has his standard haircut rather than his Season 7 buzzcut or his shoulder-length hair from his time on Earth-1 Lian Yu.
      • Oliver once again returns to the Queen Mansion to find that his mother has remarried in his time away, only this time to Malcolm.
      • Thea overdosed on Vertigo on her 18th birthday again, only this time she died as a result of it (due to Oliver's absence).
      • Oliver's picture is of the family he left behindrather than Laurel.
      • Laurel gives Oliver the coldest reception after his return from the island, but for different reasons here.
      • Oliver gets stuck with Dig as a bodyguard, and tries to shake him in the exact same manner. Dig no-sells this, since he's actually Diggle from Earth-1 and has already been putting up with Oliver's shit for seven years.
      • When Oliver again goes to confront Malcolm at work (also similarly to how he confronted Moira on Earth-1 in 1x13), he is again attacked by the Dark Archer (though it's not Malcolm himself this time). This time around, Oliver soundly beats him down and unmasks him instead of the other way around, only to find Tommy under the mask this time.
      • Someone else has taken up the mantle of the Hood on Earth-2, only this time it's Adrian Chase. It also marks the second time around that Chase works with Laurel (specifically that version of Laurel, too).
      • Oliver's escape and subsequent rescue by Diggle in the Dark Archer's lair is pretty much an exact repeat of the exact scenario in "Sacrifice." The only difference is Diggle finds him by remembering where Oliver is from last time rather than a tracking device in Oliver's boot.
      • A Merlyn is again seeking to destroy the Glades as vengeance for the death of a loved one.
      • Tommy plants his doomsday device at the location where Thea died on Earth-2, much like Malcolm did on Earth-1 with his earthquake device at the location that Rebecca died.
      • Oliver's fight with Tommy is very similar to his fight with Malcolm, down to Oliver shooting an explosive arrow and counting on Tommy pulling an Arrow Catch.
  • Imaginary Friend: When Oliver mentions William, Tommy presumes him to be this.
  • In Spite of a Nail:
    • Despite the changes in this timeline, key events from Earth-1 repeat themselves here, albeit a little differently (see Call-Back for examples).
    • Despite not becoming Prometheus, Simon Morrison still started calling himself "Adrian Chase" and became an archer. On a similar note, despite not being recruited to become Black Canary, Dinah Drake still became a Star(ling) City cop (albeit a dirty one).
  • I Own This Town: J.J. and his gang have basically taken over Star City after the fall of the wall.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: A bit more of an unusual case than most examples, but Oliver does get to see a world that never sees him get off the island. He considers the world might better for it because all of the loss of people close to him in his life, but Diggle and his ability to redeem Tommy prove him wrong.
  • Irony: Laurel once again works together with Adrian Chase, but this time, both are heroes.
  • Legacy Character: Though its not explicitly stated in the episode, Earth 2 Adrian Chase as the Hood essentially is one...having taken over the mantle from Robert Queen at some point.
  • Love Redeems: Oliver is able to get through to Tommy due to their love for each other and Thea.
  • Messianic Archetype: If Oliver wasn’t already this before, this episode really sets him up as one, what with his willingness to pull an eventual Heroic Sacrifice to save all of reality, ability to redeem Tommy, being sent to a different Earth by a god for a mission to save the multiverse, and the Monitor’s calling him The Paragon.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Just like in Issue #1 of Crisis, the Evil Counterpart-Good Counterpart Earth (3 in the comics, 2 here) is the first Earth shown destroyed by the Anti-Monitor.
    • Adrian calls Laurel "pretty bird", a nickname that Oliver has long used for her in the comics.
    • Laurel's new Black Canary suit is clearly inspired by the Smallville version.
  • Not His Sled: Oliver assumes that Malcolm Merlyn is the Dark Archer on Earth-2 as well...only to discover that Malcolm is innocent. The Dark Archer on this Earth is Tommy instead.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tommy gives Oliver the usual "this city is sick" speech, but Oliver quickly cuts to the heart of the matter; Tommy lost someone he loved, and he's lashing out.
  • The Paragon: Monitor says Oliver is this, reminding us that he is one of the greatest heroes in the multiverse.
  • The Place: Though the one referred in the title is the Earth-2 version.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Laurel and Adrian are working together, but aren't a couple (although Adrian calling Laurel "pretty bird" may imply that his feelings go a bit deeper than friendship).
  • Posthumous Character: Earth-2 Thea Queen.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Tommy’s redemption is cut awfully short by the Anti-Monitor.
  • The Remnant: Laurel, Shay Lamden and Linda Park / Doctor Light are the only confirmed survivors from Earth-2, as the latter two are on Earth-1 when Earth-2's disintegration happened.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: On this Earth, the Undertaking is Tommy's revenge on the Glades for being responsible for Thea's overdose.
  • Screw Destiny: Diggle refuses to believe Oliver will die, even if Oliver does.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: All the hard work Oliver does in this episode to stop the Earth-2 version of the Undertaking is rendered completely pointless when the Anti-Monitor destroys Earth-2.
  • Shout-Out: Adrian quotes Sherlock Holmes' famous "if you eliminate the impossible". He attributes the line to Bruce Wayne, although it's not clear whether Bruce was quoting Holmes or if he originated the quote on Earth-2.
  • Spotting the Thread: Tommy quickly deduces that Oliver is the Hood (well, the second one).
  • SteamPunk: Subverted; unlike Earth-2's Central City, which was rich in this trope, E2's Starling looks no different than E1.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The plot structure for the final season; one plot has Oliver on his mission with the Monitor, the other has William, Mia, and Connor battling JJ and the Deathstroke gang.
  • Uncertain Doom: As we don't see all of them die, the fate of certain Earth-2 characters (like that of Harry and his daughter) are left ambiguous.
  • The Un Reveal: We don't find out what led Earth-2 Adrian to become the Hood.
  • Wham Episode: Earth 2 is completely erased, presumably marking the end of everyone we met from there, both here and in The Flash (2014) - yes, including Harry and Jesse. Of course, the show needn't go by the comics' rules, but if you know the comic, "consumed by antimatter" isn't a timey-wimey undoable thing; it's very much Deader Than Dead. Only five Earths were combined to make the new DC Universe; the ones destroyed were gone forever. Earth-2 was one of those survivors... but comic Earth-2 was very different. Comic Earth-3 was the one where, much as in Arrowverse Earth-2, many good guys are bad and bad guys are good. It did not survive. Comic Earth-2 was the one with the Golden Age heroes like Jay Garrick. In other words, if we forget the numbers, following the comics means the Arrowverse's Earth-3 survives to combine with the others and make the one Earth where, much like we've seen in XS's future, Jay and Barry are both known as Flashes, while the world where you'd expect to see a good Adrian and Malcolm and an evil Tommy, Rene, and Dinah is dust for good.
  • Wham Line: In-universe version for Oliver who had assumed Dig was his Earth-2 counterpart. When he tries to escape from the car only to find it locked, Dig smirks "Sorry, Oliver. Fool me once..." It takes Oliver a moment to realize this is the Earth-1 Diggle having followed him.
  • Wham Shot
    • The start of the episode replays the opening moments of the pilot, with Oliver being rescued from Lian Yu by the fishermen, except that this time, instead of Deathstroke's mask on an arrow, it's...Batman's.
    • Adrian Chase as the Hood.
    • Moira and Malcolm being a couple rather than her and Walter; who sold his shares and moved away after the sinking of the yacht, the implication being that after concieving Thea, they developed feelings for each other, with Malcolm being a more compassionate person than what we're used to.
    • Earth-2 being erased.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Earth-2's Robert Queen, who about 4 years ago was unmasked for being The Arrow, is never seen or mentioned.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Oliver gives a speech to Tommy that actually leads to him defusing the bombs.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Laurel (and by extension King Shark and Doctor Light) due to Earth-2's destruction.

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