‘Arrow’ Recap: Familiar Faces Return in Season 8, Episode 1 “Starling City”


The eighth and final season of Arrow is officially upon us. The series that kicked off what is now known as the Arrowverse, which includes Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and more recently, Batwoman, on The CW had its season 8 premiere this week. The episode brought back multiple characters we haven’t seen in years and previewed the coming crisis that’s been mentioned and shown in that night’s episode of The Flash. Keep reading to find out who came back and what happened in the final season premiere of Arrow. 

The episode starts off very similarly to how the pilot started: Oliver (Stephen Amell) on Lian Yu, running with a homemade Green Arrow hood and bow and arrows. However, this time, he’s actually on Earth-2. He ignites a fire, which is seen by fishermen. The fishermen find Oliver, who lifts his hood to reveal himself.

Image courtesy of The CW

At Starling General, Oliver is looking out the window at the city. His mom, Moira (Susanna Thompson), walks in, and Oliver tells her he missed her so much, hugging her as she cries. This is the first time Oliver has seen his mom, or a version of his mom, since being killed by Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) in season 2. Moira brings Oliver back to the Queen Mansion, still looking the same as the last time he saw it. He’s greeted by Malcolm, who welcomes him home. Tommy (Colin Donnell) comes down the stairs. Oliver, finally seeing his best friend again, is laughing, smiling, and crying. Tommy told him he knew he wasn’t dead. Oliver asks where Thea (Willa Holland) is, but Moira avoids the question by telling him he should get settled in. Oliver tells her he’d like to see Thea. Moira explains to Oliver that it was hard on Thea after he and his father disappeared. Tommy says she got hooked on the drug Vertigo and he tried to stop her. Malcolm tells him it wasn’t his fault. Moira tells Oliver that on Thea’s 18th birthday, she overdosed.

At dinner, Malcolm asks Oliver how he managed to survive on the island for so long, and he says it’s a long story. Tommy tries to bring Oliver up to speed, with Oliver mentioning that their parents are married and Malcolm saying it’s complicated.

Later that night, Moira talks to Oliver, trying to get through to him, telling him that he’s not the same man she once knew and that she knows he might feel like he’s on a different planet. Oliver asks her if she had to leave him and Thea to protect them, would she do it. Moira tells him that everything she’s ever done is to protect her children. Oliver apologizes and hugs her, crying.

Oliver breaks into Queen-Merlyn Enterprises after swiping a card from Moira, wearing the hood. Oliver notices multiple employees stabbed in the back with arrows. Another archer tells him he’s failed the city and fights him. Laurel (Katie Cassidy Rodgers) breaks up the fight, asking Oliver what he’s doing on her Earth. The other Green Arrow is revealed to be Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra), whose Earth-1 version didn’t get along too kindly with Oliver.

Image courtesy of The CW

Oliver is watching Chase do the salmon ladder while talking to Laurel. She tells him that Chase is helping her. Laurel demands that Oliver tell her what he was doing on Lian Yu and why he’s on her Earth. He tells her that he was sent to her Earth and arrived on Lian Yu. Chase believes that Oliver killed the scientists at Queen-Merlyn, but they get an alert on the computer that the Dark Archer is at it again. Chase and Laurel are trying to figure out who he is, but Oliver tells them it’s Malcolm Merlyn who killed those scientists for a reason.

Oliver goes to Queen-Merlyn to talk to Malcolm, only to be met by The Monitor. He reminds Oliver not to interfere with the events leading to the crisis, including inferring with the Dark Archer.

In a flash forward to Star City 2040, William (Ben Lewis) is giving a speech at Harris Consolidated about The Glades. Mia (Katherine McNamara) checks on movement outside, not following directions given to her by her teammates. Zoe (Andrea Sixtos) is trying to reach Mia on comms, but she ignores her and follows a guy who evidentally killed someone, but Mia doesn’t know.

In the present on Earth-2, Oliver is talking with Malcolm, trying to get more information about him. Oliver goes to the IT Department hoping to look for Felicity, but an employee asks him why Felicity would be working in the IT Department instead of running Smoak Technologies. Oliver asks who is running the IT Department, and a picture of Curtis and his boyfriend is shown on a table. Oliver gets into Curtis’ computer and tries to find out more information on the Dwarf Star Project, finding out that Malcolm is the project manager.

The Green Arrow barges into Malcolm’s office, but before he can kill him, the Dark Archer makes an appearance, and they start fighting. It’s revealed that Tommy is the Dark Archer, not Malcolm.

Oliver, Tommy, Malcolm, Moira, and Dinah (Julianna Harkavy) are talking about what happened with Malcolm at Queen-Merlyn and how the Hood targeted him.

Image courtesy of The CW

Diggle (David Ramsey) shows up to Oliver’s surprise as a bodyguard, much like in the first episode. Diggle tries to talk to Oliver about the coming crisis, and Oliver says he’s not going to ask him to take a risk. He tells Diggle that The Monitor has seen the crisis and Oliver die.

In the future, Mia, Zoe, and Connor (Joseph David-Jones) are fighting the Deathstroke Gang, and once it’s all over, they realize they took Vasquez. They try to figure out what they want, and Connor says the one playing the security guard knows who they all are because he’s his brother.

At Club Verdant on Earth-2, Oliver’s Welcome Home party is in full swing. Oliver follows Tommy but is stopped by Diggle, who tries to talk him out of whatever he’s going to do. Oliver says that he can’t prevent whatever is going to happen to him during the crisis. Oliver makes Diggle fall asleep so he can find Tommy. And when he does, Rene (Rick Gonzalez) shoots a dart at him, making him pass out.

Tommy, Dinah, and Rene have captured Oliver. Once Tommy gets him alone, he tries to figure out why Oliver has been running around as the Hood, saying that he doesn’t understand the cancer that has taken over the city. Oliver realizes that it’s just like the Undertaking. Tommy sold the Dwarf Star particles because he wanted to destroy the Glades and get vengeance for Thea. Tommy explains to Oliver that the city has been rotting and it can’t be saved. Oliver tells him that Starling City has come back from worse, it can be redeemed, and he can be redeemed.

In the flash forward, the gang is in the Arrow Cave, deciding what to do about the Deathstroke Gang and Connor’s brother. William talks to Mia about following Connor’s lead since Mia doesn’t feel comfortable about it, considering Connor’s brother is the bad guy. William and Mia are following in their parents’ footsteps.

Oliver tries to break free from the chains with no luck. Diggle comes to Oliver’s rescue because he put a tracker in his shoe. Oliver is trying to talk Diggle out of helping him because he doesn’t want to get him killed. Diggle tells him that the Earth they’re on is much worse because he wasn’t part of it. Oliver brings Diggle to Laurel’s bunker, saying that he needs her and Chase’s help because the Dark Archer is planning on leveling the Glades.

Oliver, Diggle, Laurel, and Chase immediately start fighting bad guys. Oliver fights Dinah and Rene and then goes up on the roof to meet with Tommy, and they fight each other. Tommy tells Oliver that he can’t break the generator, but Oliver tells him he can. Oliver tells Tommy to make the right choice: will he kill thousands of people or be the man he knows he is? Tommy powers down the generator.

Image courtesy of The CW

Chase gives Oliver the Dwarf Star particles in the bunker that powered Tommy’s weapon. Oliver tells him that he will not use the particles to destroy the city. Chase tells Oliver that he knows he’s from a parallel universe; he’s the Hood from a different reality. He says that Bruce Wayne once told him that if he eliminates the impossible, whatever remains, however, must be the truth. Oliver tells Chase to change “The Hood” to the “Green Arrow.” After saying their goodbyes to Laurel, Oliver and Diggle start to leave. However, Oliver is starting to wonder why he’s still alive since The Monitor saw him die.

In the future, the team is fighting the Deathstroke Gang in order to find Vasquez. Connor is using himself as bait. John Diggle Jr. (Charlie Barnett) is beating up a guy to get the server codes. At that time, Connor comes in, beating up the gang but JJ orders the gang to kill him. Mia joins the fight, being told by a member of the Deathstroke Gang that he owns the city now. Mia tells Connor that they’ll do things her way from then on.

Before leaving, Oliver meets Tommy at SCPD. Tommy says he can’t shake the feeling that Thea would still be alive if Oliver had still been there. Oliver says goodbye to Moira, who doesn’t understand what’s happening. Just as they’re about to leave, the city is under attack. Anti-matter is destroying Earth-2 and everyone in it. Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel escape back to Earth-1, just barely missing the anti-matter before it destroys them.

Image courtesy of The CW

The final season of Arrow is already starting off strong. It’s been clear for a while that this season would essentially lead up to the big “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event this coming winter. The second episode of season 6 of The Flash, which aired right before the season 8 premiere of Arrow, heavily talked about the crisis and how the anti-matter will destroy the world. With how Arrow ended its premiere, it’s clear that the crisis is coming sooner than expected. With both Oliver and Barry expected to die during the crisis, it’ll be interesting to see how each is going to try to stop it if they are going to try and how this will affect the season before and after the event.

Season 8 of Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on The CW, following The Flash. 

Megan has been passionate about writing since she was little and has been passionate about all things pop culture and nerdy since almost as long. Joining Nerds and Beyond in 2019, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism. Megan is constantly binge-watching shows and finding new things to obsess over. 9-1-1 and Marvel currently reign as the top obsessions. You can find her on Twitter @marvels911s if you ever want to discuss some certain firefighters.

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