‘Arrow’ Recap: Season 8, Episode 4 “Present Tense”


Last week’s episode of Arrow ended with a pretty big cliffhanger: During a climactic battle in 2040 with JJ and the Deathstrokes Gang, Mia, William, and Connor were somehow transported to 2019, to the bunker, coming face-to-face with a younger Dinah, Rene, and John. Most surprising to Mia and William is seeing their father alive. In this week’s episode, Oliver tries to talk to his kids, and Connor tries to get through to Diggle, his dad, who has yet to adopt him. And they try to stop Slade Wilson’s son, Grant, from starting the Deathstrokes Gang, which initially is the reason why Star City 2040 is such a horrible place.

Keep reading to find out what happened in episode 4 of the final season of Arrow, “Present Tense.”

Starting exactly where the last episode ended, Oliver, John, Dinah, and Rene are in the bunker with three strangers: Mia, William, and Connor. Mia says, “Dad?” not believing it’s really him, while William, happy, runs up to Oliver and hugs him, crying. Right then, Oliver realizes that it’s William, who, for some reason, is now an adult. He also realizes that standing in front of him is Mia, who is no longer a baby. Connor calls John “Dad” and is surprised by how young he is. John is confused about what’s happening and how they got there. Mia wonders how this is real.

Rene says the last time he checked, Oliver didn’t have an adult daughter or any daughter. Oliver admits that he and Felicity had a daughter and named her Mia. Felicity gave birth a few months after they left Star City. They didn’t tell anyone because they wanted to keep her off the grid to protect her. Connor tries to tell John that he’s his father; he adopted him. John says that he hasn’t. William realizes that John hasn’t adopted Connor yet, because he thinks they’re in the past. The bunker is new, Rene and Dinah don’t have gray hair or wrinkles, and they’re staring at their dad, alive, instead of a tombstone. William asks Oliver what year it is, and Oliver tells him it’s 2019, then asks what year it’s supposed to be. William says 2040.

Rene, William, Oliver, and Mia are watching a newscast. Starling General Hospital was attacked the previous night after a bomb was found inside a CEO, with officials saying Deathstroke orchestrated the attack. Oliver says he has A.R.G.U.S. keeping tabs on Slade, who is currently in Buredunia. Neither he nor his son, Kane Wolfman, are near Star City. This is someone new. Curtis shows up at the bunker, still geeking out as per usual, saying it’s good to be back and not getting over the kids from the future. Mia tells William that they should go and let Oliver and Curtis work. Oliver says work, or otherwise, he’d like them to stay. Mia makes up an excuse saying she’d rather see the city than the bunker. Curtis asks why Oliver called in the big guns, and Oliver tells him that a wave of energy destroyed Earth-2. He has a piece of fabric that was clipped by it and wants Curtis to try to help him figure out what it is. Oliver tells him that it’s a wave of energy that’s powerful enough to destroy a planet, so it’s probably powerful enough to stop a God, which is what they’re trying to do.

William, Mia, and Connor are talking. Connor is telling them what he found at SCPD with John and Dinah: a message that was found with the victim that said, “Star City’s cancer is the rich.” Mia says it all started when they got there, so maybe JJ came back, too. William says it doesn’t make sense. The first thing he does when he gets to 2019 is blow something up? Connor says it makes sense if you know JJ. That message is JJ’s favorite catchphrase. William says they should tell Oliver and the team. Mia says not a chance. This is their mess to clean up. William says they could help; if JJ sees John, that could do something. But Connor says JJ won’t care and will kill John if he gets in his way. Mia says it’s on them to avenge Zoe. William says they need to find him first. Mia asks Connor where JJ would go since he knows the Deathstrokes. Connor says where it all began.

Courtesy of the CW

Mia, William, and Connor get to an abandoned apartment. Connor says that 20 years from now, the place is Galaxy One, but in 2019, it’s where the Deathstrokes started. Mia and Connor look around the loft and find a guy on a table, bloody and dead. Mia steps on a tripwire, and Connor tells her to not move, or they all go boom. They’re greeted by the Deathstrokes, as well as William, who Mia asked to stay behind. When Connor asks JJ why he killed Zoe, the leader reveals himself to be Grant Wilson. Laurel, Dinah, and Oliver show up when the Deathstrokes leave, and John and Rene save William. Oliver uses his arrow to temporarily stop the bomb to buy them a few seconds, and they barely escape.

At the bunker, Oliver tries to get Mia, William, and Connor to explain what they were doing at that loft in the first place with no backup. Connor tells them that in the future, that building is the Deathstroke home base, and the leader is Grant Wilson. Dinah wants to know if he knew the leader was Grant, why did Connor call him JJ? Connor says since they came back, he thought maybe JJ did, too. He tells them that in the future, Grant trains a new leader, someone who eventually takes over the Deathstrokes: JJ. William then tells them that future Star City is a terrible place. It’s run by gangs, the cops are corrupt, and the politicians are, too. They were trying to save it, but that meant stopping JJ, and that’s what they were doing right before they came to 2019. They thought they could. Zoe was with Mia, and JJ killed her.

Courtesy of the CW

William says Zoe was fighting to fix exactly what her dad helped cause, and that’s why she was a Canary like Laurel and Dinah. They had a whole network of them in the city. After Rene walled off the Glades, the scope was just too big. Ever since the wall came down, they’ve been fighting the Deathstrokes, trying to make things better. Mia says all that matters now is stopping Grant Wilson before he screws up everyone’s future. She thinks they should be out there doing something. Oliver tells her they will once they know Grant Wilson’s plan.

Courtesy of the CW

Oliver finds Mia and tells her they have to talk. Mia tells him she’s going to the hospital bomb site. Maybe Dinah missed something. She’s not going to stand around and waste time. Oliver says he knows what’s driving her right now. She lost a teammate. He’s been there. He can help. Mia tells him she’s survived her whole life without him, and she doesn’t need him playing Dad. Oliver tells her it’s not tactically wise to go out there alone when she’s letting her emotions drive her decision. Mia says he doesn’t get a say. He gave up that right when he left her and Felicity. How could he just abandon them?

Oliver says it’s because he chose to keep her safe, and he chose right. Mia tells him he just wanted to be a hero, so he put his mission above his family. Oliver’s not letting Mia leave, but Laurel comes up, saying she’ll go with her. When they leave, William tells Oliver that Grant is alive. “Six years ago, my father rained terror down on this city. He was short-sighted and foolish. The city has a cancer, the 1% who control industry. I will excise it. Our siege of Star City begins tonight.” William says this must be how it starts. This is the beginning of the future.

William finds Oliver and tells him that Mia’s back and that Curtis has almost cracked the drive. Oliver tells William that he doesn’t want Mia going out there. He says that she was right. He chose to go with the Monitor. He abandoned her, and he hasn’t earned a say. William tells him that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want him to have one or that he shouldn’t. William is saying that from experience, from when he left to go live with his grandparents. Oliver tells William he thought he hated his guts, but William tells him he hated Oliver for abandoning him. He wanted Oliver to try harder, push a little more. He’s glad Oliver’s in his life, then and now, and Mia will be, too.

Curtis interrupts and tells them he has something. Grant is trying to one-up his father with coordinated bomb attacks, all connected to a remote detonator, probably a phone. Curtis tells the team that Grant has set up a relay device underneath downtown. They disable the relay device and turn off the bomb. Oliver says they’ll set up one team to go after Grant and one team to destroy the relay device, but they also need to keep the public calm. He tells William to stay back to help with Curtis, and Mia and Connor to come with them. They have to do things differently this time.

Courtesy of the CW

Oliver and Mia are in the service tunnels underneath the city. John, Connor, and Laurel are at the east end. Oliver and Mia are overhearing Grant’s speech to the Deathstrokes. He said it’s time they take back the city from the cancer which has plagued it. They will set its citizens free. “Let’s make Star City great again.” When Oliver and Mia get close enough, they see that Grant is just talking into a camera. Mia wants to know where his men are. Oliver tells her to get behind him. Almost on cue, Grant’s men come out.

Meanwhile, John, Laurel, and Connor are trying to figure out how to disable the bomb. William tells them it’ll have a transfer switch embedded into the mainframe. He says to disconnect the red wire but not to touch the blue one, or very bad things will happen. Before Grant can detonate the bomb, Connor successfully and safely neutralizes the device.

With Oliver and Mia, Mia is about to kill a tied-up Grant when Oliver steps in the way. She tells him to get out of her way, and he says no. She can hate him if she wants, but he’s not letting her do this.

At the bunker, Dinah says she just got off the phone with SCPD; Grant Wilson is being prepped and transferred to Blackgate, where he will spend the next 20 to life. Oliver says it takes the Deathstrokes off for the foreseeable future. William says to hope it changes things somehow. Mia says, “for Zoe.” Connor says, “and for JJ.” Oliver asks Mia if she’s okay, and she says she would’ve killed Grant. Oliver says he knows she didn’t want to. John talks to Connor, who tells John that he doesn’t want to be a reminder of everything bad that happened to JJ and to his family, but John tells him that Connor is his family.

Oliver takes Mia to his father’s and Emiko’s grave the next day. Oliver says he didn’t really get to know his real father until after he died, and he doesn’t want that to be him and Mia. Mia says he’s lost people. Does the guilt ever leave? Oliver tells her no. She can learn to live with it, and he can help her if she’d like.

Courtesy of the CW

Curtis calls Oliver and tells him that whatever that wave of energy is, it’s possible to replicate, but there are a couple of catches. He doesn’t have the tools to do it, and it’s super illegal because it requires plutonium, the bomb-making kind. However, a military general in Russia might be able to help.

Outside of SCPD, Laurel runs into the Monitor, who tells her she aches for the world she lost, and that he possesses the power to restore it. The recovery of her universe will require a single task: She must betray Oliver Queen.

Seeing Oliver interact with a future William and Mia, who never really got a chance to know Oliver, is not only emotional for the characters but for the audience as well. You fall in love with these characters and empathize with them. You never expect William and Mia to see Oliver because of what happens, but you’re pulled in a completely different direction. Did they manage to change the future? Will Laurel betray Oliver? Find out on November 19 at 9 p.m ET on The CW.

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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