Warning: This story contains major spoilers from The CW’s four-way superhero crossover. Read at your own risk!
Arrow‘s landmark 100th episode was truly a love letter to longtime fans of The CW’s flagship super series.
After the Dominators abducted Oliver (Stephen Amell), Thea (Willa Holland), Diggle (David Ramsey), Sara (Caity Lotz), and Ray (Brandon Routh), the quintet was placed in a Matrix-esque construct in which Ollie had never gotten on the Queen’s Gambit.
In this alternate universe, both Robert (Jamey Sheridan) and Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) are still alive, while Oliver is on the eve of his wedding to Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). But the heroes begin to realize there’s something off about this world, causing flashes of the original timeline, and thus providing audiences a look back on the last 100 episodes.
The return of fan-favorite familiar faces aside, there were numerous moments throughout the hour that nodded to the show’s history. Here are some of the best:
- The episode opened with Oliver running through the woods — like the start of every season — except viewers discover that he’s running on the Queen compound.
- To find where the Dominators had taken the heroes, Cisco vibed on Oliver’s old, original bow.
- As a pre-wedding gift, Thea gave Oliver a hōzen like the one he brought back from the island for her in the first season.
- With Robert soon being sworn in as the new mayor, he’s in need of a replacement CEO lest the company fall into the hands of Ray Palmer. Oliver suggests Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), who had taken over the company in the wake of Robert’s death and Oliver’s disappearance in the original timeline.
- While trying to hunt down the man who saved Oliver and his dad from getting mugged, Ollie goes to the police station and sees the board with a sketch of the vigilante called The Hood — both the photo, and the surrounding articles about bad guys like Adam Hunt, are the same as what viewers saw in season 1.
- At the rehearsal dinner, Laurel makes reference to a time where she thought Sara and Oliver would hook up, but Sara reminds her sister that she prefers girls. In the original timeline, Sara was on the Queen’s Gambit with Oliver for a secret affair that ultimately landed her on the island, and subsequently Nanda Parbat, where she met her future love Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law).
- When Oliver infiltrates the Arrow cave, he says, “My name is Oliver Queen,” a reference to the opening of every episode of Arrow. Moments later, before taking off his hood and revealing himself as the vigilante, Diggle angrily says, “No one can know my secret,” which is a line Oliver said in the original timeline during the pilot.
- When the heroes start to realize they’re in a construct of the Dominators’ making, Deathstoke appears and fights Oliver and Diggle, with Sara slaying him the same way Slade Wilson killed Moira Queen in the original timeline.
- At the rehearsal dinner, Thea laments Tommy’s (Colin Donnell) absence, to which Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) notes that Tommy is now a doctor in Chicago working long hours; Donnell currently stars on NBC’s Chicago Med.
- In this timeline, Ray and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) are engaged, a nod back to their prior relationship during season 3 of Arrow.
- When the heroes try to leave the matrix, Deathstroke returns alongside familiar villains Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), as well as members of H.I.V.E. and one of Slade’s Mirakuru soldiers. Thea kills her own father, Oliver defeats Deathstroke with an arrow to the eye, like what he originally did on the island, and Sara finally gets her chance to kill Damien Darhk in retaliation for her sister’s death since she can’t in the original timeline. She even slays him with an arrow like he used on Laurel. Ray, meanwhile, fought a Mirakuru soldier, like the one who killed his fiancé, and Dig took on a H.I.V.E. soldier, which his brother became.
- The exit from the Dominator’s matrix is located in the Smoak Technologies building. Fans of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow may recall that the building appeared in the episode “Star City 2046.” Also seen in this version of Starling City: A Merlyn Global Group building.
- Before Oliver exits the matrix, he sees holograms of Moira, Felicity, Tommy, Robert, Roy (Colton Haynes), and Laurel, who all recite lines viewers have heard on the show over the last five seasons, offering him a bit of closure as he returns to the fight back in the original timeline.
The four-way crossover with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow continues Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Read our postmortem about Artemis’ betrayal with executive producer Marc Guggenheim here.