Arrow recap: Let's talk about that major dad twist
When I sat down to watch tonight’s Arrow episode “Leap of Faith,” I was fully prepared to spend most of my recap gushing about Willa Holland’s long-awaited return as Thea Queen, the show’s best character (don’t @ me). But then the final scene happened, delivering the season’s second-biggest twist: Oliver meets his daughter Mia for the first time.
Here’s how it happens: Future Team Arrow launches an assault on the Deathstroke Gang’s hideout, which leads to JJ murdering Zoe. Furious, Connor tries to kill his brother in retaliation (more on this in a bit), but he’s unable to finish the job because suddenly he and the rest of his team are engulfed in a blinding white light. Next thing we know, Oliver, who was just in Nanda Parbat, magically appears back in Team Arrow’s bunker in the year 2019, much to Rene, Diggle, and Dinah’s surprise. Even more surprising, though, are the strangers standing right behind him. Oliver turns around and comes face to face with Mia, William, and Connor.
“Dad?” asks a shocked Mia as the episode cuts to black.
What a truly great surprise! Yes, we knew Arrow couldn’t end without finding a way for Oliver to meet Mia, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. But that’s actually what makes the twist so good. In fact, this move is classic Arrow.
In its heyday, the show burned through plot at an absurd rate. Every episode ended on a cliffhanger, and If one episode planted a bomb, it would usually go off in the very next one. That’s what made the show so entertaining and engrossing in its early seasons (Stephen Amell agrees with this, too). Unfortunately, the show lost that in later seasons and you could feel the show was holding things back because it was so focused on shocking the audience later in the season. Having Oliver meet Mia in episode 3, though? That’s a clear sign that Arrow is definitely getting its groove back in the final season. And I’m excited to see how these two very similar people get on in next week’s episode.
The twist also works in context because the episode’s structure set it up. Even though Oliver and Diggle were temporally separated from Mia, they were connected by a unifying theme: All three of them were struggling not to let the fear of losing their loved ones drive their actions.
Following through on his declaration in last week’s episode, Oliver travels to Nanda Parbat for info on Mar-Novu and ends up having a lovely reunion with his sister, Thea. She decides to accompany him on his quest, which leads him to Talia al Ghul. While Talia doesn’t know anything about Mar-Novu, she believes the information they seek can be found in the journal of Al-Faith, the first Ra’s al Ghul. Said journal, though, is hidden in his secret tomb, which means one thing: Cue the scavenger hunt! Of course, the Thanatos Guild is right behind them because Al-Fatih’s crypt also contains his sword, which would give the person who possesses it control over the League.
Once the Thanatos Guild gets involved, Oliver asks Thea to hang back while he presses forward with Talia alone. You know, typical over-protective Oliver behavior. Normally, I would complain about Oliver regressing into old patterns like this, especially with Thea who has proven time and time again that she can take care of herself, but the writers smartly reveal this isn’t about Oliver doubting Thea’s skills. He’s scared for her safety because he just visited a world where she died because he wasn’t there to protect her and, more importantly, he also just witnessed the complete destruction of an Earth. Seeing that would justifiably rattle anyone.
Oliver isn’t the only one who is still shaken by seeing Earth-2 destroyed either. Diggle, who travels to Kaznia with Lyla to rescue Ben Turner’s wife and son, is also more scared than usual after what he saw on Earth-2. “Seeing a universe just disappear, I don’t know, it’s like looking into the eye of God. It changes you. It changed me. I can’t risk losing you,” says Diggle. Lyla reminds him that no one knows the future and they should focus on enjoying the time they have together.
I really like that Arrow isn’t ignoring or breezing past the aftermath of the season premiere. It’s still hanging over the characters two episodes later, which makes complete sense. This is also a sign of growth on the show’s part because it’s not the first time Team Arrow has faced an apocalyptic event. A nuclear bomb went off in a populated town in season 4, and yet you never really got the sense that catastrophe truly affected the team even though it should have, especially because they had been trying to prevent that from happening. Here, though, Earth-2’s destruction isn’t something they can forget.
In the end, both Oliver and Diggle learn they can’t let fear control them and must trust those around them. So, Diggle goes through with saving Sandra and a young Connor Hawke from Gholem Qadir’s vengeful son (shoutout to the season 2 throwback), and Oliver trusts Thea to take on and defeat Talia al Ghul in a fight over the first Ra’s al Ghul’s sword. After winning, Thea decides to keep the sword and invites Talia to help her turn the League of Assassins into a League of Heroes. And Oliver knows that Thea can handle this and doesn’t need to be there.
Meanwhile, in the future, Mia, Connor, and Zoe rush back to the bunker, where they discover that William managed to take out JJ’s goons on his own and is safe. Mia, like her father in the present, gets hit with a rush of fear and refuses to let William offer himself up as bait to JJ, who is targeting every member of the Star City unification movement. In fact, that fear is what leads to them just attacking the Deathstroke Gang’s stronghold and ultimately Zoe’s death. What I found most interesting about this plot, though, is how Connor and JJ are stuck in the same cycle of violence that Diggle was in with his brother Andy. In season 4, Diggle killed his brother after he helped Damien Darhk murder Laurel, and now in the year 2040, Connor faces a similar decision with JJ following Zoe’s death. And Connor tries to kill JJ, too and might have if it weren’t for the whole time travel bit. Very interested in seeing what Diggle makes of his son’s drama next week.
Wall of Weird:
- Thea reveals that Nyssa is off running an errand in Thailand, which is clearly code for Hawaii, and Roy did come to see her after the events of the season 7 finale.
- Lyla failed to tell Diggle that she’s been working for the Monitor.
- “I missed watching you kick ass,” Diggle, to Lyla, after they take down two guards.
- “You can’t change the future Ollie. The past teaches us you might as well stop trying to,” Thea, to Oliver. Clearly, she hasn’t had a chat with Team Flash recently.
This post has been updated.