How fun was that?
We're total suckers for alternate universes and dead characters, so tonight's 100th episode of Arrow was right up our alley.
As it turns out, those aliens who came to earth in last night's episode of The Flash can do more than just turn friends against each other. They can also create entire worlds to convince Oliver, Diggle, Sara, Thea, and Ray that they're living in a world where Oliver, Sara, and Mr. Queen never got on the boat that led to the birth of the Green Arrow.
In this world, Oliver and Laurel are about to get married. The wedding brings nearly everyone to town, including Sara, which allows for a beautiful reunion between Sara and Laurel. Ray and Felicity are both there and engaged, though he has no idea she's working for the city's vigilante, John Diggle.
After he and his dad are saved from a mugger by Diggle, Oliver begins to feel that something is wrong, and this isn't the life he's supposed to be leading. Eventually, Ray, Diggle, Sara, and Thea start to feel it too, and even though they all struggle a bit with the idea of leaving this beautiful world and all the living people in it behind, they realize they have to get back to their real lives.
Meanwhile, Felicity and the rest of the new Team Arrow are back in the cave, trying to figure out how to rescue their alien-abducted friends with help from Cisco. Cue adorable nerdy freakouts from Felicity, Cisco, and Curtis, who even gets to show off his C3PO impression.
It was all just a lot of fun, and had the added bonus of being extra emotional thanks to the return of Oliver's parents and, of course, Laurel (that speech Oliver made, man...).
We almost didn't want Oliver to leave this world behind, but obviously he had to if the show was going to continue and be at all interesting. It just sucks that he can't take his parents or Laurel with him.
Eventually, after re-beating some of their old foes, the group made their way to a weird building called "Smoak Technologies," which they knew was not real because Felicity Smoak has never owned a building.
Just before they were about to head through a convenient portal, all of the people from Oliver's past appeared as holograms (including Tommy and Roy!) just to get us to shed a couple more tears.
Then, things got even more convenient. There was a useful alien gun right outside the room with the pods! The alien language shares characteristics with Hebrew! All it takes to run an alien jet is to put your hand on a screen!
Anyway, they escaped the ship they were trapped on, and were saved by the arrival of the waverider, only to then realize the aliens are working on a giant weapon to destroy earth. Cool!
While we're recovering from that emotional journey, there are a few things to discuss, with some help from what executive producer Marc Guggenheim told reporters at a screening of the crossover.
Tommy and Roy: Neither one of Oliver's former friends made new appearances in the episode, but we did get a beautiful nod to Colin Donnell's new role as a doctor on Chicago Med.
As for Colton Haynes, producers wanted him to appear, but couldn't make it work, scheduling-wise. "Roy was going to be Thea's boyfriend—that hadn't changed—and they met when he stole her purse, and that also hadn't changed," Guggenheim said.
Laurel: The decision to focus Oliver's alternate life on Laurel came simply from the fact that Laurel was always a central figure in the Arrow universe.
"She was the second lead on the show," Guggenheim said. "Even though the show has evolved, Laurel is at the heart of it. She was Oliver's great love, she's Sara's sister, she's Lance's daughter. Watching those early episodes, so much of it revolved around her relationship with all these characters. I watched the episode "Vertigo" where she's arguing with her father about how much Thea reminds her of Sarah and how he should go easy on her... Laurel, even if we do get to 200 episodes, Laurel will always be at the heart of the series and be such an important character and, on top of that, Katie Cassidy will always be so important to us. We were so happy that she agreed to come back because she is part of the family, both behind the camera and in front of it."
The Alternate Universe: Many shows have done it, and the trope can occasionally get old, but the one we saw on Arrow tonight was incredibly important to the show as a whole.
"We make a reference actually in the end of the Legends episode [of] the crossover that this was sort of Oliver's version of Flashpoint and it's a little bit the version of Oliver's version of "The Girl Who has Everything" from last year's Supergirl," Guggenheim explained.
"There's a reason why these stories are iconic or familiar tropes even in comic books. It's because when you show the protagonist the path not taken and you basically put them in the situation where they can choose to stay on that path or go back to their life with all of its ugly aspects and challenges, and they choose the selfless choice of returning to that ugly past, it makes your character stronger because, it's like I said earlier, it forced Oliver to double down on his mission and commit to this life with all of its losses and failures and challenges."
Flashpoint: Now that they all know about it, Team Arrow will need to deal with what they learned about how Barry changed the timeline, according to Guggenheim.
"Arrow 509, the midseason finale, there's a fair amount of discussion about Flashpoint, given the fact that, you know, essentially the crossover outed Flashpoint to the Arrow characters who weren't Felicity, and they deal with—I think in some humorous ways, actually—deal with some of the ramifications," he said. "For example, I think Curtis is concerned that maybe he was straight originally, as one example."
What comes next: The midseason finale airs next week, and Oliver will not go unaffected by the life he lived in tonight's episode.
"You'll see that Oliver sort of has a new sense of purpose," Guggenheim said. "The events of 508, basically, forced him to emotionally double down on his mission, so he goes into 509 with a new sense of purpose, and I would say, also, a reaffirmation of his bond with Thea, because they basically chose each other in 508. That carries through the midseason finale and, obviously, sets up things beyond it."
What did you think of the Arrow portion of the crossover? Sound off in the comments!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW.