So was that not absolutely a "love letter to the pilot" of Arrow?
Tonight's final season premiere took Oliver Queen to Earth-2, an earth where he didn't survive his time on Lian-Yu, so he pretended to be rescued from the island and arrived home 12 years later instead of five. When he got "home," quite a few things had changed without him having been there. Moira had married Malcolm Merlyn, Tommy was still alive, but Thea had died of an overdose on her 18th birthday because Oliver wasn't there to save her.
That ended up being the most important difference, because it drove Tommy to the dark side. Oliver, Laurel, and Earth-2 Hood Adrian Chase (LOL) worked to track down the Dark Archer, with Oliver convinced it was Malcolm, as it was on Earth-1. But it was actually Tommy, driven to try to destroy the Glades to avenge Thea's death using the very particle thing that Oliver had been sent by the Monitor to retrieve.
Oliver eventually convinced him to make a different choice and saved the Glades (those dang Glades, always in danger), sending him and his cronies, Rene and Dinah, to jail.
He had a special moment with his mom, who told him about the sacrifices he'd make when he had children some day, and they said goodbye, though Moira had no idea what that was about.
Then, as Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel were about to take off in the portal made by Cisco's portal-making device that Diggle conveniently had used to get there, Earth-2 began to disintegrate. And as showrunner Beth Schwartz confirmed to reporters after a screening of the episode, that means the Crisis is here sooner than we thought.
Schwartz couldn't spill much on what's to come, but she could share a few tidbits after the episode:
The Monitor's Gonna Be Pissed
"He does not like what has happened in this episode," Schwartz says, referring to Diggle's involvement in Oliver's Crisis mission. Oliver was supposed to go it alone, but the Monitor clearly just hasn't figured out that you can't separate those two.
Oliver, meanwhile, is going to get annoyed at the Monitor's vagueness, and he will be confronting the guy soon.
Some Guest Stars Will Return
Nearly every episode of this season will feature a surprise guest from Arrow's past, including the return of some of the surprise guests from this episode...but Schwartz wouldn't say who. Willa Holland, who was not in tonight's episode, will be back at some point, but Schwartz also couldn't give us details on that, other than to say she "comes back in a very cool way."
Future Team Arrow Is Struggling
In 2040, the new Team Arrow is "struggling to become a team," Schwartz said, but they now seem to have their leadership sorted out. "By the end of this episode, Mia's like, I'm the Green Arrow, you guys need to listen to me."
This is probably the best plan, because Connor's got some family issues to deal with in the form of his brother, JJ, who's now his enemy.
"The brothers have this really fraught childhood that we'll explain more in the upcoming episodes," Schwartz said. "Kind of how they got to this place where they're willing, you know, where JJ is willing to kill his own brother, and how he went down this path when he's Diggle and Lyla's son, who are the opposite of that."
Speaking of Lyla...
We know Aubrey Marie Anderson is playing Harbinger in the Crossover, who is an associate of the Monitor. Whether that is the same as our current version of Lyla will be answered in episode three.
And Speaking of Their Children...
Remember Baby Sara? She existed up until Barry ruined everything with Flashpoint, and Schwartz says they are "definitely making up for that this season."
Back to Earth-1
Aside from the crossover, this episode is the only one that takes place on another earth, but many different locations will be featured this season of Arrow.
"In our upcoming episodes, we visit places that we've gone to in our previous seasons," Schwartz says. "So they'll take place in different locations. I think we only have, like, maybe one or two episodes actually in Star City."
Arrow continues next Tuesday at 9 p.m. on The CW.