Arrow, Season 7, Episode 16, “Star City 2040”
To quote the great Ron Burgandy, that escalated in a hurry. This week we spend 99 percent of the time in the near future where it’s confirmed that Felicity is in fact still alive (yay), and at least partially responsible for the dystopian mess Star City/The Glades find themselves in (boo). Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:
What’s the scoop: Mia Smoak grew up in a cabin in the woods with only her Nanny Nyssa to keep her company and train her into becoming a martial arts master. She becomes disillusioned when she finds out her mom has been doing vigilante hacking in secret. Mai does what any dystopian fairy-princess would do: she runs away to the big city, gets a tattoo, and starts cage fighting to make ends meet. One day she reunites with her long lost half-brother, and they go on a grand adventure to rescue the vigilante mother from the forces of evil real estate developers.
Meanwhile in B-plot land: (More of a parallel plot than a secondary one.) Rene finds his way into the team’s secret lair and Roy, Dinah, and Zoey basically tell Rene he is being played like a chump by his real estate developer buddy. Rene tries to convince Team Arrow 2040 that they’re all wrong because the city is going to be evacuated before the bombs turn it into a pile of rubble. When the deadline is moved up, evacuation orders ignored and it’s all synced to a fireworks show, Rene starts to realize he’s being played.
Sex and the Olicity: Oliver is only seen in the near future during a tender moment when Mia is born. There’s no sign of him when we start the training montage, which does not bode well for those hoping Ollie ends Arrow kicking it on a beach somewhere. Also, at the end of the episode, Felicity creates the Archer program, which inevitably falls into the wrong hands and causes the Glades-Star City split, and the general downfall of humanity.
What about the action: The action was well choreographed, but there was a continuity error in the big Mia action set piece that made me giggle. Earlier in the episode, Mia ditches her heels and whoops on some guards John McClane style. But during her shouting match with Connor (they was totally romance in the ruins with those two), she’s seen putting shoes back on. Flash forward to the big showdown in the Galaxy One office. It’s dark but you can see that Katharine McNamara or her stunt double shed one of her shoes during the take, as it’s clear Mia has on only one shoe. When they cut to her on the shoulders of the guard and conclude the fight, Mia has both shoes back on. Team Arrow v5.0 stops the bombs from going off, but with the cost that they now have a huge price on their head, and Galaxy One’s evil boss no doubt has a plan B to continue his scheme for gentrification through genocide.
What’s next: Emiko is not the sweet sister or hero she has presented herself to be.
Last impressions: While they have been rare during the series’ run, episodes without a lot of Oliver have always been a tricky proposition. It’s not to say the specter of Ollie didn’t loom large in this episode, but any episode without Stephen Amell in even in a secondary role always feels a little off. William is the one who holds this episode together. He has a firm grasp of who his character is and what that character’s strengths and weaknesses are. Mia, despite being the emotional center of the episode, is not as fully rendered and comes off as petulant and bratty as Sansa Stark in the first couple of seasons of Game of Thrones. They try to remedy some of that by episode’s end when she and Felicity have a bit of a reconciliation, but it’s still not quite enough for Mia to cross into the realm of likability. This episode was clunky at times, but it was an effective change of pace and it gave the future sequences some much-needed forward momentum. The series deserves props for keeping the stakes high during a point in the season where it’s not easy to do so.