“Starling City” Review
By Justin Carter
The ending of Arrow was always going to be interesting. It was always going to be the first of Greg Berlanti’s superhero shows to go, but the question being — how do you approach a final season of a superhero show where for the first time, their accepting of their identity wasn’t the end goal? Thus far, thanks to forces somewhat outside the show’s control, the answer is… a possible road trip through the multiverse. Cool.
Not that you’d think that at first glance. “Starling City” is surprisingly restrained, making us think it may just spend several episodes on Earth-2 and Starling City. It’s packed with guest stars from seasons prior too, and it comes with more references and callbacks to its own history than most shows do for a 100th episode. For the most part it works. There’s some surprise diminished in seeing characters like the Merlyn men or Moira Queen pop up, given they’ve all returned for guest appearances after their deaths at least three times each, but it still works because this is the first time many of these people weren’t around thanks to face masks or hallucinations.
It doesn’t hurt that the episode is also surprisingly funny despite playing itself straight, as the show often does. From Oliver and a heroic Adrian Chase bickering back and forth to providing a Felicity fakeout, there’s some good jokes here packed with history and love for the show’s characters. If “Starling City” were an episode coasting on final season fan service steam alone, it would be fine, but then it reveals its full hand in its closing moments and wipes out Earth-2 before our eyes, with only Oliver, Diggle, and Earth-2 Laurel managing to escape in time.
The decision to have Flash and Arrow airing back to back on Tuesday nights makes sense with Crisis on Infinite Earths looming. Flash briefly touched on other worlds being consumed by antimatter this week, and now we see how that looks in its full scope. The knowledge that this is occurring in real time makes this season terrifying as the trio attempt to outrun something they can’t avoid.
“Starling City” sets the stage and concludes in such a bonkers manner that you can’t help but appreciate how casual it upends its own status quo as quickly as it establishes it. There’s an exciting road ahead for Arrow as it and its hero hang up its bow and declare the city has been failed one last time.
Of course it’s Batman’s mask on Lian Yu instead of Deathstroke’s, done with more intent than it was for Deathstroke’s back in the series’ premiere.
Meanwhile, in Star City 2040: Russian Doll’s Charlie Barnett is JJ Diggle, the new Deathstroke and leader of a whole Deathstroke gang. (Yes, really.)
Thank goodness the show remembered to include the salmon ladder, even if it’s done by Earth-2 Chase rather than Oliver.
Arrow may be ending, but its corner of the world may live on thanks to a potential spinoff in the works with Mia, Laurel, and Dinah.
Nice of the show to loop in Colin Donnell one last time to play the Dark Archer, since that’s his ID in the comics.