‘Arrow’ 7×16 Review: ‘Star City 2040’

When Arrow delivers episodes that manage tell compelling stories that thrill and excite and provide hope for stability on this show, episodes like “Star City 2040,” my instant reaction is to embrace it. But then logic kicks in, and I’m reminded of all of the times that Arrow has screwed me over and betrayed my trust.

“Star City 2040” was the kind of episode that proved two things. One, it proved why Arrow can’t survive without Oliver Queen. Arrow has existed for now seven seasons with our central hero and the stories about him and surrounding him. When there’s an expected structure and means of how to handle things, it just feels hollow without your center.

Two, it showed that a world after Arrow could exist. Now, of course I’m not talking about this dark, dystopian future that Arrow has thrust upon and made us rethink why we’re invested if this is how it ends. I’m talking about a future where Mia, like Connor, gets to choose to be a hero; about a future where William gets to grow up with his parents; about a future where Oliver and Felicity get to raise their children and hang up their hero identities when it’s time; about a future where Oliver Queen lives. Because there’s really no other future that makes sense.

Within the first minute of this episode I jotted down in my notes: This feels like a backdoor pilot. And it’s true. After watching the entire thing, the hero backstory, the team formation (with Future OTA – Mia, William, and Connor), the hero’s struggle, everything about this episode was laying the foundation for a spinoff.

Of course the only thing that would be different from this backdoor pilot to an actual pilot would hopefully be a different future. A future where Mia and William grew up in a loving home with their mom and dad. A future where they’re friends with Connor, their parents’ best friends’ son. A future where these three come together to be heroes, like their parents.

And while Arrow has broken my heart on numerous occasions — and gotten my hopes up beyond belief — there’s still a large part of me that wants this spinoff. Basically for the same reasons I still haven’t given up on Arrow: The core of OTA. Or, in this potential spinoff’s case, Future OTA.

Let’s break down all of the action from 2040 in Star City:

The Sacrifice Of Being Superhero Kids

With the crop of superhero shows made available to us, we get to see the struggles and the sacrifices that come with being a hero. How these heroes sacrifice their own well-being and happiness to protect those in need. How these heroes have to shoulder the criticism when the city looks for someone to blame. How these heroes put their families and loved ones in harm’s way and the struggle that comes with protecting them and their city.

But what about the families? What about the children of these superheroes? What happens to them when they grow up with parents that are superheroes? It’s an interesting dynamic that we haven’t really seen these network television superhero dramas explore. And it’s a dynamic that is the foundation for this potential spinoff to really sink its teeth into and succeed as a new kind of superhero series.

We finally learned the source of Mia’s disdain for vigilantes, and it stems from her experiences growing up. For most of her life, Mia has believed that vigilantes were the enemy. They’re the reason why her father is gone. Why she’s had to remain hidden. She believes they’re selfish. She believes that they’re the root of her pain. But most importantly, she hated vigilantes because she hated her mom for what being a vigilante led to her life being.

There was a nice moment with Mia and Connor where Mia was fuming about vigilantes and what they stand for and how they’re the reason the city is in shambles. But then came Connor Hawke — Connor Diggle — to provide come clarity for Mia when it comes to being the kid of a superhero. His parents, John and Lyla, are heroes (duh!) and he discussed his anger when he was a kid that his parents chose to adopt him but were often away saving the world. But when he grew up, he began to understand their sacrifice when it comes to being heroes. He understood that just like the heroes have to sacrifice, so do their children. The children have to learn to share their parents and be a little selfless. And that was not unlike the conversation Felicity had with William last season about Oliver putting his life on the line every day.

Now, the thing is Mia and Connor’s experiences as superhero kids are completely different. While Connor got to choose to be a hero, Mia never got a choice. She was forced to remain hidden away from Star City lest any of Oliver Queen’s enemies dare try and murder his daughter.

While I believe Mia has a little more clarity with the situation — and resolved that anger she was harboring against her mom — I don’t believe she entirely understands where Connor is coming from. If there is to be a spinoff — and if it were, unfortunately, to be in this horrible future, it could provide for more opportunities to explore it.

Felicity’s Sacrifice

As this episode was being told from Mia’s perspective, it’s easy to see why Mia would be so angry at her mother. Especially when the truth comes out. Mia has been confined to a small town, training like her father, and having no say in her future. So when she learns her mom is still living that vigilante life — being able to choose to be a hero — it’s understandable that she harbors so much anger towards her mom.

But it’d be easy to look past the other side of things. The parental side. Here was Felicity, who lost her husband (which better not be permanent) and had to raise their daughter on her own knowing that there would be a target on both of their backs. Of course Felicity would do whatever it took to protect her family. Yes, she never saw William again after he went away with his grandparents. But it wasn’t by choice. Well, an active choice.

Don’t for a second give me some bullshit about how Felicity doesn’t love her children. How she would lay down her life for them. She had Mia trained to be a strong fighter like her father, so she could protect herself. She helped fund William’s corporation so that he could follow his technology aspirations. While she’s undoubtedly made some mistakes along the way, there’s never been a moment where she hasn’t loved those children or a moment where she wasn’t looking out for their best interests.

The New OTA

Now, the reason I would undoubtedly watch an Arrow spinoff would be because of the New OTA — Mia, William, and Connor. The parallels were obvious. While Arrow has proven it can be dumb at times, they’re not morons. They know the heart of Arrow is Original Team Arrow, and they knew that there was potential with Oliver & Felicity’s kids and Diggle’s kid teaming up to form their own Team Arrow as adults.

While this has been a popular desire since we learned Mia was Olicity’s kid and Connor was the Connor Hawke, this future episode showed New OTA in action — and it was glorious. Much like their parents, there was a strategic plan and execution in how they attacked. They each had a role. They each had their area of expertise. And they each had that rapport that came natural, considering this was their first team-up as a trio ever.

Watching Mia, William, and Connor in the field reminded me of the good ol’ days of Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle becoming one as a team to take down the baddies. The parallels of each individual was obvious — Mia as Oliver, William as Felicity, and Connor as John. And while it might be easy to go, “Oh, look, they’re trying to replicate something as phenomenal as OTA,” it never felt like it. Because these are their children, it felt like a natural passing of the torch.

So, CW, if you’re planning on an Arrow spinoff, please center it around Mia, William, and Connor. That’s where your heart is. I’m sure they’ll include Zoey, as they introduced her as a Canary for a reason. But make sure you focus on these core three. Please and thank you.

I Ship Mia & Connor

It was evident from the first time Mia and Connor shared a scene that there was a connection. There was history. And it felt like the kind of sexual tension that reminded me of Mia’s parents in the beginning. But “Star City 2040” was the episode that confirmed that they had a relationship, that there were genuine feelings, and officially made me a shipper of them.

The thing I like is that it’s nothing like Oliver and Felicity’s dynamic, from what I gauge. Well, it is in one way. They found a way to trust each other when it felt like they couldn’t trust anyone. They naturally make a good team.

While the allure of a New OTA is intriguing and something I know people would watch, there’s a fine line between paralleling their team with their parents and copying everything. I like the team within a team aspect. And I like that it’s Olicity’s kid and Diggle’s kid. Like it was fated. I instantly get images of Mia and Connor growing up. Connor teasing her because he liked her. Mia fighting back in that cute way. Growing up as friends and having that relationship take a shift towards a romantic route. There’s so many possibilities with Mia and Connor’s relationship. Because while we’ve seen where they’re at now (well, in 2040), we don’t know the beginning. We don’t know the history. A spinoff would be a great opportunity to explore that.

Tell Me This Future Isn’t Set In Stone

Arrow — “Star City 2040” — Image Number: AR716a_471b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Juliana Harkavy as Dinah Drake/Black Canary and Colton Haynes as Roy Harper/Arsenal — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW — © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Of course if this is the future that Arrow leads to it would make the entire series meaningless. What would be the point of a hero that went from suffering literal hell to growing into the hero he was meant to be, if he was to lose it all in the end? There’s no point. And there’s no way these producers would let that happen.

The thing with this grim future is that it’s obviously a fake-out. Something to keep the audience on its toes. When you introduce things like time travel and you see how a single decision can affect everything, the future you’re witnessing at any one time can change in an instant.

So while Arrow used this episode as a backdoor pilot of sorts, the show itself would be similar but the state of the world different, hopefully. While it would be easy to make Mia like Oliver by having her lose a parent, it’s not really necessary. There are other motivations to creating superheroes than just loss.

I’m just going to continue to preach that Oliver Queen needs to survive Arrow and beyond. He’s earned that. He’s earned the right to be happy with his family, to raise his kids, to live the kind of Ivy Town life he was content with at one point. Oliver Queen has earned happiness. And this show better damn well give it to him.

Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

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