The final season of CW’s Arrow promises to bring a conclusion to the series and revisit past events. That was especially the case for the Season 8 premiere, "Starling City." Numerous callbacks to the show’s history littered the episode, namely those relating to the show’s first season. Revealed to be set on Black Siren's Earth-2, the premiere takes advantage of this by revisiting old haunts not seen on the show's main Earth since its inaugural season.
Here is a list of the homages to Season 1 that were featured in the first episode of Arrow’s last season.
Starling City and the Escape from Lian Yu
The episode title itself recalls a plot point first introduced in the show’s premiere. Green Arrow’s home city has traditionally been Star City in the comics, but Arrow instead started the city off as Starling City, eventually renaming it in the fourth season. As the eponymous episode is set on Earth-2, the city is still named Starling.
The episode’s first few minutes directly mirror those of the first episode’s, with a ragged Oliver Queen running on the island of Lian Yu, before being discovered by passing sailors. The scene is echoed nearly shot for shot, with a few key differences. For one, Deathstroke’s mask (with an arrow in the eye socket) is replaced by that of Batman. Also, Oliver isn’t nearly as weathered as he was in the pilot, with his hair noticeably shorter.
Oliver’s reunion with his mother at the family manor closely resembles how that scene played out originally, though a couple of characters are not there. In this universe, instead of Walter Steele, Moira Queen has married Malcolm Merlyn, making Tommy and Oliver brothers. Unfortunately, this comes with the news that Earth-2 Thea died of an overdose on the drug Vertigo (which she used in the show’s first season, as well). Moira also takes the opportunity to “introduce” Oliver to his new bodyguard, John Diggle. In truth, this is the same Diggle from Oliver’s Earth, following his friend using a device given to him by Cisco Ramon. Much of their initial interaction is similar to when they first met, and Oliver even uses the handshake knockout that Diggle always falls for.
A suspected reunion occurs when Oliver, at the office of Queen-Merlyn, attempts to chat up a blonde IT worker. He inquires if she’s Felicity, who he thought had red hair on Earth-2. The employee is actually a completely different woman, though her mannerisms are almost the exact same as Felicity’s. This scene does mirror how Oliver met Felicity in Episode 3 of Season 1, however.
Base of Operations
Tommy takes Oliver out for a night on the town at the club Verdant, which first appeared in the first season. This same story also occurred in Season 1. Earth-2 Green Arrow and Black Canary also have their own Arrowcave, where Green Arrow (Earth-2 Adrian Chase) casually works out using the salmon ladder. This visual is one that Amell made famous from the show’s first season onward. Chase's version of the character even utters the famous "You have failed this city!" catchphrase that's normally used by Oliver.
Archers and Undertakings
The investigation into Adrian Chase’s “Hood,” after Oliver (as Green Arrow) attacks Malcolm Merlyn, is very similar to the police first investigating The Hood in the pilot. In this case, however, Detective Lance is replaced by evil versions of Dinah Drake and Rene Ramirez. Eventually, the Earth-2 Dark Archer is revealed to be Tommy, not Malcolm Merlyn. To match, his master plan involves a version of Earth-1 Malcolm Merlyn's Undertaking. Whereas Malcolm was driven to evil by the murder of his wife, Tommy strikes against the citizens of the Glades as revenge for Thea's death. Not only is the way that Tommy captures Oliver similar to how it was done in the penultimate episode of Season 1, but the subsequent rooftop fight even has some of the same shots. Some of Tommy's dialogue also resembles Malcolm's.
As the final season continues, such homages to Arrow's past will continue to play key roles in the story, especially in the build-up towards the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover and the presumed end of Oliver Queen's story.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog, Juliana Harkavy as Black Canary, Katie Cassidy as Black Siren, Katherine McNamara as Mia Smoak, Joseph David-Jones as Connor Hawke and Ben Lewis as William Clayton-Queen.