SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "Present Tense," the latest episode of Arrow Season 8.
When Arrow returned for Season 7, the series changed things up big time by employing a new storytelling device: flash-forward segments. In its first six seasons, flashbacks played a big part in the series’ story, as it showed Oliver Queen’s days training to become the vigilante we met in the pilot. However, with its flash-forwards, Arrow sent us more than twenty years into the future, where we followed the adventures of the children of Team Arrow.
In the year 2040, Mia Smoak, Oliver and Felicity’s secret daughter, William Clayton, Oliver’s son, and Connor Hawke, John Diggle’s adopted son, are all fighting to save Star City. In this future, Oliver Queen’s home is a bleak place where poverty is rampant and vigilantes are outlawed. The Glades are walled off from the rest of the city, politicians are corrupt with power and John Diggle, Jr. was trained by Grant Wilson to lead a dangerous group of criminals called the Deathstrokes.
But now, after William, Mia and Connor time-travel back to the present thanks to the Monitor, they -- along with their parents -- appear to change the future. And that is definitely a good thing.
The bleak future of Star City in 2040 was an interesting place that allowed for plenty of twists on familiar themes and characters, but it also had the unfortunate consequence of influencing how we perceive the events of the series in the present. Since we knew that, decades later, the city would be just as bad as, if not worse than, it’s ever been, made Oliver Queen and Team Arrow’s fight in the present seem pointless. All of the tension was gone given that we knew the team’s mission would always end in failure as well as which characters would die and which would make it to 2040.
Throughout all of Season 7 and the start of Season 8, it seemed apparent that the series’ present segments were building up to what we see in the future -- and that the state of Star City in 2040 was set in stone.
However, all of that changed at the end of “Leap of Faith,” when the Monitor plucked Mia, William and Connor from the future and dropped them in the present, face-to-face with their parents. Now, in the series’ latest episode, “Present Tense,” the kids not only bring their parents up to speed on what happens in the future, they team-up to actively change it.
Over the course of the episode, Team Arrow and their children take on Grant Wilson and his Deathstrokes before they ever rise up to power. On multiple occasions, we are informed that certain events are officially changed: the Deathstrokes’ base is destroyed before they can ever set up shop in it, and Grant Wilson is locked up for a sentence of 20 years to life, which means he won’t be around to shape the future of Star City.
Of course, it’s always possible that the future will swerve back to this bleak outcome, but it sure looks like the timeline has been changed. On top of that, the kids’ continued presence in the present will only further alter the future. Better yet, certain characters like Rene and Dinah are inspired by their knowledge of the future to do things right this time. Therefore, Star City 2040 as we have known it since the start of Season 7 will never come to pass.
As a result, the future of Arrow and Star City is a mystery once again. All bets are off, and every character's future is unclear. As we head towards the series finale, the upcoming crossover “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” and the Green Arrow and the Canaries spinoff, we have no idea what to expect. The Arrowverse can now create a brand new future.
Airing Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Arrow's final season 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.