Betrayed by Lyla Michaels, Oliver and Black Siren find themselves in a familiar life-and-death situation with Quentin Lance, which gives the Laurel Lance of Earth 2 a chance to repent as Oliver tries to make peace with the inevitable.
Groundhog Day (specifically called out by Quentin and Oliver, theme of a person repeating a day until they learn a lesson.) Edge of Tomorrow (a soldier is continually sent through a cycle with memories of how he died while accomplishing a mission) and Arrow Season 6 and 7.
Paul Blackthorne is a delight and it's great to see him back for one final turn as Quentin.
This episode was directed by David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle.
Each time Oliver wakes up, he hears a basketball game on the radio where one of the teams playing is the Star City Comets. In the DC Universe, the Comets are a professional basketball franchise, which was mentioned once in Black Lighting: Year One. The team was apparently once the Metropolis Comets, but moved to Star City after the franchise declared bankruptcy and switched cities.
Quentin's first words to Oliver, asking him if he's seen a ghost, may be a shout out to Green Arrow: Quiver, where the first words Oliver Queen says involving telling the civilian he just saved that he looks like he saw a ghost, in the scene which reveals that Oliver Queen is alive and well after having died in the previous Green Arrow series.
The detonator for the bomb under the police station operates on an detonator oscillating frequency. This means that the right frequency being projected at it should disrupt it.
ARGUS is able to analyze the bomb and trace the chemical signature back to a certain building, which they determine is the mercenary's hideout.
Oliver: We've had this exact conversation already.
Quentin: What are you talking about?
Oliver: (sighs, hesitant as he finally speaks) Fully aware of how this is going to sound. Quentin, I'm trapped in some sort of... time loop, where the same events just keep repeating themselves.
Quentin: Like Groundhog Day.
Oliver: Sure, except this one ends a lot of people dead, including the two of us.
(There's a long pause as Quentin considers this.)
Quentin: Okay. How can I help?
Oliver: You actually believe me?!
Quentin: Oliver, I've seen one daughter die and come back to life twice. I've seen another come from some other Earth. I've seen a guy in red run so fast he can reverse time. This is not exactly outside the norm, is it? Also, I'm done learning my lesson about doubting you because that always bites me in the ass. (chuckles)
(Dinah and Black Siren look at the bomb.)
Dinah: I have an idea.
(Dinah activates the Canary Cry device on her bracelet. It triggers a sonic attack which fries the bomb.)
Black Siren: (smiling) We did it.
(She gives Dinah the side-eye, apparently feeling her glaring at her.)
Black Siren: (sighs) Okay. Fine. YOU did it.
Quentin: So you're telling me we're in some kind of a alternate reality based on the plot of a Bill Murray movie?
Black Siren: Well, I was gonna go with a Tom Cruise flick. But basically...
(Black Siren and Quentin have fallen back to a staircase. Quentin is wounded and bleeding out.)
Quentin: Oh, I'm sorry, baby girl. Looks like we lost this round.
Black Siren: No. No! I am not letting you die again.
Quentin: It's too late...
Black Siren: No!
Quentin: It... it's it's time to say good-bye.
Black Siren: I'm not giving up on you, Quentin. Quentin! I am not giving up on you. You never gave up on me. You believed in me when nobody else did.
Quentin: Well, that's what dads do. They believe.
Black Siren: I want you to know that you are the reason that I'm trying to be a hero. It's because of you.
Quentin: Sweetheart you are a hero. (firmly) You are.
Black Siren: (sobbing) Thank you. Thank you. I never had the chance to tell you how much you mean to me.
Quentin: Well...I think you just did.
(Quentin and Oliver are barricade in a stairwell. Quentin has been shot in the side, but it's just a flesh wound... for now.)
Oliver: We are gonna find a way out of this. There has to be a way to fix it, and we are gonna find it, Quentin. It doesn't matter how many times. We're gonna find it!
Quentin: (laughs) Yeah? Sure. What's it gonna be, 60 times, 100 times?
Oliver: It's gonna be however many times it takes!
Quentin: You know, getting hunted like this in a space like this is kind of like what I was doing to you all those years ago. Remember? (grunting as he forces himself to his feet) Sort of makes sense I'd go out like this now, don't you think?
Oliver: Would you please just save your strength-
Quentin: For what? Oliver, you take care of these guys, there'll be more behind them, there will be more behind them. There is no saving me from this! Okay? You ever think that's the point? Maybe you're not supposed to.
Oliver: I'm not giving up. And you're not giving up either.
Quentin: Oh, no, no, no. I'm not giving up. Maybe I'm giving in. You see, I've been outrunning death for a while now. The siege... the island... But when Diaz shot me, that felt different... like I was finally at the end. And I made my peace with that. And maybe it's time you did, too.
(Red sniper dots start shining through the windows)
Quentin: It looks like fate's knocking.
Oliver: (barely able to speak, finally growling the words out.) Just... just... You just get ready to move.
(Quentin closes his eyes and takes off his bullet proof vest, before moving towards the door with the snipers. Oliver looks at him, sad, but doesn't try to stop him.)
Quentin: I'll see you on the other side, Oliver.
(Quentin goes through the door to face certain death.)
Oliver: (quietly) Quentin.
(Everything goes white as the reset triggers again.)
Oliver wakes up on a couch in his apartment in a suit while hearing a radio broadcast of the Star City Comets playing.
Mia, Connor and William return to the apartment from getting take-out at Big Belly Burger.
Connor says that Big Belly Burger in the past tastes better than in their time. Mia says it tastes the same. William says the taste of the food changed following a merger with Gwespin Foods sometime between 2019 and 2040.
Oliver attends a fundraiser the city council is holding for the SCPD/Vigilante Partnership, which is apparently intended to take their program global.
In this reality, Quentin Lance survived being shot by Ricardo Diaz and went on to become Mayor of Star City after Oliver Queen was arrested for being the Green Arrow. Apparently, the events of Season 7 played out exactly the same, with Oliver being freed from prison and Oliver and the SCPD spearheading a new program where vigilantes acted as deputized lawmen.
According to John Diggle, Oliver, Diggle and Black Siren were tranquilized two nights ago and Lyla was a double-agent spying on the Monitor. Oliver has no memory of any of this.
The fundraiser is being held in the Palmer Tech offices, which were apparently never blown up in this reality.
A group of mercenaries take a dozen officers hostage at the SCPD and their leader demands to speak to Mayor Lance.
In the first time through the cycle, the leader of the terrorists says the only way out is for Oliver to stop it before trigger a dead man's switch that triggers a bomb.
In the second time through the cycle, Oliver tries to tell both John Diggle and Quentin Lance about the time loop. Only Quentin believes him. He runs into Black Siren as he goes to disarm the bomb under the police station. She says that she's in the same time loop and this is also her second time around, but she woke up in the Team Arrow Bunker. They accidentally trigger a fail-safe on the bomb and agree to meet together at the fundraiser on the next trip.
In the third time through the cycle, Black Siren meets Oliver at the fundraiser. This time, they tip off everyone and Dinah and Black Siren are able to short out the bomb together. Unfortunately, a sniper kills Quentin once the bomb is defused and the mercenaries are arrested.
The fourth time, Black Siren tries to hide Quentin in the bunker as Oliver tries to figure out who hired the mercenaries in the first place. Oliver is able to get John Diggle to help him this time with analyzing the bomb. This leads them to the mercenaries hide-out, where they trigger a booby trap that blows up, injuring Oliver, Black Siren and Quentin. This time, Lyla shows up, tells Oliver he is missing the point and can't fight this before shooting Quentin and starting the cycle again.
The fifth time, Oliver tells Black Siren that he thinks this is a test but she thinks it's a punishment for defying the Monitor. Lyla is not at the fundraiser this time. They go back to the mercenary hideout with Quentin but don't trigger the booby trap. Oliver is able to hack the computers to track the mercenaries to the Anderson White - CEO of a company named Global Solutions, who has been accused but not convicted of money laundering and racketeering. Quentin is caught in the crossfire as the security team attacks them. As he is dying, Black Siren gets the chance to say goodbye to Quentin and tell him she is trying to become a hero because of him. He tells her she is a hero before the reset hits again.
The sixth time, Oliver goes to the Bunker and can't find Laurel. Lyla is there and tells Oliver that Laurel got what she needed out of this, so she isn't coming back. She tells Oliver once again that the only way to win is to accept the inevitable. Despite this Oliver goes to Quentin and takes him with him to confront Anderson White directly. Oliver gets on his computer and discovers that White is a middle man who organizes hits for other people as a side gig from his CEO job. They are caught by White's security and cornered. This time, Quentin tells Oliver that he probably was meant to die and that it's okay for Oliver to let go of him.
The seventh time, Oliver tells his kids and Connor how proud he is of them and how he's glad he got the chance to get to know them. He goes to the fundraiser and asks Quentin, in private, when he realized that Oliver wasn't the bad guy he thought he was. Quentin says his daughters vouching for Oliver helped. Oliver thanks Quentin for everything and excuses himself before Rene comes in with the news about the hostage situation.
Lyla approaches Oliver and confirms that this was another test to teach Oliver a lesson - to embrace the inevitable and not try to fight it. She says the test was necessary because Oliver has never been the sort of person to do what he's told and he had to be shown.
Lyla says she's been working with the Monitor for a while and hiding that has been the hardest thing she's ever had to do.
Lyla confirms that a great evil is coming and the Monitor has foreseen that the only chance they have of stopping it requires Oliver Queen be alive and ready to give himself for the ultimate cause.
Lyla says that everything Oliver has done so far - even retrieving the energy wave weapon in Russia - was part of the Monitor's plan and that he has one more mission to accomplish.
Lyla also confirms that the Monitor was responsible for bringing Oliver, Connor and Mia back in time and that it was a reward for Oliver's willingness to sacrifice - a chance to get to know the children he'd never see as adults otherwise.
Oliver wakes up in a tent with Black Siren, who is just waking up after having left Quentin behind. Oliver affirms his belief that the Monitor was rewarding them - giving him time with his kids and giving Black Siren the closure she needed with Quentin.
The two exit the tent to find John, Connor, Mia and William... and that they are on Lian Yu.
Star City on an undetermined Earth, where Quentin Lance survived Ricardo Diaz's attempt to kill him and became Mayor of Star City, only to die several months later after Oliver Queen spearheaded an effort to see vigilantes made deputized lawmen.
The Bottom Line
A solid episode and possible contender for one of the best episodes of the series' history. The performances are all powerful and the tone stays serious while allowing for a little dark comedy. The final season continues to roll forward with all cylinders firing.