Warning: Contains SPOILERS For Arrow, Season 8, Episode 1, "Starling City."
There's an old saying that you can't go home again, and Oliver Queen proved it true in Arrow season 8's premiere episode, "Starling City." Most of the episode centered upon Oliver Queen confronting his past and his early days as a vigilante trying to save his hometown, though under drastically different circumstances on another Earth, which was eventually revealed as Earth-2.
As Oliver looked to the past, the episode's B-plot focused on the future. The adventures of Team Arrow: Version 2.0, set in the future of Star City 2040 from season 7 continued, as Mia Smoak, William Clayton, Connor Hawke, and Zoe Ramirez faced a new enemy with an old face. Yet the new vigilante team's differing styles of conflict resolution left them fighting each other more than the dangerous gang known as the Deathstrokes.
Oliver found himself in similar circumstances, forced to team with a version of Laurel Lance seeking redemption for her past crimes and Earth-2's version of one of his greatest enemies. It was not all doom and gloom, however, as Oliver also received the unexpected assistance of John Diggle, who ventured into the multiverse to help his brother-in-arms accomplish his mission for the cosmic being known as the Monitor. Here are all the big questions demanding answers after Arrow season 8's premiere.
10. How Did Earth-2 Batman Wind Up On Lian Yu?
The opening scene of "Starling City" is a direct lift from the pilot episode of Arrow, with Oliver Queen lighting an explosive signal fire to attract the attention of a passing ship. This time, as Oliver runs toward the beach and the approaching boat, he passes a stake holding the cowl of Batman, with an arrow going through the eye-hole. This is the first indicator that we are in another world, as the original scene featured the mask of Deathstroke. This raises the question of how that mask came to be on the island of Lian Yu and if Batman got stranded there instead of Slade Wilson in this reality.
9. What Is Earth-2 Adrian Chase's Backstory?
The first big shock of the episode comes when Oliver confronts this Earth's version of the Hood and fights him to a standstill before Black Siren intervenes. The other green-clad vigilante lowers his hood to reveal himself as the man Oliver knew as Adrian Chase and Prometheus on Earth-1. We don't learn much about Chase's background on this Earth, but it makes an odd sort of sense he might become this world's Green Arrow given the Earth-1 Chase sought the same training as Oliver Queen in a bid to avenge the death of his father. It makes less sense that he'd be using the name Adrian Chase, however, as that was an alias Simon Morrison assumed on Earth-1 to hide his true identity from Oliver Queen.
8. Was Bruce Wayne Batman on Earth-2?
Considering the fate of the Batman of this Earth, we must also ask if Bruce Wayne is Batman in this world. This question seems particularly relevant given some information revealed near the end of the episode, when Adrian Chase quotes something that Bruce Wayne once told him. It is never explained how Chase knew Bruce Wayne, but given all the other available evidence, it seems likely that Chase and Wayne enjoyed a similar student/mentor relationship as the Earth-1 versions of Oliver Queen and Slade Wilson, with the two being stranded on Lian Yu together for the better part of two years. Unfortunately, this also likely means that they came to blows and Bruce Wayne went bad.
7. Who Trained Earth-2 Tommy As The Dark Archer?
Another big twist in the episode is that in this world the Undertaking to destroy Starling City's Glades district was plotted by Tommy Merlyn, rather than Malcolm Merlyn. In a mirror of Arrow season 1's central storyline, Tommy sought to avenge the death of his sister by using a high-tech weapon to destroy the slums of Starling City. While this led to an amazing battle between Green Arrow and this new Dark Archer, it's unclear just how Tommy became a master archer and hand-to-hand combatant when he never had the time or ability to be recruited into the League of Assassins like his father had on Earth-1.
6. What Happened to Robert Queen Being Earth-2's Hood?
"Starling City" has a major plot-hole in regards to Earth-2 and the backstory established in earlier Arrowverse episodes. The Flash, season 2, episode 6, "Enter Zoom" established that on Earth-2 Oliver Queen was lost at sea and his father, Robert, had become the Starling City Vigilante. This was revealed during a news broadcast which explained that Robert Queen's secret identity had just been exposed to the world. Nothing is said about Robert Queen's fate in "Starling City" or why everyone seems to regard Adrian Chase as the first Hood. This seems especially odd given that Moira Queen and Malcolm Merlyn are now married to each other, though it is possible Robert was arrested after his identity was exposed (like Oliver Queen on Earth-1 in Arrow season 7) and that Moira divorced him.
5. What Happened To Earth-2 Laurel & Thea Being Close?
Another continuity conflict in "Starling City" involves the fate of Earth 2's Thea Queen, who is said to have died of a drug overdose on her 18th birthday. In the Arrow season 6 episode "Doppelganger," Black Siren claimed to have been close to her Earth's version of Thea Queen. She also told the Earth-1 Thea that her Earth-2 counterpart was "not as pathetically naive as you."
The problem is that Black Siren also claimed to have left Starling City to start a new life in Central City after her version of Oliver Queen was presumed dead in 2007. Based on Thea's birthday on the show, this would have had Black Siren leaving Central City when Thea was only 12 years old. Granting that the Thea of Earth-1 was wise beyond her years, it still seems unlikely that any version of Laurel (particularly this version of her) would be doing a lot of bonding with her boyfriend's tween sister. The most likely explanation is that Black Siren was lying and just trying to get under Thea Queen's skin.
4. Why Does Club Verdant Exist On Earth-2?
One of the most prominent landmarks in the early seasons of Arrow was Verdant - a nightclub founded by Oliver Queen and Tommy Merlyn, which Oliver used to conceal his first secret hideout. It would later be taken over by Thea, who would prove to have a solid head for business. Verdant is the site of Oliver Queen's homecoming party in "Starling City," but just how the club exists when there was never an Oliver Queen in this world to establish it is not explained.
3. How Is Laurel Walking Around In Public On Earth-2?
It's easy to forget after several seasons in the service of various villains that the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance first appeared in The Flash season 2 as one of the lieutenants of the speedster tyrant Zoom. Black Siren became stranded on Earth-1 after being brought to justice by Team Flash, only recently returning to her homeworld after deciding to make an honest effort at trying to redeem herself for her past crimes. Such assurances that she's turned over a new leaf are unlikely to win over the authorities of Earth-2, however, given her status as one of the most notorious war criminals in the history of their planet. It would also be all but impossible for Laurel to hide her nature on Earth-2 given the popularity of the Metahuman Detection App invented by Harry Wells.
2. Did Any Of Earth 2's Heroes Survive?
The Arrow season 8 premiere ends with Earth-2's apparent destruction, as waves of anti-matter begin to devour the SCPD headquarters as Oliver Queen and John Diggle are about to leave the world behind. Thankfully, they and Laurel Lance are just barely able to avoid being erased from existence, escaping into a breach at the last second. This raises the question of what happened to the rest of Earth-2's heroes and if there is a chance some of them might have escaped the destruction of their world as well.
It would be sadly anti-climactic for all these characters to be killed off so suddenly, given the prominent roles Harry Wells and his daughter Jesse (aka Jesse Quick) held through the early seasons of The Flash. We also never got a chance to see the superhero team that Jesse reportedly formed to protect Earth-2 in the wake of Zoom's defeat. Unfortunately, with Violet Beane occupied with filming on the series God Friended Me, it seems likely that we've seen the last of Jesse Quick and that the destruction of Earth-2 will be used as an excuse for why we won't see her in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
1. Why Does The Monitor Need Dwarf Star Particles?
Perhaps the greatest mystery in the Arrow season 8 premiere lies in just why Oliver Queen came to Earth-2 in the first place. The mystery lies not in the goal, however, but the reasoning behind why the Monitor charged Oliver with retrieving dwarf star particles from one of Queen Consolidated's science laboratories. When Oliver asked why the Monitor needed something as rare and potentially destructive as dwarf star matter, the Monitor glibly replied, "That I have tasked you should be reason enough." Presumably all will be revealed in future episodes, but it seems likely, given the most frequent uses for dwarf star particles in the Arrowverse, that the Monitor has a weapon to build.