After the timeline colliding events of the last episode, ‘Present Tense’ stays present by not get into the nitty-gritty of how or why Oliver’s and Diggle’s grown children are suddenly in 2019. Instead, the episode focuses on the dynamics that could only be brought to the table by three people with twenty years’ worth of future knowledge which pays off for the better.
Teams Arrow old and new are all a little shaken and confused to suddenly be facing each other. Rene and Dinah are especially confused to be standing in front of Oliver’s adult daughter when they didn’t even know he had a daughter. He fills them in about Felicity’s pregnancy and about the monitor while future Team Arrow decides they can’t tell anyone about JJ or Zoe.
They can’t completely avoid future spoilers. Oliver’s devastated when he learns William and Mia didn’t grow up together as he and Felicity wanted. Mia’s too busy being emotionally distant for bonding, but William does share his success as a tech mogul and comes out to his dad.
Family catch up doesn’t last long when news of a Deathstroke attack breaks. With Slade and Joe Willison being tracked by ARGUS in other parts of the world, this is someone else carrying the Deathstroke mask. Future Team Arrow suspect JJ could have been transported back in time as well, believing it’s him behind the attack. Their suspicions seem to be confirmed when Conner helps the SCPD uncover a calling card left by the Deathstroke’s saying the rich are a cancer, words very similar to JJ’s manifesto.
While that’s happening Oliver calls up Curtis for help uncovering a way to stop the Monitor. He wants to find a way to harness the energy that destroyed Earth-2. If it was powerful enough to evaporate an entire earth, it might be enough to stop a god.
Striking out on their own Future Team Arrow go the Deathstroke gang’s hideout and right into a trap. Conner yells at JJ, but John Jr. isn’t the one behind the mask, Grant Willison is. The kids are saved by Team Arrow, but the jig is up. The old folks know the kids have info their not sharing.
William and Conner reveal the future waiting for Star City. All of it, from the Glades being sectioned off and the city controlled by corrupt politicians, including Rene to JJ turning to the dark side and killing Zoe.
This, understandably, leaves Team Arrow reeling, especially Diggle and Rene who struggle with what the future holds for their kids. Tensions rise between Mia and Oliver when she blames him for not being around. For putting ‘being a hero’ above her and Felicity. How does Oliver explain he couldn’t there for her childhood because a powerful being foretold the multiverse being destroyed? He can’t so instead he steps aside.
Laurel goes with Mia and she recognises that Mia plans to kill Grant Willison once they find him. She mentions to Mia that Felicity was once in the same place, ready to kill for the people she loved. Felicity saw murder wasn’t the right path and Laurel hopes Mia will make the same choice as her mother. Mia remains stubbornly resolute. Meanwhile, William opens up to Oliver about Mia. All he wanted was Oliver to push a little more for him when he was younger. Maybe that’s what Mia wants now.
William and Curtis uncover Deathstroke’s plan and both Team Arrows head out together to stop it. Oliver and Mia are the ones to find Grant, but when he’s captured Oliver puts himself between him and Mia’s bow. This time he doesn’t back down.
In the Aftermath, OG Team Arrow has found new resolve with the information about the future. They’re not going to wait for it to happen, not when they have the chance to change the outcome. Curtis, meanwhile, might have found a way to weaponize the energy that destroyed Earth-2. Only they’re going to need some plutonium to do it. Next stop on the Arrow’s greatest hits tour? Russia. Oh, and the Monitor promised to bring Earth-2 back if Laurel betrays Oliver.
‘Present Tense’ pulled every bit tension and drama it could out of its premise of Mia, William and Connor being sent back in time. Even by having the precursor of the Deathstroke gang being the antagonist allowed the plot to quickly reveal things the kids may have kept close to their chest otherwise.
It drew out heart-warming performances from its cast as well. Oliver especially who seemed perpetually caught in a war between joy at meeting his children and regret at not being around for him. It gave Diggle a moment to reflect on his brother and what he sees as a failure to save him. Pretty much everyone had a moment to shine here, even Curtis who gracefully slide back into the fold like no time has passed since he was last in the bunker.
Present Tense shone in its characters and layout potential for the future.
Some Stray Shots
- Every character declaring Mia to be Oliver’s daughter after encountering her abrasive attitude.
- It was a small but nice treat to see William’s envious admiration of Curtis.
- There were so many small little callbacks at the end of the episode, the way Diggle and Connor were sparring, Laurel teaching Dinah to dip her fries in her shake, Oliver making Monte Cristos for Mia and William.