‘Reset’ revisits Arrow’s past differently from the rest of the season thus far. It’s not a place, but a person that marks this stop on memory lane. Quentin Lance returns for his final walk across the Arrow stage in one of the best episodes this season.
After last week ended with Oliver and company taking tranquilizer darts to the neck, Oliver wakes up in his apartment. In a suit. With his kids walking in the door talking about Big Belly Burger and acting like it isn’t strange or concerning Lyla had him tranquilized. They’re more concerned about the fundraiser Oliver’s late for. A fundraiser Oliver has no memory of. But he goes anyway because that’s where Diggle is.
Like the kids, Diggle isn’t concerned about Lyla’s betrayal, reminding Oliver they learn she was working for the Monitor as a double agent. Only Oliver doesn’t remember any of this. He also doesn’t remember he has to give a speech with the mayor. The mayor who’s Quentin Lance. That’s the moment this cements this isn’t real. He’s in some reality set up by the Monitor. In this world, Quentin survived Diaz’s bullet. Oliver barely has time to process Lance being alive before they’re getting pulled away to SCPD for a hostage situation. The mercs behind it want to talk to the mayor, so Lance goes in the front, while Oliver, hooded up, goes in the back, taking out the men one by one. But the leader has a hidden bomb he sets off when cornered by Oliver and Lance, killing everyone.
Then Oliver wakes in his apartment. In a suit. With his kids walking in the door talking about Big Belly Burger. It’s Groundhog Day, each time resetting with Lance’s death. On his second run through he runs into Laurel who also remembers the previous loop. Despite their best efforts and tackling each new loop with the knowledge they learned the previous time, Quentin dies each time. Laurel finally breaks, unable to watch Lance die again. As Lance bleeds out from a bullet she opens herself to him, saying all the things she couldn’t the first time around. He’s the reason she’s trying to be a hero. Quentin, with all the love in his eyes, assures her she is a hero. It’s the parting words she never got.
In the next time loop, she isn’t there, but Lyla appears to Oliver saying Laurel got what she needed. Oliver needs to understand what he needs from this. The next time through Oliver’s more determined than ever to keep Lance alive, but Quentin sees it’s the end of the line and accepts the inevitable. Watching Quentin accept his fate resonates with Oliver. When he wakes again he doesn’t rush to save Lance again. He speaks with his kids, letting them know how proud he is. Then he goes to Lance asking why he started trusting in the Hood. Quentin says it was because his daughters trusted him and he trusted Sara and Laurel. Oliver gives Quentin a goodbye handshake and walks away, ready to let go.
Lyla is his welcome party having passed the Monitor’s test. He understands now he can’t change his fate. He understands he should trust in the Monitor because he has an ally who trust in him – Lyla. Lyla divulges she’s been working with the Monitor for a while and he’s the best chance they have to stop the Crisis. But before Crisis, there’s still one more mission waiting for Oliver.
Waking up, this time Oliver’s in a tent, Laurel waking up next to him. Diggle and the kids meet them as they step outside and onto the place where this all began. Lian Yu.
Arrow couldn’t take its final bow without one last hurrah from Quentin Lance who was a cornerstone of the series for so long. Lance arc across his time on Arrow focused on him severing as a mirror to Oliver in his early days, reflexing the darkness the Hood carried, subtly pushing him to be better. Be it through hunting him at first or later on working with him. It’s perfectly poetic that, now, he’s the person to reflect Oliver’s impending faith at him. ‘Reset’ reflects on the journey between Oliver and Lance, from enemies to trusted friends and allies. It was bittersweet to look back with that little taste of what more they could have done if Lance hadn’t died.
In the same vein, it was heart-wrenching watching Laurel get the goodbye she didn’t the first time. He was the first person to say she could be more the villain. Now she’s become a hero in her own right, something that she’s still been struggling with accepting. She may not have believed it if anyone else had said it.
The Groundhog Day aspect to the episode was a great mechanic and handled cleverly to help Oliver and Laurel to open up Lance organically within the span of one episode. Like another fantastic Arrowverse episode that used a time loop, the trope helped cut to the core of what the characters needed. ‘Reset’ wisely used some of the gags that come with the time loop trope without leaning too much into it, detracting from the emotional heart the episode was geared towards.
Some Stray Shots
- It was delightfully meta the episode acknowledged ‘stuck in a time loop’ is relatively mundane compared to other things that have happened in this universe.
- Another fun meta jab after Oliver mentioned using chemical signatures to track the mercenaries was Laurel’s ‘that’s funny, your mouth but Felicity’s words’.
- Only one episode remains before Crisis. Who’s ready?