“Being a hero, Mia, means choosing other people’s safety above your own, including your family.”
Just because, after weeks of setting the table, a plot point that has been unnecessary and uninteresting doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way right?
Well, yes and no.
Taking place primarily in the flash forward, “Star City 2040” looks to expand and flesh out the events of the future. This includes that mega-divide (courtesy of the Wall) between Star City and the Glades, the conspiracy behind Galaxy One, and the overarching plot to destroy Star City in order to take over Felicity’s creation—the Archer program. Throw in some family drama, the future gang coming face-to-face with the living and breathing Felicity, Rene’s gullibility as it relates to Galaxy One, and this week plays out fast and loose, like a comic book when so much plot has to be developed in such a small window.
One of the big questions answered is how did Mia, this slight and non-threatening woman, get to be the badass she is without Oliver Queen’s tutelage. The early montage of her training under Nyssa Al Ghul’s oversight gives credence to her fighting capabilities—though much of her personality comes from her daddy’s genes. While “Star City 2040” suffers from a cross-stitched conspiracy plot of Keven Dale (CEO of Galaxy One) and his machinations of basically taking over the world, there is an emotional core that grounds the episode, making the very bland bad-guy-wants-power arc into something that, while not wholly amazing, does just enough to keep this episode from being a clunker of over exposition. That is primarily thanks to Katherine McNamara’s performance.
Admittedly, I was not a fan of McNamara’s Mia during the first episode or two. Prior to her identity being revealed, she came across as that generic tough gal with no real weight behind it. Add in her sullen attitude and Mia was nothing we hadn’t seen a thousand times over. But then something changed. First, the script gave her something more than the cookie-cutter persona to work with and that coincided with McNamara’s chemistry with Ben Lewis’s William really blossoming. The scenes between the two just work and has been the only thing of interest to me during the last few glimpses into the future time.
This week, that same emotional power was deepened when, after thinking her mom dead for so long, Mia comes face-to-face with Felicity. The betrayal Mia feels is palpable and though some would call her reaction tantrum-ish, her feelings of abandonment—not to mention discovering that Connor Hawke was lying to her about his own identity and purpose—are justified. It takes Connor finally getting through to her, sharing the sacrifice he also experienced when having parents as heroes, that chips away at that wall of anger and rage that has fueled Mia since we first met her.
In some ways, “Star City 2040” almost comes across as a back-door pilot, offering the strongest moments of the flash forward yet as the young crew of Mia, Connor, William, and Zoe work with the more experienced Dinah, Felicity, and Roy to stop Dale’s plan to destroy Star City. While I’m not sure this younger cast would have the strength to power a full season of episodes, a 10-week episodic run in place of Arrow’s departure after Season 8 could possibly work. But as it stands, despite much of it coming across rushed and uninspiring, there are some strong character moments that, while it doesn’t save “Star City 2040” from being a middling episode, does give hope that these last few episodes will be able to craft a decent enough end to the future time.
And maybe, we’ll get answers on what really happened to Oliver Queen.
- From Galaxy to Eden Corp to Archer, there are a lot of plot entities mixed in this week that jumbles the narrative. Had they done a better job sprinkling some of these in during the other flash forwards, this episode would have been much stronger for it.
- We’ve all heard the term “doing more with less”. For years, Arrow has had an issue with that concept during their fight scenes. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the mayhem works but, more often than not, the clutter of trying to go big with fights where there’s such a small window for rehearsal leads to corny and uninspiring messes. Having Mia face off (and take down) nearly a dozen well-armed and highly-trained guards destroys any sense of credulity. It’s bad enough when Oliver does the same thing with half the opponents but this was even worse. And it’s not just the ridiculous nature of some of these fights but the more prolonged the action piece, the more telegraphed and rushed the choreography becomes. So–Arrow coordinators and writers–next time around, let’s do a bit more with a lot less.
(Images provided by The CW Network)