Title: Arrow: “Present Tense” Review
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Network: The CW
Genre: Superhero, Drama, Action
Last week, the flashforwards were given a fresh start with our 2040 crew heading to 2019. “Present Tense” saw the good and bad of this change in formula. While there is a lot of potential with these 2040 characters in the present day, a few frustrating interactions kept this episode from being among the best in Arrow’s final season so far.
Let’s start with the bad, which by far has to be Mia Smoak. Her character, who has been largely disliked by the fanbase going into this season, was not given any favors this week. Her interactions with Oliver were disappointing and frankly, a tad annoying. Mia’s entire arc in “Present Tense” was being angry at her dad because he left his family and died in Crisis. But, if he had not gone with The Monitor and went on the Crisis path, the whole multiverse would have probably been destroyed. So, yeah, her motivations made no sense to me.
Take The Flash season 5 as an example of doing this time-travel arc correctly. That season saw Nora West-Allen head to the past so she can save her father (Barry Allen) from vanishing in Crisis. Nora had some disdain early on towards her mother (Iris West-Allen) but it was ultimately justified due to what Iris did to Nora in the future. There wasn’t any justifiable resentment or hatred for Mia to latch onto here. As a result, I found myself checking out of the episode each time the show went back to that well.
Thankfully, Connor and William’s interactions with their fathers were nothing short of fantastic. The episode begins with heartbreak and hits you right in the feels, especially when Connor begins to realize his adoptive dad is clueless about taking him in as a kid.
In William’s case, I appreciated that he was the guy who knew what was going on almost immediately, seeing as he is familiar with the 2019 Team Arrow setup.
The scene where William comes out to Oliver was also very well done. This is somewhat surprising to me because, at times, the CW fumbles these big-time emotional moments and it ends up being more cheesy than compelling. The whole Queen family killed it in the acting department this week. Ben Lewis was great as William and despite a terrible arc, Katherine McNamara also put in a good performance as Mia. However, the standout this week is Stephen Amell. As mentioned above, those first 3-5 minutes were filled with heartbreak, utter shock, and emotion. That’s because Amell crushed just about every scene he was in from the “those are my kids” line to his speeches to William and Mia. You can tell the cast has put everything they can into this last season.
I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to the J.J. storyline continuing and I’m glad it was all a misdirect. The twist completely worked and by the end of the episode, it set up the possibility of the 2040 crew returning to their time only to find out that they actually changed the future for the better. Well, hopefully.
On one hand, I would have liked to see Diggle interact with 2040 J.J. and figure out more about his son’s backstory in the Deathstroke gang. But, keeping these 2 apart is for the best. The storyline is similar to what happened with Andy, which I think Diggle even mentions in the episode. The final season already features so many callbacks as it is. Just keep the J.J. stuff for the spin-off show or have the story be changed completely by the time the 2040 crew goes back.
I’ve probably hammered this point home multiple times in these Arrow and The Flash reviews but I gotta do it again for safe measure. I’m loving that both of these shows are making Crisis to be such a big deal. You can sort of feel the weight our characters are under each week as they’re starting to realize time is running out and the “god” who is supposedly helping prevent the end of the multiverse may not be who he claims to be.
It seems that every week, a new wrinkle is added to this Monitor stuff. That’s great for me. It keeps the Crisis unpredictable. Is The Monitor who he says he is? Why does he want Laurel to betray Oliver? It’s highly unlikely we’ll figure it out next week when the team goes to Russia but I’m sure the show will continue to fan the flames on the storyline until Crisis or the possible twist that The Monitor is actually the Anti-Monitor.
Verdict: “Present Tense” is filled with some heartfelt and intense (no pun intended) moments. The clash between the 2040 and 2019 Team Arrow crews is a mixed bag but the show still has a few weeks, including Crisis, to ramp things up properly. The episode was also helped by an unexpected change in its villain and everything involving The Monitor. Unfortunately, some forgettable interactions and a lack of any answers as to why the flashforwards crew traveled to 2019 kept “Present Tense” from hitting that Remarkable rating for me. Still, Arrow season 8 has been amazing so far.
- Ben Lewis and Katherine McNamara put in great performances
- Stephen Amell completely crushed it as well
- The Monitor cliffhanger
- Connor and Diggle's interactions
- William and Oliver's interactions
- The bait-and-switch with Deathstroke
- Yet again, the action for this show is awesome
- Mia's motivations didn't make any sense
- As a result, Mia's interactions with Oliver were disappointing
- Even though we got that cliffhanger at the end, we had no answers as to why the flashforwards crew was sent back to 2019