Oliver Queen’s Farewell Tour continues this week, but things are a lot more mundane this time around. It’s hard not to be a little bit disappointed that the whole season isn’t an earth-hopping extravaganza, but the episode still yields some good character moments that show us that this season isn’t just a case of turning out the shop lights one by one. Spoilers for Arrow season 8, episode 2, “Welcome to Hong Kong,” follow.
“Welcome to Hong Kong”
After watching Earth-2 be swallowed up by the Crisis, though, Ollie and co. have dropped back to their home Earth. The Monitor tasks Oliver with bringing in a Chinese scientist. Almost immediately the team is attacked by some thugs, only for Tatsu Yamashiro to interrupt them with her dual katana. This episode takes us back to the flashbacks in Arrow‘s third season when Oliver was in Hong Kong working for ARGUS. This is where he met Tatsu and her family.
Meanwhile, Earth-2’s Laurel is struggling to come to terms with what she’d just seen. She watched her Earth turn to dust before her eyes before stepping through the breach portal with Oliver and John. She tracks down someone who can repair the breach device with some help from John’s wife and current ARGUS director, Lyla.
Do the right thing
With prodding from Tatsu, Oliver begins to question the Monitor’s motivations. Oliver doesn’t doubt that the Monitor is powerful, just whether or not he has Oliver taking on these tasks for the right reason. The two go back and forth as they track down the doctor and end up battling China White to save him.
Laurel has a Hong Kong-based tech genius fix her breach device, only to find out that it’s not the device that’s wrong; the guy repairing the device confirms that Earth-2 has disappeared. Laurel goes through the stages of grief; she denies it, blames Oliver, questions her own role, and questions why she even stepped through the breach. Lyla helps her think through her grief from her own wartime experience, and that gets Laurel moving again, in time to re-join the trio of Ollie, Tatsu, and John. The three are attempting to exchange the Alpha-Omega Virus, which killed Tatsu’s son in season 3, for the doctor, though Oliver makes it clear that he doesn’t intend to give up the virus.
Tatsu faces off against China White, and nearly dies; it’s only Laurel’s intervention in full Black Canary regalia that saves her.
In the aftermath of the event, Oliver tells Tatsu he’s going to Nandaparbat, the home of the ancient League of Assassins, to look for answers about the Monitor. In an awesome stinger, we find out that Lyla will be stepping into the role she held in the 1985 Crisis comic book series: the Harbinger. It’s tough to tell right now how long Lyla has known of her role for. Will the story retcon her actions to show how she was always pulling strings for the coming crisis? Or maybe the Harbinger was sleeping inside her.
Woven throughout this is the continuation of the Star City 2040 flash-forward. I enjoy Mia and William’s chemistry, and Charlie Barnett’s turn to villainy after his role in Russian Doll is fun. It’s difficult to invest in this part of the story when the present storyline is such a frantic run-up to a terrifying event.
Parts of this episode felt like space filler; the doctor is another Macguffin that gives Oliver an excuse to see old faces again. Without the Elseworlds aspect, it feels a little light. Laurel’s arc of grief and acceptance is the most satisfying part of the story; it’s great to see her embrace the role of hero fully. That this entire season of Arrow is a run-up to the ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ crossover does help make it all taste that much better, and I’m hoping we can look forward to more reveals like Lyla’s role as the season runs headline toward its end.