Arrow Season 8 Episode 6 Review: Reset

Arrow slowed things down for its take on Groundhog Day and Oliver's fate in its first real filler episode of the season

This Arrow review contains spoilers. 

Arrow Season 8 Episode 6

David Ramsey was back in the director’s chair for this episode, which might explain why it was light on Diggle. One of the nice touches in this script is who Ollie turned to – Quentin and Digg – and the fact that they were immediately ready to roll, no real questions or assurances needed. This strikes me as a difficult type of episode to keep interesting, so the audience doesn’t get bored by the repetition and also doesn’t read into what gets skipped, and the action was top notch, even if it was paced in an unusual fashion, given the episode’s format.

Judging by this episode’s resolution, it seems Arrow thinks they’ve convinced us that the Monitor is a swell guy and Lyla did nothing wrong by secretly working with him. While that may well be true, this episode did almost nothing to convince me of that. Worse, it almost didn’t even seem to try.

Instead, “Reset” spent its (considerably back-loaded) messaging mileage on the idea that Oliver – and, by extension, the audience – must accept his fate. While it’s not altogether surprising that Ollie would try to stay alive, for his family if no other reason, the only reason that I, as a viewer, had begun to consider he wouldn’t die is the fact that Arrow has spent so many (great!) episodes of its final season sending him questing around, questioning the Monitor’s motives and attempting to save himself and everyone else.

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The overall effect is that it feels like the writers doing a poor job of resolving a problem they only just now invented. The end of last season felt appropriately emotionally weighty for Oliver’s goodbye to his old life, and eventually life entirely. Stephen Amell has prepped his audience for the better part of two years by openly discussing how the only thing left for his character is to leave a legacy and bow out, rather than get a happy ending.

For Arrow to phone in a lesson (which poorly connects to the actual Groundhogging) that’s meant to correct the false notion they just recently gave us that Oliver might live feels…cheap at best, How I Met Your Mother-esque at worst. It’s nowhere near as bad as spending an entire season on a wedding no one cares about for a marriage none of us believed in only to reveal in the finale that it has ended in divorce and have the audacity to act like that’s a surprise, but other than scale of it, it’s a similar feeling.

So what did this episode do right? All things Laurel, for one. The message of acceptance makes far more sense for her – Quentin’s death is a fact, something that has already taken place, and accepting it is an emotionally healthy choice. Who’s to say that taking the Monitor’s word is the right move? Isn’t that what a villain would want you to think? I don’t think that’s where this is headed, beyond the obvious Monitor, anti-Monitor situation, it’s more that there’s such a mismatch between the supposed message of the time labrynth and its application to Oliver’s larger circumstance.

The writing for Laurel continues to be strong, and as always, Katie Cassidy’s performance rises to the occasion. It’s hard to pick out a favorite moment between Laurel and Quentin, but their first heartfelt, teary-eyed moment is probably my favorite, even if the last one was the biggest, emotionally speaking.

There’s something great, too, about him knowing exactly who she was and being so glad to see her. This season has done a great job of teaching Laurel that she has value and is loved. Quentin wasn’t happy to see her because he assumed she was his Laurel – he was happy to see her knowing exactly who she is, and at this point he considers her to be his in a way, too.

Laurel and Oliver haven’t spent a ton of time alone together, and this was a nice opportunity to see them working together instead of quipping nonstop. They can both shut down emotions and just go into action mode sometimes, but it’s good to see them check in on each other, too, like he did when they woke up in the tent, because he knew she would wake up with Quentin dying as her last memory. There are some fans who will never forgive the show for not giving them the Ollie and Canary of the comics, but there’s something lovely about Oliver’s relationships with each of the Laurels, which have been special and important to the show in their own right.

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And now, of course, it’s time to go back to Lian Yu. See you in purgatory!

Other notes:

Great Edge of Tomorrow references from Laurel! I loved seeing her go “full metal bitch” on Lyla, and I’m not convinced that it’s actually Laurel’s fault that she’s mad at Lyla. Whether Lyla made the right choice or not, she did lie to all of her friends and that does have consequences. Claiming it’s a problem with Laurel’s state of mind is just gaslighting.

“No good will come from struggle. Learn to accept the inevitable,” sounds like the slogan a billionaire would use to prevent workers from unionizing.

Didn’t Oliver tell us just last episode that arrows can become a cruch? Then this week there’s this four-way arrow with a matrix-style slowed down trick shot.

The only profound thing from Lyla’s speech: “time is a gift.” Thanks Mr. Monitor?

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2.5 out of 5