Tonight's episode of Arrow was an eagerly anticipated one for fans of the popular The CW Arrowverse series not just because it moves the series closer to the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths or even the series finale. The anticipation comes the return of Paul Blackthorne's fan-favorite Quentin Lance. But with Quentin having died tragically in Arrow's Season 6 finale, how the police captain turned mayor turned ally of Green Arrow would return remained a mystery -- until now.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of Arrow, "Reset" below.
Tonight's episode opens with Oliver waking up roughly two days after being tranquilized by Lyla Micheals on a rooftop but it becomes clear that it's not the "right" reality. Quentin Lance is mysteriously alive, having survived Ricardo Diaz -- the attack that killed him in actual continuity. When there's a hostage situation at the police precinct, Quentin goes to meet with the mercenaries while Oliver comes in to disarm him but it's then when what's going on is revealed. The assailant may be stopped from shooting anyone, but he has a bomb and says things will only end when when he ends it. Oliver wakes up again in his apartment. They're in a time loop.
Time loops aren't a new thing in the Arrowverse. In the third season of DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Zari Tomaz (Tala Ashe) was caught in a time loop herself in the episode "Here I Go Again". In that episode, Zari is stuck in a loop on the Waverider with a limited amount of time to save the ship from catastrophe that destroys it and kills everyone on board. Ultimately, Zari discovers that she hasn't actually been stuck in a time loop. Zari finds out that her consciousness has just been stuck in simulation software while she recovered in the med bay after an accident.
Of course, this isn't just a time loop on Arrow, either. It's a test of sorts. Laurel is also trapped in it, but manages to get out of it once she is able to have closure with Quentin -- something she has needed since his death to save her almost two years ago. Oliver's lesson is that he can't fight his fate -- his death and Crisis are inevitable. It's only once he learns that lesson that the time loop stops and Oliver is able to move on.
Arrow airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.