But the real heart of the episode was in Oliver finding out he has a son and struggling to figure out what to do about it. Because immortal, city-leveling serial killers he can handle. It's the truth about a nine-year-old boy and the lies Oliver's mother told him that he has trouble with.
Here were the nine best moments from another great addition to the Flarrow crossover canon. (Can we have crossovers every week?)
Team Flarrow pulls an Avengers, and heads to the country.
You gotta love the self-awareness of this show. Thea even makes a reference to the scenes in "Age of Ultron" when Thea realizes that the team of superheroes is heading to a farmhouse in the country to hang out. With Vandal Savage still out to get Kendra and Carter, Oliver decides rural living might be the way to go (because, apparently, Savage's Hawkpeople-GPS doesn't work in the country). The farmhouse is filled with Whedon-level banter and chats in the pastures and I would have been cool with this entire crossover just consisting of Team Flarrow taking a much-needed vacation in the country. (But can Iris and Joe come next time, too?)
Oliver's paternity plot line is way more interesting than flashbacks.The CW
When the camera panned down to Oliver's hand to show the strand of hair he gathered from William's hat (well played, by the way), I was sure "Arrow" was trying to cram flashbacks into an already ridiculously full episode, and my heart dropped. Then, I realized what was actually happening — that this was Oliver's pull from the past — and I breathed a sigh of relief. Take note, "Arrow" writers: replacing the flashbacks with more drama in Oliver's personal life (that, yes, could still be related to his complicated past) could be a thing that this show does more often.
Samantha asks Oliver to keep his son a secret from everyone, and it breaks Felicity's heart.
As if Oliver didn't already have secret-keeping issues! And he's been doing so well... When the results of the DNA test on William's hair confirms that he is Oliver's son, he confronts Samantha again. She doesn't want William to get pulled into Oliver's world, which would be kind of understandable if she knew Oliver was a vigilante who regularly faces off against supervillains, but she just thinks he's just your regular recovering playboy. So: harsh.
An ancient love triangle turns into a story of immortal vengeance.
OK, so I kind of lied about the flashback thing. There technically were flashbacks in tonight's episode (just not the Oliver-related kind), and they were all about the ancient love triangle that was Kendra, Carter, and Vandal. Did this really all start because Vandal was jealous that Kendra loved Carter and not him? Because that is lame. Kendra's flashback hairstyle was on point, though. (Take notes, Ollie.)
Vandal Savage destroys Central City and everyone we know.
Don't worry. The timeline doesn't stick. Barry races back through time to give Team Flarrow another chance, but that doesn't mean it lessens the shock of seeing almost every major cast member, including Oliver, die fiery deaths. You have to hand it to "The Flash" writers. They use time travel sparingly. I'll admit it: I wasn't expecting to see time travel in the crossover — let alone on the "Arrow" portion of the crossover. I'm so glad I did. If "Legends of Tomorrow" manages to be half as epic as this crossover, maybe I will be able to endure anymore ancient Egyptian flashbacks it throws my way.
Vandal Savage is no match against the power of the heart-to-heart.The CW
OK, so technically it's some ancient, it's a Betamax and some meteorite that prevent Savage from destroying all of Central City, but we all know the real reason the timeline changes is because everyone gets all of their complicated feels out. Barry lets Oliver know that secrets aren't the answer, seemingly giving Oliver the outlet he needs to save the baby drama until after the fight. Oliver, in turn, convinces Cisco to help Kendra embrace her memories. She does, remembering how Vandal was defeated.
Carter and Kendra leave town.The CW
I'm still not sure about that Carter guy, but Kendra is the best. Rather than having a very understandable mental breakdown in response to finding out that she is some Egyptian priestess who has been reincarnated again and again for millennia, she is inspired by the way Team Flarrow helped her. She vows to help others. With Carter. Not as cool with that second part, but I'm willing to follow Kendra to "Legends of Tomorrow."
Malcolm Merlyn is the worst.
And also kind of the best? Dude sees the defeat of an immortal supervillain and decides that he should bring him back to life so the guy owes him a favor. At least that's what I got from the scene of Merlyn scooping Savage's ashes into a probably-magic pot and rambling about favors. You gotta love how consistently, honestly evil Merlyn is. He never claims to be a hero. He never claims that the choices he makes are good for anyone but him — and maybe Thea. (But she's definitely a secondary motivator.)
It's silly that Oliver hasn't killed him and there was a point in this narrative when I was furious (with Felicity) that Team Arrow was even considering working with him. But now I see the big picture. Merlyn is this show's endgame villain and, it might not make sense in the context of internal narrative logic, but it sure is going to be fun when Oliver and he inevitably face off (probably on the edge of a volcano or something) in the season 10 finale.
Barry gives Oliver the best advice ever, and Oliver mostly ignores it.
Bless you, Barry, patron in-world saint of the Olicity relationship. (Well, you and Thea. And Diggle. OK, there are a lot of characters rooting for this Olicity thing to work out.) But those people have their work cut out for them because, currently, Oliver is sabotaging his happiness and it is So. Hard. To. Watch.
Was anyone else throwing things at their TV screens during this sequence? Oliver hanging out with his son was adorable and I never want it to stop, but you know this is going to end bad for Olicity. There is such an easy solution in this situation: Oliver should just tell Felicity and lie to Samantha about it. (Am I exposing my own moral failings here?) Or go with the slightly more difficult, and infinitely more mature option of talking this out with Samantha further.
But, no, instead he tells Felicity that there is nothing to worry about. That they are back in Star City and it is over now. Even after she gives him a speech about how she wants to be a good teammate! Even as she hugs his weary, conflicted head! You can see it in his face: he wants to tell her. But that's not how Oliver works. He thinks the truth is complicated — and sometimes it is. But lies always end up being far more complicated in the long run. Oliver should know that by now. Worst. Teammate. Ever. (But also some pretty great angst. ?)