Legends fumbles. It had to happen sooner or later.
“Star City 2046” presents exactly the kind of urban decay, future, social expedience that late 80’s and early 90’s comics became known for. As far as presentation goes the destroyed and cluttered cityscape along with the re-purposed urban environments matches that aesthetic to a T. The roving gangs of bikers are a nice Mad Maxesque touch to create the alternate future dystopia that Star City is 2046 is supposed to be. This episode also features the first appearance of Conner Hawke, a character in the comics who actually is revealed to be Oliver Queen’s illegitimate son, though his origin in the Arrowverse differs from that dramatically. I found Joseph David-Jones’ Conner Hawke to be overwhelmingly adequate. The character doesn’t exactly break new ground, nor does he even seem to take any influence from his comic book counterpart to set him aside from literally any other character that could have taken up the Green Arrow mantle. That’s not to say that his origin doesn’t explain that difference effectively, but the use of the characters name does not the character make. The Arrowverse version of Conner Hawke is just a name, and his limited screentime does nothing to legitimize that. The same can be said for the character of Grant Wilson who has limited screentime, no outstanding personality, implied rather than evidential menace, and is just a passing comparison to his comic book counterpart.
Now we get to the real biggie, which is Oliver Queen 30 years after the current events in Arrow. I can’t honestly blame Stephen Amell for doing nothing with this character, but it feels like a sleepwalking cameo rather than a significant look at a beloved character’s future. I get that he’s beaten down, but from presentation to action, his inclusion results in three sudden appearances with scene transitions put in charge of important plot progression. This isn’t good storytelling, nor does it really use the full potential of the visual medium. I don’t want to spoil the episode, but I’ve seen this too often.
Character: “You have to [do action] or [character] will die!”
*close up to Retired/Too old for this s*** character*
Retired/Too old for this s*** character: “…”
*cut to next scene*
*present scene as a fakeout, as if Retired/Too old for this s*** character refused to [do action]*
*sudden surprise reveal as Retired/Too old for this s*** character jumps out and [does action] just in time to stop [bad guys] from doing [bad thing]*
To see a character that has paid their dues for three and a half seasons be reduced to this VERY tired cliche is just too damned depressing to ignore.
The rest of the episode is fairly inoffensive, if also unremarkable. There’s some interesting things done with Mick and Snart as characters. The world of the criminal king starts to seem valuable to Mick but Snart starts to back peddle in the face of what can be considered the hoodlum version of the Big Rock Candy Mountains. The deliberate decisions of Mick Rory based on a solid understanding of his own desires puts him at odds with his less certain counterpart who has experienced a more liberal view of the line between being a good guy and bad guy. Out of all the interactions in the episode, this one carried the most weight. It’s as easy to see Rory’s position as it is to see the holes in Snart’s which makes their conflict all the more tense. The love triangle storyline is a bit contrived, and is clearly designed to just keep the other characters busy while they have nothing to do with the main plot, but it ended in such a satisfying way that it’s hard to argue with its merit. As usual, Rip and Sara’s chemistry make the emotion VS duty game just as strong as it always is thanks to some solid acting from Arthur Darvill and Caity Lotz, but this theme is starting to outstay its welcome, and I hope they move these characters on to different tricks soon.
Final Word: The aesthetic of “Star City 2046” works, but the shattered foundation of the city is unfortunately way too comparable to that of the story. Characters are used just because, with a prominent DC hero and villain being all but wasted on cliches, a lack of characterization, and missed opportunities. The interactions between the Legends are just as strong as ever though, and if it weren’t for the constantly improving chemistry of the entire team this whole episode might even be considered a wash.
“Star City 2046” gets a 6.0/10. It’s presented almost exactly like an old dystopian urban combat comic from the 90’s, but unfortunately that comparison fits for the substance as well as the style.