Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of Arrow Season 8, called "Purgatory."
Arrow as fans have known it for the past eight seasons has come to an end with "Purgatory." This was the final episode of Arrow before the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover that will seemingly decide Oliver's fate, which will be followed by the penultimate episode of the series that doubles as a spinoff backdoor pilot not featuring Oliver at all, which will then be followed by the series finale.
The end is nigh, and that end is pretty grim as of the end of "Purgatory" with what may have been a major character death and more, so should Arrow be allowed to change the future and end on a total high note?
First, let's get into what happened in the episode. Team Arrow wound up on Lian Yu to put together the weapon to hopefully stop the coming Crisis, with Lyla there to more or less do The Monitor's bidding. Because there really aren't rules on Arrow since The Monitor started using his godlike powers to mess with Oliver's reality and keep him in line, the return to Lian Yu was to a Lian Yu not devastated by Prometheus and with some familiar faces still alive, including Edward Fyers and good old Yao Fei.
Although Oliver and Team Arrow did successfully gather the needed material for the weapon, they took losses in the process. Fyers and his men shot down the plane carrying Roy, Dinah, and Rene to Lian Yu with the plutonium, and the crash left Roy hopelessly pinned by his arm, while mercenaries went on the hunt.
He eventually agreed to allow Connor to basically machete his arm off right there on the ground of Lian Yu, which was of course awful for Roy but probably pretty satisfying for comics fans who have been waiting to see Roy lose his arm and open the door for a future cybernetic upgrade.
Roy took the loss pretty well, all things considered. He could get a pretty awesome replacement, and losing an arm beats being murdered by mercenaries on Lian Yu. Still, in the grand scheme of things, I imagine he'd prefer not having his arm chopped off by somebody from the future wielding a machete and no anesthetic!
While Roy survived his grievous injury, the fate of Lyla remains to be seen. Diggle came to terms with her decision to work with The Monitor (with no mention of Baby Sara as a motivator), but he and Connor were dealt a devastating blow when it was revealed that the weapon they'd been working for was connected to Lyla.
When she touched it, she was changed and emerged as Harbinger, seemingly with nothing of her personality left in her body. Does this mean that Lyla is effectively dead, and her body is being used by The Monitor? He seems to have done something similar to Nash Wells over on The Flash, turning him into Pariah. Details on that front are still pretty sketchy, though.
If this was the last of Lyla as fans knew her, it was an anticlimactic and sudden end that could be overshadowed by the hell that breaks loose in the Crisis. If Team Arrow could toy with the timeline, surely bringing Lyla back to herself (and alive) would be a priority. Becoming Harbinger might not have permanently damaged her or killed what made her Lyla, but we can't rule out the possibility that Lyla as she was is gone for good.
Oliver himself ended the episode with a request to Diggle that he reach out to Felicity and tell her that he wants Mia and William raised together, knowing each other for Mia's whole life rather than meeting in less than wonderful circumstances in 2040. But is this possible?
On the one hand, the future has already been changed in some key ways thanks to adult Mia, Connor, and William being sent back in time to 2019, and Roy had both of his own arms in the Season 7 flash-forwards. Giving 2019 Team Arrow the opportunity to change the future could mean that the awful 2040 timeline from last season never comes to pass, meaning that all their efforts in present weren't for nothing.
On the other hand, every little change for the better in 2019 could mean the next 20+ years going very differently, and if 2020-2039 are different enough after the changes that the future is no longer dystopian in Star City, then Mia, Connor, and William would all be different. In fact, if Diggle does reach Felicity and Felicity does bring William home to live with her and Mia, that would change their dynamic as adults in 2019.
Basically, changing the future 20+ years in the past could more or less create an Arrow version of Flashpoint, and I for one have complained about how The Flash's Flashpoint impacted Arrow enough that it would be pretty rich of me to root for Arrow to take the same risks. Still, 2040 was a horrifying place, Mia and William were deprived of knowing each other, and adorable little JJ Diggle turned out to be a murderous villain.
Changing these things isn't the same as Barry just racing to the past to save his mom. The consequences could be more devastating, but the risks are arguably more worth taking for heroes in a world in which time travel is very possible. It would also be kind of depressing if the Mia Smoak-centric spinoff, assuming it gets a series order, takes place in the horrible Star City 2040 that was basically one big flash-forward reminder that all of Oliver's efforts weren't enough to save his city.
Normally, I'd be conflicted about changes to the Arrow timeline, as I tend to dislike the resets afforded by time travel in the Arrow-verse, and I find twists much more twisty when there are consequences rather than timeline tweaks to fix things. The heroes of the Arrow-verse are also only human, and Barry has messed up traveling in time often enough on The Flash that I've often wanted time travel to be abandoned as a concept on shows other than Legends of Tomorrow. Yes, I'd normally be conflicted but sticking to my guns about time travel on Arrow and wanting the characters to deal with the consequences of decisions.
But this isn't a normal time in the Arrow-verse. "Crisis on Infinite Earths" is coming, and only three hours of Arrow are left in the whole entire series. Since one of those hours will be "Crisis" and another won't feature Oliver at all, there's not a lot of time left for improvements in the present to hopefully shape the future. And then there's the little fact that The Monitor is in the mix and made a deal with Oliver.
Unlike Barry Allen and Team Arrow, The Monitor isn't human and has powers far beyond even the more unique meta in the Arrow-verse. I would trust him to tweak the Arrow timeline to deliver some happy endings without negating the journey, and I think The Monitor fixing the timeline is the only way for timeline tweaks to work and make sense in the time left on Arrow without feeling contrived. A little convenient, maybe, but not out of the blue.
See what happens for Oliver Queen and Co. when the five-part "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover kicks off with Supergirl on Sunday, December 8 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.