When Stephen Amell posted on Facebook that he had finished shooting a guest role on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, there was rampant speculation about the episode.

The episode, titled “Star City 2046,” which aired on Thursday, didn’t stray too far its subject matter. Despite the novel setting of a future Star City, the episode was all about Legends of Tomorrow’s own Sara Lance.

Lance hasn’t had much focus since beginning her journey with the so-called Legends. As the cranking plot machinery has taken up much of the preceding five episodes during this first season, we’ve barely had a moment to see Lance exhale, much less allow the us into her psyche. She’s always been involved in someone else’s affairs; when Legends addressed her blood lust which also plagued Thea on Arrow, it was in service of Kendra.

After her resurrection, I wondered what Sara thought about the whole deal. True, she was murdered, but wouldn’t have the League of Assassins taught her to embrace death? She didn’t give permission or ask to be brought back to life. Is waking up from death like waking up from a bad nap where you have a headache for the rest of the day? I wish Sara would say something about it, but her time on Legends of Tomorrow hasn’t allowed her to answer.

And “Star City 2046” still doesn’t, but it does remind us her grittiness comes from protecting Star(ling) City. Lance returning to a “home” that’s overrun by the new Deathstroke (Wade Wilson’s son, Grant Wilson, played Jamie Andrew Cutler) is a moving deconstruction of her divided psychology. She’s torn between cold-blooded warrior and the sentimental team player Team Arrow made her. When Amell’s Oliver Queen — who hasn’t seen anyone in Team Arrow in decades — writes off Lance, his former love interest, it’s a welcome gut-punch of emotion. In an episode we might guess would offer nothing more than novelty, in a series that’s relentless pushing forward the story at the expense of letting its characters just be, this episode delivers actual feeling.

The future-looking timeline of “Star City 2046” hints that Oliver’s split from Felicity was heartbreakingly permanent.

In the end, Lance’s sentimentality wins and bonds the Legends when they take Oliver out of retirement and save the new Green Arrow, Connor Hawke (it was revealed on Thursday’s episode that yes, he is Diggle’s son). Even if this future timeline will be erased when the Legends return to 2016 — supposedly Sara and Ray’s absence are what cause Star City to fall — it’s still a future worth fighting for.

If only Arrow were as good at doing guest episodes like Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash.

Photos via The CW