Arrow: Unthinkable

"There's been enough death already."

Everyone joined in for this finale, and it was an all around success on pretty much every level. Seriously, I think every major player showed up in this episode, and somehow it didn't feel overblown. We got some good plot resolution in the flashback, some pay off moments for each character, and quite a bit of tying up of loose ends while creating several more plot threads.

I should start with Oliver. His arc this season has been simple, but very well done. How does someone become a superhero? He clearly didn't start that way, which is great because watching a character grow is just good drama. Last season Tommy's death forced Oliver to take a long look at his actions. He hung up the hood for awhile, and even returned to Lian Yu to escape the life he had started to create for himself in Starling City.

It took Felicity and Diggle to draw him back home, and the demons from the Island followed him. Slade was very much a slow burn big bad. His reveal in the present storyline created ripples of panic. But it wasn't just him. Isabel and Sebastian Blood set the stage for Slade's arrival. Little details of the Mirikuru plot started to show up, and eventually we got some hints that things on the Island turned out pretty horrible.

This episode showed us everything. That final confrontation on the Amazo with Slade. Sara's apparent death (which was exactly like her first apparent death). And the choice Oliver made to kill Slade instead of saving him. That moment was the birth of Oliver as the Hood. In the present, Oliver choosing not to kill Slade after everything that happened, was the hero's choice. In that moment, he claimed the ability to stand tall and be the virtuous one for the first time.

Even when everyone around him (except for Felicity) told him that taking Slade down was the only option, he chose a different path. The harder path. He might not be the Green Arrow yet, but he's getting closer. Of course he didn't get there alone. Felicity not only acts as his emotional and tech support, she also represents brain, heart, humor, and conscience. Losing Felicity at this point in his journey would be devastating.

So when Slade held her hostage, it might have been a trick to get her close enough to inject Slade with the cure, but she really is the person that Oliver cannot lose. He would mourn Laurel and Sara, but I think he would lose himself (or at least his heroism) if he lost Felicity. Whether or not they ever fall romantically in love, she is the most important person in his life. Also, those two moments between them were just perfect.

That first scene in the mansion was so awkward that it screamed fake. But there was just enough truth in Oliver's words that it was easy to buy. The second scene on the beach was far more genuine, and no less awkward. Yet the awkwardness felt right, like two people that have realized they could be more but aren't sure they want to be. I'm not sure a romantic relationship would work between Oliver and Felicity, but it could be very fun to see if the show goes there.

Now for everything else. Wow, there was so much going on that it's kind of amazing to think about it all. Having the League of Assassins show up to save the day was totally unexpected and so much fun. Sara's arc, as it turns out, wasn't the path of a hero. Having her realize that her true calling was to stay in the League and go back to Nyssa was a bold choice. Surprising, but actually kind of cool. It was a way of passing the Canary mantle to Laurel without killing Sara off. I'm really impressed with that writing choice, and it makes her recent drama work in retrospect.

Unfortunately it looks like the real motivation for Laurel to pursue becoming the Canary is the possible death of her father. I've grown very fond of Quentin, and I don't want him to die. Maybe he'll just be in the hospital for a while? I hope he's not gone. Yet if he is, that would be the more traditional way for a hero to be born. Her father fought against evil, and died trying to save the city. That's just about as classic a comic book superhero origin as you get.

Thea's path on the other hand is quite the opposite. I'm wondering where they are taking her character? Is she going to end up like Malcolm? Or is this just a way for Thea to gain some skills in combat, so that one day she might take over for Roy as Oliver's sidekick? Either way it's an interesting choice having her leave the city with Malcolm. Also, recent casting news has John Barrowmen returning as a regular for next season, so maybe there will be a training thing with Thea, because I can't imagine Oliver ever putting his little sister through that kind of punishment.

I also really liked how Diggle and Lyla went after Waller and her doomsday solution to Slade and his army. Bringing Deadshot into the situation was a fun payoff for the suicide squad, and I wonder if we're going to see more of them next season. Considering how the episode ended I bet that's a good possibility, since we got the big reveal in the flashback that Oliver is no longer on Lian Yu. He's in Hong Kong, with Amanda Waller and she wants something from him.


Oliver and Felicity did a Luke and Leia... again.

So Lyla's pregnant. Does that mean Diggle is finally going to have a real plot next season?

So Thea did shoot Malcolm, and he was proud of her for doing it. He even disparaged his dead son, saying that when Tommy had the opportunity to fire, he couldn't. That's so ruthless. Why did Thea go with him again?

Ollie gave Roy his own mask! I love it. He graduated hero school. Plus Roy's reaction was priceless.

So much for Isabel. Nyssa killed her pretty damn quickly. Although she had just gotten the cure, so maybe she could've recovered?

I think Nyssa liked Felicity, because Felicity stood up to her without fear and introduced herself with her unique sense of humor.

So Oliver left Slade in an A.R.G.U.S. super max -- on Lian Yu? It's like his own personal supervillain prison. Sort of.


Diggle: "What's that?"
Felicity: "Proximity alarm. I rigged the tower with sensors just in case Slade's goons came here to kill us. (checks sensors) Slade's goons are here to kill us."

Felicity: "We have a new big problem. Which considering our other problems is saying something."

Nyssa: "I'm Nyssa, daughter of Ra's al Ghul. Heir to the demon."
Felicity: "Felicity Smoak. MIT, class of 09."

Oliver: "Do you know anyone hiring ex-billionaires with superior archery skills?"

This was a fantastic finale, and it had a surprisingly low body count.

4 out of 4 Injector arrows full of Mirikuru cure.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


Billie Doux said...

It was a terrific finale. I especially loved what they did with Oliver and Felicity, and I'm glad that they didn't kill off Sara. In fact, I agree with everything you said, J.D., and don't really have much to add. Except that if Lance dies, I'm going to be extremely put out.

ChrisB said...

What an amazing way to end this season. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well the plot lines were wrapped up and how well they were set up for next season.

As a HUGE Olicity shipper, I went there. I couldn't believe the writers had brought them together this year, but I was so glad they had. Until, they hadn't. I must admit that it made for a better story, but sheesh. Way to pull the rug out!

Great review, as always, J.D. Your reviews were what kept me in the game and I am so glad I stayed. Thank you.

Patrick said...

I thought the finale was incredible, though there were a couple of parts that frustrated/annoyed me.

I'm glad they didn't kill off Sara, I'm not on board with the idea of her going back to the League. First off, I don't get how everyone else seems ok with her going back to BEING AN ASSASSIN. Second, back in "Heir To The Demon" she was willing to commit suicide rather than go back because she couldn't take the killing anymore. Is she suddenly ok with it again? Someone should have at least been bringing these questions up with her. Otherwise it makes this ending for her story look like a bit of a cop-out.

I can't really say I'm looking forward to the Thea/Malcom arc. Thea's shaping up to be the character I just want to slap all the time, like Laurel was for much of this past season. I get that Thea's life has been a mess, she's lost her mother and feels like she's been betrayed by others she loved, but Malcom?!? She thinks going with THAT psychotic murderer is the right decision? smh...

Other than that, this episode was freaking AWESOME. I enjoyed seeing the League's return, despite Sara's agreement. Katrina Law's always a welcome presence on screen. I hope we get to see some of Sara's flashbacks to her training with the League someday.

I can't say I was sorry to see Isabel get killed, as much as I adore Summer Glau that character never really lived up to her potential. It wasn't Summer's fault, the writing just wasn't there.

Watching Diggle & Lyla take on Waller was great fun, especially with Deadshot's help. What they've done with Deadshot this year has been fascinating, I hope we see more of him next season.

The real MVP of the episode has to be my girl Felicity though. I agree with you JD, those two big scenes with Oliver & Felicity were pitch-perfect. The first one doubly so when you go back and watch it again, knowing what's really happening. Even as a ruse, there was real truth in what Oliver told Felicity. He does love her very much, whether or not he's *in* love with her. I sensed the swerve coming just a little bit before it happened. Oliver was just a little bit too calm while Felicity had that sword to her throat. And the way Felicity was looking both at Oliver and the sword screamed "waiting for my opening". That didn't make me cheer any less when she plunged that needle in Slade's neck, though. :) My big question is was she in on the setup before they walked into the mansion? It seems like an awful lot of the plan to leave unsaid otherwise. Their second conversation on the beach was so delightfully awkward and sweet. Both of them trying their hardest to laugh off what was said, both clearly terrified of what it would mean if it was actually true. I absolutely adore these two together. I don't know if I ever want them to actually become romantically involved, but they are by far my favorite couple on the show.

Both Slade/Oliver fights were very well done, though I have to admit by the end of the season I was ready for Slade to go. I definitely enjoyed where he ended up though. All I ask is that if they bring him back, they find something interesting to do with him. I know Deathstroke's been associated with the Suicide Squad in the past, but if they try that on the show I think we all know exactly how that storyline will play out.

As for that final reveal? I TOTALLY called it. :) Maybe not the Hong Kong thing, though it doesn't surprise me in the least that he actually got to the mainland for a while during those five years. But I knew since episode 16 that Oliver & Amanda had history. I was wondering when and how they'd show it. I guess we know what the theme of Season 3's flashbacks will be. It also points to a more significant Waller/ARGUS presence in the current stories. I wonder if one of the themes will be Team Arrow trying to maintain their independence without the resources they used to have?

J.D. Balthazar said...

Patrick, I was trying to remain positive while writing my review. I do agree with you on both the Sara and Thea plotlines. Thea turning to Malcolm feels a bit shoehorned in, but at the same time it does offer some interesting possibilities. As for Sara, I think they did okay with her reversal on the no killing thing. For several episodes she's been put into a position where not killing means letting her enemies get away. That challenged her desire to never kill again, to the point where she didn't know who she was anymore. I can totally see her regretting her decision to join back up with the League, but as for where she was emotionally I think it works.

sunbunny said...

Chris - Totally with you on Olicity. I was over the moon when he pledged his love to her and rather pissed off when it was revealed to be a ruse. Still, she got a moment to be the hero we all know she is so I couldn't be *too* upset.

So glad Sara's not dead.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for excellent review. I loved the finale, too.

I have one gripe, however, that hasn't been mentioned. I personally will be very upset if Quentin dies without some kind of acknowledgment that Oliver is the Arrow.

For some reason, it is Quentin not knowing who Oliver is that drives me crazy. The only way I will be satisfied with such a reveal is if Quentin says, "Duh, I already knew." Too many hints throughout the series that it is Oliver, and Quentin is supposed to be a detective. And he knows Sara is the Canary.

At any rate, if Quentin dies without some kind of reveal, I will feel cheated in some way.

Patrick said...

JD, I'm not opposed in theory to Malcom's return, I just wish they'd have done a better job with the writing. Thea's decline felt a little contrived, and Malcom didn't make a compelling enough case to me why Thea should overlook the fact that he's a freaking psychopath.

As for Sara, it's not just being a killer, it's being an ASSASSIN. Killing crooks and other villain types like Oliver was doing in the first season is one thing. Killing people like the League does is a whole 'nother level. Sara & her family seemed awfully nonchalant about that when she was getting on the ship.

mazephoenix said...

Incredible finale on all fronts. Agreed that Sara going back to the League was odd. Still, at least she's alive.
Brilliant end to the Slade problem. For now. He'll be back. Best live action Slade. The Smallville version was awful. This is comic book Slade. I hope we get to meet his wife. Adeline Kane Wilson is a kickass military in the comics. She shot Slade's eye out..because of complex reasons. He endangered their son by being an assassin is the short version. Sorry, can't help being a comic geek.
So where are we going with Thea? heroic or not, she's staying I'll bet.
Loved the Felicity stuff. He so loves her for real. Yeah, I ship them.

starlingkingandqueen said...

Patrick, totally agree with you and smiling at what you wrote. Looking back at the finale arc:
When Heroes Need a Hand

Pep Talk #1 from Felicity (2x21): He wants to end his life. She tells him quietly he cannot simply accept a preconceived fate. She uses her own life as an example, not as an emotional argument to show how his death will affect her. Her constant: that there is an alternative. Oliver is in too dark a place to believe this. She lets him go. Because she already has a plan to save him from himself.
Pep Talk#2 from Laurel (2x21): She breaks down and tells him why he ‘won’t’ commit suicide, and her emotional argument is all about her, their friends, Thea, how they’d feel, etc. Oliver replies in defeat that they’ll be safe. She pushes him to protect the people he loves by stopping Slade. Oliver raises his voice in frustration and says he can’t. She insists and gives her solution of going after Blood. She hugs him (1:52). His face shows he’s wound up tight; he can’t feel it.
Pep Talk#3 from Felicity, same subject (this epi): Oliver breaks down and tells Felicity why this is all his fault. Felicity tells him why it isn’t. Oliver replies in defeat that he wanted to honor the dead. Felicity raises her voice in determination and explains very specifically how he has been protecting the people of the entire city every step of the way. She tells him with quiet and steely determination that he will stop Slade. Oliver says, again in defeat, he doesn’t know how. She confesses right back that ‘neither does she’, then gives him her complete belief and total assurance that he is not alone. She hugs him. His eyes show he feels it, his leaning down to her shows he needs it; his hand shows he wants it. It’s the constant source of strength that is Felicity.
Pep Talk#4 from Felicity (2x23): No hysterics, she tells him with the same quiet certainty why this is happening, and she throws it in his face for him to accept and understand. He reveals - and again, only to her - just how powerless he feels knowing Slade will always have the upper hand in every way. He vents in frustration that he can’t outdo Slade. She doesn’t contradict him but forces herself through clear thinking to give her solution of making Slade trip over himself. And once again, Oliver sees the light.
And that, I think, demonstrates how you can save a would-be saviour. Not by appealing to his guilt, but by illuminating paths he cannot see. A hero is as human as the people he tries to save, and he is only a hero because someone believes he is. So when he finds himself in the dark and helpless, it helps to have that someone shine a light and lead him out. Then he can take a breath, and the battle begins again.
Long live the light!

Freeman said...

Crazy cool finale. So much set-up for next season, I can't wait to see the "island" stuff now. I always had a feeling Ollie did some off the books things for Amanda. I really hope this isn't the last we see of Quentin, he's one of my favorite characters. Glad to see Isabel go though, they didn't really go anywhere with her. It's funny Ollie made a super max prison, when they've been trying to get that Supermax Green Arrow movie off the ground for years. I guess if they really wanted to they could make a movie off of that. With Ollie stuck on the island with all the supervillains he's put away.

The scene in the mansion with Oliver and Felcity made me smile like an idiot. I swore I'd play it cool, but I didn't. I think Felicity wasn't in the know about the plan until Ollie handed her the arrowhead. And even though it was a setup for Slade, I still think there's something actually there. I can dream can't I?

I agree with you guys that everyone doesn't seem to be quite registering that Sara just left to rejoin a group of assassins again. And not just any old assassins, they're like religious zealot assassins intent on purifying the world. Or at least that's usually the case, maybe their mission statement is a bit different in the Arrowverse.

It was great seeing Roy in a mask AND using a bow. Very satisfying to see after them withholding it for so long. Colton Haynes pulls off the look perfectly. I saw an interesting idea somewhere else. With Roy officially Speedy/Red Arrow, it seems likely that Thea will become Cheshire. She's a supervillain who has a love/hate thing with Roy, and they even had a baby together.

I wonder if they'll do a time-skip. I hope they don't, but it seems like a possibility.

Tyler said...

Anyone else laugh that at the fight scene under the tunnel?

That mask must have been something special, as soon as he put it on he gained super fighting skills that let him take on mirakuru enhanced soldiers (something even oliver had trouble with)