While the flashbacks have never been more intrusive, the actual final chapter to this season was exciting, action packed, and emotional.
Felicity saved the day twice. First she eliminated the nuke headed for Star City, and then she talked Cooper into sacrificing himself for the greater good so she could save the rest of the world. Although I'm not sure how much better it is for 15,000 nukes to be set off in relatively low orbit. That being said, I'd say she was very much back to the character I love, and her support of Oliver throughout the episode made me wonder why she split up with him in the first place.
Oliver's job in this one was basically to bring down the big bad. While Felicity was handling Darhk's plot to destroy the world, the Arrow had to defeat the man. Felicity said it well when she described Oliver's emotional struggle as a schism between his light and dark side. What's kind of cool is how he has always managed to tread between that line, keeping himself on the side of good while doing dark things that had to be done for that greater good.
His ascension to becoming Mayor and his murder of Darhk felt like a perfect example of that duality he is trying to balance: the leader, capable of inspiring hope, and the vigilante who can kill when necessary. Darhk had already been to prison for his crimes, and the legal process would've taken years to execute him, giving him ample time to escape and cause all sorts of problems. Plus, Darhk still had all that power. Oliver was the only one immune to him, so he was the only one who could kill him. Morally speaking, it was a very gray decision. Was Oliver justified? Did he do the right thing? I'm honestly not sure. But a major theme for the episode was stated by Waller at the end of the episode: "Sometimes killing is justified".
As for Damien's last hurrah, I was once again blown away by Neal McDonough's performance. He managed to be funny, scary, and even a touch sympathetic. He was definitely my favorite big bad of the series, but I'm kind of glad he got killed off. If they had decided to let him continue, it would have felt forced. Malcolm works because of his connection to Thea, but Darhk needed to go. No matter how much I liked him, it was the proper writing choice.
Each member of Team Arrow had a different reaction to the events of the episode, although none of them were upset by Oliver's choice to kill Darhk. For Diggle it felt from the beginning like he was saying goodbye. Every moment was in support of his friends and family, but it was clear Andy's death had affected him on a level that he couldn't handle. So his need to exit stage left and rejoin the military was appropriate for his character arc. Although joining up is usually a fairly long commitment, so I wonder how he will return next season.
Thea ended up hanging up her hood, needing to step back and reassess her life and her own mind. Since she basically stepped out of the Lazarus pit and back into her role as Speedy, she never stopped to actually recover from being resurrected. Malcolm changing sides at the last minute had to be equally frustrating for her, too. His motivations make sense, a global restart would appeal to his original plans about the Glades, but I can also easily see him shifting away when it looked like no one would survive.
This was probably the best of all the flashbacks this year, yet it was also frustrating, interrupting the flow of the episode by pulling us away from the action in the present. Still, the end of Reiter and Taiana was well done. I should have been more affected by Taiana's death, but I never really liked her character that much. Her friendship with Oliver was also kind of one of convenience, rather than a true connection. I did like the end though, and I'm curious where the final year of flashbacks will go (apparently Russia to start).
Cooper ended up choosing to go out a hero after screwing up monumentally. It was a nice end to a character that was sort of meh.
Curtis had some really fun lines, and is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.
Quentin and Donna heading off together was really nice. I thought for sure one or both of them would die in this episode. His arc has also been kind of interesting, but I wonder if the show needs him anymore. I won't be upset if he returns next season, but his role needs to change.
So I'm guessing the Slab is important.
There could be a drinking game based around how many times a character said the word "hope" in this episode.
Darhk: "Fifteen minutes until the end of the world, and you want to spend them with me... I'm touched."
Donna: "When did this become your life?"
Malcolm: "That was quite a speech, Oliver. It made me long for a voting booth."
This was a very good finale, along the lines of pretty much every Arrow finale. Was it the best? I don't think so, but I still enjoyed it and it did a good job bringing together all the various disparate plots in a satisfying way.
4 out of 4 Speeches about hope
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.