Arrow: Lian Yu

"Hello, Oliver. Welcome back to Purgatory."

This would've been the perfect finale for the series, except for...

That freaking cliffhanger!!! What were they thinking? One character, two maybe, but all of them? Do the writers really think we are going to buy that Oliver just lost everyone except his son? I mean, the entire cast just lost their jobs? I'm sorry, I really like Stephen Amell, but I don't think I want to watch a show with just him. So I'm curious how this will resolve, and if we are actually going to lose anyone. But for now, I'm just going to ignore this small plot development and focus on the rest of this pretty great finale.

This had everyone, good, bad and ugly. Malcolm, Slade and Nyssa were all as much fun as I hoped they would be. Starting with Malcolm, it was incredibly cool that he sacrificed his life for Thea. The one constant was his supposed love for her, and it was a fitting way to send off the character (maybe), for him to choose her life over his own. It also gave her something substantial to hold on to, that someone so evil could do something noble. Hopefully it helps her get past her own issues.

Nyssa finally got her showdown with her older sister, and it was short but satisfying. Talia can't understand Nyssa's alliance with Oliver, but she doesn't really get that Ra's Al Ghul was a monster. It was also a blast watching Nyssa trade barbs with Malcolm; their interplay has always been fun. I should also mention how good Lexa Doig was in mimicking Katrina Law's accent and voice. They had the similar body types and voices, which made them being sisters believable.

Slade, of course, was just amazing, from the moment of humility where Oliver gave him information about his son, to the fake out betrayal. I was moved by how much he had recovered, and was a genuine ally for this adventure. If Slade survives, I would love to see him back on occasion, working on his penance and maybe even giving the Green Arrow a hand when things get rough. Plus Manu Bennett looked kind of amazing with that beard and eye-patch.

I would be remiss not to mention the best scene in the episode as well, which was Oliver and Moira on the phone in the flashback. I'll get to the flashback in a moment, but gold acting stars go to Susanna Thompson for stepping back into the role in a cameo that gave the Island a proper send off. With all the symbolism of Oliver on two boats at the end, with Adrian killing himself in the same way that his father did ten years before, it was fitting that the emotional moment was saved for Oliver and Moira to reconnect after five years. Again, this would've made for an almost perfect series finale.

So in the end, Prometheus spent all that time setting up Oliver to come back to Lian Yu to kill everyone he loves, including his son. Oliver never really got the upper hand against Chase, until Oliver choose not to kill him. When confronted with the truth that Oliver wasn't a monster, Chase still killed himself, blowing up everyone. While this was a good end to the character, it was a touch underwhelming. In an effort to wrap up the island plot, the writers had to do character gymnastics with Chase to get him to create the perfect storm of situations where Oliver could be on the island with everyone he loves for this final showdown.

Flashback:

The final battle with Kovar, including a torture sequence that was more of an excuse to show off the greatest hits from the last five years of flashbacks, was pretty satisfying. The parallels of Oliver slaughtering people without hesitation in his attempt to escape the island on time, versus his insistence that he wouldn't kill again in the present, was a lovely way to show the growth of the character and to prove how wrong Prometheus was about Oliver. We also got to fully see that first scene of the series over again, with context and a final, awful wig.

Bits:

There was a body (skeleton) lying in the woods at one point, and Oliver gave it a look. It was matched later in the episode when Oliver strangled Kovar.

Of course Digger Harkness wasn't trustworthy.

I loved how Malcolm backed up Nyssa when Harkness was flirting with her, even though he kind of hates her.

So Evelyn, evil Laurel, and Talia were all knocked out or incapacitated. Did they get off the island?

The subplot with the team trying to get off the island was probably the only real frustration for me, because it is manufactured tension. If they don't get off the island, and it turns out that Prometheus won, I will never watch another episode of the series.

I know this isn't an actual bit, but after five years reviewing this series, I wanted to thank everyone who has read these reviews. It has been rewarding and occasionally difficult to put these out over the years, but I think it is time for me to step away. I'll continue to watch Arrow, but I will not be returning next fall to review season six.

Quotes:

Slade: "You and me, kid, like old times."

Slade: "So instead of marrying the blonde, you married R'as Al Ghul's daughter?"
Oliver: "Nyssa talks too much."

Oliver: "Forgiving myself? For what?"
Slade: "You blame yourself for your father's suicide. And everything that has gone wrong since. You need to forgive yourself. For your sins."
Oliver: "You say that... like it's easy."
Slade: "It's the hardest thing in this world."

Thea: "I got to see the father that he could've been, but he'll never get to be."

A very strong, if somewhat frustrating ending to a five year long story. Here's to hoping the next season and beyond are even better.

4 out of 4 noble sacrifices.
---
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I so agree -- this episode would have made a terrific series finale, except that it's not and the cliffhanger was infuriating. Are we supposed to believe that every member of the cast except Oliver is now dead? That would happen.

I also loved seeing Slade again, and seeing Nyssa vs. Talia. But Malcolm, pun intended, blew them all away. :) If this is the way he went out (and we didn't see the body, so we can't be sure) it was pretty much perfect.

J.D., I'm sad that you're bowing out, but thank you so, so much for five seasons of excellent reviews!

Anonymous said...

Because season 4 was so bad...You are forgetting the magical underground cave system that Oliver found under the island.

Patryk said...

Malcolm will turn out to be alive. I bet he grabbed Boomerang swtiched him onto the mine, then ran and only then the mine exploded. Unless John Barrowman doesn't want to return next season, then he's dead. But the no body rule aplies as always.

Deathstroke was a nice suprise, that he's sane and was also part of the cliffhanger roster instead of dying during the episode. I'd like him back for good.

Black Siren is coming back as a regular so I guess we have one new big bad already lined-up. I hope they will also resolve Evelyn and Talia, I don't like villain lose ends.

I'm glad to see Chase blow his brains even if it led to the Walking Dead style cliffhanger. Tune in next season to see who got bombed and who survived. I forgive them that one because they already knew they were renewed and the bomb is so big that either everyone died or noone. And we know it can't be everyone.

It's the 3rd big bad in a row that died at the end, after the 1st 2 seasons spared the big bads. I guess with Oliver's development it would make more sense to be the other way around.

Is it me or is the CW knocking the finales out of the park so far? I'm thinking the 100 and Arrow so far. Still need to see Flash and Supernatural.

TJ said...

I've felt a bit indifferent to this season of Arrow and it bothered me, because I really love this show! Then I realized...I've lost my favourite actors/characters.

And the realization came when Slade came back!! Yes! How I missed him. I just love Manu Bennett. He is such a mezmerizing actor. He totally was the BIG star of Spartacus (those of you who haven't seen that show should see it just because of Manu Bennett).

And I actually teared up when Susanna Thompson, my fave Borg Queen came on in that phone scene. Oh how I missed her!

I couldn't help thinking during the episode - "please give me some Colton Haynes aswell". There has been some major losses to Arrow the last couple of seasons...unfortunately, IMO, the best ones have gone...

Anyhow...talking about the cliffhanger - of course they all miraculously found a previously undiscovered cave of some kind - and they are all alive and well - except for (I fear) Thea!

And I don't believe for a second that Merlyn is dead. Didn't John Barrowman sign some long cross-over agreement with CW to stay in these shows like for a very long time...like forever??

Great season finale, but I want Manu Bennett, Susanna Thompson and Colton Haynes back!!


Onanymous said...

Thank you so much for the last 5 seasons of reviews, JD. I don't comment much, but I did read and enjoy every single one of them.

I really enjoyed non-evil Slade. I think it was because I liked him so much as a mentor to Oliver in the beginning, that he made such an effective big bad in season 2. Hopefully he gets to return.

Evelyn's arc has me very confused. I get that she was completely disillusioned by Oliver's lies, which I suppose could lead to her part in Oliver's kidnapping and torture. But how does that equate to her suddenly being perfectly fine with killing an innocent kid? Not to mention people she called friends?

Tim said...

Thanks for the excellent reviews, JD.

I've enjoyed them all.

Tim

Deborah Gallegos said...

Even though I'm just now reading this finale review - it was great...like all your other Arrow reviews. I'm really, really going to miss reading hem. Thank you.