Arrow: Purgatory

"Every mission has an end."

If the title is more than just the translation for Lian Yu, then this episode should represent the purification of our heroes in preparation for their journey to heaven. Unfortunately, with Crisis now on their doorstep, they may need to travel through hell in order to get there.

Oliver finds himself on Lian Yu surrounded by friends and family yet very much alone. "Reset" may have brought Oliver and Laurel around to The Monitor’s line of thinking but it did nothing to convince anyone else of his trustworthiness. More importantly, Oliver’s admission that Crisis will lead to his death shatters his fragile bond with Mia and sends Diggle, already reeling from the knowledge that his wife was working with The Monitor, into a tailspin.

In many ways this felt like a continuation of "Prochnost."  Mia and William may be happy to have their father back in their lives but the anger and resentment they felt towards him hasn’t disappeared. William has chosen not to spend whatever time he has left with his father fighting. However, that decision is born of experience. William’s anger cost him the opportunity to spend time with his father and grow up with his sister in the first place. He won’t make that mistake twice.

Mia has spent a lifetime feeling abandoned by her father and old habits die hard. Mia still views Oliver’s decision as that of a man with a hero complex rather than someone desperately trying to keep his family safe. In essence, he’d rather save the world than be with her. She spends most of this episode dealing with the irrationality of that belief and it takes William’s verbal slap in the face before she realizes she’s wasting what little time she has left with her father.

Despite the additional years of wisdom, Diggle’s reaction to Oliver’s imminent sacrifice isn’t much better than Mia’s. His inability to save Oliver is compounded by his anger at Lyla. After promising they would not keep secrets from each other, he discovers she’s been working with The Monitor for months. The fragility of their relationship is displayed when Lyla’s declaration of The Monitor’s good intentions is meaningless until Oliver concurs.

Everyone’s emotional turmoil serves as a backdrop to the task at hand: to create a supernatural weapon that may stave off Crisis. This task is put into immediate jeopardy when the plane carrying the needed plutonium, not to mention Dinah, Rene, and Roy is shot out of the sky with the plane landing in one location and the plutonium in another.

This is the point where many of the themes the show has grappled with come together. Unfortunately, it feels more like a poorly tossed salad than a well prepared meal. I get that Mia’s anger, Diggle’s frustration, and fear over Dinah, Rene, and Roy’s safety combine to isolate Oliver. I also understand Yao Fei’s admonishments over Oliver’s impatience, rashness, and fear of failure. However, considering that Fyers, Billy Wintergreen, and Yao Fei’s revival is due to a supernatural power surge The Monitor is aware of but not controlling, the idea that this is some final lesson he’s trying to impart to Oliver seems farfetched.

Roy’s fate is also hard to reconcile, especially since it seemed to be more about Diggle than Roy. If Diggle can’t save Oliver than he’ll be damned if he’s not going to save Roy – all appendages intact. But the decision to amputate was, as it should have been, Roy’s. So how was that a lesson for Dig? If you squint real hard it may have forced Diggle to acknowledge what is outside his ability to control. But I hope, as with Laurel before him, Roy’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his team was his final test and The Monitor will make him whole once more. Otherwise, bringing him back only to mutilate him before the final battle makes no sense.

Returning to the theory of purification, one could view the journey to Lian Yu as the ultimate test for all of our heroes, the final proof of their commitment to see Crisis through to the end despite the cost. In that light, our heroes manage to pull off the impossible once more, creating the weapon while holding off hordes of Fyer’s revived soldiers.

However, they discover the object they’ve created is not a weapon for Oliver to wield during Crisis. It’s not for Oliver at all. Instead, Lyla is the intended target. And while Oliver was afforded time to make amends to his friends and family, Diggle and Lyla are given no such closure. In the role The Powers That Be have been hinting at for years, Lyla Michaels, now Harbinger, arrives to herald the coming Crisis.

The moment we’ve both hoped and dreaded has arrived.

3.5 out of 5 supernatural power sources

Quotes:

Mia: "OK. Wait.  So we build this magic weapon for the space god and we stop Crisis?"
Lyla: "There is no stopping Crisis."

Diggle: "And you believed him?"
Lyla: "A grown man in costume prophesying the apocalypse?  I thought it was a joke."

Dinah: "Flying's easy.  Landing's the hard part... Kidding."

Laurel: "I am not a fan of this island."
Oliver: "Yeah? Well, it has that effect on people."

Laurel: "Oliver, don't leave this island with more regrets than you already have buried here."

Lyla: "I envisioned getting to know my future son over a meal, not en route to a plane crash."
Connor: "This – this feels about right for our family."

Laurel: "So now we're fighting ghosts?"

Oliver: "I'm not that person anymore."
Yao Fei: "I will hope."

Roy: "It's better my arm, than our lives."

Mia: "I will not let him die."

William: "But if this really is the end, I don't want to waste the time I have left with him being angry.  Do you?"

Yao Fei: "We will part again but the dead are never really gone."

Oliver: "Does this mean we can't turn it on?"
William: "You can't.  But she can."

Rene: "This ain't over till it's over, Oliver."

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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