Arrow: Fadeout

“I’m gonna miss this place.”

This review was difficult to write for many reasons. Chief among them, I, like the characters (and I suspect the cast and crew), are saying goodbye to someone we’ve grown to care deeply about. But while no episode could possibly hit all the grace notes I hoped for nor answer all the post Crisis questions still whirling in my head, damn if they didn’t try.

To be fair, it was a mighty tall order.

The first requirement after the collapse of the multiverse is introducing viewers to Star City 2.0. In this version, Tommy never died. Neither did Quentin, Moira, or Emiko. It seems these changes along with the city's miraculous drop in crime were payment for Oliver’s sacrifice.

In fact, the only central characters to remain dead were Robert Queen and Earth 1 Laurel, although we learn Laurel lived long enough to marry Tommy. I’m not sure how Moira became the multiverse expert but I believe her when she said that Robert’s death was necessary to ensure Oliver became the man that he did. Just as I believe that Earth 1 Laurel died so that Earth 2 Laurel could live. Even in the improved universe everything has a cost.

Along with the new and improved Star City, we’re also treated to an abbreviated version of Oliver’s new redemption arc. This Oliver came back from his five years in hell even darker and less trusting than the O.G. version. Or maybe it just seems that way compared to the older, wiser, and dare I say mellower version we so recently lost. Either way, while the new Oliver had more extensive doubts about Dig’s abilities in the field, he eventually came to value Diggle's moral guidance. At least some things didn’t change.

The Powers That Be also touched on what lay ahead for most of our characters. Roy and Thea got engaged, surprising absolutely no one. Rene ditched his plans to be Alderman, City Councilman, or whatever he was running for in the Glades in favor of becoming Mayor. Who needs elections if you have the endorsement of the outgoing Mayor? Dinah may not know it, but she’s heading to 2040 and a new life as a bar owner and singer extraordinaire. As for Diggle, Lyla may have gotten a promotion in Metropolis but that cannot compete with the destiny they’ve been hinting at for years – Diggle as the Green Lantern. And the Fandom Explodes!

As if that weren’t enough, they also managed to shoehorn one last mission for the team to honor Oliver by. Even Rory and his rags returned to save William from a criminal bent on vengeance. This was both the weakest link and the truest representation of what Arrow does best.

Endangering William has been done ad nauseam. And while it was nice to see everyone, not only did it feel like overkill for one non-powered individual, they were literally not needed. Yet, in the final showdown between Mia and the kidnapper, we’re left to wonder if Oliver’s original act of mercy was the right decision. And if Mia would be better served by making a different choice. Once again, we’re faced with the knowledge that there are no easy answers and there may not be a right choice. Arrow, unlike the rest of the shows in the Berlanti-verse, was always at its best when it was morally gray.

Finally, it was fitting that Barry and Kara came. With the exception of Sara (for obvious reasons), they were the heroes Oliver was closest to. Besides, considering their particular gifts, they didn’t have an excuse not to be there.

The need to cover that much ground comes at a cost. Showing how Moira survived muddies the flashbacks of Oliver’s redemption arc. And why show how that change occurred, and not Quentin or Tommy’s survival? Or Emiko’s. I’d love to know what changed to give Emiko faith that she would be accepted by the woman who went to such lengths to make Emiko's life hell in the version we were privy to, or by the sister with which she has no biological ties.

In short, I wanted more time. Watching this made me regret that one of the two post Crisis episodes was spent on a backdoor pilot that posed questions that may never get resolved instead of allowing any and all of the above storylines the depth and breadth they deserved.

That said, this was the final farewell in the season-long love letter to Arrow fans. Much like the series it represents, it was ambitious and bold, heartwarming and action packed. It may not have succeeded on every level, but it deserves an A for effort.


Parting Thoughts:

This week’s villain was named after DC Comics writer and artist, John Byrne.

In the O.G. version of events Roy went back and told Thea why he needed some space. Why did he just abandon her in this one? Did he not have the same anger management issues, or were they just trying to gin up some conflict? If being resurrected gave him perspective, why did he leave?

Rory was right. Rene is the most like Oliver, from starting out as a hot-headed know-it-all down to becoming Mayor.

Talia and Nyssa together and not fighting. It is so painfully obvious that Talia knows the facts about Nyssa’s life but has no understanding of who her sister is. Or it seems, their father.

Even Anatoly made it back for Oliver’s funeral. Prochnost!

Quotes:

Moira: “The world we’re living in now is a kind of gift from him.”

Diggle: “He always said he would go it alone. And that the mission would never be over.  I’m glad he was wrong about the first part. Heartbroken he was wrong about the second.”

Rene: “Lance’s term ends in April and he’s endorsing me.”
Roy: “As Mayor?”
Rene: “No, as a bald guy with an attitude. Yeah, as Mayor.”

Oliver: “Jimmy Tarallo gave me a few problems.”
Diggle: “And by a few, you mean a dozen men armed with knives?”
Oliver: “No, I mean 22 with machetes."

Laurel: “I’m fine, like always.”

Mia: “Don’t worry. The Monitor didn’t drop me off because there’s another Crisis coming."

Felicity: “Fortunately, when William moved to Central City, his overbearing stepmom implanted a subdermal tracking device into his arm. Ethical-debatable.”

Rene: “Nice. I would’ve fired some shots in the air.”
Rory: “My way’s scarier.”

Mia: “If Oliver Queen didn’t kill you, then neither will I. But your ass is going back to prison.”

Laurel: “You’re all of the people who Oliver would have wanted his sacrifice to bring back. And Laurel, she would have been on that list too, if it wasn’t for me. Oliver’s death, it fixed everything else. Why didn’t it fix this, too?”
Quentin: “Because, Sweetheart, there is nothing about you that needs to be fixed.”

Quentin: “Oliver Queen wasn’t just a hero. He was a good man. He was an honorable person. The fact that he didn’t start out that way makes him, in my book, even more honorable. He stands as a reminder to all of us that anyone can change.”

Tommy: “So you’re from another Earth, is that it?”
Laurel: “I know, it’s a lot to take in.”
Tommy: “Well, I just found out there’s another reality where I was dead, so that’s the curve I’m grading on these days.”

Oliver: “Hi. Glad you could finally make it.”

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

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

It *was* a tall order, and I wasn't happy with everything. But I particularly loved that it ended with Oliver and Felicity in the whatever, together. That was pretty much what I wanted the most.

Thank you SOOOOO much for reviewing three seasons of Arrow for us, Shari, and for doing such a spectacular job. Big thanks also to JD, who reviewed the first five seasons, and Mallena, who reviewed four episodes in the middle. :)

I can't believe it's over.

Shari said...

I wasn't much of an Olicity fan when this all began but I didn't see how they could have ended it any other way. The only way I could see Oliver making that sacrifice is if he knew he'd be reunited with his family in the end.

As for the rest. It was an honor...

CoramDeo said...

I loved it. I loved every single second of it. It was everything I've invested in over the whole course of Arrow, good and bad. Everybody I've ever wanted to see again came back. There was a major and fitting callback to one of my favorite recent episodes, Emerald Archer. And I suddenly can't wait for the Superman and Lois series, since I expect that's where Dig will be starting out as the Lantern. This is exactly the episode I needed to conclude this amazing season, and this show I loved.

Shari said...

They did the best possible job they could in the amount of time they had. But I wanted more! Then again they probably could have done five more episodes like this and I'd still want more. So maybe I'm not a good judge. :)

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

It was a very good send-off. One note in response to your review - they wanted to include Slade in the finale since he had been such a big part of the show. The scene was actually an alternate take/scenario they'd filmed while filming the episode where Moira originally died! Those were the two reasons why they showed how Moira survived in the rebooted universe and not the others. Very cool, in my opinion, as you watched expecting to see a flashback only to find out things were very different!

Tommy was the one I most agree with you - his death had such a key role in who Oliver became, so it's hard to imagine what else would have started his journey from vigilante to hero.

It's great that they brought back so many characters, especially if the spin-off is picked up. As it's only 20 years later, they'll be able to use characters as needed for fun cameos, and do the same in other Arrowverse shows. And I'm sure there are other characters they could use but didn't yet show as being alive in Earth Prime - for example, is Malcolm Merlyn still around? Sadly the show never fulfilled my Whovian wish to have John Barrowman and Alex Kingston (who played Laurel and Sara's mom) in the same scene.

I've been invested in this show ever since it was announced at the May upfronts before the first season, but never would have imagined it lasting as long as it did, let also spawning so many other DC shows. While this episode provides a lot of closure, I'm glad that it's not really a final goodbye - there is always a chance for these characters to pop up again in the rest of the Arrowverse!

Shari said...

Hi Katie,

I don't disagree with the reasons for showing how Moira survived. I was just commenting that until now all flashbacks within a given episode related to the story of that episode. Showing Moira's story along with the origin of Oliver's redemption muddied the narrative. If they had showed how Tommy had survived or the reasons for any of the other changes than what had changed would have been the narrative for the flashbacks. Instead, it just felt like they were trying to insert as many favorite characters as they could. From a fan perspective, I didn't mind. But it did make the story telling weaker.

Originally I was skeptical of Arrow, since I had been a huge fan of Smallville. Why couldn't they just make a spin off? As much as I loved that version of the Green Arrow, I couldn't have been more wrong. For all it's faults this has been an amazing show, and I've loved every minute of it.

P.S. As a fellow Whovian, I was hoping for the same thing. But more than that, I wanted Rip Hunter to make an appearance, and then there could have been a father daughter reunion!