Arrow Season 4 Episode 23 – TV Review
I’m not mad, anymore.
I just feel defeated.
As I imagine the cast of Arrow feels.
TL;DR The nukes are launched, but all taken care of offscreen; many pep talks about hope are made; we don’t get to see how the rest of the world reacted to Havenrock’s obliteration; nor Felicity, who is as chipper as ever; literally every character except Felicity leaves town at the end.
And Damien dies or something. Does it even matter?
So Felicity may have stopped Rubicon twice, but Damien manages to steal her laptop and gets Cooper to launch fifteen thousand ish nukes globally, anyway. But who cares about the world, or ever seeing their reaction to what happened to Havenrock, because one of those nukes is headed for Star City ahead of the others’ schedules. Our cast decide it’s a great time to have outrageously lengthy conversations about hope until Felicity and Afrojack just computer magic the missile away, never to be heard of again. Oliver does get out of his funk, though, which is nice for him, I guess. The Super Friends then take out Cooper and Felicity sends the other fifteen thousand nukes into space or something (we never see it, so), while Oliver has his obligatory final boss battle with Damien. A bunch of citizens help him, too, but in the dour world of Arrow, it doesn’t feel right (Supergirl had a similar moment this season that worked much better thanks to that show’s cheese and sunshine approach). Oliver eventually chooses to murder Damien, despite killing being bad and stuff, and the episode ends as Thea leaves town because she’s worried she’s losing herself to the violent, vigilante lifestyle; Diggle leaves town to go rejoin the army because he’s still fucked up from killing Andy; and Quentin and Donna leave town because Star City is fucking dangerous, you know? But don’t worry: Felicity is here to stay forever. Thanks? And the flashbacks finally conclude with Oliver and OSG killing Black Boss, but then Oliver has to mercy kill a crazy-from-magic OSG. He calls in Amanda to evacuate what slaves are still alive, and it was nice to see her again.
Damn you, Viola Davis. You took her from us.
So yeah, Arrow Season 4 has thankfully sputtered to its close. While I was mad as hell last week, I’m just a bit over it at this point.
This finale checked all the boxes it needed to check; did some profoundly stupid Season 4 stuff, like dealing with the nukes via dialogue; had some middling, but not unwatchable, fight sequences; and, best of all, it finished.
Oust these fucking showrunners and fix this shit, CW. I’d be willing to accept anything as long as it isn’t like this, again.
Why I hate this episode:
Why launch fifteen thousand nukes if you didn’t have the capacity to show your characters dealing with them?
The solution, to invert their trajectories and send them to detonate in space, is comic book camp. But I somehow don’t think fifteen thousand nukes exploding around the entire exterior of the planet is going to be good for us, you know? I’m no scientist, but that’s not healthy, right? At the very least we’d lose a lot of satellites.
Unless they didn’t explode? I don’t know for sure, because Arrow didn’t show us.
The final scene of the season is the most obvious, infuriating “fuck you” to fans as Felicity unsurprisingly snaps up the worst line of the episode, the season, and the entire series. Oliver is lamenting the trashed Super Friends base and that all his allies have left, but then Felicity fucking comes prancing on in: “You thought I was leaving, too? Not a chance.” No, thank you.
During a raid on the base by Ghost goons, Felicity defends herself using one of the Black Canary batons. It’s fucking happening, people.
Oliver finds himself unable to negate Damien’s magic because Felicity has lost her hope in him or something. The episode tries to construct a narrative around each of the team’s loss of hope, accounting for Oliver’s inability to do light magic, but then doesn’t adequately build them back up. Instead, Oliver just does a cookie cutter rousing speech to a few dozen rioting citizens, and suddenly has power equivalent to the tens of thousands of souls Damien absorbed. Pfft.
In the final brawl, a team of armed Ghosts choose to fistfight the citizenry rather than, like, shoot them.
Thea leaves town because she’s disgusted that she threatened Daughter Darhk to stop Damien earlier. Who cares?
Arrow tries to give Laurel’s death context by relentlessly namedropping her. You never talked about her like this when she was alive, you Judases.
We never get to see the world’s reaction to the nuking of Havenrock. The news reports we see this episode are only about Star City citizens rabbling because of news of the nuke headed towards them.
I know Barry was busy over on The Flash this week, but you’d think news of fifteen thousand nukes taking flight would warrant at least a check-in text or something. Again, Arrow shouldn’t have played the Global Nuclear Holocaust card if it wasn’t able to use it.
Afrojack never became Mister Terrific.
Felicity is pretty flippant when Cooper is killed by Damien. Bitch, he chose to sacrifice himself to let you save the world, and the best you can muster is a “soz lol” while stifling an eye-roll? Fuck you. He was hot.
Oliver is appointed interim mayor. See, kids? The secret to achieving your goal is making sure your opposition is horribly murdered by your sister’s kind-of son figure.
Black Boss telekinetically explodes a plane full of fleeing slaves in the flashbacks. How few did Oliver and OSG end up even saving? Wow.
Oh, and just to show that Arrow really doesn’t give a shit anymore, Malcolm joins the team arbitrarily to provide backup and give him yet more screentime. His character should have died three seasons ago. Jettison him, already. Jesus fucking Christ.
But it’s not all bad:
It’s finished. We were tested, and tested hard, but we made it. And I refuse to believe that the higher-ups at the CW haven’t noticed that there’s something wrong with Arrow. I refuse to believe that next season won’t at the very least try to fix some of the things that are broken.
And I’m not well versed in DC comics at all, but apparently the end of The Flash indicates some big, universe-altering event is in the works. It’d be a tough call for that to affect a different show, because not everyone watches both, but goddamn, a bit of timey wimey is just what Arrow needs to undo some big mistakes. Like Laurel’s death.
The throughline about the team losing hope is compelling. In addition to the ones I mentioned above, Lyla also feels the pang of hopelessness when a team of ARGUS agents she sends after Damien are obliterated. And Felicity realises she’s admitted defeat when she asks Quentin to drive Donna out of Star City to try to outrun the incoming nuke. So the writers at least had something of an idea.
Oh, and I was honestly happy to see Amanda’s arrogant face again. She lectures Oliver about the importance of killing to keep the peace (which goes some way to explaining why Season 1 Oliver was so murder-happy). If only the show hadn’t felt the same way when it came to her.