Arrow Season 5 Episode 23 – TV Review
Felicity, Olicity, and Curtis aside, this is a pretty respectable season finale.
If only it had, like, stakes and stuff.
You know. Tension.
TL;DR The only confirmed death from the episode is the villain’s; because a show can’t afford to blow up its entire cast, people; so Oliver’s choice has no impact; Malcolm could be dead for real, though (but who cares?); Slade is a good guy, now; the flashbacks pack the only emotional punch of the episode.
And it’s because of Moira. Not that fucking Kovar bullshit.
So it’s time for the final boss battle, but we have to get through the final level, first. Oliver marches out to war with Slade (who is now nice, because the Mirakuru has worn off), Nyssa, Malcolm, and Captain Boomerang. They rescue Felicity, Curtis, Thea, and Samantha, while taking down a paltry Artemis, but also losing Captain Boomerang to the other side. Felicity and Oliver kiss because Olicity just won’t quit, and our heroes send the civilians off with Malcolm to escape while they search for the other hostages. On the way, Thea steps on a land mine, but Malcolm takes her place and then apparently explodes offsreen. Who cares? Felicity also discovers that literally every square inch of the island’s surface has been rigged with C4. Meanwhile, our heroes track Adrian and his quirky miniboss squad to a temple, where Diggle, Wild Dog, Tina, and Quentin are being held. Slade defects temporarily, but then announces it was a ruse once Oliver jimmies everyone free, and a melee ensues. Talia and Nyssa have their gender-appropriate one-one-one, as do Tina and Black Siren. Nobody dies, and our heroes prevail, including Oliver’s defeat of Adrian. But then Oliver refuses to kill Adrian, due to both his thematic arc of “I’m not that guy, anymore,” and because Felicity has alerted the gang to the island’s C4 being tied to Adrian’s life: if he dies it, detonates. But oh ho, Adrian isn’t done there: with William still unaccounted for (Adrian claims he’s dead, but Oliver calls Lies-a Minnelli), Oliver chases him to a boat as he flees. Obligatorily, Adrian drags out his final hostage, William, and presents Oliver with a choice: kill him to save William, but blow everyone else up; or he can let Adrian kill William to save everyone else. Oliver chooses a third option to shoot Adrian’s foot and recover William, but Adrian just blows his own head off, anyway, exploding the island. Will literally the entire cast besides Oliver die? Oh, the tension. And in the flashbacks, Oliver kills Kovar uneventfully. But Arrow has one final manipulative trick to play, and Moira is trotted out for an admittedly powerful scene of Oliver calling her to let her know he’s alive.
If only Arrow hadn’t killed Moira in Season 2 and doomed itself to an endless trudge through infuriating, crap television ever since. Hmm.
You know, I wanted to be head over heels for this finale. It’s the culmination of everything that’s come before it, as the flashbacks are finally wrapped up, and most of the surviving major characters converge on Lian Yu: the place it all began.
But you know what the good seasons of Arrow had that even my above complaint about Moira’s death can’t invalidate? Teeth.
This finale is a toothless smoke and mirror show. I know we can’t have Oliver’s mother die every season in the last few episodes, but the only confirmed death of the episode is Adrian’s. And ain’t nobody gonna cry for Adrian.
For his hot face, maybe. But otherwise nah.
No teeth, no balls, no tension.
This is present-day Arrow.
Why I hate this episode:
Sure, Lian Yu becoming engulfed in CGI explosions is cute. But does anyone think that we, the viewers, could believe that a CW show would kill off its entire cast? The Vampire Diaries couldn’t even kill off Elena properly. Arrow, and the CW, don’t have the guts. So it means nothing.
At best, we might get a couple of deaths of minor characters. But if Arrow was going to go down that mediocre path, at least show us the deaths. Is anyone going to let out a horrified gasp it, at the start of Season 6, we found out Tina or Samantha or something died? Who cares?
And dear God, don’t let Samantha die. Because that means that William will likely become a major character. And say it with me people: the CW isn’t strong enough to put a child character in actual danger. If William does start sticking around in Season 6, he will be constantly in the villains’ sights, and the episodes will pretend we actually believe something bad could happen to him. But it won’t.
You’d think with so many named characters that the fights this episode would be personal and interesting. But nope, we still find way too much time to have faceless goons getting chucked around. Black Siren and Tina’s face-off is particularly disappointing. Talia and Nyssa get a bit more of a bout in, but it ends bloodlessly. Weak again, Arrow.
Oliver’s duel against Kovar in the flashbacks is so whatever.
Malcolm’s sacrifice for Thea is so whatever.
Samantha ships Olicity.
Slade plays hot potato with his mask in an obvious move to work around the actor’s availability. If only it made narrative sense.
All of a sudden Oliver’s arc becomes about how he doesn’t forgive himself for his father’s death. Like, I get it. But wasn’t it supposed to be about Oliver’s enjoyment of killing? Way to undercut your own arc, show.
Oh, and Black Siren went from conflicted and under duress last episode to snarky, sneering henchwoman this episode. Consistency? What’s that?
But it’s not all bad:
I’ll take the Katie Cassidy I can get. It’ll do. And I liked that Quentin was the one to put her down, after she had proven she was stronger than Tina.
The tension might have been non-existent, but clearly nobody told Stephen Amell. He really brought everything he could to his emotional scenes, and I applaud him for it. His shielding of William on the boat was particularly impressive. He felt like a real dad. It was nice.
And Moira may steal it from him, but his pleading with her to not hang up in their flashback scene got me.
Yes, Arrow drew tears from me. They weren’t many, and I knew I was being manipulated. But hey, it worked. This show truly is poorer for having lost Moira.
But it would be richer if it lost some other characters, and a total island explosion is a great excuse to arbitrarily write some off. I’m going to pretend I haven’t seen news stories about Echo Kellum signing on for next season and imagine Curtis won’t survive.
Conversely, I have also seen the news stories about John Barrowman not returning for Season 6. So perhaps his land mine sacrifice wasn’t so hollow?
Manu Bennett is likely too busy with Shannara, but Slade could be a contender for survival. We discover this episode that his evil streak was only a result of the Mirakuru. Now that it’s out of his system, he’s Oliver’s friend, again. Come on, Manu. You can do both.
Nyssa isn’t given a lot of time to have anything close to an actual story with Talia, but their fight is the least disappointing of the mini boss matchups. And Nyssa wins, so I’m satisfied.
Artemis goes down like an absolute bitch to Oliver. He literally tosses her aside and then locks her in a box. Don’t come back, baby.
Adrian was a complete monster to the end. With a hot face. Thank you.
Oh, and if Manu wants to add a third show to his schedule…