Arrow Season 2 Episode 23 (TV Show Review)

It has all come down to this. When this season was starting, the producers hailed it as the season where Starling would become the City of Heroes. And that was true all the way. Oliver let go of being a killer and moved on to becoming a hero, the kind we all know so well from comics. We had Barry Allen make his debut on the show, although we didn’t get to see him as Flash. We saw Sara Lance enter the show as a vigilante who soon becomes a hero in her own right. We had Roy Harper finally join Team Arrow and try and become a hero too. Starling did become the City of Heroes, but it also continued to be the City of Lies and Deceit and Murder.

This week’s finale episode, “Unthinkable” brings closure to pretty much most of the important lingering plotlines that were woven in through the season. We see Oliver really become the hero he’s wanted to be since Tommy’s death last year. We see Sara come to accept who she is, and what she has become under the League of Assassins. We see Laurel finally become one with her family and not be miserable. We see Deathstroke and Isabel Rochev get their due. We see closure to lots of things and in the midst of all of that, we get some great superhero drama as the webs of lies and deceit unravel and knit themselves back up. And what I can say with all my conviction is that I can’t think of how this finale could have been topped, because it rocked from start to finish.

Arrow Logo 0001

In season 2, lots of characters have turned out differently from what they started as, and in almost all these cases, the changes have been positive. We’ve seen heroes who were meant to be heroes become those heroes in both words and deeds. We’ve seen the frivolities of some characters give way to strength of character and a willingness to recognise their wrongs. And we’ve seen almost all the characters become stronger and, in some cases, even badass.

Throughout this season, Oliver has struggled to not be a killer, to not go in arrows flying, shooting to kill. He’s missed the mark a few times, but it all comes down to what he does with Slade Wilson in this finale episode. We know that Slade Wilson cannot die. He is far too important a character in the DC comics verse for the writers and producers to go that route, especially since we still have three more years of flashbacks on the Island of Lian Yu to go, and so he can’t be just left alone, or killed off. His story is a part of Oliver’s story. So yes, Slade Wilson doesn’t die, but he suffers a fate far worse than death and Oliver is instrument of that fate. For Oliver to know that he can not kill the mean who killed his mother in front of him and his sister in cold blood, to have that strength of character, speaks volumes about who he is now, and who he wants to be.

And I loved how their showdown happened. In a really brilliant piece of cinematography and direction, the action scenes between the two of them are coordinated between the present and the past, for even in the flashbacks these two are having a showdown aboard the Amazo. Everything has been leading up to this, to these two characters finally going all-out at each other and not holding back for anything. They both give as good as they get and its all awesome.

More than this however, I saw that Felicity Smoak finally graduated to the big leagues because of her action scenes. She started off in the show as a sort of cliched secretary/IT tech-head, and she’s grown into so much, into a valuable part of the machinery that is Team Arrow. Without her, without her knowledge of technology and her sound advice to her friends, none of this would be possible, and the show reminds us of that in the finale, especially when we get to a somewhat tender scene between the two of them, just before Team Arrow heads up an attack on Slade Wilson’s homebase in the climax.

There’s also Sara, who has been struggling with the same issues that Oliver struggled in season 1, given her training with the League of Assassins. She’s back in the city to help her friends and her family, and she’s brought an army with her, an army of the finest assassins of the League, led by none other than the awesome Katrina Lawson’s Nyssa Al Ghul herself. The sparks fly between Nyssa and Oliver when they debate on their approach to Slade’s mirakuru-powered army, and it is fun to see a confrontation between the two of them. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing an actual physical confrontation here, which I think would be totally awesome. Sara makes a sacrifice of her own to help those she cares about and it shows how committed she is to the path that is before her. Not a lot of kickass scenes for her this time around, but she does get in quite a few blows with her bo staff, which she wields like a super-pro.

And can I mention that having her go up against Isabel Rochev aka Ravager was pretty damn fun? The villain’s swords against her bo staff? Summer Glau didn’t get nearly the amount of screen-time that she deserved, and her arc was over quick, but I enjoyed that brief cameo. Too bad that she ain’t coming back next season. And probably for a good reason. Perhaps the show will eventually introduce us to a proper Ravager instead of the pseudo-Ravager that was Isabel Rochev.

Roy Harper is also finally useful to the show once again. For a couple episodes now he’s been… incapacitated out of necessity since the team doesn’t have the cure to the mirakuru, but they did get it last episode and one of the scenes in that episode was Oliver injecting his sister’s boyfriend with the said cure. Now he’s back up and running, and he’s mad enough to want to inflict a world of hurt on those who’ve gone after his friends, especially Thea. This finale marked a big change in the character’s status quo within Team Arrow, and I can’t wait to see what season 3 brings us in a few months, once it starts up after this in-between-seasons hiatus. He’s going to be in a really good place next season, despite the emotional turmoil he goes through post-climax.

There are lots and lots more great things to be said about this episode of course, such as the whole Thea-Malcolm Merlyn dynamic, which was pretty darn good fun for every season. Thea’s choice at the end of the episode seems very out of character and even a bit hypocritical, but I’m interested to see what happens to her, going forward. She’s been one of my favourite characters for the last two seasons, and it is about time that she started to grow up to, and tried to find who she is underneath.

We also got to see some verbal sparring between Nyssa and Quentin Lance, the latter not at all pleased that Sara has brought her and her goons into this affair, and he is especially not pleased at the end, but the post-climax scene gives the three Lances together, content with each other’s company at last, and free of all the lies and deception and self-destructiveness that has characterised them for so long.

The action scenes in this episode, and of those there are many, were all awesome. Lots of variation in the fight sequences, and lots of different scenarios, such as Diggle and Lyla Michaels breaking into the ARGUS base near Starling to stop Amanda “The Wall” Waller from unleashing a cataclysmic drone strike on Starling City in order to contain Deathstroke and his minions. There’s a pretty big wrench thrown in the works by Amanda in these scenes, a psychological one, and I really really hope that the show makes a strong effort to continue on with that particular subplot.

Arrow Cast 0001

And finally, after all the awesomeness we see in the main episode, we have the final scene of the second season, the big cliffhanger that is going to lead directly into season 3 and is a direct result of the showdown between Slade and Oliver aboard the Amazo. This cliffhanger answers several lingering questions from this episode and it did throw my understanding of Oliver’s five years on the island off-kilter too, so I’m very, very interested to see how this is dealt with, going forward.

If there is one thing that could have made this finale better, like truly better, it would have been a mention of Barry Allen, either pre-Flash or post-Flash. Even a throwaway line would have worked for me, but sadly that was not to be. Which is fine with me really, sine at the same time, CW provided us with the first ever teaser trailer for The Flash earlier today. You can read my thoughts on that here.

What I’m trying to say in this entire review, is that Unthinkable was pretty much the kind of finale that I wanted it to be. And even a bit more than that as well. So I’m pretty satisfied with this, just as I was with The Blacklist season 1 finale on Monday, and the way I wasn’t with the Agents of SHIELD finale on Tuesday. Season 2 has ended on a great note, and this is truly the way to go here.

More Arrow: Reviews of all the second season episodes can be found here.


Posted on May 15, 2014, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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