In a lot of ways, this episode had all the hallmarks of a generic season finale – the big boss fight, a gut-wrenching death, and relationships coming full circle. But this was also a very shocking finale that genuinely subverted my expectations at every turn, with one twist in particular that really knocked my socks off.
Yes, I’m talking about the death of none other than Tommy Merlyn. Honestly I still can’t believe they did it. I was certain Malcolm would get killed off and Tommy would eventually assume the mantle of the show’s ultimate Big Bad. It’s impressive that the writers took such a huge creative risk because the whole bestfriend-turned-villain arc would have felt like a Smallville retread. Admittedly, I am going to miss Collin Donnell who really proved himself in the second half of the season as a force to be reckoned with. His death scene was spectacular as he began to apologize to Ollie and our hero lied about killing his friend’s father. Stephen Amell was downright astonishing as he sobbed for Tommy to open his eyes. It was an undeniably powerful bookend to the season (and their tumultuous friendship).
Tommy’s death raises an intriguing predicament: who’ll be our big bad going forward? Of course there’s the VERY slight possibility that Malcolm survived (doubtful), so the writers are going to have to introduce someone new and get us invested all over again. Perhaps that would be Fryers’ mysterious female boss who was surprisingly absent from the finale?
Speaking of death, I was positive Detective Lance would get killed off in the finale. His heartbreaking goodbye-call to Lauren cemented that possibility, and then the writers went on ahead and totally let him live. Truth be told I would have preferred otherwise, as I don’t think he can add much to the show going forward. His role always felt much too cliche and one-dimensional. But maybe the writers can take him to some interesting places next year now that he’s been suspended from duty.
Another thing that really caught me off-guard was the fact that there was yet ANOTHER earthquake device which our heroes could not stop. Obviously not all of The Glades got decimated but it still caused quite a bit of damage. I’m curious to see the quake’s aftermath next year and the ramifications of this monumental event on Starling City.
While Moira didn’t get a lot of screen-time in the finale, she had a wonderful little scene where Ollie revealed that Robert had in fact killed himself to save his son. She followed that up with the incredible press conference where she blew the lid off everything (giving me goosebumps in the process). Naturally she got arrested so next season will undoubtedly be a compelling one for her. As far as I’m concerned, Susanna Thompson remains one of the show’s breakout stars. I’d watch this woman boil water and still get sucked in by her charisma and inherent likeability.
More than ever, the finale showcased how vital Ollie’s support group is to his success. I loved seeing the trio band together (“you’re not alone Oliver”) and vowing to fight side by side. It’s an interesting parallel with Ollie’s other trio (on the island) in the form of Shado and Slade. I do wonder what season two has in store for the island segment of the show.
It’s worth mentioning that the theme of sacrifice wasn’t only prevalent in Starling City but on the island as well. Oliver essentially sacrificed the opportunity to leave the island and completed his epic transformation into a hero by shooting Fryers dead and saving Shado. It was an utterly badass moment and Amell sold every bit of his metamorphosis this year. Just watch his body language during the fight scenes on the island when compared to present day – remarkable.
Bits & Arrows
– Excellent teaser with a chained-up Ollie having a heart-to-heart with Malcolm. His escape reminded me of a similarly iconic scene in Nikita‘s All The Way. Those two would make quite the team.
– Loved all of Felicity’s hacking from the year catching up to her during Lance’s investigation.
– How awesome was the action sequence with Shado, Ollie and Slade kicking ass on the island and redirecting the missile? I kind of wish the plane was brought down though. That would have been thrilling.
– One of the episode’s strongest scenes: Ollie telling a drunk Tommy the truth about their evil fathers and the latter hurtfully responding that he wished Ollie “died on that island.” Damn.
– How manipulative and horrifying of Malcolm to make Tommy listen to his mother’s dying call. John Barrowman was outstanding as he finally snapped and screamed that everyone in The Glades deserved to “DIE“.
– Laurel and Oliver had one of their most romantic scenes yet in Queen Manor with that beautiful kiss and the sunlight shining through. The cinematography on Arrow can be especially impressive at times.
– Roy was deifintely more interesting than usual as he tapped into his inner hero and began saving people in The Glades. Writers please give Thea something worthwhile to do next year.
– It really felt like Oliver had finally accepted Diggle as his equal as they both went into battle together. A truly satisfying culmination of their dynamic.
– The final boss battle consisted of two archers, one rooftop, and a whole lot of arrows (some exploding ones too). I thought it was pretty well choreographed although I wish it wasn’t that dark as it was a bit difficult to tell the two apart. Loved Ollie stabbing Malcolm with Diggle’s help (who crawled all the way up to the roof).
-Who else wanted to give Felicity a hug as she cried through the quake?
– Part of me really wanted Oliver to save Laurel so she’d discover who he really was. Honestly it’s about time. But there’s always next year I guess…
– Sacrifice scorecard: Oliver sacrificed his freedom on the island for Shado, Tommy sacrificed his life for Laurel, and Moira sacrificed her freedom for her kids. Everyone else was pretty close to sacrificing something as well.
Malcolm: Not a day goes by that I don’t see your father.
Oliver: You’ll see him soon.
Diggle: (to Oliver) I take back every joke I made about you sticking a tracking device in your boot.
Oliver: (to Laurel) There are so many things that I have wanted to tell you for so long. I never told you what happened to me on the island.
Laurel: You didn’t have to, I can see that it changed you.
Oliver: That’s the thing Laurel, it didn’t. Those 5 years they didn’t change me, they scraped away all the things that I wasn’t and revealed the person I always was, which is the person… that you always saw. And I don’t know how you saw it, but you did. Nobody in my life is who I thought they were, except you.
Oliver: I’m out of bows.
Diggle: I have a gun.
Sacrifice is a dark and epic finale to Arrow‘s debut season. Season two can’t come soon enough.