Arrow Season Finale

Arrow 2×23 – Unthinkable

"You helped me become a hero. Thank you."

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Oh Nadim, learn to control your expectations.

Arrow‘s sophomore year was a phenomenal one. It took everything that the show did so well in its debut year, ironed out the kinks, and elevated every single aspect (storytelling, action, characters) to another level. Naturally, I had enormous expectations going into Unthinkable. Was I satisfied? You bet. Was this finale a masterpiece? Nope, but it came close.

Honestly, there’s not much I didn’t like about Unthinkable. It brought everything to a head in climactic fashion, and paid off almost every single subplot and character introduced throughout the year. Sadly, it was missing that special something; that one unforgettable emotionally-charged moment or scene – think back to Seeing Red; a routine hour that was rendered remarkable thanks to Moira’s stunning final sequence. That scene alone moved me like no other production on TV this year, and sadly, this season finale was unable to produce a moment that rivaled that gem.

Maybe it’s the fact that we didn’t get any huge deaths? Shockingly, both Sara and Slade survived. The former is now brilliantly imprisoned in an A.R.G.U.S. hatch deep beneath the island’s surface, while the latter is back with Nyssa and the League. Both of these characters’ fates subverted my expectations, and I guess it’s an intelligent move because it means we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more of them in the future. Moreover, something tells me that Slade will end up being the show’s ultimate big bad whenever Arrow eventually comes to an end (and let’s hope that’s many seasons down the line).

One genuinely surprising move the writers did manage to pull off in the finale was the Felicity twist. I totally bought Ollie professing his love to her in the manor (and claiming that Laurel wasn’t the one he loved). So imagine my surprise when the truth was revealed (with clever use of Slade’s hidden cameras) and Felicity marvelously took out the cure and injected it into Slade. The payoff with Ollie and Felicity on the island at the end was a poignant moment for the duo, and I’m sure it broke a zillion Olicity hearts across the globe. However, I’m totally fine with this development as I found it quite satisfying and unorthodox. Plus, as I’ve made clear before, I do want Laurel and Ollie to be the show’s endgame couple (as unpopular an opinion as that might sound).

I’m not sure if Detective Lance is dead, but it’s just the kind of loss needed to drive Laurel to really take up the Black Canary mantle. I loved her goodbye with Sara, who unofficially passed the baton over to her (with that sexy-as-hell leather jacket), and Laurel’s gotten a lot to do over the course of the last few episodes. Good things are coming in season three; I can feel it.

I must say, I’m enormously intrigued by Thea’s potential journey next year. Now that she’s lost faith in everyone in Starling City, I think she’s going to have a fascinating road into (hopefully) supervillain territory. And hey, more Malcolm is always a great thing (and Barrowman has thankfully been upped to series regular).

Special mention must be given to Ollie’s speech outside Slade’s cell. It was tremendously resonant on a thematic level, as Ollie finally acknowledged the hero’s he’d become, particularly after successfully immobilizing Slade without the use of fatal force. Mr. Queen character’s arc has admittedly been heavy-handed at times, but Amell has shown considerable growth with every hour. Bravo.

Finally, Unthinkable did a great job of bringing the show’s two-season narrative to a satisfying conclusion, while still managing to open up a whole new phase in the show’s journey. The final flashback further punctuated this evolution with Ollie waking up in Hong Kong at the hands of Amanda Waller. It’s not exactly a bombshell cliffhanger, but it will hopefully nudge the show into a new and exciting direction.

Bits & Arrows

– I must point out that the finale’s Previously On segment was beautifully constructed, beginning with Ollie and Slade’s first encounter. That detail added a real sense of weight to the proceedings.

– Although I was never Layla’s biggest fan, she had a kickass moment with the rocket launcher as she saved Team Arrow in their thrilling escape from the clock-tower.

– Although I think Colton Haynes still has ways to go as an actor, I was glad to see Roy finally get his sidekick mask. However I was shocked to see him lose the Mirakuru powers. I guess he’s going to need some good ol’ fashioned training in order to unlock his true potential.

– How anticlimactic was Isabel’s death? I think this aspect disappointed me most. The character was built up over the course of the season, particularly with her Ravager transformation, only to fizzle out in the end. I so wish the Nyssa-Canary-Ravager fight lasted longer than two seconds. On the bright side, Ollie, Canary and the League taking control of Queen Consolidated was a great moment, and Nyssa got to snap Isabel’s neck like the badass that she is.

– Awesome shot of Arrow and the League as they marched into battle. Again, I wish the actual fight was longer.

– Total hero moment: Lance saving Nyssa.

– The CGI with the Amazo getting torpedoed surprisingly wasn’t that bad.

– Loved the visual callback to the pilot with Sara getting sucked out of the boat.

– Even the Suicide Squad was paid off in the finale with Diggle and Layla infiltrating A.R.G.U.S. and setting the team free before cornering Amanda. The reveal of Diggle’s child however wasn’t as exciting.

– How fantastic was the editing between Ollie and Slade’s fights in the present and the past? I was astounded. And the culmination with Ollie stabbing Slade in the eye with an arrow while tying him up in the present was incredible.

Starling Quips

Felicity: Geez Sara, you could have called before you invited 3, 4, 5… 7 assassins into our headquarters.

Nyssa: I am Nyssa, daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. Heir to the Demon.
Felicity: Felicity Smoak, MIT class of ’09.

Malcolm: Thea it’s dangerous out there.
Thea: Better than here with my psycho-villain dad who’s happy I tried to kill him.

Lance: You’ve killed before. Tonight, I suggest you get back in the habit.

Nyssa: I would die before I let anything happen to your daughter.
Lance: Here’s hoping.

Slade: That’s your problem kid; you don’t have the guts to kill me.
Oliver: No I have the strength to let you live.

Oliver: We need to get my family’s company back.
Felicity: That’s not gonna be easy since you’re poor now. You’re gonna have to get a job. If Slade doesn’t scare you, that’s gotta.
Oliver: Do you know anyone hiring ex-billionaires with superior archery skills?

Conclusion
A very solid and satisfying bookend to an outstanding and impressively-consistent sophomore season. However, Unthinkable needed a stronger dose of emotion to really cement itself as a masterpiece.

Nad Rating
A

4 comments

  1. Your review is spot-on. It was a satisfying finale but just not a brilliant one. None of the scenes were memorable to me while the past few episodes have been simply insane.

    Maybr just Oliver and Slade's fights was amazing, especially how it was merged with their fight from the island and how that ended with the arrow in Slade's eye.

    But other than that, I was a little disappointed from a show that I have come to expect greatness from. A- from me :p

  2. (P1)
    Good review, Nadim. I give you an A+.

    Lets’ see…
    I give the finale a B+.
    Why?
    • I EXPECTED a GREAT fight scene with Summer Glau (without the mask) AND Sarah. Very very disappointed that Nyssa has to be the one to end it in such a VERY short scene. {sigh}
    • I am with you regarding the VERY SHORT fight scenes with The League. Why bring them in just to be a distraction? These are killer machines! Man!
    • The setting-up of the Hong Kong thing is a bit of a rush.
    • That drone seemed to move in slooooow motion. Seemed like seconds became 40 minutes.
    • If the show makes a “special” with The League and Team Arrow wiping-out a something made by Merlyn with lots of well-choreographed fight scenes, I might, change it to A. {dreaming.. of seeing missions of The League…}

    They should’ve made that finale a two-hour ep.

    So now, for moi, the S2 finale is history; thus, I am expecting much in S3.

    With Ollie, that waking-up in Hong Kong thing was a giantly rushed set-up.
    I am expecting much, much more storylines involving Amanda Waller (especially since she did not die in the finale).
    The finale was a stage to start the Hong Kong thing.
    Nadim, remember that Hong Kong sequences JJ et al did in Alias?
    I think they did it in the final shot with Ollie & Amanda.
    I am EXPECTING a lot of expertise in a lot of things to be shown by Ollie in the coming season.
    One has already emerged – he knows how to pilot a plane, the naughty boy. 
    Further, there’re a lot of people who already knows who The Hood is, right?
    There should be consequences because of this.

    With Laurel, I expect to see a lot of training sessions together with Roy and our darling Felicity.
    Laurel will be filling Sarah’s kick-a** shoes.
    Katie Cassidy needs to fill-up those bones unless she wants to look like a stick during fight scenes.
    I truly hope she does not turn into a Two-Faced female version. (You know, Batman’s former ally turned villain.)

    Or dear Felicity, I saw those teary-eyed disappointment during the “love declaration” scene at the Queen’s Mansion.
    Bravo to Emily Bett Rickards who really nailed that scene. Really!
    It’ll be interesting to see Felicity getting excited in setting-up the Team’s new HQ.
    {Sigh} I’m wondering if our Felicity will go to The Flash?
    Who knows, she’s a regular in Arrow and a recurring in The Flash. Hehehe.

    Diggle… hmmmnn.
    Being Ollie’s “ground” might become too much for this character if it continues to be such in S3.
    I have a feeling that Layla will be in Digs life in S3.
    A child!
    Whoa, Daddy Digs of course will stop at nothing to be part of his child’s life.
    Just try, I dare whoever.
    But Digs needs to have something more to contribute to Team Arrow.

    Roy will be The Hood’s Roy-bin.
    This poor guy will have a lot on his plate (I think) next season.
    Training, Thea, emotional turmoils, training, Thea, bad guys, Thea….
    Anyways, big brother Ollie and confidant Digs are there to support him.

  3. (P2)

    And now, a new tandem is born – Queen-Merlyn Team. Booyah!
    IMO, Thea should get over her mountainous angst and face and accept everything.
    Why, Felicity was a trooper after that emotional washing machine grind with Ollie.
    Okay, okay, she’s young and impulsive and wants her new found Daddy to cajole her a bit.
    Now, Thea is filthy rich and Ollie is just filthy. (Well, I doubt that Ollie will remain poor for long.)
    It would be interesting to see what diabolical plan is being mapped-out by dear ol’ Daddy Merlyn against The Team.
    Remember, Merlyn already knows that Ollie is The Hood.
    I wonder if he’s going to rat that thing to Thea to make Ollie pay…

    Detective Lance still doesn’t know who The Hood is, because he doesn’t want to know.
    He’s a good detective; I guess he already has some clue but refuses to acknowledge it so he can order Ollie around > “Get back that killer part of you!” Hahaha.

    You are right about Sarah and Slade being some ace in the hole.
    If the writers cannot think of something, they can always being them back.
    Can they bring back Summer Glau?
    What if the one who died is just a clone or something?
    They should have had her wear the mask when they killed her!!!

    Nyssa is a very interesting character.
    She’s like an Elektra kind of killer.
    I really want to see those (The) League missions.

    I miss Moira already.
    That “complicated” Mommy is really miss-able.

    Can’t wait for October….

  4. Hahha always a pleasure to read all your thoughts Platinum. I really hope Summer Glau is alive but that's such a long shot 🙁 And you're right about the Alias cliffhanger! I totally missed that hahah

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