This review contains spoilers.
We only have ourselves to blame. With its first season finale, Arrow has made a big, bold statement on what fans believe they know about the show’s future direction and, after a whole year of expecting Tommy to don the Dark Archer get-up in the season finale – quite possibly to avenge his father’s death at Oliver’s hands – we know that’s definitely not going to happen. It’s a testament to the show, however, that this shock twist wasn’t the only stand-out moment of a fantastic hour.
We pick up right where last week left off, with a now shirtless (of course) Oliver being questioned by Malcolm. This is where the idea of sacrifice is first raised, with Malcolm asserting that the reason he can beat Oliver time and time again is that he knows what he’s willing to give up in the fight. Everyone in this episode sacrifices something for someone else, and every single character, with the exception of maybe Laurel, gets some sort of heroic moment. That’s what makes this finale so strong – this is a superhero show and, for the first time, we got plenty of ‘big darn hero’ antics.
Team Arrow are obviously ready to assist Oliver in whatever way they possibly can, with Diggle going along to confront Malcolm and Felicity concentrating on defusing the device, but the supporting cast also step up. The most obvious one, and another of the unexpected decisions for the show, was Quentin’s role in helping the cause. Instead of putting Felicity in direct danger, Oliver decides that he’d rather his girlfriend’s father camped out next to the bomb, and Quentin even gives up his job to assist them in saving the city. Could this be a sign of things to come? Might we see him have a whole different dynamic with the vigilante next year?
Moira found some decency too, staging a typically grand press conference to announce Malcolm’s plans for The Glades. Her actions probably saved the highest number of people, but I can’t help but feel that they were still more to do with protecting Oliver than they were about doing the right thing. Hearing her confession, Thea barely blinks before she runs to Roy, and the pair of them finally pull the superhero double-act we’ve been waiting for. It’s pretty much a given (though, is anything a given anymore?) that Roy will become a Red Arrow-esque character at some point, but I hope Thea and her ‘wicked aim’ joins him.
It’s too bad that Laurel, the catalyst for three of the characters’ actions, proved herself both useless and stupid at various switch in the episode. When your father calls you to say a tearful goodbye, you respect his wishes and get the hell out of dodge. And when a building is collapsing around you, drop the files and run out the door as fast as you can. Sadly, it’s this second example of stupidity that leads to Tommy’s heartbreaking end, as saving her means that he himself is trapped. Oliver rushes in just in time to tell him one last lie – that he let his father live – and this love triangle ends with the bromance taking center stage.
So where does this leave us? Oliver and Laurel’s romance may be put on pause now that the third point of their love triangle is out of the equation, Moira’s arrest may lead to Oliver taking a more active role in the family business, Quentin’s job hunt might lead him to choose The Hood as an ally, Thea learning her mother’s secrets may push her to assist Roy in his own vigilante kick, and Diggle still has Deadshot to deal with in season two. The destruction of the Glades also means that Oliver and co. are going to have a new, slightly nobler, mission – one that could potentially involve everyone.
But this was as entertaining and satisfying a finale as Arrow could ever have delivered, which is even more impressive for a show only in its first year. It was bumpy and uneven ride with lots of great elements and some not so clever plots/characters introduced but, with its last hour, the show more than lived up to its initial promise. It’s still early days, but this might be one of the best season finales of the year, with a shock ending that makes the wait for season two almost unbearable. See you in four months!