This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 21
For a penultimate episode, this could have been more thrilling. The best fight sequence turned out not to be real, and most of the moments that should have been suspenseful have already been covered one way or the other by flashforwards, lowering the emotional stakes dramatically. That left Oliver’s quandary over whether to kill Emiko as the biggest debate, one that feels like it’s already been settled so many times in Arrow’s history.
It’s always good to see Tommy Merlyn, and Arrow was clear from the jump that he was never really there, which helped. It’s fun to have him back as we get close to the end, and to have fun reminders of things like the fact that both he and Oliver had secret half-sisters. He made for a good device for Oliver to work out how to escape the wreckage of the building while he worked out his feelings about killing Emiko. Of course, if you consider that Tommy was nothing more than part of Oliver’s mind, then that means that Ollie is actually incredibly torn about what to do.
This episode hit home that Arrow never really knew what to do with Emiko Queen, either as the new Green Arrow or as a Oliver’s half-sister. It’s a shame, really, because she might have forced Oliver to reconsider what he knew about his father or how he does his job. Instead, Oliver and his team are regressing to more violent behavior. Emiko might have been a more interesting character if she had truly been incorporated into the show. Even if she remained a villain, she had a surprisingly low episode count, thanks in part to Diaz sticking around for so long and the weird red herring of the Longbow Hunters who have cropped up sloppily throughout the season.
There was a huge opportunity with Rena and Emiko’s relationship in particular, to show what it means to be a hero who comes from nothing instead of a hero from privilege and protection. Considering that Rene’s trajectory in the future storyline is all about the shock of how he could become some sort of traitorous fat cat, digging in deeper to that aspect with Emiko would have made that hit home even harder.
Emiko might have had some tie to the canaries or really any meaningful interaction with Felicity, building upon the show’s strongest season for women characters. Instead, in hindsight Emiko’s gender feels like a gimmick, something to accentuate the reveal. Arrow was never all that interested in exploring what it meant to for the Green Arrow to be a poor woman of color, disconnected from social and political capitol, and that’s a damned shame. Once again, it feels like Arrow is taking the easy way out and making a less interesting show than it could.
The future timeline is finally moving, though it still holds the present tense hostage. It’s hard to worry that Roy might die from poisonous gas when we know for certain that he lives. Once again, Arrow’s multiple timelines have a tendency to lessen the emotional blow, rather than amplify it. By the time it’s revealed that Elena is the scientist who retooled Archer, you’d have to be half-asleep not to know it.
It’s hard to feel bad for Team Arrow and their ruined credibility with the SCPD. After all, Roy did kill two people and they all covered it up. When Felicity was under arrest, she set off what’s essentially a noise canon (those are illegal in some countries by the way), which many jurisdictions would consider assaulting those police officers, before fleeing the scene. Her obviously-evil tech was used for evil, as she really should have guessed it would be. It’s rough knowing just how badly everything’s going to go, but this is a downfall of Team Arrow’s own making. Will they take responsibility for it? Perhaps that’s where Oliver is in the future.
With only one episode left in the season, there’s a lot of ground left to cover. When will Diggle adopt his second son? How will Felicity, Dinah, Roy and the gang in the future escape? What will the legal fallout of all of this be? Will Emiko do something about the fact that Felicity is pregnant – will Elena? And of course, will Oliver rise above, or will he succumb to his emotions and kill his half-sister?