This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow Season 7 Episode 22
It’s hard to see tonight’s episode as anything other than a series finale. I know there’s a short half season and the crossover crisis, but in many ways it feels like tonight we said goodbye. And what a goodbye it was. Break out the tissues and let’s get into it.
The first half of the episode was for plot business which was…fine, I guess? From a character growth standpoint, I’m glad Oliver realized (again) the more violence is not the answer and got through to his sister, although it still feels like such a wasted opportunity for her to die, after the wasted opportunity that was her arc this season. It was good to see Oliver admit that he wanted to kill Emiko out of anger and vengeance, as self-awareness is important, and he has a tendency to pass off his baser instincts as the moral high ground.
Far fewer loose ends were tied up than I expected. Some outstanding plot threads that remain for season 8 are Ben Turner’s relationship with his son and how Connor becomes Diggle’s son, how Star City becomes a hellscape, Rene’s road to politics which started early in the season but was tossed aside, and how Roy gets on Lian Yu. I suppose the Longbow Hunters could still matter since their appearances were fleeting at best this season.
It was great to have Curtis, especially, back in the episode that is Felicity/Emily Bett Rickards’s farewell. It’s always good to have Laurel again, and I’m glad Roy understands he has some serious soul searching to do about his whole murder situation.
The actual fight between Oliver and Emiko was excellent, and served as another reminder that so few of his foes are his peers. Even if you were happy with the purpose Emiko served narratively, surely everyone can agree that we all deserved to see more action between the Green Arrow and someone who can actually give him a run for his money, something that usually only happens when Nyssa is around or back when Ra’s and Malcolm were in play. Beatrice, however, is promising, and will likely carry over with Virgil as the personification of the Ninth Circle’s continued threat.
At this point, Arrow laid down one emotional hammer after another. First, while I really loved the emotional moment of the full, extended Team Arrow was together in the bunker, nothing about the “Mark of Four” conversation sounded natural or normal. I can forgive that extreme awkwardness because the scene with the original three was genuinely heartbreaking. It’s pretty clear that they were all crying real tears, and Stephen Amell in particular was redfaced and wrecked.
I know the show was meant to have started with one man alone on an island, and he was shown alone in the bunker for a moment at the end to honor that, but let’s be honest, it all started with the three of them. The magic of the show and the magic of his team within the show alchemized when John Diggle and Felicity Smoak signed on. Without them, he’d be a grumpy murderer dead in a ditch somewhere, and this show would have been cancelled ages ago. I’m glad that Arrow honored the original three with this moment, and again with Felicity calling John family when he brought them to the home Lyla found, a reminder that he’s one of the only people they trust with the secret of their coming child.
So about that montage. I was worried about how Arrow was going to pull off an episode that is both a good finale and a proper, fitting sendoff to Emily Bett Rickards all in one episode, but I think they mostly did it. I wish we had had a few moments where she sneakily said individual goodbyes to people who wondered why she made such a big deal about it since it was just temporary, with the in-world reason being that she knew the Ninth Circle threat could be indefinite and they thought she would be back in six months to a year. The lack of Felicity-specific goodbyes with Curtis, Roy, Laurel, Dinah, and Rene are a big part of why this felt like a series finale. That being said, perhaps none of them will be back? We still don’t know what format next season will take or who will be in it, other than Stephen Amell.
The montage of the Smoak-Queen family life in the cabin was nice, though mostly things we had already seen. I was happy to at least hear them talk about poor William, who really was left by the wayside in this time period.
I have to be honest, since her announcement, I’ve been having trouble imagining how the show can even exist without Felicity Smoak. Perhaps it will be Oliver’s weird impossible adventures with The Monitor? Maybe it will be the goings on of the rest of the team back in Star City that took place during the time covered by the montage? I can’t imagine what it will look like, but it also feels like this episode is giving Arrow some serious outs to have Felicity back again.
Felicity Smoak was a fiery defender of her guys even back when she wasn’t married to one of them. Now that one is the love of her life, the father of her children, I don’t see a multiverse in which she doesn’t go after him, so I respect that it’s what she did. That being said, it didn’t feel to me like she was going to spend eternity in some weird portal we’d never see, so much as a rescue mission a la Barry in the time stream. If I know anything about Felicity Smoak, it’s that she never ever gives up. I can see Oliver sacrificing himself and taking it nobly as long as his family is safe, but she will literally never be cool with that, now that her kids are going to be alright. Maybe it’s just the (actual) final episode of the show or a two-parter, but Felicity Smoak does not go gently into that good night.
One downside of losing Felicity here is that we never get to unpack Oliver lying (YET AGAIN) to everyone he knows and loves, this time about the deal he made with the Monitor. His delivery on, “I thought I had more time?” was heartbreaking and it’s understandable that there was no room for it here, but in my mind, Felicity got drunk and screamed and cried about it to Nyssa, quite possibly the only person in the world who could understand what she was going through. Oliver’s secret deal was an enormous betrayal and it’s not the first time he’s done this. A similar betrayal nearly broke up their marriage/relationship multiple times before, and there’s a specific pain that comes with being hurt by someone who’s gone. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see any of that play out.
So, if we are to believe Oliver’s gravestone – and are we to believe any gravestones in the Arrowverse, really? – then Oliver Queen dies in 2019, presumably during the Crossover Crisis Event. I’m hoping that at least there will be time for Barry and Kara to understand his fate and the trade he made, although I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop because the math doesn’t quite work out on this whole one life for two thing (is Felicity a willing bonus? The Monitor said quite clearly he wasn’t there for her…).
I know it’s not all over, but it certainly feels like the end of an era.