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ARROW Finale Solid, But Writers Need to Think Up A New Disaster

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Episode 223 “Unthinkable”

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Oh, Arrow… can we end season three without the city in flames?

Uhm. Yeah. I guess I should add…

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Yes, we’ve missed a couple of weeks. The original plan was to cover everything in the last three episodes all together, because it’s just been one big build-up from the moment Slade Wilson killed Moira. And the energy has been building along with the tension between characters. It’s been a fun ride, to be sure, seeing the gradual deterioration of Slade into the abyss of madness.

Quite a bit has happened in the meantime — Blood’s death, the arrival of Ravager, the return of Malcolm Merlyn, and that’s just leading up to this hour, where we also get newly-reminted Detective Lance directing police efforts to fight Slade’s army while the Masks do what they have to do in order to take them out. That involves a cure developed at S.T.A.R. Labs. And Oliver, reluctantly accepting help from Nyssa and the League of Assassins, is still bound and determined to do things his way — without killing.

Starling City continues to burn — again — while Slade’s army wreaks havoc on their way out of the city through the Giordano tunnel (plenty of name-dropping tonight, including Meltzer Street). All the while the A.R.G.U.S. drone gets closer to the city — at one point 52 minutes out — with its high-explosive payload that will level the city, part of Amanda’s “scorched earth” approach to dealing with super-powered beings?

Roy gets his mask, taking him one step closer to his Arsenal identity. And it’s pretty clear he’s going to skip the Speedy persona because it looks like Thea is going that route, having decided she can’t trust anyone, giving her leave to abandon “Thea Queen” as an identity and go off with Malcolm Merlyn. And with the news that John Barrowman has been upgraded to series regular for season three, it’s clear we have a master-apprentice thing going here, in which Thea will learn the Dark Arts and somehow become another sidekick to Green Arrow — after, of course, being a villain or anti-hero or something dark first.

The writers again tease the Olicity shippers with a very nicely executed bait-and-switch that sees Oliver leaving Felicity at the mansion because he “loves” her — all the while knowing that Slade bugged the place. So when he grabs her and holds her hostage, Oliver very deftly maneuvers Slade into paying attention to the wrong threat, and Felicity gets her moment as she becomes the instrument of Slade’s de-powering, using the injection arrow Oliver slipped her at the mansion. It’s a nice empowerment moment for Felicity, and it’s a recognition that the hero doesn’t always have to be the one with the trick play that saves the day. Of course, the fact that it’s all a ruse will have Team Olicity pulling hair…

Additionally, let’s stipulate that the fight choreography in this episode was first-rate, with plenty of back-and-forth between the fight on the Amazo and the fight in the city. The juxtaposition of the two really do feel like the modern-day fight is simply a continuation of the first one. There’s a very nice synergy between the two fights, and they’re cut together seamlessly, giving a sense that this fight has just been going on for five years. In a way, it has.

Sara’s departure leaves the door wide open for Laurel to step into the Canary’s fishnets. The scene at the end with Sara getting on the boat to leave with Nyssa — well, it’s pretty plain that we’re not going to see her much, if at all, next season. Giving her leather jacket to Laurel makes it pretty plain that the Black Canary II arc is well underway.

And while Starling City burns for the second time, Diggle and Lyla face off against Amanda Waller in an attempt to get the bomb-delivery drone turned away before Waller levels the city. Oh, and by the way, Dig — congratulations! You’re about to be a father. Perfect time to announce it is when everyone’s pointing guns at each other. It’s also interesting to note that we’re going to get more back story on Oliver’s relationship with Waller, as we see in the flashbacks that he spent some time in Hong Kong at her behest when he was “on the island” — which in modern day is now “Purgatory”. The A.R.G.U.S. Super-Max prison is now a facility on the island. This is likely the “SuperMax” that would have been the setting of the Green Arrow movie that never happened, in which Oliver would have been sent to this prison and have to break out. Could we see a hint of that starting to play out here? Only time — and more seasons — will tell.

Overall, a really solid ending for a solid second season. But the way the finale plays out is at risk of becoming its own trope. The third season has to have some other impending doom/disaster/emergency besides the city under siege. Otherwise, Arrow is in danger of becoming a one-trick pony.

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[Show site at CW]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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