Season Finales Of The Arrowverse: 2018 – 2019 Season: “See You At Our Next Crisis”

Supergirl 4×22: “The Quest for Peace”, The Flash 5×22: “Legacy”, Legends of Tomorrow 4×16: “Hey, World!”, and Arrow 7×22: “You Have Saved This City” (SEASON FINALES) reviews

Well, it’s come at last, the ending of This Season In The Arrowverse. With the Season 4 finales of Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, the Season 5 finale of The Flash, and the Season 7 finale of Arrow, the Arrowverse is all wrapped up until these shows return in October (or January/February, in Legends’s case), accompanied by their new baby sister, Batwoman.

It’s been a hell of a ride, so let’s take a look at where we’ve ended up, shall we?

 

Supergirl - The Quest For Peace - Powerup

Supergirl 4×22: “The Quest for Peace” (SEASON FINALE) review

From the beginning, I think we all knew that this season of Supergirl wasn’t going to deliver on the themes it promised to deal with.

This season’s villain, we were told, was not an individual, or even an organization, but a movement, an ideology. Our villain was to be prejudice itself, directed towards aliens in a very thin allegory for racism and xenophobia, and manifested not in the machinations of an over-the-top supervillain, but in the cruel bigotry of millions of everyday people. This was a darker, more insidious, more real evil than anything Supergirl had dealt with before, presenting an enemy that couldn’t be punched into submission or converted to the light with a single impassioned speech.

Except Supergirl is all about defeating evil by punching it into submission and/or converting it to the light with a single impassioned speech. It’s far too optimistic a show to not end the season with the good guys scoring a grand victory and setting almost everything to rights. And it’s far too committed to spectacle, both of the CGI slugfest and big dramatic gesture variety, to not have those be how evil is ultimately defeated, rather than the slower and less glamorous methods by which bigotry is fought in real life.

We’ve seen that tension, between the story Supergirl wants to tell and the way it wants to tell its story, at play throughout the season (as I discussed at length in my “Bunker Hill” review). Coupled with the problem I mentioned last week, of Supergirl having too many plot threads in the air to give them all a satisfying resolution, it’s little surprise that this finale doesn’t live up to the promises this season set for it.

Ben Lockwood was introduced as a complex character and a symbol of real world social evils. But there’s no time for complex character work or an examination of prejudice in this jam-packed finale. Instead, he’s here simply to serve as a generic super-powered baddie and add an extra fight scene to the episode. You could write him out entirely, or replace him with a random Luthor henchman who also got the Harun-El treatment, and nothing would change.

Red Daughter fares only slightly better. In theory she’s got a character arc, discovering Lex betrayed her and making a heroic sacrifice at the end, but it’s in the most perfunctory manner possible. All the ideological differences between her and Kara are never dealt with, brushed aside by the revelation that Lex Luthor, specifically, is not to be trusted (shocker). And then she dies, dashing all hopes of further exploring her character and her kinship to Kara. All the wonderful development Red Daughter received in “The House of L” now feels a tad pointless, knowing her only purpose this season was to be a pawn in Lex’s plans, allowing him to frame Supergirl, and then to die so Kara can get a last minute energy boost.

Brainy’s turn to the Less Emotional Side last episode? Reversed so quickly and with so little consequence, it’s puzzling why the writers even included it. Him telling Nia he loves her? There’s not even time to see her response; he just tells her, and the next we see the two, they’re holding hands and acting all couple-y. The Alex/Kelly romance they’ve been setting up? Goes from zero to I-have-deep-feelings-for-you in a single scene.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of anti-alien bigotry that’s been running through the season. This episode doesn’t flat out say that prejudice against aliens has been eliminated, but the way it ends, with Kara saying “these have been dark days”, with the implication that the dark days are over, certainly wants that to be the impression we’re left with. In “Bunker Hill”, its mid-season finale, Supergirl made a point that you can’t stop a movement of bigotry and fear just by taking down its leader, but in “The Quest for Peace”, that’s exactly what happens. Lex Luthor is defeated and discredited, and the anti-alien movement presumably crumbles without him, giving us a pat, simple solution to a problem that, Supergirl told us, there are no pat, simple solutions to.

On these fronts, and on a dozen others, the finale of Supergirl Season 4 fails to live up to its promise of deep characters and complex social allegory. It never could live up to those promises, not without transforming itself into a very different show.

When I reviewed “Man of Steel” and “The House of L” earlier this season, I talked about how they were the best episodes Supergirl had ever done, because they were so unlike episodes of Supergirl, giving the show a focus and a sophistication it never had before. “The Quest for Peace”, meanwhile, is very much like an episode of Supergirl, with all the cheesiness, insane optimism, heart-on-the-sleeve emotions, and simple good vs. evil dichotomy that the show is known for.

This is not a transformative episode of Supergirl. It can’t reach the same level as those earlier standout episodes, or live up to the promises they made. But if you put aside those lofty expectations, this episode manages to achieve excellence in its own way. “The Quest for Peace” is Supergirl being very thoroughly itself, but in the best way possible.

This finale is the narrative equivalent of a fireworks show. There’s no time for nuance or complexity, to reflect on the deeper meaning behind anything. Instead, it dazzles us with a display of amazing spectacle, and just as the rush of emotion that gave us dies down, it dazzles us with something new.

Sometimes this means visual spectacle, such as seeing Lex destroy the Kaznian fleet while singing “My Way” (so glad I was wrong about that being left off-screen). But it can also mean moments of high drama: Red Daughter dying in Kara’s arms; Brainy regaining his true self as he witnesses J’onn and Nia’s heroism; Lena shooting Lex and finally learning the truth about Supergirl. These character moments aren’t given all the depth they perhaps deserve, but they’re so well acted and directed, and they come with so much built-in emotional power, they can’t help but be effective. And they hit you so fast and hard, one after the other, that there’s no time to wonder if there should have been more to these scenes, because by then we’re already being awed by the next one.

This episode’s also full of catharsis moments. The James vs. Lockwood and Lena vs. Tessmacher showdowns may not be given the emotional or ideological weight that earlier episodes built up, but with so much history in these two rivalries, it’s nonetheless satisfying to see our heroes deck these bad guys in the face. And Kara’s article changing everyone’s hearts and minds may be unrealistic wish-fulfillment, but it’s such good-hearted and idealistic wish-fulfillment, it’s a joy to let yourself get swept up in it.

Add in some comedy, with the Luthors in the White House, Emotionless Brainy being an absolute dick, and Jon Cryer chewing every last ounce of scenery, and you’ve got a finale that is relentlessly entertaining. “The Quest for Peace” will make you laugh, cry, gasp, and cheer . . . just don’t ask it to make you think too much.

As a conclusion to the story Supergirl wanted to be this season, this finale was a failure, giving us a rushed and all-too-simple wrapup to character arcs and moral messages it promised to treat with greater depth. But as an example of kind of story Supergirl actually is: simple and cliché, but heartfelt, with plenty of good action and great performances? At that, “The Quest for Peace” gets the highest marks.

Stray Observations:

  • We can only hope that final scene with the Monitor is him bringing Lex back to life, because despite only appearing in three episodes, Jon Cryer has absolutely hit this role out of the park. He is now, hands down, my favorite screen adaptation of Lex Luthor.
  • Favorite Lex moment: the sheer disdain in his voice when he mentions how Superman and Supergirl always come in with “glossy cape and perfect hair”.
  • Eve has been working for Lex for a while now, but she still didn’t realize that at least one step in his master plan would be “kill Superman”? What are you doing, girl?
  • Actually, what is she doing? Seems her being a deep cover mole for Lex was her actually being a deep cover mole for an organization (entity?) called Leviathan. Given she started as a cheap piece of reference humor, it’s amazing how critical Eve has become to the story.
  • Speaking of being critical to the story, let’s talk about the opposite of that: James Olsen. Now that his superpowers are gone, is his thing for Season 5 gonna be “guy with an eyepatch”? He’s kinda reminding me of Starburns from Community, who’d adopt a new affectation each season, like a top hat or a pet lizard, as a substitute for an actual personality.
  • We need more Lillian Luthor on this show (“Try not to quote Hitler in public, dear”), but the ending was unclear as to whether she’s still free, or if Lena got her sent back to prison.
  • Given that Kara’s article not only got the President of the United States convicted of treason and being an accessory to murder, but also apparently cured racism, all at great risk to Kara’s life . . . by any sort of real world logic, Season 5 kinda has to have her receive the Nobel Prize for Journalism, right?
  • So, Lena finally knows! Huzzah! However, her reaction demolishes the “Lena’s known all along” theory, so: boo!

 

The Flash - Legacy - Eobard Thawne (Reverse Flash)

The Flash 5×22: “Legacy” (SEASON FINALE) review

Thus ends the Season of Nora.

Deep down, I guess I expected it would end this way. Previous seasons of The Flash have built themselves around a villain, who is defeated (seemingly for good) in the finale. This season initially looked to be going in that direction, with Cicada as our new main villain. But as the season progressed, it started to become apparent that Cicada wasn’t the character driving the story.

Previous villains, like Zoom or Savitar, had elaborate plans at play throughout the season, orchestrated all the major challenges that Team Flash faced, and took a keen interest in manipulating our heroes’ journeys. That has not been Cicada’s role. Whether Grace or Orlin, neither version of Cicada has had much of a plan beyond killing any metahumans they come across with whatever weapons they can get their hands on. They haven’t manipulated Team Flash or masterminded all the obstacles they’ve faced; they’ve showed little interest in Team Flash at all, beyond being more metahumans in need of killing. Stopping Cicada has been our heroes’ goal throughout the season, but Cicada himself/herself/themselves has not been the main source of conflict, the one truly driving the stories. That’s been Nora all along.

She’s been the one with a keen interest in Team Flash. She’s been the one subtly manipulating the team for her own, secret agenda. And she’s been the one all the most intense drama this season has been built around. Whether it’s her issues with Iris, the reveal that she’s working with Thawne, her use of the Negative Speed Force, or just little things like creating a time loop or filling in as speedster-in-residence, the conflicts this season have been coming from her. Nora isn’t the villain of this season (that would still be either Cicada or Thawne), but she does fill the same role that past villains have, creating a solid throughline that the conflicts of the season can revolve around. And when the season ends, and the conflicts are resolved, like the villains before her, it’s time for Nora to disappear.

Looking back, Nora leaving at the end of this season was inevitable. And her vanishing from existence, because she’s been mucking about with time before she’s even born, is an obvious way for that to happen. Despite that, when Nora’s fate finally arrives, it feels rushed.

Nora, in the process of disappearing, chooses not to go into the Negative Speed Force to save herself, deciding to face the consequences of her mistakes rather than compound them with another one. That has been built up well. All season, Nora has been learning how to be a hero, from her own mistakes and from her father (who’s made plenty mistakes of his own). But the specific stakes at play in this scene weren’t established well enough beforehand.

Nora says that, if she goes into the Negative Speed Force now, it will be a part of her forever, which is brand new information for the audience. Having that sort of exposition delivered in a rush, in the middle of a dramatic moment, is going to make it difficult to emotionally invest in it.

Further, what we’ve seen previously of the Negative Speed Force’s effects . . . doesn’t seem that bad. She was channeling it all throughout “Gone Rogue”, but still seemed to be pretty much her regular self, just undercover as a bad guy. And in this episode it seems to be driving her to kill Thawne, but since we’ve Barry come as close or closer to killing Thawne without the Negative Speed Force’s influence, that doesn’t seem like such a huge deal.

The setup necessary to make us believe that Nora would choose non-existence over the Negative Speed Force just isn’t there. And that’s a problem, because Nora vanishing is the climax of the whole season. Where past seasons built up to the main villain’s defeat, here Cicada’s defeat is simply a stepping stone along the way. Nora has been the driving force behind the conflicts of this season, and the resolution she reaches here is the resolution to this season’s story. But despite such an amazing job being done with the character all season, in her final moments, the moments that define what her story and her character have meant, the writers whiff the ball.

I don’t want to come down too hard on this ending. It’s still very affecting and poignant. The acting is as fantastic as ever. And, if you’ve been as enamored with Nora as I’ve been, seeing her disappear as her parents hold her in their arms can’t help but be a tearjerker moment. It makes for a good ending to this season, a solid ending to this season. But it’s frustrating how, with just a little improvement in the setup, this could have been an all-time great conclusion to a season of The Flash.

“I’ve made a big, big mistake . . . Anybody know what to do?” That’s how Nora West-Allen came to Team Flash. We’ve followed her through the season, trying to fix her mistake, while making brand new ones along the way. But at last she’s found her answer: to accept the consequences of her mistake, however terrible they might be. So she must leave us, and leave her parents, at once grieving for her, yet prouder of her than they could ever be.

Despite some slipups made in the closing minutes, that is a poetic way to end this season, and to end the story of Nora, who’s had one of the best character arcs this series has ever done.

Farwell, XS.

Stray Observations:

  • I talked about how Cicada wasn’t the true driving force of this season. But still, given how the storyline eventually wrapped up, it feels like they either needed far more development this season or far less. More development to make Grace’s inner conflicts feel real and deep enough to justify that turn-away-from-the-Dark-Side ending, or less development, so that getting such a quick and simple resolution doesn’t make all the hours we’ve already spent on Cicada feel like a waste.
  • Cisco and Caitlin have felt underserved this season. In theory, they’ve both gotten major storylines, with Cisco wanting to live life without his powers and build a relationship with Kamilla, and Caitlin having all her Killer Frost and daddy issues. But having now seen how they turn out, both those storylines feel kinda half-assed.
  • Singh’s apparently known Barry is the Flash for a while now. It does explain why he’s been a lot less antagonistic to Barry the last few seasons than he was originally.
  • Ralph gets his moment to shine here, both comedically (“Everybody going where is?”) but also finally getting recognition for his detective skills. Plus, his post-mirror gun form is just the right combination of ridiculous and horrifying.
  • So . . . let’s discuss the Eobard Thawne of it all. He remains, not just the best villain in The Flash, but the best villain in the Arrowverse. Every scene with him, from the moment he escapes, to his taunting goodbye, are just pitch-perfect: arch-villainy that still feels genuinely menacing, and with an undercurrent of weariness and self-awareness that defines his character. And seeing all of Team Flash take him on together may be the most satisfying “Hell yeah!” moment we’ve gotten all season.
  • With one line of dialogue, they perfectly explain Thawne’s conflicting attitudes towards Nora, while also letting him twist the knife in Barry one more time: “In many ways, she’s shown me what it’s like to have a daughter.”
  • It’s a little unclear what exactly happened to Nora. Was she erased from time completely, because events have changed so that she was never born? Or is it that, without Cicada around (or without an imprisoned Thawne around) Nora would never have traveled back in time in the first place, so the version of her that has traveled back in time would no longer exist? Under the latter possibility, there could still be a Nora West-Allen living in 2049, she just wouldn’t have gone through any of the experiences that we’ve seen our Nora go through.
  • Speaking of getting erased from existence, this is the third time that The Flash has disposed of a Big Bad by making it so they were never created in the first place. If they do that one more time, they might officially be in a rut.

 

Legends of Tomorrow - Hey, World! - Sweet Baby James

Legends of Tomorrow 4×16: “Hey, World!” (SEASON FINALE) review

What kind of show is Legends of Tomorrow?

The top-of-your-head answer would probably be “a superhero show about time travel”. But how accurate is that?

Even in its earliest days, Legends eschewed many of the hallmarks of a superhero show, rarely using costumes and almost never using codenames, preferring to have its characters blend into whatever setting they’re visiting. And even the time travel aspect isn’t always prominent, such as in this season finale, which is set entirely in the present day.

You might go for a more general description, and call it “an action/adventure show”. Except as the series has gone on, and in this season especially, it’s felt less and less of a need to have a big fight scene in each episode. This episode may have some cool shots of a dragon and an octopus monster terrorizing people, but the closest thing we have to a fight scene, in the traditional sense of the word, is Sara wrestling a stick away from an old lady.

And how do you even describe the tone of the show?

It’s tempting to call it “campy”. It is, after all, ostensibly a drama, yet fills itself with ridiculous situations, exaggerated characters, and downright silly plot turns that no one could take seriously. But “camp” doesn’t quite fit.

Something like the Adam West Batman series, or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: those were intentionally campy TV shows. But what made them camp was that, as ridiculous as their stories could be, the characters within them did not think their situations were ridiculous. They treated each maniacal supervillain or rubber monster with deadly seriousness, and it was that irony, that gap between how the characters saw their situations and how the viewers saw their situations, that created their camp value.

Legends is not like that. Its characters are always very aware that the situations they’re in are ridiculous, and are never shy about pointing out this absurdity, or comparing what they’re doing to some other piece of pop culture. That’d seem to classify Legends as a “parody”, but that’s not quite right, either.

The show may be very self-aware about all the genre clichés it indulges in, but it rarely does so in a way that mocks those clichés. This isn’t Venture Bros. or Community, which lovingly recreate various genres, but with an eye towards exposing their flaws, or showing how stupid they’d look in a more realistic context. Legends may point out how ridiculous all its genre trappings are, but it doesn’t do so to say, “Isn’t this all stupid?”. It does so to say, “Isn’t this all awesome?

“Hey, World!”, perhaps more than any other episode, defines what Legends is really about. When people are consumed by fear, and the world is going to Hell, the Legends save the day, not by beating up the source of fear, or delivering an inspiring speech to kindle the courage in each person’s heart. They do it by putting on a big, colorful, fun-filled show.

Using Brigid’s Journal, Nate brings Hey World to life out of pure imagination. He literally makes his childhood fantasies a reality. Then the Legends put on their costumes and do a cheesy play mixing together superheroes, fairy tale creatures, musical numbers, and a thinly veiled moral message. Their audience is at first jaded and disinterested in this silly production, but by the end of it, after getting to see an actual dragon, and a hero sacrificing himself to save the world, they’re so genuinely moved, they join in on the big group sing-along and generate so much good will, they literally create a better future and (again with the literally) use the Power of Love to work a miracle.

That’s the unique pleasure of Legends of Tomorrow. It embraces the most ludicrous possibilities for its story, yet never asks the audience for ironic detachment. As silly and self-aware as it gets, at the same time it invites you to become genuinely invested in what’s happening, to find the story fun and exciting and touching, as well as something to laugh at.

At the end of the day, it’s all just a bunch of folks playing dress up, acting out the kind of adventures you’d dream up as children. And what, asks Legends, is so stupid about that?

Stray Observations:

  • So, who saw Vandal frickin’ Savage making a return appearance? If you answered “yes”, you’re a dirty liar. His cameo was easily the laugh-out-loud highlight of the week, the moment I look forward to in every Legends episode, where I just cannot believe what I’m seeing. This version of him, where after a long time away, he comes back extremely friendly and just a bit nutty? I’ve gotta think that’s a reference to the episode “Hereafter” from the old Justice League cartoon.
  • Ray and Nora remain adorable together. That is all.
  • This episode does a great job resolving John’s character arc for the season. In the season premiere, he warned Sara that he wasn’t a good person to have around, that people he gets close to all suffer and die. We’ve seen him wrestle with that view of himself all season, and when he lets Nate die so he can kill Neron, it seems to confirm his every cynical prediction. But then, instead of giving up and wallowing in self-pity, he leads a big group sing-along to channel the Power of Love and make everything right again, something the Constantine from the start of the season would never have considered.
  • Speaking of the big sing-along, that was totally a reference to Peter Pan, where all the kids in the audience are told to clap their hands to save Tinkerbell, right?
  • Nice bit of background acting: after he picks up Brigid’s Journal, Nate wipes off his hands, knowing what Mick has been using the book for.
  • Almost every week I talk about how meta the show can get, but the conversation about using “franchise superheroes” to lure audiences in, when really they’ll be getting a bunch of fairy tale monsters doing a musical number, may very well be the most meta thing yet.
  • The one thing really missing from this episode is a denouement. We go straight from the big climax to the ending teaser. There’s no time for characters to decompress, take stock of everything that’s happened, go “here’s what I learned today”, or address any lingering plot threads, like . . .
  • Zari. She’s gone. Not gone gone, as she still exists, and the showrunners have confirmed Tala Ashe will be back for Season 5. But with her timeline altered, her place on the Legends has been taken by her brother Behrad, and no one, including her, remembers her role in the last two seasons (well, Gideon might, but she’s not always great about volunteering information). It is gratifying to see her finally save her family and her world, but the idea that the version of Zari we knew is gone, and that everything we’ve been through with her now never happened . . . it’s kinda heartbreaking, in a way the quick joke with Behrad didn’t adequately deal with.
  • Still, when Zari shows up next season, it’ll be a version of her that became an Internet sensation thanks to her pet dragon, which should be all kinds of fun. I’m expecting at least one episode title that’s a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo reference.

 

Arrow - You Have Saved This City - Family

Arrow 7×22: “You Have Saved This City” (SEASON FINALE) review

I do want to talk about that ending. Anyone who talks about this episode of Arrow, that ending’s going to be what they wanna focus on. But before we get to that, I feel like I need to address the Emiko story.

That’s the same attitude this episode takes towards Emiko. You can tell that the heart of this episode, the part of it that everyone really wanted to get to, is the stuff that happens after she dies. Actually resolving Emiko’s story? That’s just a chore to be taken care of. Cleaning the last, unwanted bits of food off your plate so you can bring on the expertly prepared dessert.

This season, as a whole, has been marked by that indifferent attitude towards its own story. There have been stories that this season has shown a real passion for (Oliver’s prison adventures, the flashforward saga, the coming of the Olicity baby), but the central story arc, the connective glue of the season, has been remarkably slipshod.

Remember the first quarter of the season, when Oliver was in prison and Diaz was still the main bad guy? How much of what happened then feels like it’s at all connected to the rest of the season?

Diaz stuck around for a little while, but everything done with him after “The Slabside Redemption” ends up being utterly inconsequential, and that superstrength formula he got at one point is never mentioned again. The Longbow Hunters were established as being scary new adversaries during those episodes, but then they just vanished from the show, except for one brief cameo, and went absolutely nowhere. Oliver’s prison buddy, Stanley? Prominent in those first seven episodes, but later on got just one more episode to put a cap in his story, and was never heard from again.

Then there’s the New Green Arrow. Originally, the New Green Arrow was there to be a reminder of how Team Arrow used to do things, and create a contrast between official and unofficial crimefighters. But after the New Green Arrow was revealed as Emiko, and after we found out her real backstory and motivations, her actions in the early part of the season stopped making much sense, and the themes she was there to facilitate were just sort of brushed aside.

Arrow has always made up its story as it’s gone along, but this season in particular has felt unguided. Diaz, the Longbow Hunters, Dante, the Ninth Circle, Emiko: they don’t feel like part of a cohesive whole, just one thing after another, thrown at the viewer to keep the story going. There are moments, individual scenes, occasionally whole episodes, that the writers clearly wanted to get to: Oliver and Diaz’s big prison showdown, Laurel going back to her Black Siren roots, Roy returning and creating a reverse-Rashomon mystery. Those moments have a lot of passion and attention put into them, but the story leading up to them, surrounding them, giving them greater context and weight: all season, that’s felt a bit slapdash.

So when it’s time to end the Emiko story, we get just about the laziest resolution you could imagine. A new character, Beatrice, is introduced out of nowhere to take control of the Ninth Circle away from her. There’s a fight, forcing Oliver and Emiko to team up, where Emiko is killed, and as she’s dying she repents her evil ways, letting Oliver technically achieve his goal of redeeming his sister without having to deal with any of the consequences. If this season had truly built up Emiko, had shown any real interest in her or her storyline, this would have been an absolutely insulting conclusion.

But that story isn’t what anyone’s here for. Once Emiko’s dead, no one spends more than a couple lines talking about her, not even Oliver. Her story was simply a necessary chore, and once it’s done, this season finale can get down to doing what it really wants to do.

And that’s to say goodbye.

This isn’t the last episode of Arrow. We’ve still got one season left, ten episodes. But it’s clear that, for Arrow as we know it, this episode is the end. Oliver and Felicity retire, say goodbye to the lair and their old friends, and head off to the country to raise their daughter. They can now trust that the team they’ve created (and, in the future, the children they’ve raised) will carry on their legacy and keep their city safe. Their time protecting Star City is over. They can leave behind the violence and the danger that’s defined their lives for so long, raise their children somewhere safe and peaceful, and simply be a family. They get their happy ending.

It can’t last, of course. We’ve still got those ten episodes. We’ve still got a massive crossover coming. And, as so many have predicted, we still have Oliver’s death. The story of Oliver Queen, Hero of Star City, is over, but there’s one last chapter in his life yet to be told.

It’s a bold way to end a season, to tell us that the story we’ve been watching for seven years is effectively over, that what’s left is a bizarre, cosmic story utterly at odds with Arrow’s grounded origins, and that it’s leading, inevitably, to our hero’s demise. Yet, it works.

Now that everything else has been cleared away, all the terrorist plots, criminal organizations, and long-lost half-sisters, we’re left with just our two leads, saying goodbye to each other for the last time. In their final scene together, Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards deliver career-best performances, and the love and devotion their characters have for each other, and for their children, is allowed to shine with such beauty, it raises this episode far above what it would otherwise have been. The story getting here has been rough, poorly developed, and often made little sense, but all the care and attention that wasn’t given to that story is, for these closing scenes, repaid tenfold.

Stray Observations:

  • Obviously, hanging over all these goodbyes is the knowledge that this is the last we’ll see of Felicity. I mean, I hope they can get Emily Bett Rickards back for the series finale, but even if they can’t, it’s nice that the flashforward storyline let her character have her own conclusion, independent of all the stuff going on with Oliver now.
  • Speaking of flashforwards, they’ve set up New New Team Arrow well enough that I do want to see more of them going forward. Even after Arrow ends, two of its sister shows use time travel on a regular basis; it’d be pretty ease to have them guest star now and then.
  • For all I ragged on the conclusion to the Emiko plot, there was quite a lot of good action during that climax. Especially the somersaulting camera as Oliver and Emiko charged at each other.
  • Oliver’s desperate need to redeem Emiko still feels mighty unhealthy. Like, Bronze Tiger sliced up more than a few Ninth Circle goons; did anyone ask them if they wanted to redeem themselves?
  • Introducing the Mark of Four felt pretty forced. It’s standard prequel syndrome, where you have to show how something that happens in the chronologically later installment came to be, even though the logistics of it happening don’t fit all that naturally into the story structure.
  • I have absolutely no idea what to expect from Arrow going into Season 8. That both excites and terrifies me.

 

MVP of the Season: Oliver Queen

Arrow - Oliver (Season 7)

This was a painful choice to make. Nora West-Allen brought new life and energy into The Flash this season. John Constantine integrated into the madcap antics of Legends better than anyone thought possible. And despite having only three episodes to work with, Jon Cryer’s Lex Luthor was an absolute revelation on Supergirl.

But, in the end, it had to be Oliver. For all the ups and downs Arrow has had with its writing, the character of Oliver Queen has always been done justice. A lot of credit for that has to go to Stephen Amell. He’s played Oliver as a broken man in “Level Two”, a desperate action hero in “The Slabside Redemption”, half of a buddy comedy duo in “Elseworlds”, and, in “You Have Saved This City”, a man almost overwhelmed by the sacrifice demanded of him. Through it all, Amell has managed to find the core of who Oliver is, made all his decisions feel like they’re coming from a real place, and sell us on Oliver’s emotional journey.

For seven years, he’s been the anchor for not just his series, but this whole franchise of shows. We wouldn’t be here talking about the Arrowverse if it weren’t for him. So let’s raise a glass, and doff our hoods: to Oliver Queen.

Question of the Week: What was your favorite episode of each show this season?

 

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who’s been following along with these reviews. Even if you never commented, it’s just nice knowing that some people out there have read this, and that it’s hopefully made your day at least a little bit brighter. With luck, I’ll be back with more of these reviews when the Arrowverse returns in the Fall, and I hope you’ll all join me. Until then, ciao for now!