The Undertaking is upon us and destruction is guaranteed on the season finale of The CW’s Arrow. Can Oliver (Stephen Amell) and company defuse Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) earthquake device before it levels the Glades? As if you even have to ask.
Let’s bitch it out…Over the course of its first season, Arrow has firmly established itself as something of a Batman successor. The show has tread on familiar ground for twenty-three episodes and Malcolm’s plan to destroy those he considers unredeemable has echoed Batman Begins at several different junctions. The final episode of the freshman season continues that trend as the device is set off, destroying significant parts of the poorest section of town with the majority of our heroes caught in the crossfire.
What impresses me is the show’s ability to adhere to convention, while also defying expectations. We knew that Malcolm would die at Oliver’s hands – that was always a gimme. And we knew that Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) would defuse the device before it went off. Heck, we even knew that someone would buy the farm as a result of some kind of chaos (smart betting was on Colin Donnell’s Tommy and lo and behold, it is!).
What I wasn’t expecting is the press conference or the second device. All too often in superhero films, the villain’s dastardly plot is kept hidden and the innocent victims are caught completely unaware. How refreshing, then, that Moira (Susanna Thompson) calls a press conference to “out” Malcolm as the perpetrator of the Undertaking around the half-way mark of the episode. Likewise Malcolm playfully admitting to a redundancy plan moments before dying (I hope that when I expire I go with such perfectly delivered bon-mots and punctual timing!). The second device is clever – just as Malcolm has proven to be during his tenure as Big Bad – and it resets the danger back to “holy eff” o’clock at a time when we expect the tension to ease off.
All in all, this is a well-paced episode that nicely encapsulates the strengths of the show, which has proven to be such a delight this past year. Bravo Arrow – we’ll see you in the fall.
- Your drinking game for the episode: drink when someone says “sacrifice”. Please have the ambulance on stand-by
- So my prediction that Tommy would avenge his father’s death Harry Osborne style didn’t pan out, did it? On the plus side, I never warmed to Tommy so it’s no loss to see him go. He does get a hero’s exit: save your (ex) girlfriend from a styrofoam beam with declarations of love and Hulk-like strength before being taken out by a accessory-ready impalement
- Another constant is the refusal of the sidekicks to leave the hero behind. This makes Oliver’s demand that his friends leave him behind slightly groanworthy. Obviously Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) stick around to provide tech and firearm support – this is their role on the damn show!
- Admittedly Tommy is the most obvious choice to kill off, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Diggle or Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) had kicked the bucket (Sidenote: obviously Diggle’s death would have left the Deadshot storyline unresolved). Lance is a likelier of the two; he even gets the requisite last-minute-phone-call-to-a-loved-one-in-the-face-of-danger, but skirts by courtesy of Felicity’s hacker skills
- Not sure what to make of Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy’s (Colton Haynes) heroic adventures in the Glades. In many ways this is the slightest of all of the finale’s storylines – they barely get any screen time, it feels scatter-shot (how does Thea even find him in the alley?) and it lacks a climax (does Thea really leave Roy behind to save the trapped citizens aboard the bus?) Perhaps most problematically, why do we care?
- Finally, on the island, Ollie, Shado (Celina Jade) and Slade (Manu Bennett) thwart Fyers’ (Sebastian Dunn) plan – as expected. The biggest issue with the reliance on the flashbacks is that we can anticipate the outcome. It was possible that Fyers would live to muck things up for another day, but it seemed unlikely after he killed Yao Fei last week – there had to be some kind of closure. The question now is what happens next? There’s still ~4+ years left before he escapes
- Felicity (when Detective Lance asks what she calls hacking): “A hobby?”
- Tommy (to Oliver): “I wish you had of died on that island.” Way harsh, Tai
What are your thoughts on the finale, folks? Was it too familiar or were there enough surprises to satisfy you? Were you hoping for someone else to die? Do you care about Thea and Roy at all? And where can the island drama go from here? Sound off below
Arrow has finished airing its first season. It returns in the fall on The CW