Arrow Review by Henry Tran

Arrow 5.23: Lian Yu

Arrow 5.23: Lian Yu

Written By:
Wendy Mericle and Marc Guggenheim
Directed By:
Jesse Warn

Now, the circle is complete. The end has come for Oliver and Team Arrow. And with that, comes the true end of the flashbacks. Like the flashback sequences from the past couple of seasons, the ones here at the season finale are a bit light on plot. That's to be expected since the bulk of material has been chewed up by the whole season to date. Of course, my expectation was that there would be no flashbacks since basically everything had been dealt with up until the opening of the series premiere.



But the writers threw in one last task for Oliver to do, which is to deal with Konstantin Kovar. Again. The episode makes up for repeating this subplot by slowly building the battle between Chase and Oliver on Lian Yu. There's a palpable sense of anticipation as to what Oliver's ragtag team of misfits will do against Chase, who's been spending years setting all of this up, yet Oliver, Malcolm, and Slade have the advantage of knowing the terrain better than Chase does. Like "Missing," there's a real sense of the show going back to its roots and playing to its history, reminding us of things that may have been forgotten. To be sure, Arrow is a dense show, so much so that I had forgotten that Slade was infected with Mirakuru when Oliver put him in the ARGUS prison cell, for example. Or that Digger Harkness is Captain Boomerang. And Harkness being one of the minor characters in the series made him a prime candidate for betraying Oliver's team, which he does in record time.


Sure, Chase says that everything that's happening on Lian Yu is designed to punish Oliver, designed as part of a larger overall plan. That gives rise to some unexpected surprises, which force Oliver's team into more difficult choices. Like Thea stepping on a landmine. The landmine was there from a long time ago so it's not possible for anyone to defuse it. Malcolm then makes a choice to sacrifice himself for his daughter, which leads to an explosion, although I don't quite believe that Malcolm is dead. As the Magician and the former Ra's al Ghul of the League of Assassins, surely, he would have one more trick up his sleeve. If it does turn out that this is the last appearance of Malcolm Merlyn on the series, then he died doing something noble, and that redeems his earlier evil undertaking from the first season.



I must confess that Oliver is smarter than I am at figuring out the intricacies of Chase's plan. I thought he would have held William some place off the island, some place where Oliver couldn't get to his son. That was the first thought that came into my head when Chase refused to answer Oliver's screams about where William was being kept. Some episodes of the series have been rather clunky and haphazard with the execution of its plots, but this finale was working like a fine-tuned machine. Oliver countered with a plan of his own, which involved a long con that had Slade turn against Oliver, only to reveal itself naturally as a way to get a sonic scream device to Dinah (who's locked up with Rene and being held by Black Siren).


With all the shackles off and the bulk of both teams assembled in the temple on Lian Yu, the finale can get to its action centerpiece. Dinah faces off against Black Siren; Talia al Ghul gets to fight her sister, Nyssa; Oliver takes on Chase, while the rest of Oliver's team, Slade, Dig, and Rene take on Chase's minions. It's a throwback to earlier seasons, when Arrow would stage masterfully edited and choreographed hand-to-hand fight scenes. Okay, a couple of the battles involve complicated swordplay, but even that was well-done. The fight between Nyssa and Talia was suitably tinged with some familial bitterness, and ends brutally with Nyssa almost killing Talia. Same with Dinah and Black Siren, who manages to temporarily get the upper hand on a stunned Dinah before Quentin surprisingly interferes and knocks out his daughter's doppleganger. That was somewhat therapeutic for the former police captain, as he works through the grief of seeing the image of his dead daughter.



All of it is just a prelude to the showstopping cap to Chase's plan, though, Everyone except Oliver is stuck on the island because Chase disabled the operation of his plane, then rigged the entire island with a bunch of bombs as a booby trap fail-safe. On top of that, Chase rigged a dead man's switch on himself, which explains why he keeps goading Oliver to kill him. It all comes down to Chase's escape boat, which I think he intentionally made to look like the fishing boat that rescues Oliver at the beginning of the series, and Oliver has to fight him with William being held onboard as a hostage. The most obvious play is for Oliver to severely injure Chase without killing him... which is, ostensibly what he does by shooting Chase in the foot with an arrow. Only, I'm thinking Oliver didn't expect Chase to simply blow his head off, setting off all the bombs on Lian Yu.


That's how the season ends. Did the writers really just kill off a majority of the cast? It's a bravura cliffhanger to end an era of brave storytelling. Sure, there were some hiccups along the way, but that ending basically clears the board for the writers to start something new next season. It should be a sight to see.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • This episode makes a firm case that the writers intend to move into a completely new phase next season
The Bad:
  • What will the show look like next season without the flashbacks?

Henry Tran is a regular contributor of review for Critical Myth; The Critical Myth Show is heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @HenYay

Arrow by - 5/26/2017 8:41 AM196 views

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