"Sacrifice," the Arrow season finale, finally deals out the deaths that fans have been predicting all season, along with a generous helping of trailer-worthy lines like, "You have always known the man he is," and "Someone needs to put an end to this." Let us applaud all the characters as they exit, stage left — some never to return.
I've vented a lot of snark at Arrow over the course of the season, but this episode is stuffed full of character nobility, and it has made me repent. As Arrow takes a summer-long curtain call, I'd like to take this recap to applaud each character as they have their great moment.
First, let's start with the Island Gang. As Fyers launches the missile at the airplane, Ollie cuts the world's toughest leather band around his wrist and the gang springs into action. With a lot of gun-firing by Slade, a lot of ass-kicking and missile reprogramming by Shado, and a lot of looking alarmed by Ollie, they manage to re-route the missile back down into the camp, killing most of the bad guys. Ollie gets his big moment when it's discovered that Fyers is still alive and holding Shado hostage. Picture Ollie as William Tell and Fyers as the apple. It is a triumphant day for them all, even if they are still marooned.
Shado? You're the most competent character on the show. From helpful martial arts tutorials to ass-kicking to missile-launcher reprogramming, you get things done. Congratulations. Slade? I like your swagger, but mostly I like that Arrow totally fooled me with you. I wrote an entire rant on the fake Deathstroke they brought in originally, wondering why he was nothing like the guy from the comics and then? Bam. You come along. Well done, show.
And well done, show on the next twist. Remember how all year long Ollie did ridiculous shirtless wall-climbing stunts? It wasn't gratuitous! It was setting things up for his ridiculous, shirtless, wall-climbing escape. Barrowmerlyn puts Ollie in arm-chains suspended from the ceiling and — horror! — monologues at him. It's a bragging monologue, about why Ollie can't win, "because you don't know, in your heart, what you're fighting for — what you're willing to sacrifice. I do." When he leaves, Ollie inverts his body, climbs the chains, and then drops, breaking the bar the chains are tied to. Badass. Now, I like Ollie's manly tears at the end of this episode, but I like to think that this is the vindication for both the character and the actor. All year Ollie and Stephen Amell have been subjecting themselves to torture dressed up as a combination of exercise and performance art, and now, at last, all of their effort comes to fruition. Again, well done.
The newly-freed Ollie makes a fairly awkward round of conversations. He lets Tommy know that his dad is a supervillain (while Tommy lets him know that he knows Ollie is a cheating asshole). He lets Laurel know that she should stay out of the Glades. And he lets Moira know that they need to stop the earthquake that's about to flatten the Glades. This leads to two more moments of glory.
The first belongs to Moira, who calls a press conference with every news outlet in town because, damn it, she isn't going to confess over the phone with bad eye make-up and a computer-altered voice like her classless son. Moira, you've managed to mesh Lady MacBeth with Jocasta in this series, and you've done it with style and grace. In this scene alone you were enough to make Barrowmerlyn lose his cool to the point where he smashed things like the Hulk, and you weren't even in the same room with him.
The second moment of glory belongs to hurricane Thea. She provides the one moment of hilarity in this episode. She watches her mother confess to being an accomplice to multiple murders, being part of a conspiracy to commit thousands more murders, and doing all this under the threat of family annihilation. She watches her mother get arrested. Her mother comes up to her and says, "I love you." And Thea says, "I love Roy!" Moira's confused delivery of "Roy?" is a delight. Thea then yells that Roy is in the Glades, and as Moira helplessly screams after her not to go to the Glades, she goes stomping off to the Glades. Into an evacuation zone. With no practical skills of any kind. For a boyfriend with a functional pair of legs and an ability to steal cars. To summarize my reaction to this, I have to turn to Tai from Clueless. What, exactly, are you going to do, Thea?
Some viewers don't like Thea. Some viewers might argue that her true moment of glory comes later, but not everyone in a superhero TV series has to be a superhero. In a series where nearly every character faced death daily, Thea managed to spin unimaginable drama out of her brother not being open enough to her, her mother perhaps once having an affair, and her purse getting snatched. Her brattiness transcended mere plot and character and reached the sublime, and I love her for that.
Roy's moment of glory comes in the Glades, where people are rioting. In what I like to think is a touching tribute to comic book Ollie's 1960s protest sensibilities, many of them carry cardboard signs with slogans. Roy sees a guy being mugged by three people, beats two of them up, and looks alarmed when a the third pulls a gun on him. Thea comes out of nowhere and cracks the guy in the head with a bottle. They manage to procure a car, slalom through a "say no to texting and driving" PSA that I'm impressed Arrow had the balls to put in the season finale, and find themselves staring at a group of people who are trapped on a bus. Roy sends Thea on her way and vows to stay and save the people. But before that happens? He grabs Thea and gives her a big dramatic kiss. That's another tribute to the Green Arrow comic. Heroism is all well and good, but nookie first. By honoring that, Roy gets his moment of glory.
Meanwhile, Tommy laughingly tells his dad that Ollie thinks he's a supervillain, and is dismayed to learn that Ollie was right. Barrowmerlyn plays the tape of his wife dying to Tommy, apparently attempting a vengeance transfer, but it fails. So he knocks Tommy out and goes on his way.
Ollie, Felicity, and Dig have tracked the earthquake maker to an abandoned subway station over a fault line in the Glades. Ollie says he'll go after Barrowmerlyn while Dig deactivates the earthquake device with remote guidance from Felicity. Dig says no, he's going with Ollie to hunt down the archvillain. Some would see this as heroism. I don't. I see it as smarts. Ollie pretended like he was on the most dangerous mission, but come on. He was sending Dig to a decrepit building, underground, over a fault line, at the direct epicenter of an earthquake. Dig's too smart for that. He's always been a smart character, and he's supplemented those smarts with a general good nature and some dry-as-burnt-toast humor. Congrats on that, Dig. I'm sorry your love subplot fizzled, but let's hope you steam up the screen with Felicity next season.
Instead they send poor Quentin Lance, who has not caught a break all season. He heads down into the subways, with Felicity guiding him, and starts disarming the thing. As he clips a wire, the countdown clock suddenly starts dropping fast. He breathes, walks away, and makes a phone call to Laurel. It's very sweet, as he tells her not to make the mistakes he made and push people away, but what I like best is the fact that he instantly knows she ran straight to her law firm in the Glades and just accepts it. It's nice to have actual smart cops in a superhero story, and that's what he is. Hurray for Quentin. He says a heartfelt goodbye, and then . . .
Felicity gets him to go back to the bomb and freakin' disarm it. And this is what I like about Felicity. Some people find her verbal awkwardness funny, but often it comes off as forced to me. What I like about her is she gets things done. In this scene she listens to him make his dying call and is all, "Oh, you think you're going out a hero? Not on my watch. You're gonna live. Now do as I say."
Meanwhile, there is the ultimate battle between Barrowmerlyn and Ollie on a rooftop. He begins with "Welcome, gentlemen," spirals through, "Are you ready to die?" and ends, wonderfully, with, "Your mother and sister will be joining you in death!" This last is said as Ollie is being choked into unconsciousness. Ollie grabs an arrow lying on the roof in front of him and shoves an arrow right through Barrowmerlyn's chest (by way of Ollie's own chest). He then tells Barrowmerlyn that they've deactivated the earthquake device. Barrowmerlyn smiles and says the one thing he learned as a businessman was the value of redundancy. And dies. And breaks my heart. Oh, John Barrowman. Your portrayal of a black-hearted bastard was a source of joy. I sincerely hope you find a way to come back to life, just so I can see that cleft chin and those preternaturally white teeth say more evil things. Goodnight, sweet prince.
There's a second device. It spares most of the Arrow gang and seems to hit only on the east side of the Glades, which is where Laurel's law firm is. Laurel, I think, got the most thankless role in this entire series. As the long-term love interest, she had all relevant information kept from her while she was bounced around by plot points she couldn't possibly understand. I think they'll keep the ignorance going but, I hope, next season, they do more stuff with her split relationship with Ollie and with the Hood. Katie Cassidy really shines with that stuff. This episode, I thought it was fun to see her, as the Endlessly Crusading Lawyer, still clutching files as she ran out of the law firm — only to get pinned under falling cement blocks.
And who should save her but... Tommy. He tells her he came because he loves her, and lifts the block off of her. When he yells that she should run and he'll be right behind her, we know that Arrow has just about washed its hands of the Merlyn family. Sure enough, the building explodes outwards and when Ollie gets there, Tommy has a piece of iron through the chest. Ollie comforts Tommy, telling him that he saved Laurel's life and that he's nothing like his father. Tommy looks up at Ollie, and it's a measure of how all-around good the character has become, since he started the series as the obnoxious best friend, that he pulls off his lines with Ollie.
"Did you kill him?"
And so Tommy is the last to go. Damn. That was really sad. You got me, Arrow.
I'm shot through the heart. And you're to blame.