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SEASON FINALE REVIEW: Arrow 5×23 “Lian Yu”

Written by Scott Swartz

Well, hot damn they actually did it, they actually brought Arrow back all the way to its former glory and it was freaking awesome. “Lian Yu” is the culmination of a lot of different plots as we have finally reached the end of the flashbacks and Oliver has learned the limits he is willing to go to in order to save those he loves. I mean we managed to get the dream team to join together in order to save Ollie’s kid and that was like the fifth most exciting thing to happen this week. Add on Ollie being in full on Hood mode on the island, Ollie and Slade bonding time, Talia vs. Nyssa, Dinah vs Laurel, Malcolm trying to earn the dad of the year award. I mean there was just so little not to love that even the down parts of the episode were just minor speed bumps.

First and foremost lets give props to the star of the entire season Josh Segarra who absolutely killed it as Simon Morrison/ Adrian Chase/ Prometheus. He took a character who could have easily been relegated to simple insanity and a desire to make Oliver pay and rose in to possibly the most terrifying villain in the shows history. I mean it is basically 1 and 1A for Slade and Prometheus as each found a way to hit Oliver in the place he felt the least secure, his emotions. It was just a masterstroke to have Chase to decide to end it all in the place where Ollie’s crusade began and even when you think he is out of ideas he goes for his craziest move yet. Chase set everything up so no matter what he would have to sacrifice something in order to save the people he loves, so in a way he absolutely defeated Oliver. Bombing the whole island, hot damn was that a hardcore move in everyday imaginable. I am going to miss Chase, the way he managed to revel in his machinations was truly something to behold and I have no idea how new season’s big bad is going to match him.

Of course tonight wasn’t just about Adrian, Oliver also had a bunch of huge moments interns of finally becoming the man we always knew he could be. Stephen Amell did wonders in both the flashbacks and present day as we trulls get to see just how far Oliver has come. The clear juxtaposition of watching Oliver go full terminator in the past while in the present day he was doing everything imaginable to not kill chase was a thing of beauty. I mean past Ollie looking back on everything we have seen over the past five years was an utter psychopath and Amell plays that line beautiful. No matter the pain or strife Oliver is truly focused and has a great sense in knowing what his mission is. So to watch Oliver struggle with the decision not to kill Chase was masterful as at any moment Ollie could finally snap and do what he has always enjoyed doing as the Green Arrow. I know Amell doesn’t get enough credit for his performance sometimes but when he nails that mixture of Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne it is just something special.

Luckily, Oliver had the perfect backup tonight in order to make sure he his non killing pledge remained intact: the highly skilled law firm of Wilson, Merlyn, and Al-Ghul. Getting Nyssa and Malcolm back was a nice way to tie in certain story aspects and it is always satisfying to see the banter between them, but the real highlight of the night was the return of the true terminator Slade Wilson. Manu Bennett absolutely floored what little screen time he was given whether it be the forest scene or the one where he is simply being released from his cell. There was just so much raw emotion and guilt in his performance and you could see just how clearly pained he was by the damage he did to Oliver. It was a beautiful thing that at the end of it all, despite having all the possible leverage Slade refused to leave Oliver and William behind. A true brother until the very end seemingly.

Same thing goes for Nyssa and Merlyn who each sought closure in their own ways. John Barrowman has unfortunately been very touch and go during his run on Arrow, but here he absolutely nails Malcolm’s loyalty and devotion to Thea. By not only being willing to sacrifice himself for his daughter but the team as well shows how much he has changed. I mean he was literally blown up in order to save those he cares about, if that isn’t the path towards redemption for the undertaking I don’t know what is. Same thing goes for Nyssa who has always valued herself by how the league sees her. Here she manages to put her past to bed and finally rise above what her family thinks of her and prove who the best Al Ghul is. It was just super fun to watch all of these great character bits play out and really felt like true closure for some of them.

Of course with all of the great character moments we could easily forget about the action sequences this week which were top notch. I mean all of the intercutting of the past and present, the recreation of the very first moments of the show, Ollie shooting down a helicopter and taking Kovar to the ground. Everything was just masterful and easy to follow which made it all the better to see play out on screen. I really am looking forward to seeing if we can continue to create these dynamic scenes moving forward.

So here we are, Oliver started his quest leaving the island alone and once again is seemingly all alone in the world. I am super excited to see who survives and where the story goes from here. I think we can safely say after an entire season of mostly ups, Arrow is truly back and once again the show we know and love.

Final Grade A

Final Season Grade A-

+Amazing action

+Tied up Oliver’s five years perfectly

+Great guest stars

+Fitting end to Prometheus

+Cliffhanger with actual consequences

-Some unnecessary relationship stuff

Extra Thoughts

-Digger Harkness died the way he lived, being completely underused.

-How amazing did Deathstroke’s costume look tonight. Like a thing of beauty in the day light.

-He used to be a super villain, the Prometheus took an arrow to the knee.

-All right so who will be the big bad next season? The Weapon Clan, an actual Count Vertigo, Onomatopoeia, Komodo. Lot of good options, and huge shoes to fill.

About the author

Scott Swartz

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