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Comics Alliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.23: Sacrifice

The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along (even if it’s very late) to see how he fares.

In this episode: Everything wraps up! Fights are fought! Emotions laid bare! Uh…neighborhoods threatened!

Previously: Merlyn watched his ex-girlfriend and his ex-best-friend have sex through a window because he has really specific fetishes, Moira revealed that Daddy Merlyn (a.k.a. Boe) wanted to level the Glades, then Boe discovered Ollie is Arrow.

Well, this is it folks, the final episode of Arrow. It’s been such a delight recapping the full series for you guys, but all things must come to an end, right? Well, let’s not drag this out. Let’s dive right into the finale.

We open up pretty close to where it all began, in the life raft from the Queen’s Gambit. Robert Queen once again kills a dude for no reason and then shoots himself at a downward angle such that the exiting bullet would almost certainly have deflated the raft. I’m gettin’ misty here, folks. These are the truest memories.

We soon discover that the flashback was Ollie dreaming. He wakes up, shirtless and beaten, in what I suppose I’ll call the Dark Arrowcave, when one of Boe’s goons dumps water on his head. The camera lingers on Stephen Amell’s dripping torso because this episode has to get its requisite beefcake out of the way early so it can get to the craziness faster. Gotta say: I respect it.

Ollie and Boe hash out some plot points we’re already well familiar with (Boe rigged up the Queen’s Gambit to sink, he’s going to destroy The Glades, Ollie is Arrow; gotta catch up the viewers just tuning in for the finale, I guess) before the debate kind of ends with Boe insisting he’s going to win because his heart’s in the game and Ollie’s isn’t. This show went from Dark Knight ripoff to Friday Night Lights so gradually I barely noticed.

Another flashback. The plane Fyers announced last week he wanted to crash (which turns out to be a Ferris Air jet in a nice little nod to the DCU) is cruising over Flashback Island while everyone’s still crying about Proto-Arrow taking a bullet to the brain. Fyers starts the process of launching the missiles to take it down, but Ollie pulls himself together, cuts through his bonds with a knife he has hidden and stabs that dude who tricked him into thinking he was beaten up. Attempted murder is what, the second stage of grief, right? Just after denial?

Things go a little nuts after this. Fyers starts screaming into his walkie talkie to fire the missiles and Shado finishes the job Ollie started, breaking the dude who tricked Ollie’s neck. For real: Never play a ruse on Oliver Queen.

One of the missiles goes flying, but before we see what can happen, we cut back to Ollie in the Dark Arrowcave. He does some flippy business, climbs up the chain that’s restraining him, and drops back down, breaking the pipe the chain is attached to. Is this supposed to be the payoff of all those scenes of him doing pullups on pipes in the regular (Light?) Arrowcave? Maybe I have watched too much Arrow.

Ollie quickly dispatches two of Boe’s goons (he breaks both their necks, because why wouldn’t he), but as he starts searching one of them for…I don’t know, a map, another one with a gun runs in. Dig comes in right behind the guy and shoots him. He jumps in late and wins the victory for the most shoehorned-in line of dialogue of the season: “I take back every joke I made about you sticking a tracking device in your boot.”

First off, this is the first mention of the tracking device. The absolute first. I imagine it has to be the result of someone in the writer’s room saying, “They’d probably take his cell phone when they kidnapped him.” Second, I’m trying to come up with a joke about someone putting a tracking device in their boot. It is not easy. This is the best I can manage: “I’ve heard of losing socks in the dryer, but this is ridiculous!”

Actually, I’m imagining Dig saying that and it’s kind of wonderful. Carry on, show.

Dig debriefs Ollie on what Smoak has dug up in the Merlyn network files, coming the closest this show has come yet to using the phrase “earthquake machine” (he says “earthquake generator”). Meanwhile, Smoak herself is being accosted by Detective Lance, who asks her, “Whurr you off to in sach a harry?” Instead of asking who Harry is, she just kind of looks dumbfounded.

At police HQ, Lance tells Smoak he knows she’s been hacking on behalf of “The Hood,” but before they can really dig into the interrogation, Ollie calls to tell the detective he prefers to be called “the vigilante who wears green and shoots arrows, but not Green Arrow.” Ollie drops a dime on Boe, telling Lance about the earthquake machine plan. Lance is incredulous for all of about 20 seconds before buying the whole thing with no proof. Detective work!

At Club Shining Time Station, Merlyn is helping himself to the booze even though he no longer works there and this is definitely theft. He drunkenly tells Ollie he saw Laurel and Ollie “kissing” through the window, even though he definitely watched them boff in there. I guess this place even makes people talk like they’re on a PBS Kids show.

Ollie pivots and changes the subject to Merlyn’s dad wanting to destroy The Glades, which only succeeds in making Merlyn madder. He takes a swing at Ollie. Ollie says Merlyn still has time to stop his dad’s evil plans. Merlyn goes full-on Evil Harry Osborn and tells Ollie he wishes he’d died on the island.

Just imagine the words “redemption arc” etched on his forehead there. They might as well be.

Flashback Island. In the midst of killing a whole lot of dudes in this show’s weird version of balaclavas, Shado and Ollie manage to reprogram the missile and redirect it away from the plane. Instead, it blows up Fyers’ entire camp.

In the present, Detective Lance is doing a bang-up job of presenting his no evidence of Merlyn’s planned attack to his boss. The lieutenant asks where Lance got his information. Lance tells him it was Arrow and makes a big speech about how laws ought to protect people. The lieutenant suspends him. The other cops sitting in the room all pretend to read magazines.

At Casa Queen, Ollie and Moira continue this episode’s trend of characters telling each other stuff they don’t know but the audience already does. Before Ollie can get into describing how there were two Deathstrokes, though, Merlyn calls to offer some new information for once: The earthquake machine’s going off tonight! Well, it sure was nice of him to say.

Ollie heads out on the warpath in his Wolverine jacket, but before he can be the best there is at what he does, he’s got to be the ok-est at what he does with some proficiency, talking to Laurel. He warns her to stay out of The Glades, gives a speech about the island revealing who he really is, they make out, there’s crazy lighting. I think that covers it.

Off we go to Merlyn Global Group’s semi-transparent headquarters. Boe admits to a still-drunk Merlyn that the crazy plan Ollie mentioned about him destroying The Glades is true. Then Boe plays a voicemail for his son of his mother dying. It teaches us what we should have already known: Malcolm Merlyn is the opposite of Werner Herzog in Grizzly Man.

John Barrowman pulls out some capital-A acting when he proclaims that everyone in The Glades deserves to die just like his wife did. It’s his best villain moment by far; I wish we had a chance to see more of his screaming rage.

It’s quickly counteracted by the next scene though, in which the brain trust that is Team Arrow comes to the monumental conclusion that a guy with an earthquake machine might want to put it underground in the old subway tunnels. Hold up, everybody! Strip that Nobel Prize in physics from this year’s winners! There’s been a grave oversight!

Thea calls up Ollie to tell him Moira’s holding a press conference at Casa Queen. “What channel?” he asks. “It looks like all of them,” Thea answers, so, you know, just the one. (It’s almost like they’re feeding me these TV channel jokes at this point.)

Moira lets loose: She admits her complicity in the plan to level The Glades and names Boe as the architect (or, I guess, the anti-architect). She even names the names of the people he’s killed (though she could say that last part of her son, too). Detective Lance watches from the police station even though he’s suspended and should be at home. Thea rushes off to go find Roy. Moira is immediately arrested for conspiracy. Boe punches his desk and shows Merlyn his Goblin Lair Dark Arrowcave.

A SWAT team shows up–they seriously just walk right up to Boe’s office–and tries to arrest Boe, but he kills them all with a f**king cutlass like he’s goddamn Barbarossa. Man, where was this guy all season? Then he knocks out his son.

Arrowcave. Team Arrow decides that this time they’re going to work as a team, and take forever to come to that conclusion. I sure hope all this wasted time doesn’t end up making their attempts to save The Glades a failure or anything.

Detective Lance calls. In another stunning deduction, Ollie tells him the earthquake machine is in the place Boe’s wife was murdered. He also says Lance, even though he’s suspended and not a cop at the moment, will have to deactivate the device while Smoak talks him through it, because Arrow’s got to go take down Merlyn. But wait: Don’t the police have an entire bomb squad for just that kind of thing? It isn’t like the earthquake device is a secret anymore. Shouldn’t every cop be combing the subway tunnels to find it and deactivate it? Just because something’s more dramatic doesn’t make it a better plan, guys.

People are rioting in the streets over in The Glades, and I genuinely love that they took the time to make signs instead of just getting the hell out of there.

It’s not like The Glades are sealed off from the rest of the city or anything, or the bridges got knocked out like in The Dark Knight Rises. They could leave, or at least try to. But no, they’re making signs and lighting cars on fire. And I’m not kidding. I love it. This is exactly the kind of goofiness I want from my murdering-superhero TV show.

I’m less into the goofiness of Roy Harper apparently just discovering this is all going on, even though this rioting must have been going on for hours. Even if he missed Moira’s press conference, he had to have heard the commotion outside, right? Was he sleeping in a deprivation chamber?

Flashback Island. Ollie finds that case with his bow in it. Slade didn’t blow up somehow. Neither did Fyers. He’s holding Shado hostage. He gives a villain speech. Ollie shoots him through the neck. All the bad guys on the island are dead now, so I suppose we’re to assume the next 4 1/2 years or so are just a lot of this trio sitting around describing old episodes of Mannix to each other.

Detective Lance bashes his way into the subway tunnel while Arrow and Dig skulk through the halls of Merlyn Global looking for Boe. Arrow is in his hood, by the way, while Dig is in plain old street clothes, his face entirely visible. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t it? Ollie finds Merlyn still knocked out on the floor. He asks if Ollie’s going to kill his dad, and Ollie doesn’t say no.

Dig finds the entrance to the Dark Arrowcave (the upstairs part), and there’s Boe in his Dark Arrow outfit, ready to dance. He’s downgraded his acting from “having genuine emotion” to “strangely robotic,” but he’s got some moves, at least. Dig takes a throwing knife to the chest but insists Ollie chase after Boe. Between the Dark Arrowcave and the rooftop (of course it’s a rooftop), DA puts his hood and mask on. The logic behind when people wear masks and when they don’t here eludes me.

In the subway tunnels, Detective Lance finally runs across the earthquake machine. Here’s how it works: It has a cylinder it uses to touch the ground and make it shake. No, really!

Once again, I think this is great. If you’re going to have a bunch of nonsense in your show, make it really silly nonsense.

Smoak begins to explain the disarming process while Roy runs like a crazy man through the riotous streets of The Glades. He beats up some muggers attacking an old man; Thea shows up to help finish them off. (Beating them up, I mean. They don’t murder anyone. Thought I should make that clear.) Thea says she went to his house and couldn’t find him. He says he decided to run around like a goof in no direction in particular because that’s what everyone else was doing.

Really: How does no one in The Glades know how to get out of The Glades? At least give me one shot of traffic really horribly jammed up on a bridge or something, show.

Back on the rooftop, Arrow and Dark Arrow are shooting tons of arrows at each other and somehow missing, despite the fact they’re supposed to be A-1 Bow Dudes. They swing their bows at each other for a while before Arrow shoots one at Dark Arrow’s head, and Boe pulls that whole catch-the-arrow trick again. Except this time it’s a trick arrow that explodes like a Roman candle.

In the sewers, every bomb diffusal cliche you remember from every movie you’ve ever seen occurs. Detective Lance gives up when the timer resets to two minutes and calls Laurel. She’s at CNRI because she apparently couldn’t take an apocalypse day off from work. He tells her to get out of The Glades and that he’s about to die. Paul Blackthorne has a pretty good scene that isn’t ruined by his accent.

Roy and Thea found a truck somewhere and are trying to drive it out of The Glades, but then a guy smacks the hood and asks for help. Roy gets out to…help some people on a bus, I think? But unless he can make helicopters out of old buses, I don’t think he can do all that much.

Dark Arrow has recovered from the explosive arrow and is back to full fighting strength. Hurricanranas and other wrestling moves occur until Dark Arrow gets Arrow in a sort of sleeper hold. Arrow finds a busted-up arrow on the ground and stabs Boe with it. Ollie says he finally knows what he’s fighting for: family, I think. He flashes back to his dad dying again, anyway.

Smoak’s actually got Detective Lance working on the earthquake machine again, and he manages to get it disarmed. Smoak tells Ollie. Ollie says it’s over. Then Dark Arrow Ozymandiases this s**t. That is, if Ozymandias had really stilted dialogue.

“If I’ve learned anything as a successful businessman, it’s redundancy,” he says, breathing his last. So that’s how the big bad of the season goes out. With a really short TED Talk.

But yeah, there are two earthquake machines. The second one goes off and The Glades start crashing down. Apparently, The Glades are maybe…five city blocks away from the Merlyn Global building? That seems odd. Also, how does the earthquake machine choose what parts of the city to level and which ones not to? Seems like that’d be pretty tough to work out.

Here’s where s**t starts going nutso as Detective Lance openly wonders what the hell is going on since he turned the machine off. Laurel gets trapped under some rubble at CNRI and all the men in her life (Ollie, Detective Lance and Merlyn) rush off to help her. Merlyn wins the race. “I loved you,” he tells her as he summons his inner Hulk and lifts the rubble off her. Then the building collapses like it’s made out of paper. Detective Lance holds Laurel back while Arrow runs into the carnage to find Merlyn impaled on some rebar. REDEMPTION ARC.

He apologizes to Ollie and croaks. But before he does, he asks Ollie if he killed his dad. Ollie says he didn’t.

The camera swoops up over the city to survey the pile of debris that used to be The Glades, and that’s how we end the season: Our hero failed to save everyone and also lied to his dying best friend’s face.

Final thoughts

Well, it’s been quite a ride, hasn’t it? I have to question the choice to end the series on such a down note, but I also have to admire the risks the producers took with such a huge sea change right here at the end. I wasn’t all that into the heroes being so inert, but giving Boe an Ozymandias moment was pretty dang cool. Seeing the bad guys finally being real bad guys and some crazy comic-book villainy does my heart good. If the show was going to continue, I’d be curious to see where it went.

What? What’s that? A second–A second season? And it starts next week?

Well. See you guys then, I guess.

Previous episodes:

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

1.4: An Innocent Man

1.5: Damaged

1.6: Legacies

1.7: Muse of Fire

1.8: Vendetta

1.9: Year’s End

1.10: Burned

1.11: Trust But Verify

1.12: Vertigo

1.13: Betrayal

1.14: The Odyssey

1.17: The Huntress Returns

1.18: Salvation

1.19: Unfinished Business

1.20: Home Invasion

1.21: The Undertaking

1.22: Darkness on the Edge of Town

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