It’s the final episodes of the final season of Arrow. As we face the antepenultimate episode when “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” airs on January 14, 2020, it’s time to take stock of the season so far. Basically it has been a long, satisfying, goodbye to Arrow. Each episode, with few exceptions, has been a walk down memory lane of a previous setting and tying up loose ends with various characters– even in travels through the multiverse. And that’s where we begin.
In “Starling City,” Episode 1, we visit Earth-2 where Oliver (Stephen Amell) has to face off against his best friend Tommy Merlyn, who has become the Dark Archer and is planning to do his own version of The Undertaking. He is joined from Earth-1 by Diggle (David Ramsey) and also enlists Earth-2’s Laurel (Katie Cassidy) in The Monitor’s mission to find dwarf star particles. As they wrap up, Oliver, Diggle and Laurel step through a portal back to Earth-1 just as a wave of antimatter sweeps over Earth-2, destroying everything.
Now a refugee in an alternate universe, Laurel finds herself wondering if she should return to a life of crime. There are several opportunities for her to betray Oliver through the rest of the season, and it’s fun to see her sometimes play both sides. The immediate opportunity for that opens up in “Welcome to Hong Kong,” where they have to protect a scientist and deliver him to Mar Novu. Except the Triads, let by China White, also want him. It ties up a lot of loose ends from Season 2, and propels the team forward to their next setpiece in Nanda Parbat.
“Leap of Faith” is one of the most fun episodes of the season. Directed by Katie Cassidy, it’s basically an Indiana Jones adventure with ninjas. Also, Talia al Ghul is back, as is Oliver’s sister Thea. It also sends them on a mission trying to find out more about Mar Novu and his dealings with Earth in ancient time.
Meanwhile, interspersed in all of this (as with last season) we continue to get flash forwards to the future where Oliver’s children Mia (Katherine McNamara) and William (Ben Lewis) join Connor Hawke (Joseph David-Jones) as they face off against the Deathstroke Gang, led by JJ Diggle (as in John and Lyla’s son). In a fun hat tip to the pilot, the opening of the season begins with them, cloaked in green, running through the forest on Lian Yu.
While the flash forwards were somewhat of a distraction the first few episodes, in “Present Tense,” everything pays off as the next generation are rocketed into the past, then go on a mission with their dad to Russia in “Prochnost.” While the Russia mission was definitely another trip into Oliver’s past and a way to tie up all the Bratva storylines, these episodes also become a fun attempt for Oliver to pass the torch. There’s training. There are tears.
Oh, and they’re trying to steal some plutonium because it could potentially be used in a weapon to fight The Monitor. Well, he and his Harbinger, revealed to be Lyla Michaels, don’t take that lightly. In order to teach Oliver to stop trying to fight his fate, they send him on an endless loop of a day in “Reset” where he and Laurel fail over and over in preventing the death of Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne).
Finally learning to heel to Mar Novu’s direction, Oliver finds himself, and the rest of Team Arrow, back on Lian Yu in “Purgatory.” The island’s energy is causing ghosts from the past to appear, and could be used to fight the upcoming Crisis. Lyla leads a team to try to build a weapon to harness the island’s power while our heroes line up in an epic battle and take on the bad guys.
This season, so far, has been possibly the best of the entire series. Certainly it is the best since some of the early seasons. The intensity and knowledge that they have to leave it all out on the field is palpable. Every crazy thing they can possibly think of is thrown and the wall, and most of it sticks.
The best part of all is that the plot is all in service of advancing the characters and their broader journey. All of these characters are growing in different ways. Oliver especially has one on an incredible journey, even this season. It’s been fun to watch, and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this show.