This post contains spoilers for Arrow.
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“Lean in to the best parts of yourself. Your loyalty. Your selflessness. Your courage. Your compassion. You are living proof that people can change, and you have to find a way to see that in her too.”
Hello, emotional gut-punch of an episode! Arrow’s penultimate snuck up on us, but it didn’t let us forget that we’re in finale territory once things kick off. Last week Emiko framed the entirety of Team Arrow and then dropped a building on them. Green Arrow, separated from the rest of his team, finds himself having hallucinations of long-dead best friend Tommy Merlyn. There’s a whole lot of psychological reasons Oliver could have seen Tommy, but the two the episode chooses to focus on are the fact that Ollie finds himself in a very similar scenario to the one that ultimately resulted in his best friend’s death, as well as the tiny issue of him contemplating murder again.
There’s something Peak Oliver Queen about him looking Tommy Merlyn in the eye (hallucination or no) and telling him that there’s no other way than to kill Emiko. Dude’s literally the reason you stopped killing in the first place but sure, pop off I guess. The majority of “Living Proof” focuses on the team getting out of the crumbling building, up to and including Roy almost killing himself with noxious gas to ensure the rest of the team can get to safety.
Once they do find an exit, Oliver is faced with a choice: Kill Emiko, or get his team out before the building explodes. Last season this paragraph would end with me ranting for four sentences about how Arrow is incapable of making progress. Last season it wouldn’t have been some fake-out dream sequence, and he really would have just killed his sister and cleaned up the mess later. But it’s not last season, it’s not the same team, and this is finally not the same Oliver Queen. After snapping out of the dream, the hallucination is able to convince him that breaking the cycle of violence is the only choice.
And so Team Arrow makes it out. They make it to the bunker with their lives, but are in no way off the hook. Emiko raided the bunker earlier on in the episode, and it wasn’t just to say hello to her sister-in-law and unborn niece. She needs a couple of arrows to really help seal the coffin on the vigilantes of Star City. A quick costume change and a department full of slaughtered cops do the trick, no problem! The SCPD has fallen, and it was Team Arrow that led the slaughter.
After all that, the only thing Emiko wasn’t expecting was her brother’s refusal to kill her. She no longer has any purpose other than making his life hell, and her job is done in that respect. Everything Team Arrow’s built is shattered, and our glimpses into the future tell us that nothing’s going to change in the season finale. At least not in the present.
The future is a different question entirely. Galaxy One reveals their ZETA super soldier program while the Queen family suffers from some domestic drama. The issues between William and Felicity are both earned and valid, and also happen to land William trapped in the office of the man who’s pulling all of the strings. Rene stumbling upon the meeting will work out to their advantage, but for now they’re stuck in a pretty tight spot!
Next week is the finale, and presumably the last time we’ll see Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity outside of flashbacks and an off cameo. I’m currently in deep denial that’s all happening. You know what to do if you had thoughts on this week’s episode while we wait!