This post contains spoilers for the series finale of Arrow.
When the time comes for a big ending, we’re prone to fall back on phrases like “it’s the end of an era.” Endings suck. They’re sad, often disappointing, and no one likes saying goodbye. The thing about the Arrow series finale is that it’s not so much an ending. It’s certainly a conclusion! Nearly everything is tied up in a nice little bow before the credits roll one final time. But the show's final episode focuses much harder on new beginnings than it does farewells.
I wish I could tell you that all of the episode works. If you watched the behind the scenes featurette that played before, they talk a bit about how they viewed all of Season 8 as the finale rather than just one episode. It was looked at as a sort of farewell tour, and in that sense it succeeds. Unfortunately, "Crisis on Infinite Earths" retconned quite a bit, and all of that needs to get sorted out in a quick forty minutes. Some cases are a little sloppier than others.
For instance, we replay Earth Prime Laurel’s death. In that moment, she tells Oliver that he’ll always be the love of her life. Not twenty minutes later, the resurrected Tommy tells Earth 2 Laurel that he and her doppelgänger were married. Meanwhile, Emiko has returned but still isn’t quite a member of the Queen family despite Moira being alive all this time. There’s also a pesky subplot where Mia Smoak has to save the present-day version of her big brother from a criminal the episode goes out of its way to show that Oliver spared eight years ago. What I’m saying is that there are a lot of peculiar choices made to justify the return of characters who are meant to be there at the finish line.
Those choices aside, the finale still works. I wouldn’t call it the best by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a sufficient “see you later” that manages to pack more than a few emotional punches. It also takes a few moments to prove that the series might be over, but it’s still got a few tricks up its sleeve.
As Star City and Team Arrow learn to adjust to a world without Oliver Queen, we take our time to pay our respects and tie up some loose ends. Joining Tommy Merlyn and Moira Queen on Team Resurrected is one Quentin Lance. He’s still the acting Mayor of Star City, still views Earth 2 Laurel as his daughter, and pays one hell of a tribute to his lost surrogate son. Then it’s time for a funeral.
Said funeral is where a large amount of the episode’s magic happens. Mia finally works up the courage to say hi to her mother in an interaction that will make me cry until the end of my days. Uncle Barry and Aunt Kara make their way to Star City now that everyone’s on one Earth. It’s a fitting nod, considering Oliver’s initial sacrifice. Finally, John Diggle learns how to say goodbye to his brother.
A lot of the conversation in the finale is focused on how Oliver Queen became a better man. The beauty of Arrow has always been how human it is – even if it does often take that humanity to an infuriating degree. There are times where the series was downright excruciating, and it took a long while for it to right its ship. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t eventually succeed. Oliver did become a better man. He showed that painfully flawed people can still be heroes. That they can claw past the broken versions of themselves they’ve hidden behind and turn that pain into power. And, most importantly, that they can use that pain to inspire others. It’s that focus that makes the finale a success in spite of all its rough parts, and the attention to that legacy really gets it to the finish line.
Waiting at that finish line are a hell of a lot of fireworks, too. Team Arrow finds itself splitting off into the distance. Rene remains to become Mayor of Star City, but the Diggle family and Dinah Drake all plan to head to Metropolis with the idea that there are still cities that need saving. Because nothing’s been “normal” in the Arrowverse since that time Barry Allen got struck by lightning, John Diggle’s departure is interrupted by him being struck by a meteor.
A meteor that contains a power ring of a certain green hue.
We’d gotten the Green Lantern tease ages ago, and many folks (myself included) expected it to come to fruition during "Crisis on Infinite Earths". Turns out they were just saving this tidbit to kick of Johnny’s next chapter. Obviously, there’s no news just yet. But I expect Dig called out Metropolis for a reason. Y’know, the city where Superman lives. The very same hero who just so happens to be getting his own show next season, in the very same universe that just stopped compartmentalizing their properties to an infuriating degree. What I’m saying here is that this is all very, very exciting stuff.
And then there was Olicity. Most of you have spent years reading my reviews for this show on this very website. You know exactly how much I love the character of Felicity Smoak. To me, she’s the one-off character who saved the series. She was only supposed to be there for an episode, and instead brought so much light and so much chemistry that she became an integral part of Arrow almost immediately. Love it or hate it, she and Oliver’s story has been critical to the series, and it got exactly the squishy, romantic, heart-felt ending that it deserved.
After all the pain, betrayals, deaths, breakups, rage, and tears, a simple “we have all the time in the world for me to talk to you,” is how their story ends as the two look out at their cozy new pocket universe. It’s sappy and maybe even a little saccharine and that was absolutely the correct way to close it out. They saved their city. Their time for all that hurt is over.
That’s it, y’all. Arrow’s finished. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye right as the show found its stride again, but they were right when they said it was time. Hopefully we’ll have some news on Green Arrow and the Canaries here soon. In the meantime, I want to know what you thought of the finale in the comments!