'Arrow's Season 5 Finale Brings Oliver's Journey Full Circle and Ends on a Jaw-Dropping Cliffhanger
By Meredith B. Kile
Photo: The CW
Warning: Spoiler alert! Do not proceed if you haven’t watched Arrow’s epic season five finale!
Did Arrow just kill, um, everyone?!
The CW’s OG superhero drama came full circle on Wednesday's season finale, returning Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) -- and literally every other person in his life -- back to Lian Yu, the deadly island in the South China Sea where, five years ago, a shipwrecked playboy emerged as the vigilante that would become the Green Arrow.
Oliver and his motley crew of enemies-turned-allies -- Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), Digger Harkness (Nick E. Tarabay) and Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) -- traveled to the island in pursuit of the Green Arrow’s actual friends and loved ones, all of whom were being held as pawns in Adrian Chase’s twisted game of vengeance. After a double cross or two, an unexpected sacrifice (Merlyn, in his one and only act as a selfless father) and a few epic fight scenes -- including a face-off between Black Canaries past and present, Earth-2 Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy), and a good old-fashioned family throwdown between the al Ghul girls -- everyone is free, save for Oliver’s son, William (Jack Moore).
Oh yeah, except for the fact that the entire island is wired with explosives.
Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Curtis (Echo Kellum) don’t have the equipment to disarm all the bombs, so the team, joined by William’s mother, Samantha (Anna Hopkins), ends up in a race against the clock to try and salvage a sabotaged plane before getting word about an ARGUS ship on the other side of the island.
Oliver, William and Chase (Josh Segarra) end up on a boat off the coast of Lian Yu at episode’s end, just as the series’ flashbacks finally catch up with the Oliver Queen that fans met way back in the Arrow pilot -- a mangled, matted man in a green hood, finally saved from his island purgatory by what we now know was a not-so-random fishing boat. (In a truly delightful and heartbreaking surprise, Susanna Thompson reprises her role as Moira Queen, so fans can watch the tearjerking scene when a rescued Oliver first calls his mother after five long years.)
After revealing that he’s been wired to a kill switch that’s linked with every bomb on the island, Chase offers up the paramount ultimatum: Oliver can save his son by killing Chase, which will not only prove that he’s the murderer Chase has always accused him of being, but doom everyone on the island, or he can let Chase kill his son, proving something much worse.
In true superhero fashion. Oliver maneuvers his way around the offer, injuring Chase enough to free William from his clutches. But the deranged villain has a failsafe ready for every option, and, just as Oliver’s father did while floating in the same murky water a decade earlier, he puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. (As Slade astutely points out earlier in the episode, “Kid, when it comes to you, everything has to do with your father.”)
“We really did want to, this season, build a villain that would be a dark mirror for Oliver, in the tradition of the comic books,” Arrow EP Wendy Mericleexplained of Chase, aka Prometheus, on a conference call with reporters earlier this year. “Really honoring that and also honoring Oliver’s path on the show, and specifically, the first season. They’ve both suffered losses and they both answer those losses in very different ways.”
By season’s end, it appears that Oliver’s losses may only continue to grow. The bombs go off all over Lian Yu, setting the island ablaze, and we’ve no way of knowing what that means for those presumably left behind.
So what happens next? Everyone’s not dead, right? What happens to Felicity and the “no regrets” kiss she shared with Oliver before they parted ways? What about poor Thea (Willa Holland), who just lost her third parental figure in a decade? What about Digg (David Ramsey), who’s got a wife and kid back home who have both been through enough already? What about Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) and Rene (Rick Gonzalez) and Curtis and Samantha and Dinah and Nyssa and Slade and even Laurel and Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin)?
Could anyone have possibly survived those blasts? Did they figure out how to fix the plane or make it to the boat? What the heck happened?!
Back in January, Mericle told ET that Arrow’s creative team was looking at their upcoming sixth season as a “fresh, clean slate,” now that the flashbacks have caught up with the first season of the show.
“We’ve closed this chapter on the first five seasons, and it’s going to be time to start looking at new ways of writing the show and exploring different structures as well,” she explained. “We’re a little bit freed up by not having to do the flashbacks, as well, which is actually really refreshing and exciting.”
Arrow will return this fall on The CW, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.