Arrow "Schism" (Season Finale REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Impending doom for what must be the worst city to live in the Arrowverse? Crazed megalomaniac primed to turn Star City into crater? Guy in a green costume trying to counteract magic powers with a bow and arrow… must be May!
Arrow’s fourth season comes to a close, and for a season that gave me as a viewer equal parts elation and disappointment, it ends almost predictably. But before I get into my thoughts, let’s recap a bit of what’s been going on. The last episode saw Felicity and co successfully halt Damien Darhk’s control of Rubicon, but only to end with Darhk making an impromptu house-call to the loft. Still hell bent on laying the earth to waste, Darhk is visibly shaken in the wake of Ruvé’s death.
After a short fight where predictably Darhk stops arrows mid flight, uses magic powers etc… the whole exchange is broken up when Thea threatens to kill Darhk’s daughter if he doesn’t release Oliver from his magical grasp.
Cue the first part of everything unraveling…
When all is said and done, Darhk swipes Felicity’s computer… in effect… giving him the ability to control Rubicon again. You’d think that getting his daughter back, Damien Darhk would just up and leave and give up on his mad plan to destroy the world… but that would make sense and if I learned anything from about half this season it’s that “making sense” and “Arrow” do not go hand-in-hand. Still set to destroy the world, Darhk follows through… unleashing 15,000 nukes all at once.
Outside of his hood and bow, Oliver Queen responds to ongoing looting and destruction. After a rousing speech which played up such fan-favorite moments like “working together” and “having hope” plus being incredibly good-looking, somehow he rallies the people of Star City to start woking together. That’s all well and good if it was even slightly believable. By this point in the episode, I was still watching solely to review it… but as far as any emotional connection to the finale goes… I was more than bored… I was pissed. Season finales are supposed to be full of exciting moments, the culmination of everything the season has built up for the viewer… but in the case of Arrow, there was zero tension. The big villainous reveal was the Darhk was still going to destroy everything? Way to go Arrow, you’ve turned your season finale into a formula! You’d think that after three years of three separate terrorist attacks, they would think of a new way to end Arrow, but if #itMustBeMay is going to mean anything, you can count on May to bring you flowers, Memorial day, and an Arrow season finale that follows a tired formula that should have been given up last year.
I’m still pissed that they killed off Laurel Lance… I don’t know if it was to appease the Tumblr crowd who stands so adamantly behind a character like Felicity Smoak to be the love interest.
The biggest eye-roll moment for me came at the end, during the final battle with Darhk. With the city once again believing in hope, they rally behind the Green Arrow. Much like how the deaths of the people in Monument Point fueled Darhk, the hope of Star City’s denizens fuel Oliver to counteract Darhk’s magic… looks like Damien Darhk is going to have to do it the old fashioned way… with fisticuffs. At this point, he decided to remind Oliver that he was once a member of the League of Assassins… a fact that while canon doesn’t reflect well in the final act, instead of being like two highly trained fighters… well versed in many forms of hand-to-hand combat, this ends up being a you-punch-me-I-punch-you-rinse-and-repeat fight. I mean, did Arrow fire their fight choreographer the day before filming this? Did they try to cut costs and instead grabbed a random white-belt from a local community center to play at being a fight coordinator? This last battle was boring and incredibly derivative.
Remember the stupidest part from The Dark Knight Rises? No not Bane’s silly voice, no not Talia al Ghul, no not Batman’s silly voice… I’m talking about the big battle at the end when the cops rush into a Braveheart like battle against Bane’s forces. This was like the budget version of that, the citizens of Star City stand by the Green Arrow while Darhk’s Ghosts join in opposition. But wait, don’t the Ghosts have heavy weaponry? Apparently they all make the conscious decision to fight the citizens of Star City hand to hand… why shoot when you can punch a guy, right?
The flashbacks had no semblance of closure, the girl dies… Reiter dies… Ollie gets picked up. End of story. Fuck, I’m getting annoyed thinking about it again.
This finale was awful, there are no bones about it. This was the worst way to end a show I still love and want to continue to love. There were so many plot holes I can barely wrap my head around them all. How does Oliver manage to channel the power of “hope,” why do Darhk’s powers go completely limp, where the fuckity-fuck do thousands of nukes go mid flight? It’s like this episode was intentionally trying to be bad. I’m still waiting for it all to be like a dream or may be just as a means for Barry to reset it all in the Arrowverse version of Flashpoint.
There is no final reveal that keeps you excited for next season. On The Flash we got Flashpoint, on Legends of Tomorrow we get the Justice Society of America, but on Arrow we get Oliver and Felicity looking at a wall of costumes. One positive I can point out is how it seems to mirror the end of season 3. Diggle, Thea, and Captain Lance all leave Star City. Oliver, now the interim Mayor, stays behind with none other than Felicity Smoak to keep him company. The parallels to last season’s end were nice, but the way we got to that end was sloppy and frankly the stuff of shitty B-movies on SyFy. This was not a good episode, this was an awful episode and in my humblest of opinions… the worst episode of Arrow in the entire four years it has been on the air.
Schism fits as the title of this episode, and frankly as the theme of entire season. Oliver was at war with two sides of himself, and frankly it felt like this season was at war with itself... never really finding the groove that makes the show so great. The only hope I can have is that next season can’t be worse than this… right? But the fact remains, you have failed this city.