Arrow has been saying goodbye a while now. We said goodbye at the end of season seven. We’ve been saying goodbye throughout season eight. The crisis gave us a farewell twice. And now, ‘Fadeout’ bides us a goodbye one last time.
We begin as we always do, with Oliver Queen. Hearing words on his journey to become the Green Arrow. Then we shift to a familiar scene that’s not so familiar. Shade Wilson standing in front of Moira Queen. Only this time Oliver saves his mother, one of the changes he’s made in this new universe. We learn soon enough Moira isn’t the only person resurrected post-crisis. Quentin Lance, Tommy Merlyn, and Emiko Queen are all alive and well on Earth-Prime.
‘Emerald Archer’ the documentary on Oliver and vigilantes (also known as the 150th Arrow episode) returns with new interviews post-Oliver’s-death, the documentary now shifting to a memorial. Team Arrow is stilted in this new crime-free Star City. What use are heroes in a city that no longer needs them? Diggle especially is holding on to Oliver’s mission not being over.
As this is the Arrow series finale we couldn’t end without a flashback and now that we are at the end when better to look back on than be the beginning, Starling City 2012. Oliver and Diggle don’t trust each other yet and Diggle is trying desperately to pull Oliver away from his murderous tendencies.
On the other side of the timeline, in 2040, Sara accidentally breaks into the Queen Mansion to bring Mia back to 2020. This Mia is post-her-first-Green-Arrow-0uting so she’s had her alternate timeline memories restored and post William getting kidnapped in front of her, which it’s been weeks for her since that occurred. Using the Arrow bunker she tries to channel her best Felicity, maybe hoping the past could give her clues as to who took her brother in the future. She’s barely put on the hood and mask and already feels like she’s failing. Dinah barely gets through the ‘your father would be proud speech’ before the bunker picks up an alert 2020’s William just got kidnapped too. Despite being reset the universe still loves its ironies.
When one of their own is in danger they get the whole gang back together. And I mean the whole gang, including some faces we haven’t seen a while like Rory aka Ragman. And of course the return of Felicity Smoak. They divide and conquer which has the added benefit of letting us catch up with everyone. Rory and Rene catch up (the power returned to Rory’s rags) and Rory points out something that hasn’t been obvious Rene, one of the reasons he and Oliver push against each other so much was because they were so similar. Lyla’s desperate to find William because after Oliver put their family back together how could they return that favour by not find his son. Thea and Roy take a moment to talk about their relationship and Roy proposes. On her own, Mia finds William and the man who kidnapped him.
Flashing back to the past we see Oliver face off against John Byrne (one of the many names from his father’s list) and his small personal army, in what is one of the most impressive fight sequences in the series. They certainly went out on a high note. But crossing off this name didn’t mean putting a man down. Oliver, maybe for the first time, listened to Diggle, let the law administer justice instead of doing it himself.
In the present Byrne is out of prison wants revenge by throwing William off the very roof Oliver caught him. Mia refuses to kill him taking her older (though now younger) brother back. In the bunker, Felicity is seeing her adult daughter for the first time, which is as disorientating as it should be when she just left baby Mia at home.
With the plot of both present and flashback wrapped up its time to start ticking off everyone’s epilogues. Thea’s answer to Roy is yes, as long he doesn’t freak out her again. Laurel is feeling guilt that everyone else in Oliver’s life returned except the Laurel she’s not. She doesn’t understand why she’s still there instead of their Laurel, but Quentin doesn’t need that question answered. Any Laurel is his Laurel. The Arrow Bunker, now cleaned out, hosts one final Team Arrow talk. Diggle’s finally accepting Oliver’s journey is over and so too is the need for the bunker. He and his family are moving to Metropolis for a job promotion for Lyla. Rene and Dinah are moving on as well. Rene by running for mayor, Dinah by moving to a city that could use a hero (though we know those plans get interrupted by some timey-whimey shenanigans soon after she leaves). We take one final look at the bunker before the lights go off.
Star City and Mayor Lance honour Oliver with a statue to the Green Arrow. Then we shift to his funeral where his family and friends gather. There are meetings and reunions that wouldn’t have been able to happen without Oliver’s sacrifice. Emiko meeting Thea. Tommy and Earth-2’s Laurel (dropping the fact he was married to Earth-1’s Laurel). Sara seeing Nyssa and meeting Thalia. And, of course, Felicity meeting Mia. Diggle’s eulogy is cut over our heroes heading off onto their own paths, including a scene of Diggle getting something green and hopefully ring-shaped.
The final scenes begin in 2040, picking up the thread from the season seven finale with the Monitor taking Felicity into the unknown. The unknown turns out to be the office at Queen Consolidated. Felicity appears there, picks up a red pen from the table as she looks at a picture of Robert and Oliver. And then we see Oliver himself look oh so happy. With the promise of their forever the camera pulls out from the hero who started it all.
Sometimes an ending is a beginning. Sometimes it’s just an end. A goodbye. A fadeout. Endings tend to bring with them reflection. A look back on the long journey to this point. A glance forward to all the potentials on the horizon now that a chapter comes to a close. Arrow’s finale is an ending. But it’s also not. This world, this universe began with Oliver Queen. But it doesn’t end with him. Yet, as Diggle says it’s a little less bright without him in it.
If I had to sum this finale up in one word I’d say fanservice which shouldn’t be taken a bad way. Perhaps it was the safe bet, bringing back familiar faces and taking their stories where we’ve wanted or expected them to go. The series wouldn’t have felt complete if we hadn’t seen most of these faces one last time. Emily Bett Rickards first among that list. She has been sorely missed this season. It was expected yet still fitting she and Oliver got their happy ending. They gave their lives for their family and their world and their happiness is earned. Her kids are grown when she leaves, but they’re not alone. They have each other, they have their family and they have Oliver and Felicity friends to look out for them.
Speaking of happy endings, Thea and Roy’s engagement has always felt inevitable. They came together so early on, all the way in season one it seems like a lifetime ago. In a way, it was for them. They both changed and grew, sometimes apart, sometimes together. They died and were revived. Anything less than them ending up together wouldn’t have been closure.
It was a genuine surprise and delight to see so many faces returning. Oliver’s sacrifice will always be bittersweet. He gave up everything so his kids would have a world to grow in knowing he wouldn’t be there to see them grow. But knowing his family and friends who were once lost will be able to be there in his place softens the blow. Seeing everyone one last time (or maybe not one last time if Green Arrow and The Canaries continue their stories) was truly the best send-off.
Diggle carried this episode, which is saying something because everyone brought their A-game here. But he reminded everyone why he became Oliver’s moral compass. And why a green lantern ring would choose him, because yes the episode gave us one of the most fanservice moments and gave John Diggle a power ring. Is it ever going to get mentioned again? Will we see him in a power suit on another show in the future? Maybe not. But we can rest easy knowing Dig will continue being a hero, in brightest day or darkest night.
We may be saying goodbye to Oliver and Arrow, but we get to see their stories carry on in the universe they helped create.
Some Stray Shots
- I remember sitting down as a teenager to watch the pilot. Now being here at the end is surreal. I know it’s been said time and time again Arrow paved the way, but it really did. Some of my favourite characters exist because of Arrow. One of my favourite shows exists because of Arrow. It has left a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten.
- Its a little funny how Sara’s appearances/mentions on Arrow she’s almost like a mythic figure taking people from one point of the timeline to another as the plot needs.
- John Diggle finally did the salmon ladder. Really the series could not end without the salmon ladder getting one last hurrah.
- The funeral was sad and mournful then the Al Ghul sisters mentioned that time Nyssa and Oliver were forced to marry and I burst out laughing.
- Sara, Kara, and Barry were at the funeral as Oliver’s friends, but it’s a little like Legends, Supergirl and Flash were standing in their vigil for Arrow.