ARROW Recap: “Unthinkable”

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Catch your breath, it’s all over.  The surprisingly consistent and always entertaining second season of The CW’s Arrow is now complete.  There were quite a few pieces still in play when last we left Team Arrow, with Starling City burning down around them, and likely ruined for good either by Slade’s marauding army or the missile-happy drones of A.R.G.U.S.  While the final hour, “Unthinkable,” did a grand job of wrapping up the major plot arcs of the season at large in a wholly satisfying way, it also managed to advance a number of smaller roles that served as teases for the anticipated third season.  Hit the jump for my Arrow recap to see how it all ended, and where we go from here. 

arrow-unthinkableThese last three episodes were essentially three acts in a mega-finale, with this most recent hour serving as the closer to end all closers.  The management of screentime and pacing was admirable, especially since the chaotic atmosphere of a city on fire was felt throughout the last three hours, while there was still time set aside for necessary character moments.  And boy did we have quite a few!  Let’s get into it.

With anarchy ruling in the city around them (and Slade’s soldiers advancing up the tower’s steps from below), Team Arrow could sure use a hand.  Luckily, the writers finally give the good guys some help, in the form of A.R.G.U.S. soldier and Diggle’s love interest Lyla (who proves to be the Harbinger of doom for a group of Mirakuru soldiers), plus Nyssa al Ghul and her merry band of assassins.  Oh, and remember Roy?  The poor guy who’s been lying unconscious on a table for the last few episodes?  Well he comes to, just in time to don a red version of Arrow’s mask and fight the good fight.  Now that the team knows the S.T.A.R. Labs cure works, they load up on injection arrows and share the wealth with the assassins, with the specific orders not to kill anyone.  This is a theme that Ollie has struggled with throughout the season, not just internally, but externally as well, as his allies have been occasionally bloodthirsty.  And not to put to fine a point on it (ha!) but we’re reminded of this season-long theme once again when Nyssa puts Ravager to death by her blade when the league storms Slade’s headquarters.

arrow-unthinkable-paul-blackthorneJust when it looks like the team has the upper hand, Quentin Lance joins up with them (after putting up a fight…) to inform them that Slade has kidnapped Laurel in order to draw Oliver out.  In a surprise move, Oliver opts to protect the city first, Laurel second.  Team Arrow and the League mow through the Mirakuru soldiers in a tunnel filled with abandoned cars, letting the cure arrows do the work and making relatively quick work of them.  Everyone (even Quentin!) gets a hero moment in one of the best action sequences on television to date.

Even in all that adrenaline-fueled excitement, the finale took some time to share in some tender moments between lovers.  Let’s break those down, shall we?

  • Roy calls Thea to apologize for everything, confesses his love to her back at his apartment, and tells her he has one last thing to do before they’ll run away together forever.
  • Diggle and Lyla exchange a very efficient “I love you” before busting into A.R.G.U.S. HQ to free Deadshot and other criminals in an effort to stall Amanda Waller’s drone strike.
  • Oliver takes Felicity back to the Queen Mansion in order to keep her safe, where he confesses his love for her … wait, what?!

arrow-unthinkable-manu-bennett-emily-bett-rickardsYes, this was a nice bit of writing that gave shippers of Oliver and Felicity that moment they’ve been waiting for without actually committing to a relationship that would certainly complicate things. (Plus, it was a little awkward, no?)  As you may have guessed, it was all part of a plan to get Felicity kidnapped herself so that she could get close enough to Slade to plunge the cure into his neck.  And now that Slade’s no longer suped up…

This fight between Arrow and Deathstroke was what the entire season had been leading up to, and while it was cleverly paired almost shot for shot with their flashback fight aboard the Amazo, it looked like they had simply run out of gas.  Sure, the fight carried them from the bowels of a steamy industrial facility to the rooftop of the selfsame factory, so perhaps there were lots of weapon duels and Parkour stunts along the way, but for the big final fight, it lacked that knockout punch.  No biggie.  Oliver’s decision with what to do with Slade when he ultimately defeated him was really what the season was pointing at the entire time.

This season, Ollie’s been focused on one of two options on how to deal with Slade: Kill him or cure him.  There was a great shot of Ollie aboard the Amazo (just after Sara got sucked out into the bay, whoops!) where he held an arrow in one hand and the cure syringe in the other.  We know he favored the eye-gouging arrow in the past, and we now know he managed to deliver the cure in the present.  Unfortunately, Slade is cured of his super powers, but not his insanity.  And that’s only going to get worse now that he’s locked up in an A.R.G.U.S. supermax prison in the purgatory of, drumroll please, the island!  This is really the best writing decision with how to ultimately handle Slade, because you don’t want Ollie to turn into a cold-blooded killer after struggling against it all season.  You also don’t want to burn the bridge that leads to Manu Bennett and this nutzo character he’s embodied, who’s only going to grow more obsessed with torturing the Arrow.  Maybe he’ll break free just in time to torment some Teen Titans who break ground for their tower on the island…

arrow-unthinkable-katrina-lawWith all of that action happening in the A plot, there was a curious little side plot going on with Thea Queen and her actual father, Malcolm Merlyn.  Turns out, yeah, she actually shot Malcolm at the end of last week’s episode, but he survived thanks to the miracle of Kevlar.  After telling her how proud he was of her strength and resolve, he warned Thea that Roy was just like everyone else in her life that had let her down.  Apparently he gets through to her, because Thea packs her things to leave (including her old bow and quiver of arrows…) and takes off, leaving a tear-jerking note behind for Roy.  (At least Roy’s free to continue his training as the Red Arrow now.)  It was a strange little side story, but there wasn’t much else for Thea to do with the way things had been going, so it’s much more interesting to align her with Merlyn.  We’ll see where that story takes us going forward.

Speaking of going forward, there were a few additional teases at the end of the episode that we’ll have to wait until season three to find out more about.  First and foremost, is Quentin okay??  I was worried about him coming into this episode because he’s gotten some really heroic lines and scenes lately, so of course we last see him lying on the docks and suffering from some pretty severe injuries.  Is there a prolonged coma in his future? Did Blackthorne play hardball with his contract?

Another teaser happened in the final moments of the episode.  Many of you have expressed fatigue over the island sequences.  Congratulations!  The island storyline is pretty much done. But Ollie didn’t just drift from the island to the shores of Starling City.  No, apparently A.R.G.U.S. picked him up in between and deposited him in Hong Kong. So … yeah.  I don’t really know what this means for the third season flashback structure, so if you have a clue from the comics, feel free to share in the comments below.  All in all, this has been a reliably entertaining season with solid writing, incredible action, lots of fan service regarding relationships and comic book mythology, and surprises at every turn.  I have no doubt that season three is going to be every bit as rewarding, I just don’t want to wait that long to be proven correct.

Episode Grade: A-

Season Grade: A

Quips & Quivers:

arrow-unthinkable-summer-glau-caity-lotzMalcolm: “Thea, it’s called Kevlar.”

Felicity: “Jeeze, Sara, you could have called before you invited 3, 4, 5 … 7 assassins into our headquarters.”

Sara: “To fight the unthinkable, you have to be willing to do the unthinkable.”  That title didn’t really do it for me until Felicity used it at the end to test Oliver’s feelings for her.

Malcolm to Thea: “When you need me, I’ll be there.” Whenever you call me, I’ll be there, I’ll be around!

Nyssa: “Your reluctance to do what is necessary is why your city burns.”

Quentin: “You’ve killed before. Tonight, I suggest you get back in the habit.”

Oliver: “Slade took Laurel because he wants to kill the woman I love.” Felicity: “I know, but …” Oliver: “He took the wrong woman. I love you.”

Love is in the air! And as we all know, that leads to babies. Good work, Diggle!

Arrow: “No kill shots. Let the cure do the work.”

Slade: “You can kill me, or not. Either way, I win.”

Nyssa: “I know the power of a father’s love, and I would die before I let anything happen to your daughter.” Quentin: “Here’s hoping.”

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Farewell, Sara Lance! We hardly knew ye!

Quentin: “That jacket … don’t get any ideas.” Do we think Laurel will take on the mantle of the Black Canary at any point?

Slade: “That’s your weakness, kid. You don’t have the guts to kill me.” Oliver: “No, I have the strength to let you live.”

Oliver: “You helped me become a hero, Slade. Thank you.” – Oliver thanking Slade has to be just the worst kind of torture for that guy.

Slade: “I keep my promises!”

Oliver: “This battle may be over, but there will be others.”

Felicity: “I have a question, if you spent five years on that island, when did you learn how to fly a plane?”  Good question, Felicity…

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