Arrow Season Finale Review: "Sacrifice"

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There have been so many different ideas about what the Arrow season finale would bring. But "Sacrifice" pretty much blew them and most of the predictions about what we've been tossing around about Season 2 and kicked them out on their respective asses.

For the many stumbles that Arrow Season 1 suffered as it found its footing in the earlier episodes, it delivered one of the best freshman finales I can think of in recent years. It was simply phenomenal. 

Arrow Season Finale Scene

Beginning where we left off with last week's "Darkness on the Edge of Town," Malcolm had Oliver artfully strung up (shirtless, as we all found to be most appropriate) and was explaining to him something we discussed in a recent Round Table: Why Malcolm was able to take Oliver down so easily. Far be it from Malcolm not to kindly give us the answer we so eagerly sought.

You can't beat me, Oliver. Yes, you're younger and you're faster, yet you always come up short against me. Wanna know why? Because you don't know, in your heart, what you're fighting for. What you're willing to sacrifice. And I do. | permalink

It was if the writers were sitting around the table and they KNEW we wanted the answer to that question, would be rubbing our foreheads and trying to determine what it was that set them apart. I daresay we didn't come to that conclusion in our discussion, but it was a beautiful line. 

If only I believed it. 

The longer the hour progressed, the more clear it became that everyone had something to fight for and a reason to sacrifice their lives, a deep seated reason to do what they were doing - everybody except Malcolm.

Oliver told Tommy he's always known what kind of man his father was and he still had time do something to stop him. Tommy's response? "I wish you had died on that island." We know that's not true, and we later heard it from his lips, but the sting to Oliver was just as real.

It was shortly thereafter that Malcolm pushed his son away, proving that he was fighting for nothing but hateful vengeance against a bunch of unknown people who walked by his wife on a sidewalk many years before. He was fighting against his hatred for a neighborhood that turned a blind eye to his wife as she lay dying and couldn't even eek out the courage to fight for the love and acceptance of his son in the present. That's when I knew he would lose the fight.

If you were like me, you were waiting for that romantic moment that would help us to understand why Oliver and Laurel were a couple to root for. It arrived here. What Oliver said to her was beautiful, and the scene was beautifully shot as well. The island didn't change him, it scraped away all of the parts of him that he wasn't, but that Laurel had seen all along. Now, he tells her:

Nobody in my life is who I thought they were, except for you. | permalink

Yes, it finally makes sense. Why he would cling to who she was, why she loved him and why they were always especially drawn to each other. I think Tommy saw some of that same man in Oliver that Laurel saw and that's what kept their friendship alive despite their constant struggle for the girl, the recognition, the life of the other.

The finale was so aptly named, as nearly every character made a sacrifice, either in the episode or referenced in the past. Here's a list of all the sacrifices I could track.

  • Lance threw away his career to save lives by exposing his dealings with the vigilante. 
  • Robert sacrificed himself so Oliver could live.
  • Moira wanted to sacrifice thousands so Oliver and Thea could live, but instead sacrificed her freedom to save them by exposing Malcolm.
  • Oliver was willing to sacrifice himself for the city.
  • Malcolm sacrificed his relationship with his son to carry out his vendetta against a flock of innocents he felt responsible for the murder of his wife.
  • Felicity stayed behind to man the control station to walk Detective Lance through disabling the earthquake device, willing to sacrifice her life for the city.
  • Roy couldn't leave the people of his neighborhood behind, and stayed behind to help them.
  • Tommy gave up his life to save the woman he loved by freeing Laurel from the rubble of her building.

I'm sure there were more, but it became almost crazy as the heroes of our story pulled out of themselves strength they didn't even know they had inside of themselves.

Just when you think this review is over, there is still more to discuss. I'm going to try to frame what is left in terms of what it means to next season because this finale threw us for such a loop.

I'm surprised that they weren't able to save the day; not completely anyway. Malcolm had a contingency plan. It was nice of him to tell Oliver before he died. And it appears he's dead. Along with his son. 

The Merlyns are no more. The Dark Archer won't be an issue for Oliver and Tommy isn't going to go dark and vengeful due to the death of his father at Oliver's hands - because Oliver told him, just before he died, that he let Malcolm live. One more kindness for the best friend Oliver ever had.

Moira was arrested for her part in the Undertaking and whether Malcolm's death and lair will make her case easier to defend or more difficult will be something we'll learn next season.

Quentin lost his job because he helped the vigilante. I wonder if that will somehow impact Laurel's decision to join forces with Oliver as the Black Canary and they'll all become a part of a team to fight a new corrupt force that will arise... or if there was always another around and we've just been more concerned with that lead by Malcolm. 

The scenes on the island should take a new direction as they are our three survivors, Oliver, Slade and Shado are left to fend for themselves in a new way, without a force of evil directly at their back. 

I'm blown away, almost as much as the town was jolted, by the way the finale unfolded. Share your thoughts on the finale, and what you think season 2 will bring, especially now that the Dark Archer is no longer a threat.


Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (270 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Finaly was good. But I don't like the way Oliver's sister is behaving. She should be a total brat or a sensible girl. But she is snapping at everybody like she is a grandma.. totally ridiculous. Acting wasn't great on season 1. Hoping to see much more improved performance in s02 and maybe addition of some new blood to the show will be the answer.
And please introduce a cool bad guy like Lex Luthor in Smallville.


I would give this show a 3.5 rating. I have to say that the vigilante stuff is cool on, but when it comes to the lines and the narration, it's total barf material. Cliched, cheezy, tacky, overreaching, unnecessary, out-of-place are some words that come to mind.I don't think that Oliver's voice, while narrating, has enough grit to it to fit the tone of the show. Every time I hear the narration, I think "great, they are trying to pull a Dexter again except it's not working." In ep.1, I think the line Oliver used with her was "I kept (the arrowhead with Chinese writing) in hopes that I would someday..." Who uses words like "in hopes that." Someone was always trying to teach someone a lesson about who they should be and how they should conduct themselves which was patronizing to me as a viewer. I couldn't stand the way Speedy spoke. Hello, 17 year old girls are just not that mature. Giving advice to someone (Tommy) who is at least 6 years older than you just doesn't make sense.


That was some great writing for the finale! I truly expected Laurel to be the one to die, because that would cause Tommy to morph into full vendetta man against Oliver. Also - it looks as though Roy is slowly turning into The Robin to Oliver's Batman, doesn't it? There's only one reason I think Malcolm may still be alive: the writers will want Moira to testify against him, and she'll get full immunity so that she can stay in the show. Somehow I doubt Oliver lied to Tommy when he told him he didn't kill Malcolm - especially when Tommy was dying: just doesn't ring true to this character.


First, Detective Lance was suspended not fired. He still has a job. Second, there's no way we've seen the last of the Dark Archer. Somehow someway one of those Merlyn's survived.


Wow that was completely fucking stupid! It was a freaking earthquake! If everyone got to a field or something solid they would have been fine! Its not like it was a bomb! No wonder there is so much crime in the Glades; everyone is completely incompetent! Poor story writing!!!


Well my only problem with this is the old cliche of leaving the guy you've just tied up completely alone in a room, especially when you know what hes capable of.


once Tommy saw Ollie and Laurel doing the horizontal bop, I knew he was toast - the only way they could get together is without Tommy.
Why do the writers make laurel looked like a Freakin Fool - running around picking up paper files after hearing the whole place collapse is supreme idiocy (that's idiocy plus sour cream and cheese). I know there was big bucks in creating the physical scenes of the collapse, and they need to give it screen time to justify the cost, but making the Dedicated Public Lawyer into a dimwit ignoramus with a good support bra is So Benny Hill.


What I want to know is did Steven Moffat have something to do with writing this episode?


I'm thinking that is Merlin Sr leaving on his helicopter, as the credits roll?


I don't know I found this very boring. I was sad Tommy was killed and I don't believe his dad is dead. I am getting tired of the island stuff. Showing the island from time to time if fine but not needed every week. Stay more in the present and not the island so much next season for me. I think it was a very good season and looking forward to next season. Hey Invested In Your the Snow White!

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Arrow Season 1 Episode 23 Quotes

I take back every joke I made about you sticking a tracking device in your boot.


You can't beat me, Oliver. Yes, you're younger and you're faster, yet you always come up short against me. Wanna know why? Because you don't know, in your heart, what you're fighting for. What you're willing to sacrifice. And I do.