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+.


I Agree with most on here a amazing final and totally unexpected, i like most thought Tommy would be around in Season 2 but what a move to kill him off.
Personally i think thats going to throw a spanner in the relationship with Oliver and Laurel what with Tommy telling her he loves her and Oliver watching his best friend die!
Also can you believe the scene on the island where Oliver kills Fines i mean wow, and what does happen to Slade and Shado where do they go? i am looking forward to the answers!
Also who was the lady that ordered the whole blow up planes going to China plan? Are they the new big bad that attacks the city?
What ever the situation i am looking forward with anticipation for season 2 and what surprises the writers have instore for us.


This, This is what i call a Final. When I see other shows I find the final not bad but it also didn't blow my mind, but Arrow on the other hand they set the bar high on season 2. It was mind-blowing awesome epic final.
A shirtless stephen Amell always goes good in a episode, and I don't want Tommy to be death, but I think the merylin family is gone and there will be some greater power in seaon 2, maybe the guy that set everything up on the Island?
And the pilots of the commercial airline didn't see that explosion? weird.. Anyway this show keeps blowing my mind and has become one of my favorite, can't WAIT to see what season 2 has in store!

Chris k

This was extraordinary !!! I loved it ! I heard Scandal is going to be phenomenal too


I really like how the Arrow writers think. Never going to get a season ender pitch perfect, but for a season ender, this one had a surprising lack of epic badness that most writers seem obliged to dole out, I loved near every moment, every line.

Sarah silva

Personally I do not think Malcolm is dead.
I also have to mention how I love seeing Stephen Ammell doing stunts, etc. That scene where he hung upside and essentially "walked" up the chains to free himself was very cool to watch.

Sarah silva

Epic finale! One of the best season finales I have ever seen!
I am still trying to get over the fact that Tommy died. I did not want him to die. Going into the episode I was sure it was going to be Det Lance.
However when Tommy saw what his dad really was and did not want any part of it, I knew Malcolm would not be the one to die. I still did not think it would be Tommy, logically I knew it was not going to be anyone else so he was the only choice left. It was still really sad, from the moment he confessed his love to Laurel, to the scene with Tommy and Ollie right before he died, I was a mess.
I did not want the hour to end.
This will be a long wait until October!


Count me as one that was very surprised that they killed off Tommy, had Moira take responsibility and call out Malcolm and that Det Lance admitted to talking to the vigilante (and helping him)....however WHY has no one pointed out that Malcolm was JUST as guilty in his wife's death as all 'those people' that ignored her in the glades.... he admitted that he ignored 'her 1st call because I was busy' and then the 2nd call he 'turned off my phone' because he was annoyed she was bothering him. If he would have answered when she 1st called she might not have died...of course if she'd have called 911 instead of him she might be as well.
and just a shout Dig and Felicity, and Thea and Roy are growing on me.


I love this show! I think this was one of the best season finales I have seen. The writing and shock value were a 10 out of 10 stars. This series reminds me of finales in the past that left me feeling like my heart was stopping. Only two other shows have really shocked me in the past and they were NCIS last season's finale with Ducky and this year's Suits season finale. I am not a Comic book follower or even a fan, but I love great characters and great writing. The acting and writing on these three shows (NCIS, Suits and Arrow) is really excellent. It's what keeps us coming back. Stephen Amell and John Barrowman were outstanding in this show! I read stuff saying the show should stay true to the comic book stuff, but I think that the show needs to stay true to the characters based in reality they have been delivering. I guess what I am saying is that I don't care if what Arrow delivers week after week is true to the comics, as long as they keep delivering charcters that stay true to themselves and hiring great actors to play them. The entire production team should be proud of what they have given us this season and I can't wait until next season!


The show itself was very predictable and slow and the hood himself as well as Laurel were acting pretty poorly. But I certainly didn't expect there to be a second device. Good job on that one.

Kitanishi h mcdonald

Det. Lance was only suspended and after they realized that he was telling the truth and then even rescued part of the Glades that shouldn't be an issue eather.

The problem is not whether he was telling the truth. he was suspended due to ties to vigilante.

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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.