They did it!
The Arrow Season 2 finale went off without a major hitch. Love interests are still in play, Starling City was saved, the major villain was stopped but not killed, someone died, people left town, a baton was passed, "I love you" was said at least three times... and a hero was finally, completely born.
You helped me become a hero, Slade. Thank you.Oliver
There was absolutely no way to predict how Arrow Season 2 Episode 23 would play out, but it was satisfying without alienating any true fans.
Considering how tightly the lines are drawn for so many (ladies, I'm looking at you), that's a pretty major feat.
The strength of the hour lay with the core team, the beloved three who started it all, Oliver, Diggle and Felicity. Without any one of the three, saving the day would not have come to pass. That the writers recognize how important it is for them to be acknowledged is appreciated.
Sara brought Nyssa and the League of Assassins to Starling City to help fight Slade's army. She made a deal with them to go back and join them again as payment in kind. That's not going to make a lot Caity Lotz fans happy, but it leaves the door open for her return, something we know happens quite often with Arrow.
Nyssa's return gave us closure on Isabel Rochev and her short reign as Ravager. A quick snap of the neck and she was gone. Oliver may have been questioning whether killing was the right method to fight the madness of Slade Wilson, but Nyssa didn't come with such quandaries.
One of my favorite developments was between Thea and daddy Malcolm. She shot him, but he was wearing Kevlar as I expected. He was so proud! Tommy didn't have the guts to take daddy down, but Malcolm is assured with her shot that Thea is daddy's little girl.
When Thea discovers that Roy has been lying to her, she makes an awesome decision -- to go with Malcolm. She says she won't ever be back, and I believe her. Thea Queen is gone. Who will return in her place? I daresay a villainized version of Speedy. I was hoping that someone would turn bad after all of the darkness that overtook Starling City and Thea is a wonderful choice. It will jab at Oliver to know he let her down and that she took up with her father instead of her heroic brother.
Interestingly, many thought that Malcolm might be involved in the fight alongside Oliver and the League as they took on Slade's army, but it was merely many other League members with similar fashions. He never really left Thea's side. Once he told her he would be there when she needed him, he didn't drop that ball. Thea needs that.
Lyla came to Diggle to help save Starling instead of working on behalf of her boss, and we learned later part of the reasoning behind her moves -- she's carrying Dig's baby! While that is a frightening prospect given their chosen professions, it would seem likely that we can expect a downgrade of Manu Bennett's regular status next season and an upgrade to Audrey Marie Anderson as Lyla.
More action for Diggle, no matter the capacity, is always welcome. Perhaps the two of them will team up and look into H.I.V.E. while someone looks after the baby.
As for the question of who Oliver loves the most, we didn't get a definitive answer on that and I think it's because he's not in a place to declare his love right now. Felicity gave him the idea he needed to successfully trap Slade and stop him without killing him, even if the price was a false intimate moment between them.
Oliver: You need to stay here.
Felicity: You can't just ask me to stay here.
Oliver: I'm not asking. I will come and get you when this is all over.
Felicity: Not unless you tell me why!
Oliver: Because I need you to be safe.
Felicity: But I don't want to be safe. I wanna be with you and the others. Unsafe.
Oliver: I can't let that happen.
Felicity: Oliver, you're not making any sense.
Oliver: Slade took Laurel because he wants to kill the woman I love.
Felicity: I know, so?
Oliver: So he took the wrong woman.
Oliver: I love you. Do you understand?
But, how false was it? At that particular time, Oliver was saying things for a specific purpose, to make sure Slade came for Felicity. I truly believe that Oliver loves her and they will have something in the future. I also think that Oliver knows he has not fully resolved his feelings for the other women in his life, and until he does that, committing to someone like Felicity is not cool. She's the kind of woman you commit to once.
You don't toy with Felicity. She is far too important to Oliver and Team Arrow for him to make a move before he is fully ready to commit. The scene with them on the island, however, certainly conveyed that the words between them held far more weight than he was willing to admit just yet. I love that it was that reference to which the word unthinkable was used. It's my guess that Felicity will fall in love with someone before settling with Oliver Queen. He needs to feel it as much as she does.
This all brings us back around to the Lance family. Just when it seemed as though things were going to be fine, they weren't. Sara told Laurel that Oliver needed her, gave her the Canary jacket (it fits) and Laurel and Lance walked off. Lance fell to the ground, gravely injured.
Will Lance die? I don't think so. It does call into question whether he might run for that open mayoral position, however. Maybe hitting the streets will be too much for him. He has the best head on his shoulders in the city and is in the best position to work with the heroes to protect it.
It would also seem that Sara was giving permission to Laurel to pick up the Canary where she left off. Is she perfect for the job right now? No. Can she grow into it? Yes. She has the desire and the will and the beginning of some training. She also has the jacket and an in with The Arrow -- someone her father still doesn't know. It does raise the risk of Oliver getting close to Laurel again, but there will always be risks of some sort.
Sara likes to kill her prey with the League. She'll likely assume another moniker and be back. That's alright, isn't it? To have both Lance sisters kicking some ass? Granted, these are all assumptions based on a few actions -- but that's what makes Arrow so fun.
The final bit of news is that we've apparently seen the end of the island. Oliver is on his way to Hong Kong with Amanda Waller. We'll finally understand their relationship. She'll have to be on a lot more next season. Oliver also thinks that Sara is dead in that world, which could be why she's gone from the current timeline. We'll hope that's one regular habit that's kicked in Season 3.
Starling City wasn't destroyed, no major characters were killed and there are so many open avenues for stories to play out next season. If you want to relive all of the glory of Arrow Season 1 and Arrow Season 2, you can watch Arrow online. We'll bring you news as we get it over the break and see you here next year!
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Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.