Concluding its fifth year, Arrow used the setup from last week to try to bring an end to the Prometheus storyline. It delivers an action packed episode that also says farewell to the dreaded flashbacks.
Picking up with Oliver asking for Slade’s help, it goes smoothly except for the ARGUS guy he needed to knock out. Slade says the effects of the Mirakuru ended and that he is not trying to escape any punishment anymore. Oliver convinces him to help him fight Adrian, gives Slade some info on his son (I had totally forgotten about the Wilson kids), and his old Deathstroke equipment to get him in the Mood™ to fight.
Nyssa and Malcolm have a catty moment because Malcolm is too caught up on his own drama dismantling the League of Assassins. Oliver arrives with not only Deathstroke, but also Captain Boomerang — I’m just going to say it now: either the DCTV got orders to kill off Capt Boomerang because of his attachments to the DCEU, a fact I’m starting to doubt more and more given other DCTV shows using characters from that universe, OR the writers simply needed a useless lackey to kill and, well, who better than Captain Boomerang?. Oh, and a missile sent from who-knows-where blows up the plane Ollie had arrived on, which means that, once again, he’s stuck in a island.
Flashback time: Kovar, his right hand man Poor Russian Accent, and some other people get to Ollie’s cell to check him out after they heard a gunshot, but to their surprise, Oliver is nowhere to be found. Wah-wah for them and for Kovar’s entitlement, which is an entity of his own. He orders his peeps to find him, but gives the old “no one kills him but me”. We see Oliver running for his life to reach the casket with his arrow stuff, but he is caught by the Russians.
While Malcolm and Nyssa go to check out the missile site, Oliver finds cages with Samantha, Thea, Curtis, and Felicity. As expected, it was a trap as Talia Al Ghul and Artemis arrive at the scene allied with Captain Boomerang who, *ironic gasp*, had already gotten a deal from Chase. Slade pretends to side with the villains in order to get some of them down which gets better when Nyssa and Malcolm arrive to turn the numbers on them. Talia pulls a smoke bomb (how do these even work? It’s a jungle, goddamnit) and disappears along with Boomerang, leaving Artemis behind given she was the first to fall.
Back in flashbacks, Oliver kills the three Russians — *ironic gasp* again — and then some more just for shits and giggles, our beloved Mary Sue. In the present, they free their friends and lock Artemis in a cage. Team Arrow reach the consensus that they need to find the plane that Chase used to bring the hostages to island. Malcolm is the pilot who will chaperone everyone but Ollie, Slade, and Nyssa to the plane. Felicity kisses Oliver one last time, just in case.
Black Siren takes Quentin and Diggle to join René and Dinah at a sort of abandoned monastery/holy retreat. Slade tells Oliver that he needs to forgive himself for his father’s suicide and for his previous sins. Thea steps on a landmine that can’t be disarmed, so Malcolm pushes her off to take her place which gets going the Daddy-Daughter issues those two have going on, but as Boomerang approaches, the others escape as, allegedly, Malcolm sacrifices himself and kills Boom and co. I say “allegedly” because we only heard the explosion and this is Malcolm/John Barrowman we are talking about, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something else had happened*
Ollie, Slade, and Nyssa make their way to the monastery where Nyssa splits up leaving Slade to punch Oliver who is taken into custody by Black Siren. Thea has a moment about Father with Felicity when Curtis finds the plane, but now their pilot is dead. Also, they find an explosive device on the ground that is networked with hundreds of other explosives all throughout the island. Oliver pulls out the device Curtis had made for Dinah as he reveals Slade’s betrayal was once again, fake. The Black Canary uses the device and frees everyone while Nyssa finally reaches Talia, talk a bit about motivations, Talia is a tad catty, and the two fight, leading to Nyssa’s victory and subsequent mercy.
Now with everyone back together at the monastery, they are met with Adrian Chase. Oliver insists he will not murder Adrian and the sparring begins: it’s Team Arrow Extended against Faceless Ninjas. Gotta compliment the director here for some long fight choreography takes without shaky cam.
In Flashbacks, Oliver starts his fight with Kovar just as in the present the other fights are going on besides the classic Black Canary v. Black Siren which ends with Quentin knocking Laurel out. Juxtaposing present and past, Oliver finally snaps Kovar’s neck while still not killing Adrian and forgiving himself for his father’s death.
Adrian tells Ollie that William is dead, but he doesn’t believe him, seeing that he is still trying to bait him into committing murder. Felicity tells Oliver through the comms that the explosives on the island are rigged to go off whenever Chase dies and that’s the moment when Adrian finally smoke-bombs himself outta there!
As Ollie chases Adrian in the present, we see him get ready to leave Lian Yu in the past, culminating in the scenes from the pilot episode when he meets the fishermen who rescued him. He finds Chase’s boat and punches him mercilessly asking for his son. Adrian stops the boat some distance away from the island and tells Oliver that the plane he had left behind was sabotaged just as he planned. Chase pulls William from the cabin of the boat and puts Oliver in a crucible: either he kills Adrian and everyone dies on the island or he will kill William. Ollie pretends to put his bow down and shoots Chase on the leg, managing to get his son back.
In the past, we see Oliver calling his mom from the boat (YES, SUSANNA THOMPSON) and the two share a beautiful moment, tearing up, and clinging to each other’s voices. That scene is mirrored by Oliver holding William tight as he Adrian bad-guy-monologues his way into shooting himself in the head.
Our last images from the season come as Oliver and William watch Lian Yu explode.
As a whole, “Lian Yu” worked pretty well, although I’d say that, to no one’s surprise, the flashbacks were my least favorite part not only from this episode, but from the season. I saw many people claiming the fifth year was a great improvement over its two previous ones and, while I do agree with that statement, I’d also say that it still didn’t quite reach the point of excitement I had during the first two years. It brings me solace, however, that these same people also say that The Flash had an underwhelming season 3 and Game of Thrones is a great show that can do no wrong, so at least I know the disagreement is consistent.
But back to the episode, I gotta say, it actually quite surprised me that Arrow had left us on a cliffhanger — I mean, if I recall correctly, it’s the first time ever. The writers usually pack everything neatly by the end with only a vague sense of idea of what may come forward. While I do believe that Team Arrow found a way to escape somehow and, yes, it does take away from my suspension of disbelief, it was still a bold and powerful ending, bringing in a semi-close to a season that got Arrow back on the good graces of its core audience.
* John Barrowman told Malcolm Merlyn is actually dead as he is leaving the show.