‘Arrow’ Season 2 Finale Review

Published 12 months ago by

Stephen Amell and Manu Bennett in Arrow Season 2 Episode 23 Arrow Season 2 Finale Review

[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 23. There will be SPOILERS.]

After an incredibly strong, impressive, and sometimes surprising season 2, Arrow had a great deal riding on ‘Unthinkable,’ the finale that would ostensibly close this chapter of the Deathstroke saga in one way or another, while also setting the table for what’s to come in season 3.

For all intents and purposes, ‘Unthinkable’ delivered the sort of entertaining showdown the series had been building towards all season. The build-up to Slade’s final push to punish Oliver and kill everything he loved was given ample time to evolve and transform from the threat of something horrible into an active demonstration of what Deathstroke was capable of. But as thrilling as it was to watch the episode gradually coalesce into the frenetic chaos of the phenomenal tunnel sequence that put nearly every character in the admittedly large Arrow family on the page, it felt like the larger payoff came when the narrative remained true to Oliver’s changed philosophy with regard to taking lives in order to save them.

In many ways, that was the underlying thread of Arrow season 2: The second transformation of Oliver Queen and his alter ego. Despite the many different story lines that were in play over the course of the season, the one that was most frequently and meaningfully called back to was the way in which the death of Tommy Merlyn helped shape the kind of hero Oliver proved himself to be during his climactic battle with Slade. And although the episode is afforded two denouements (one for Arrow and one for Oliver, basically), wherein Ollie explains he wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for the efforts of the man now obsessed with taking his life, the implied reasoning of why Slade is allowed to draw breath, even in defeat, brought a very satisfying sense of cohesion to the season overall.

Manu Benett as Slade Wilson and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak in Arrow Season 2 Episode 23 Arrow Season 2 Finale Review

It is no easy task for a series to essentially alter the thinking of its protagonist and then demonstrate the progression of it – in an entertaining fashion – throughout an entire season, but the Arrow writing crew managed to do just that. Additionally, they also managed to make Oliver’s journey from stone cold killer to the kind of hero people like Det. Lance would openly support convincingly feel like it was far more effort than simply flipping the guilt switch every time someone brought up the name Tommy. There were times when Oliver was tempted to take the easy way out and just kill his adversaries, and then there were moments when he was forced to face the fact that killing was his only choice. And when the season is looked back upon as a whole, those moments help strengthen the narrative, making it as much about the hero’s journey to self-discovery as much as it was about the hero’s journey to slay the proverbial dragon.

Such devotion to a newly adopted ethos helped add another thrilling component to the inevitable, and already multi-faceted showdown between Team Arrow and Slade’s minions. ‘Unthinkable’ succeeded in illustrating the difficulty Oliver faced trying to live up to the standard he’d set for himself and the Arrow’s reformed image by pitting his tenuous ideology against the take-no-prisoners philosophy of Sara and Nyssa al Ghul – or, basically, the entire League of Assassins. And in showing how Oliver’s belief in his hurt-’em-but-don’t-kill-’em stance briefly faltered, it helped ground an episode jam-packed with enormous character developments and make it feel like it had something to say beyond the resolution of Slade and Oliver’s battle.

That being said, the manner in which Oliver eventually takes Slade down – thanks to some sleight of hand with the mirakuru cure and a tricky faux confession of love to Felicity – felt like it struck the right kind of balance between who this fight was really between. In other words, involving every member of Team Arrow in Slade’s defeat in one way or another gave everyone in the cast a brief moment to shine, and made the victory feel larger than just one man – even if the show was named after his alter ego. So, when it came time for Oliver and Slade to duke it out, the confrontation felt like both men had wholly earned it. That, coupled with the genuine question of just how far Oliver was planning to take things certainly enhanced the titanic tussle. But it was the superb editing, which seamlessly interweaves with the brawl aboard the Amazo with the present day brouhaha, transforming the climactic moment and giving it an unexpected yet fantastic visual flourish that made the whole scene feel like twice the payoff.

Paul Blackthorn in Arrow Season 2 Episode 23 Arrow Season 2 Finale Review

Despite the urgency of the finale, and its solid effort in maintaining a consistency with the thematic elements of the season, ‘Unthinkable’ also brought several threads to a close, while expanding others in interesting ways. Most notable of course was Thea apparently resigning herself to the dark side by leaving town with her biological father Malcolm Merlyn, after discovering Roy was once again keeping things (like a red bow and a quiver full of arrows under his bed) from her. Meanwhile, Roy is finally free of the mirakuru as well as the Tibetan pit viper venom, and has finally joined the frontlines of Team Arrow along with Diggle and Sara. This is arguably the biggest change for Thea and Roy, as they are about to embark on larger story lines separate from the other and, conceivably, eventually in conflict with one another.

Elsewhere, Diggle finds out he and Lyla are expecting a child, while Felicity is offered the chance to acknowledge her feelings toward Oliver in an oblique enough fashion that everyone gets to save face and the door to future romance at least remains partially open. Things don’t go so well for Det. Lance, however, as he collapses from wounds he suffered in a fight with one of Slade’s goons, just after the series heavily foreshadowed Laurel stepping into the vigilante biz once they’d (temporarily?) bid adieu to Sara and Nyssa.

That lets Arrow give season 2 an appropriate send-off with two big questions: What will be the fate of Det. Lance and how will the reveal that Oliver left the island in the care of Amanda Waller affect their relationship down the line? Those are two big questions, but after a stellar second season like Arrow just enjoyed, it is pretty clear the series has the ability to deliver equally big answers in the coming season.


Arrow will continue with season 3 in the fall of 2014 on The CW.

TAGS: Arrow
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. I felt Slade deserved more physical menace and mobility. Playing him off as merely a Mirokuru tank was a huge disservice and oversight. He was strangely static and rigid most of this season and if you are familiar with how his comic book counterpart uses combat and tactics, then you realize him standing around or sitting behind a desk or in a car isnt Deathstroke at all.

    In the comics it would take everything Oliver Queen has just to keep up with him.

    • Best season finale I’ve seen in years. Overall those last episodes were fantastic!

    • Completely agree. It was a terrible last fight for an enemy they have been teasing with both intense combat ability, intelligence and rage filling his motivations. I wish they would have made Slade’s powers unable to be reversed due to how long it had been in his system. So that why they did use the cure it lowered his abilities rather than completely removed them.

  2. One of the best TV shows on right now! I bought Season #1 on DVD, can’t wait to buy Season #2 as well! Hope Diggle, Sara, and Felicity stay around a long time. Can’t picture laurel suiting up as a heroine, though. Hope they don’t add too many super-heroes to Team Arrow…it could get a bit unwieldy and “Storekeeper: Superstardom for Everyone!”-ish. (…with apologies to Mr. Magoo yelling, Storekeeper: Canfield’s For Everyone!” in a Canfield’s ad, of course). It is ironic that I like this show alot, since Green Arrow did not ever do much for me in the old comics in his early days, and I really disliked his Liberalism in later comics. But in this case, canon-fan though I usually am, the TV show reboot of the character improved on “bland to reviled” and made it really very enjoyable (except he parties and womanizes too much).

  3. Article talks about “brawl aboard The Amazo”. Come to think of it, way back when in the early comics of the 60s or maybe 70s, wasn’t there a Justice League villain named “Amazo”? Nod to that memory in the show, perhaps?

  4. It was a great season finale. Now to address some issues raised. 1. You have to forgive them if some things seem rushed considering they had their work cut out for them in trying to incorporate all incidents. 2. I however don’t think Thea’s decision was rushed. Remember she’s been d one left out of everything going on. For her there’s no one to trust. And then when she finally decides to return to Roy, she finds that he’s been lying to her too. Only her father had been telling her d truth. For her, it was like she didn’t belong…it was time to leave. Besides the city was crumbling and a decision had to be reached quickly. 3. The decision was probably rushed but they had their work cut out in incorporating all scenes. I never really thought Sarah belonged. I have no qualms about her leaving. Perhaps that will give Laurel a chance to develop from the sometimes annoying character she is. 4. They do have a very hard job getting a better villain than Deathstroke. I hope they do. A good villain will definitely give a good movie. 5. The relationship between Ollie and Feliciity must remain as it is…platonic. The romance trick though was very well pulled off. 6. We are all forgetting Ollie’s son that was alluded to in a previous episode. 7. I hope they don’t muddle up Ollies’s 5 years on d island. In all, its been a brilliant season.

    • You are ryt…There’s really no credible way for Laurel to become Canary. But I think he handled Felicity as someone who has been his partner and has faced risks with him in the past. And Felicity-Arrow love should never happen

      • If you guys have seen any interviews with the showrunners you would have found out that Ollie and felicity will get together. I personally cant wait because she is the coolest woman on the show. They also said that they wont drag out the tension between the two so I think it may happen next season.

  5. So what were the two things that Arnell said we haven’t seen on TV that would be in the finale?

    • Was one of them being able to fight like he did on a bum knee? What happened to that injury? Did he use BatBale’s magic bionic knee brace?

  6. The overall resolution of the conflict between Oliver and Slade was satisfying and appropriate. However, I’m dissatisfied with the side stories.

    I don’t think there’s a credible way for Laurel to become Black Canary. For Oliver and Sara, their skills are the result of five years of suffering and hardship. They had to develop those skills just to survive. Roy also started out with a base of skills developed to survive a hardscrabble life. Laurel cannot take a superhero quick course and then magically become Black Canary.

    If Oliver’s admission of love for Felicity was just a rouse so he could save Laurel, what is that saying about Oliver? As long as he can save his true love Laurel, he’s willing to accept the possibility of Felicity’s death as collateral damage? I’m hoping that the show is going to break with the comic book, and that it will turn out that Oliver was expressing his true feelings. Otherwise, Oliver is just a big jerk.

    Having Thea and Roy go their separate ways in the context of the series may make sense for the series, but with the city burning and Oliver needing him, I did not find it credible for Roy to lie about his relationship with The Arrow.

    • @Avram:

      I think it was established in Season 1 that Laurel has advanced martial arts training because her father wanted her to be able to defend herself.

      If Ollie can pick up his fighting knowledge within a year of being on the island, it’s not a far stretch for a TV superhero show to have someone already trained to make that leap in year.

      • @BigNerd

        Ur right about Laurel’s martial arts experience (they show her throwing a swift kick or punch everytime she’s kidnapped and they look like they hurt but she’s obviously not on Sara’s level), and at first I was going to debate whether she could become that good, that quick. Oliver had 5 years of island/Hong Kong/wherever-else-he-goes training, and Sara had at least 3 or 4 years of training with The League.

        But if you look at Diggle, he still isn’t up to par with Oliver (which they need to address somehow) despite training with him (and Sara) for the last two years.

        Now, factor that in with the fact that he was losing to Ravager and it was established she was a mistress of Queen Sr. before Slade got to her (and presumbably trained her) for 2-3 years.

        But I guess it’s all up to the writers. I’d advise that she doesn’t become an active part of the fight against crime until after Roy really takes his place as a reliable protege/partner and Diggle retires.

  7. Big Green Arrow fan here,
    Hello fellow fans Arrow I am sorry is in its off season but that want stop me from leaving a message for Arrrow. First oft who is the guy who is standing beside Laurel with the boxing gloves on? I hope he is not a new love interest. I want to see Laurel and Oliver get closer. Indeed I would like to see more scenes between them in season three. What is the deal with the children now, Olivers child is to young to be trained and Diggles child will just be an infant? They will be a liability for Oliver and Diggle and what I mean by that is they will be easy target for their enemies. I like Olicity but I like them as brother and sister. If you need to put Felicity with someone put her with the guy who has the boxing gloves on . Who is that guy I would like to know. I hope Thea does not stay angry for to long and I hope she learns a lot about her evil father before returning to the team. By the way if she chooses evil that’s on her and no one else. Glade to hear that the Island flashbacks want be much this coming fall season. Will Oliver deal with Amanda Waller this season she is getting to big for her britches.

  8. Felicity and Ollie neeeeed to get together already! :'(

    Season 3 has a new twist to it and I can’t wait to see what happens next … It’s interesting, especially the fact that nothing ended on that island, it’s continuing.

  9. is season 3 already out?

  10. What was Maura going to tell Oliver and Thea in the car before the blast?

  11. Sorry this is coming so late but what Maura was going to tell Thea and Oliver before the blast was Malcolm Meryln was still alive but she never got the opportunity. This took place towards the end of season two. Watch season two to get caught up before watching season three. I will not review any spoilers. In my humble opinion the Arrow is better than the Flash. I know a lot of you will disagree with me. For a show about the fastest man alive its ironically slow in my opinion and I hope it picks up. Gotham is good but I don’t think its going to last. I will try to check my emails and comments more often to keep up with the latest news and comment on my favorite shows. Please share your comments and opinions with me thank you.

  12. Big green arrow fan here and I am back and season three has officially begun. I am writing this email to say give Laurel a chance to become the superhero that she will become. Its not her fault that she started out so weak and helpless the blame lies squarely with the writers of Arrow. No offense to Katy Loitz but I am glad Sarah is gone. Again no offense ! Hopefully this will give Laurel the opportunity to rise up as the black canary. Although I do not think that it was the best idea to keep the truth about her sisters death from her father. That’s going to hit him like a ton of bricks when he finally finds out. However I do understand why she is keeping it a secret and I am pleased that Katy Cassidy AKA Laurel Lance has her supporters Its about time! I hope Olivers relationship with Felicity remains plutonic as another fan previously stated. My friend does not think we have to worry about a romantic relationship with Oliver and Felicity but I am not so sure. A lot of the fans want it so they may head in that direction. Tonight October 22 episode is called “Nana Parback” in this episode Oliver, Diggle and Roy goes to get Thea to bring her back to Starling City and I believe this is also the episode where Laurel meets wildcat.ENJOY!I will cover more after I see the episode tonight. Talk to every one later be at peace and may God bless.
    PS: I hope this email is posted a lot sooner than my last one Ha,ha!