Major spoilers for the Season 2 finale, "Unthinkable" are literally all over the place in this recap. You've been warned!
I first want to say congratulations to the makers of "Arrow," who have managed to take a show that delivered a lukewarm Season 1 finale and give us...Well, this.
"Unthinkable" was simply excellent television from start to finish, wrapping up the major plot points of Season 2 while still teasing plenty of interesting directions being developed for Season 3 (and that's not even mentioning the "Flash" promo at the end).
Let's watch it again real quick!
You can also check out the extended trailer here.
The finale had everything. Revenge, romance, romance fake-outs, baby announcements, epic tunnel battles and a climax that was easily the most visually satisfying action sequence yet for this series!
The episode started with the (thankful) realization that the Mirakuru cure developed by S.T.A.R. Labs works, as we see with Roy being able to move about without grunting and death-staring.
In an unsurprising turn of events, Sara rendezvoused with Team Arrow, complete with some backup from the League of Assassins. I was almost mad at Oliver for being so ungrateful to have Nyssa and her kill-buddies showing up, but they made a good case for why he's not trusting these guys anytime soon. Sara calling in this favor means that she is now beholden to the League and will have to join them again...and you're not a great assassin unless you kill people (I think).
So Oliver was justified in feeling pain for Sara, acknowledging that a woman he kind of (totally) loves is going down a completely different path from him. This is also heartbreaking when you consider how just one episode ago, Sara was beginning to realize her potential as the heroic "Canary."
That said, I don't expect we've seen the last of Sara's "Canary" side, and I do appreciate that the show is crafting a heroic arc for this character, rather than just shoehorning her in as the hero we want her to be.
Oh, and Oliver's probably jealous because of the whole "lover" thing Sara has going on with Nyssa, but he'll manage.
Meanwhile, Thea (surprise!) didn't actually kill Merlyn as the final moment in "Streets of Fire" suggested...You know, when she SHOT him and all. He hilariously brushed the bullets off Nicholas Cage style, spouting off something akin to "Kevlar, am I right?"
He petitioned Thea to leave Starling City behind because she can't trust anyone there to tell her secrets, which I thought was kind of a kindergarten tactic. But you could tell that Thea was considering it because this girl is FED UP with being kept out of the loop. I can sympathize as someone who is also the youngest in a family, and it can sometimes be jarring to always be looked at as someone who can't be trusted to keep a secret. Thankfully, Thea decided that she should also avoid trusting mass murderers.
She met up with Roy, who apologized for his "roid rage." It was a heartfelt moment that would set off a waterfall of "I love you" declarations for the rest of the episode, but it worked. Merlyn warned Thea that she couldn't trust Roy, and when she asked about the Arrow, Roy promised that he had nothing to do with him (which was an odd phrasing that would make sense as a plot device later on).
So the new and improved Team Arrow (some assassin assembly required) set out to confront Slade and Ravager, who were still watching the city burn from Queen Consolidated. It was a sweet battle, but we all knew Slade would escape on a zipline (obviously). Ravager, on the other hand, was captured and (gasp!) killed by Nyssa.
I have to admit I was genuinely surprised that Rochev was killed off so easily and unceremoniously. I mean Sara/Canary beat her in like 5 seconds. Some will say that since she was injected with Mirakuru, she may have survived, but I don't buy it. Nyssa snapped her neck, and I'm pretty sure master assassins are good at carrying out murder.
Plus (and I may be wrong about this), I'm pretty sure Rochev was hit with a "cure" arrow anyway, which would null the Mirakuru healing factor.
At the police station, Quentin and Laurel were still rounding the remaining officers to help form a counterattack against Slade's army, but one of the mini-Deaths managed to sneak in, knock out Quentin and steal Laurel.
Slade then had Laurel, which meant Oliver would have to save her and defeat Slade without killing him. He had already spent the majority of that season (and episode) refusing to kill Slade in order to defeat him, and the only person who understood that Oliver shouldn't kill was Felicity.
Oh, Felicity. We'll get to you.
So Oliver got some great advice from his nerdy best friend, Felicity. Instead of trying to "outthink" Slade, Oliver needed to let Slade outthink him, which made total sense eventually.
Meanwhile, Diggle and Lyla (Dig's A.R.G.U.S. ex-wife) snuck into the A.R.G.U.S. compound in order to stop Amanda Waller from ordering a drone strike that would level the city and kill off a handful of super-soldiers (still not getting her logic).
But instead of doing this the lame way, Dig and Lyla decided to be awesome and liberate the Suicide Squad, which meant we got to see Deadshot shoot things again! I love this show and its decisions!
They managed to break into the control room, but Amanda knew exactly what would stop Dig in his tracks...A baby announcement! Yes, the goings-on of Lyla's uterus were common knowledge in the A.R.G.U.S. break room, and Amanda was more than happy to rudely spoil the surprise.
I'm not sure if her strategy was to distract Diggle, because the whole "do you want to do this for your baby?" argument was pretty thin. Yeah, Amanda, I think his kid would be glad he didn't let an entire city get blown up for no good reason.
And then came a moment that probably half of Arrow's fandom wanted to happen but didn't remotely expect (admit it). Oliver dropped Felicity off at his mansion, telling her she needed to be safe because Slade was out to kill the woman he loves and...He took the wrong person!
At that exact moment, you could probably feel the "Olicity" tumblr gifs being generated.
Oliver told Felicity he loved her and then peaced out, leaving her and millions of viewers visually expressing WTF faces.
The time for "I love you" moments was over, however, because Team Arrow ( agains with some assassin assembly required) had their final, epic confrontation with Slade's army, which had gathered to power through one of the tunnels leading out of the city.
The battle was intense, perfect and intense! One thing that bugged me was how the mini-Deaths didn't really use weapons or anything besides their fists. I get that they're confident, but they should've known by now that a group of deadly archer assassins armed with arrows that can take their invincibility away were about to...Shoot arrows at them from a distance.
But apparently the Mirakuru madness kicked in, because they just rushed at Team Arrow indiscriminately and were eventually defeated. But wait! Slade wasn't there. Turns out he had taken a detour to steal Felicity away. He must have been on Tumblr!
The moment finally came. Oliver/Hood/Vigilante/Arrow versus Slade/Deathstroke. For the millionth time this season, Oliver faced a choice, with Slade holding both Felicity and Laurel hostage. Up until that moment, these situations always ended tragically, but for the first time, Oliver was more than prepared.
Felicity injected Slade with a cure needle she literally had up her sleeve, which allowed Oliver to save Laurel and start fist/arrow fighting with his longtime nemesis. It was revealed that Oliver slipped Felicity the cure when he told her he loved her at the mansion. He remembered that Slade was monitoring the place, so Oliver was counting on Slade "outthinking" him and capturing Felicity, who would be able to get the jump on him.
Luckily for Oliver, this is a TV show, because that plan was absolutely terrible in theory. First of all, he didn't bother to tell Felicity what was going until he slipped her the cure in FRONT of the camera. Why not just give it to her in the arrowmobile on the way there?
Also, this could only work if Slade happened to be checking in on Queen Mansion at that exact moment. What, was Slade just staring at surveillance all night instead of preparing for his daring escape from the city? Finally, Oliver had to hope beyond hope that Slade wouldn't check to see if Felicity had any weapons/Mirakuru cures on her, which makes sense if you're a tactful, deliberate villain.
But we can forgive all of this because it was still an awesome fake-out that not very many people saw coming, so I'll give the show that. Additionally, the final confrontation between Ollie and Slade was powerful enough to make up for it.
I'm counting this final battle as Arrow's best so far, as it beautifully mirrored their previous confrontation aboard the sinking Amazo from five years earlier. In both of these battles, Oliver had to make a choice that has been at the center of much of this show's drama: Is the Arrow a killer?
Oliver himself admits that since he made his no-kill vow to honor Tommy at the beginning of Season 2, he's "faltered" (the Count's death, for example). On the Amazo, Oliver had the chance to either cure Slade or kill him, which we already knew about. We finally witnessed the moment when Oliver pierced Slade's eye with an arrow and walked away, cementing him as the murderer that Slade built him to be.
But this new Oliver made a different choice, and it was one we all expected because we know this character is on his way to becoming the heroic Green Arrow. He made the unthinkable choice to let Slade live, albeit as a prisoner.
With Slade and his army defeated, Waller called off the drone strikes and the city was saved! It was a resolution that felt deserved, if only because it was the end to a long night that spanned a dramatic couple of episodes that really pushed the limits of what this show can do.
Sara said farewell to her sister and father as she departed with the assassins. I was slightly disturbed by Laurel's indifference to the fact that her sister is running off to go live a dangerous life as a murderer, but hey, that's Laurel for you.
Quentin, however, was literally choking up. It turns out that his last fight with that mini-Death in the police station caused internal bleeding, leaving his fate up in the air for Season 3. I don't expect him to be dead since, well they would've used an emotional death like that to raise the stakes for the finale. Killing him off in episode 1 of the new season? That's way too "House of Cards" for a show like this.
Roy returned to begin his new life with Thea, but she was long gone. She found some arrows that clearly belonged to the Arrow (she's a bit of a detective, clearly), which was the last straw. In her note to Roy, she expressed how it was time for her find a new purpose, and she has no intention of returning.
We saw that she has left with Malcolm to who knows where. My prediction is that in the next season, he will groom her to become as ruthless as he is. This means that he could be taking her to Nanda Parbat, where he was trained by the League of Assassins (specifically, Al-Owal).
For Season 3, I wouldn't be surprised if Sara and Nyssa's storyline converged with Thea and Malcolm, which would allow the show to deviate slightly from Oliver's main storyline. They already proved they could pull this off with Dig's Suicide Squad, after all.
As for Thea's future, I still remain in the camp that believes her to be the "second" Speedy. We can't forget that she's clearly based off of Mia Dearden (Thea's middle name is Dearden), and the show has taken extreme liberties with these characters before. If she's being trained by Malcolm, then it's definitely possible for her to eventually return to her brother's side (after some intense counseling sessions).
And what of Slade's fate? He awoke in a prison cell being watched by Oliver, who let him know that his heroic side was all thanks to him. I applaud the show for choosing to keep such a relevant villain within the DC Universe alive for future stories, and this also introduced the "Supermax" prison, which is a reference to a Green Arrow movie that never came to fruition.
The Supermax movie would have had Green Arrow be locked in a prison for a crime he didn't commit, and he would have to escape with the help of both the Joker and Lex Luthor. While I don't expect those villains to show up in "Arrow" anytime soon (or at all), I am definitely pleased by the show's willingness to make huge setups like this.
When asked where he is, Oliver tells Slade he is in "purgatory," which is referencing Lian Yu (translated), the island where this all began. The show truly came full circle here as Oliver, Dig and Felicity walked along the beach of Lian Yu (where they had reunited in the beginning of the season) basking in their victory.
"Olicity" fans (who must be going through a breakdown right now) were disappointed to see Oliver play off the "I love you" as a tactic, and the clearly crushed Felicity acknowledged this as well. Either this show is all about Smoak and mirrors, or Oliver is a serious master of the friend zone.
Finally, the episode ended with Felicity asking an unexpected question: When did Oliver learn to fly a plane? Well, the flashbacks aren't over! After his fight with Slade, Oliver awoke in Hong Kong and was greeted by Amanda Waller. So we finally know how these two met and how Oliver knows Chinese. It's about to go down!