Arrow: 223 “Unthinkable” (Finale) Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
So after another 22 instalments of the Bonkers Superhero Hour, the final reckoning between Oliver and Slade is upon us, and it’s looking more and more like Oliver is going to have to break the one rule he has (mostly) followed all season: to save Starling City, Slade Wilson may just have to die.
Get ready for a pretty packed recap, as a lot of stuff went down in this final episode!
So we rejoin Team Arrow exactly where we left them last week: stuck in the Clocktower with a still-comatose Roy, waiting to see if the mirakuru cure works and preparing to defend themselves from Slade’s army when they inevitably come a-knocking. Naturally they do, and Roy wakes up just in time to hit one of them and realise that the cure worked and his crazy-strength is gone for good; the team manage to escape the Clocktower and watch as Lyla blows up the tower, and presumably the mirakuru soldiers, and they all retreat to the newly-trashed Foundry (which is apparently what the Arrowcave has been called all season, but I might still go with the latter). Lyla and Diggle agree to go to A.R.G.U.S. and try to convince Waller to call off the drone strike, while Felicity, Roy and Oliver try to salvage any weapons they can from the wreckage of the Arrowcave.
They manage to find a bunch of injection arrows and set about filling them up with the cure, during which time Roy asks some uncomfortable questions about what happened while he was in a coma: Felicity tells him that he was out the whole time, protecting him from the potentially damaging news that he went on a rampage. The team realises that they’ll need an army to defeat Slade, and thankfully one shows up in the form of Sara, Nyssa al Ghul and a whole bunch of assassins: Sara reveals that she has agreed to go back to the League in return for their assistance, and tells Oliver that he will probably have to kill Slade to stop him, which Oliver disagrees with. Nyssa tells Oliver that Slade is using the Queen Consolidated offices as their headquarters, and Oliver decides to take control of the situation: he tells Nyssa that she and her assassins are not to kill anyone, and more importantly gives Roy a red domino mask, moving him inexorably closer to his comic book identity of Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal (that character has some self-branding issues, apparently).
Even though Oliver tells Roy that Thea is safe, he nonetheless decides to call her and ask her to meet, interrupting her awkward reunion with Malcolm: last week she did in fact shoot him, but he was wearing Kevlar and tells her that he is glad she shot him. He references the time that Tommy pulled a gun on him but didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger, and tells Thea that she is stronger than anyone knows, but she storms off to meet Roy.
Over at Queen Consolidated, Oliver and Sara confront Slade, Isabel and a small contingent of mirakuru soldiers, with a little help from Nyssa and the League: Oliver stops Sara from killing Isabel, but Nyssa takes matters into her own hands and snaps Isabel’s neck as Slade escapes. However, their brief victory is interrupted by Quentin, who shows up and tells the team that one of Slade’s men took Laurel, as well as the fact that Slade’s army appear to be leaving the city via a tunnel to escape the drone strike: Nyssa points out that this means Slade’s army will all be in one place, and will make for an easy target. Quentin tells Oliver that he should get used to killing again, but Felicity reminds him that there is another way, and his choice to kill Slade back on the island is what put them in this situation.
In the Glades, Roy meets with Thea and asks her to run away with him, leaving Starling City for good: she agrees, and he tells her that he has to take care of something before they go, but when she starts packing she finds a bow and arrow under Roy’s bed and realises what has been happening all along. She leaves Roy with a note telling him that she can’t trust him, and therefore can no longer be with him, and disappears from his life. For now, anyway…
Oliver takes Felicity to the Queen mansion and tells her to stay put, to be safe, and that he loves her and not Laurel, then heads out to the battle with Slade’s men in the tunnel. He orders everyone to arm themselves with injection arrows and go for injuries rather than kills, and one hell of a big fight ensues with Team Arrow eventually coming out on top. However, as the fight ends, Oliver gets a call from Slade telling him that he is going to kill Felicity, not Laurel, and Oliver heads to yet another of Starling City’s abandoned factories for the final showdown.
Once there, Oliver reveals that he found Slade’s hidden cameras and played him: when he told Felicity that he loved her, he was actually handing her an injector full of the cure, which she stabs into Slade and robs him of his superpowers. Oliver goes all-out in the fight, finally managing to restrain Slade without killing him, and the threat to Starling City, and Oliver’s life, is over. And at A.R.G.U.S., Diggle and Lyla arrive and release the Suicide Squad (notably Deadshot, but there are a couple of random unnamed members as well) and storm Waller’s office to force her to abort the drone strike: however, Waller has some interesting news for Diggle, namely that he is going to be a father, news which distracts him for a few moments. Fortunately, however, Oliver calls in the nick of time to tell Waller that Slade has been defeated, and she calls off the drone strike.
The fight with Slade is intercut with the events that concluded Oliver’s second year on the island: as Slade attempts to make more mirakuru-enhanced men, and to kill Oliver and Sara, Anatoli blasts the freighter with a torpedo. Unfortunately this ‘kills’ Sara, dragging her down into the depths of the ocean, and sparks another fight between Oliver and Slade: a fight which is only concluded when a girder falls on Slade, pinning him to the ground. He taunts Oliver about curing him, telling him that he will still find and kill everyone important to Oliver, who retaliates by stabbing an arrow into Slade’s eye, killing him and sparking the entire conflict that raged throughout this season. However, he is knocked unconscious by the explosions which tear the freighter apart, and his fate is left unclear until the final moments of the episode.
In the final moments of “Unthinkable”, Sara boards a boat back to Nanda Parbat, but not before saying goodbye to both Laurel and Quentin, and symbolically passing her leather jacket to her sister: could we be seeing the birth of a new Canary, even though Quentin specifically tells Laurel not to get any ideas? However, on their way back from the port, Quentin collapses coughing up blood and Laurel discovers that he sustained internal injuries when he was attacked by one of Slade’s men in the police station.
Roy finds the note from Thea, who is seen getting into Malcolm’s car presumably to begin life with her new, slightly evil family; and Oliver thanks Slade for helping him to become a hero, before revealing that he has imprisoned Slade in a top-secret A.R.G.U.S. facility deep underground on a certain island called Lian Yu, trapping him in ‘Purgatory’.
Finally, in a flashback, Oliver wakes up in a strange room, and is taken outside to a car, from which emerges none other than Amanda Waller, who welcomes him to Hong Kong: apparently he didn’t spend the entirety of his five year exile on the island!
An action-packed conclusion to the saga of Slade Wilson, and one which did every character involved proud: nobody felt wasted or surplus to requirements, the returning guest stars were very welcome, and the journeys of each character involved were engaging. We’ll have to wait until September to see how they all deal with the new status quo in the Arrowverse, but I for one am thoroughly looking forward to returning to the Bonkers Superhero Hour.