This Wednesday, Arrow season 5 comes to an end. Here are three things we expect (and hope) to see in the sure-to-be-epic finale.
As spring turns to summer, the broadcast network TV season draws to a close. Several shows air their finales this week, and few have us more excited than Arrow. In season 5, the CW superhero series returned to form, navigating intricate plotlines and character arcs with confidence that had been absent the past couple years.
Will it stick the landing? That remains to be seen. But we can hazard some reasonable guesses as to what “Lian Yu” has in store.
Season 5 has been a relatively intimate affair, eschewing the typical “save the city” narrative in favor of more personal stakes. In the finale, however, Arrow isn’t holding back. It seems like half the show’s characters will somehow end up on Lian Yu.
“Missing” already established most of the players. Oliver recruited Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa al-Ghul, and Slade Wilson to aid in his fight against Adrian, who has teamed up with Talia al-Ghul, Black Siren, and Evelyn Sharp. But the official images for “Lian Yu” show a couple somewhat surprising other faces. First, there’s Digger Harkness, aka Captain Boomerang. Once a member of the Suicide Squad, the season 3 rogue is imprisoned on Lian Yu with Slade, which makes him a convenient ally for Oliver. We also see Samantha Clayton, the mother of Oliver’s son. What’s she doing on the island? Did Adrian kidnap her along with William?
Then, there’s this cryptic tweet sent by actor Stephen Amell:
Who could this cameo be? Presumably, it’s someone who’s important yet hasn’t shown up in a while. Our best bet is Shado, though she did briefly appear in a season 4 flashback. In addition to being a key figure in Oliver’s past, she died on Lian Yu; it makes sense that she would haunt the island. Both Oliver and Slade have seen her in visions before. We won’t rule out anyone, though: Tommy? Walter? Katana? Amanda Waller in a flashback?
The finale trailer hints at plenty of fighting, including three mano-a-mano showdowns: Nyssa vs. Talia al-Ghul, Black Canary vs. Black Siren, and, of course, Oliver vs. Adrian. We’re especially excited to (finally!) see Nyssa and Talia battle it out. Nyssa’s absence from season 5 so far might seem like an oversight, considering her sister is a prominent antagonist. But it also makes for an interesting exercise: can Arrow sum up an entire relationship within the span of a fight sequence?
An action-heavy episode suits us just fine (we’d happily watch James Bamford-choreographed stunts for a straight hour), but we hope it leaves enough room for character development. Ideally, the two should be intertwined; action reveals character, and character interactions advance the action. Arrow has a history of excelling in this area, peppering its set pieces with internal conflict and banter, so we’re optimistic.
Creators Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg originally envisioned Arrow lasting five seasons, corresponding to the five years Oliver spent “shipwrecked”. Well, this is the fifth season. Although The CW has already renewed the show for another go-round, season 5 has a sense of finality to it. Not only does it complete the flashback origin story, but it also brings the present-day narrative full circle, revisiting the List that formed the basis of Oliver’s crusade in season 1.
So, while “Lian Yu” isn’t the end, it will probably feel like it could be. That means wrapping up both the season-long Prometheus arc and the series-long Oliver Queen arc. The obvious solution is to kill off Oliver, though we don’t see Arrow going that route. More likely, he decides to hang up his hood, passing the baton (or bow) on to someone else. Season 5 started to set up the next generation of vigilante-heroes with Curtis, Rene, and Dinah, and a Legends of Tomorrow episode introduced the possibility of Connor Hawke. Or maybe it’ll be something less drastic.
Regardless, we anticipate a satisfying – even happy? – resolution to Oliver’s journey.
The Arrow season finale airs Wednesday, May 24, at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.