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– by Mark Cook

Finally, the return of Slade Wilson for the Season Finale of Arrow! Will it be able to live up to the hype created by the promotional footage, and sizzle-reel?  What will Oliver’s team have to do to defeat Chase?  Will Slade be back for Season 6?  Read on to find out:

Photo Courtesy of The CW.

Slade Feels Remorse — What a way to begin the episode…with Slade!  We find out that the Mirakuru wore off some time ago, and while Slade remembers everything that happened, he isn’t trying to escape it, and feels a small sense of remorse.  Slade says that he realizes he killed Oliver’s mother, and for that, he should have been killed.  Oliver gives Slade Intel on his son, and tells him that they will help one another to find each other’s sons.   I was excited for Slade from an action stand-point, but what a way to start the episode.  The emotional reunion was highlighted by their difficult past, but a past of friendship as well. Their interactions throughout the episode didn’t merely deal with their physical battles, but a theme of self-forgiveness. Oliver and Slade are similar in that their pasts continue to haunt them.  Slade has come to the realization that self-forgiveness is the way to move forward, and urges Oliver to do so as well.

Photo Courtesy of The CW.

Malcolm’s Sacrifice — All these years of despising Malcolm then dammit he saves the team. How could you not feel a certain way when he pushed Thea off the mine to take her spot? Not only did he save Thea, but he apparently took out Boomerang, and some others. Malcolm really came full-circle.  He began Season 1 wanting to destroy the city to benefit himself, and ended Season 5 sacrificing himself in order to allow his daughter, and others, to live.  There is such a love-hate feeling for that guy.

Photo Courtesy of The CW.

The Face-Off’s — Nyssa vs. Talia, Canary vs. Black Siren, Slade vs. assassins (well, it was just awesome seeing him in action again) and Chase vs. Oliver.  What great match-ups!  Each one had a personal score to settle that made sense.  So many personalities who had to work together out of necessity to achieve their own goals.  This was good, fun story-telling.  This episode was a true culmination of all of the story-arcs, and they were balanced well.  If the writers could focus more of their writing the way the did in this episode, Season 6 could have potential.

Photo Courtesy of The CW.

Connection of the Overall Themes — This season has focused on the emotional struggle, not only for Oliver, but for all of the characters.  They each have dealt with some type of inner turmoil. This episode not only focused on that theme, but the idea of perseverance and self-forgiveness. The idea that Oliver had to overcome his guilt concerning his father’s suicide has plagued him during all five seasons, until now.  In order to persevere, Oliver had to forgive himself, and have faith, while no longer merely reacting off of his emotions.  Through his self-forgiveness, and self-realization, he turned into the true hero. Through this self-realization, Oliver seemed to be in a good place, until the end of the episode…(Read on in the “Twists” section).

The Twists! — Vintage Arrow. It was awesome that Oliver released Slade, and Captain Boomerang with the promise of freedom should they help him, but as the team got close to the captured Team Arrow, Boomerang reveals that he is a turncoat, and took Chase up on a better offer!  Chase knew trying to persuade Slade would be pointless due to his history with Oliver. Ironically enough, just when you begin to somewhat trust Slade he knocks out Oliver in order for Black Siren to take him to Chase!  This made me second-guess Slade for a moment, as that is how the anti-hero works, but I still felt that it was part of the overall plan to get Oliver close to Chase. Then, Chase claimed that Oliver’s son was dead.  Part of me believed him because he was crazy, but the complete emotional roller coaster the episode brought the viewer through was excellent.  Viewers also found out that the long hair and beard from Season 1 was merely a disguise.  I was wondering where/when that had occurred, because we hadn’t seen it since the original season (Not really a twist, but thought it was worth mentioning).  The major twist was the ultimatum at the end: Chase has Oliver choose between killing Chase, and killing his team, or keeping Chase alive in which he would kill his son. This lead to Chase doing exactly what Oliver’s father did on the same waters; shooting himself.  The final shot of the episode was the island exploding due to the detonated bombs connected to Chase and a heart monitor. I was on edge a majority of the episode.  It reminded me of why I started watching Arrow in the first place.

Wow, what a finale! Where does this leave everyone?  In speaking with my friend Mike Connally, he reminded me of the ARGUS bunker Slade and Boomerang were in.  I could be wrong, but I had thought Oliver had mentioned that there were such bunkers all over the island.  Could Slade have known of other bunkers, and got the team secured? Some of the individuals on the island have signed on for next season, so they have to survive somehow.

What did you think of tonight’s finale?  Are you excited for next season? Will the team somehow miraculously make it off the island?  Will Oliver be on his own again, and back at square one with his guilt?  Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!