Arrow’s time is almost up on several levels. The final season is nearing its end, Oliver’s prophecied death is at hand, and the Crisis is just about to start. The show has had some ragged seasons, but this one has been great, and I’m really going to miss this show when it goes away. Before the future arrives, the team needs to face the past, as they return to “Purgatory.”
In a nice nod to the show’s origins, Oliver does an introductory voiceover that’s very similar to how it started back in season one, as are many of the visuals we see. Mia isn’t impressed with Lian Yu as she gets to see it for the first time, and William isn’t thrilled to be back. Well, neither is anyone else, really. Lyla pops up to explain why the future kids are here, and there’s some tension rising as the group wonders what’s happening next. Oliver does his best to explain that he no longer considers the Monitor an enemy, but Diggle and Laurel aren’t buying. There’s talk about the prior missions, and what’s required next, including putting William in a tough spot that’s arguably outside his skill set. Oliver has a long overdue talk with Mia and William about what’s coming, and Mia doesn’t take it at all well.
Speaking of not taking things well, Diggle confronts Lyla about their “no more secrets” pledge they made a while back. Lyla fills in some background about her ties with the Monitor, which are vaguely reminiscent of the comic book origin of the Harbinger character she’s sort of become. Ever notice how characters sometimes just suddenly display abilities out of the blue when something is needed for the plot? Well, apparently Dinah is a pilot and never told anyone. She is bringing Rene, Roy, and a needed ingredient for the big device Mar Novu needs. Roy is taken with his first view of Lian Yu, which makes sense on a few levels. It’s the first time he’s seen something so important to the Arrow mythos, Lian is the name of his daughter in the comics, and he’s supposed to come live here in the future. Nothing ever goes smoothly, and the flight gets very rudely interrupted. The team splits up to deal with the new developments, amid some complaints and surprises for volunteers.
Oliver and Laurel go after the special cargo that was on the plane, and find some time for Laurel to give Oliver some advice, because she’s so good at relationships, I guess? William grouses about differences in time and technology from what he’s used to, and Mia goes back to bitching about Oliver. Lyla, Diggle, and Connor get a mini-family reunion, talk about what their dynamic is like, and Connor slips and reveals another piece of the future that the audience didn’t know, either. They find Dinah and a very banged up Rene, with no sign of Roy.
Finding the missing cargo proves to be the easy part, as Laurel and Oliver also find some ghosts have returned for revenge. Bearing in mind both how many people have died on this island and it being a nexus of mystic energy according to John Constantine a few seasons ago, this can’t be good. Pursuing the bad guys, Oliver get distracted with another one of his many dead: Yao Fei, his original trainer from season one. There’s some talk about who is back and why, although I don’t get the selection process myself. The others find Roy, but he’s in a bad spot that looks like it’s steadily getting worse. Diggle is the one to refuse to accept reality, but he’s finally forced into it, and Roy takes a step closer to one of his comic book incarnations.
While tracking the bad guys, Oliver and Yao talk around Shadow, whose absence from the episode is never really explained. They manage to blunder into a trap, which makes them both look bad in my opinion. The rescue party brings the wounded back, and there’s a lot of concern over Oliver not being back. After an entertaining exchange about “letting” Oliver do something, William stands up to Mia in a heated argument, and tries to provide her with some perspective.
Being good multitaskers, Oliver and Yao argue as they work on their escape. They talk over old times and some of Yao’s earliest teachings. Back at camp, Diggle finds Roy to fire up his Guilt Machine, and Roy tries to talk him out of it. This gets put on the backburner when Laurel brings some bad news, and, of course, the important gizmo can’t be moved. Making a dramatically timed return, Oliver sketches out a plan and tells everyone to suit up. Too bad Curtis isn’t around, since that’s his favorite part. A major fight erupts as Team Arrow, Extended Remix, gets to show off their moves and buy the Boy Genius some time to tinker. Naturally, there’s a problem, and they have to redistribute their forces. After some misinterpretation gets cleared up, the gizmo fires up and provides a handy deus ex machina (damn near literally) to prevent the team from being overrun by hostile ghosts who are very, very solid. In the immediate aftermath, Lyla makes a hasty exit.
Fortunately, she set up an extraction plan so the team doesn’t have to miss the Crisis by being marooned. Again. Immediate disaster dealt with, the team goes back to preparing for the future, and there is much packing and some rejected attempts at farewells. Down on the prison level (alas Captain Boomerang, such a big threat the first time then given such a cheap death), Oliver talks to his “sons,” Roy and then William. It’s a touching little scene, and closes some loops from the past stories in the future (time travel is hard on grammar).
Oliver makes a few requests of Diggle, at least one of which seems virtually impossible. Not cool, Oliver. Diggle makes some promises in return, and they share what sounds like a goodbye. Before leaving the island, Oliver and Mia share some bonding time over the graves of some of the island’s fallen, which is a bit weird, even for them. Their talk comes to an early end when the skies go red, lightning and thunder roll in, and Harbinger pops back to tell us the Crisis has begun. The episode ends on the scene, once again, of Nash in the tunnels below Star City.
What I liked: You really can’t do an Arrow retrospective, which this season is, without Lian Yu, and this was a decent use of it. It was nice to see Yao Fei again (see below for some other issues). William got some great lines, and Oliver got some good scenes with several people who are very important to him. I’m glad Diggle is calling Lyla out on some of what she’s doing. Oliver and Mia’s scene at the very end was nicely done. The red skies and related effects were very menacing and stuck a great note.
What I didn’t: The island looks a lot better than it should after Prometheus blowing it to hell, and attributing that to the weird magic here seems a bit thin. I don’t get why we got Yao, who makes sense, and Eddie Fryers, who doesn’t, but not Slade, Shadow, or Susan Clayton, William’s mother who died here, too. This episode was apparently NOT brought to us by the letter S. I guess the rampant magic has a healing effect, as two characters went from seriously injured to up and around in no time. Dinah’s spontaneous piloting skill seemed to come from nowhere. Roy has a lot more unaccounted for time and would probably have been a better choice. I also don’t like what happened to Roy here. The poor guy can’t catch a break.
The Crisis is here, and doom is coming. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5. Oliver just has the crossover and three more episodes, at most, before his time is up.