TV Recap: Arrow: “Schism”

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When Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) regains control of the world’s nukes, Oliver (Stephen Amell) rallies the residents of Star City in order to stop him.

I’ve always said that Arrow is at its best during its finales. I no longer think so. That’s not to say I didn’t like last night’s episode. It was fine, but “Schism” didn’t feel like a finale, it felt like just another episode. Some of that has to do with the season’s structure. The show tried the 3-part finale thing in Season 2 and it didn’t work. This year was no different. The individual episodes were fine, but they also felt like set up for something larger. Rather than big deaths and big action (though we got those) the episode was oddly introspective, focused more on character than action. And on some level, that fits. That’s been a theme of the season too—particularly for Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).

I was convinced Olicity would be back together by the end of this episode, but I am pleasantly surprised that they aren’t. First off, they haven’t shared nearly enough screentime since their break-up to justify that reversal. Oliver fundamentally betrayed Felicity’s trust, and while she is on the road to forgiving him (and maybe already has), I doubt she’ll ever forget. Hell, in her shoes, I don’t think I’d be able to. Felicity is a bigger woman than I, but she’s still got trust issues to work through and a half dozen episodes isn’t nearly enough time to heal a life-long hurt. Honestly, I’m angrier about her not getting Palmer Tech back than I am about the whole Olicity thing. I’m almost certainly in the minority on this, but Felicity’s professional life was one of my favorite things about the season. I’ve seen a ton of online complaining about Felicity in particular distracting from the superhero action and I have to ask, is that really such a bad thing?

Let’s just get real for a second and admit that all superhero stories are essentially the same. For four years, Arrow has basically been giving us origin stories and an endless series of villains. Yes, it’s what comic books do, but how many times can we watch the same stories before they lose their appeal? Based on general online reaction to the show, the answer seems to be about 2 and a half seasons. Regardless, downbeat as last night’s finale was, it showed that Arrow is at least trying to force its characters in new directions. While Thea (Willa Holland), a jobless girl who barely graduated high school, desperately needs to leave Team Arrow and figure herself out, I’m a little surprised by Diggle’s (David Ramsey) choice. Listen, I get that killing your own brother is the kind of trauma you never get over, but is leaving your wife and young child to go fight in a war really your wisest option? The biggest step taken by a character in the finale, however, was Oliver becoming Star City’s mayor.

He is still ridiculously unqualified, but this is far from the most unbelievable bit of fantasy the show has ever asked us to accept. More importantly, it’s the right move for the character. Oliver has spent a whole lot of this show shirking responsibilities in order to be the Green Arrow. In large part, that’s because he’s always had trouble reconciling the halves of personality. He’s tried to erase both Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow and neither attempt worked because both are integral to who he is. Finally, he’s stopped hating himself and learned to accept his own contradictions. That may not be as dramatic a season endpoint as going back in time and changing history, but at least it made sense.

 

Arrow Death Watch

Island Girl: 100%

Praise God. I just found out this episode that his character’s name is Taiana. That’s how little she mattered and how uninteresting Elysia Rotaru’s performance was. This season’s flashbacks were unquestionably the worst of the series and the only good thing to come out of them is that Oliver is finally going to go to Russia.

Damien Darhk: 100%

He wasn’t the show’s best villain, but he was fun. I’m just happy the show didn’t pull a Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). As I said a few weeks ago, “no kill rules” are one of the superhero genre’s biggest flaws and it was nice to see the show acknowledge that Darhk was too evil to keep alive.

Team Arrow (Except Felicity): 100%

At least for now. We all know the team will reassemble at the beginning of next season.

My Predictions for This Show: 100%

I really thought another good guy would kick the bucket in this hour, but as I’ve proven this whole season, I’m not very good at guessing where this show will go. And while I should be ashamed, I’m actually glad. Being surprised is half the fun. I seem to be increasingly in the minority on this, but I love Arrow even if it’s often imperfect. I’m always hoping for better, but I’m just happy to be on the journey. Until next year.

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.