Arrow’s final episode of 2013 capped what has been a fantastic year of TV. There were fight scenes keeping you on the edge of your seat, surprises you never saw coming and the groundwork set for what promises to be an unmissable second half to the season.
I’m going to try and make this as structured as I can but the thoughts in my brain are firing around like arrows themselves! What a 40 or so minutes that was…
The action picked up with Oliver Queen suffering from the content of the syringes he found lodged in his leg at the end of 2×08. Barry Allen, now in on the secret, was fighting to help save the billionaire vigilante and rivalling Felicity’s IQ, he saved him with a clever cocktail of rat poison. While Team Arrow and Mr Allen were frantic, trying to save Ollie, Shado popped up – offering her hand asking Oliver to stay with her.
It was a lot to take in during the opening moments and the theme of ‘ghosts’ continued its way through the episode. Oliver encountered Shado once more where she warned him off fighting what’s coming or everyone he loves will die, Slade told Oliver he’s not a hero and he’s the Arrow to atone for his (Ollie’s) sins before telling him he’s not a hero or a friend or a brother once more before the pair fought. To non hallucinating onlookers Oliver flinging himself around the Arrow cave by himself may have seemed a little peculiar but it was a typically Arrow fight scene – excellent and terrifically paced. Presumably we’re going to have more Ollie-Slade fights to come, it can only be a good thing – well, not in terms of their friendship.
Diggle was the voice of reason, letting Oliver know he has to listen to what the ghosts are trying to tell him.
The final ghost was Tommy, it was nice that his friendship was Oliver sort of came back to good ways (even if he was a ghost), as Tommy reassured him he’s a hero, reassured him he fights to survive and demanded he fight back. A fired up Oliver then seemed to beat Cyrus Gold before apparently killing him via the help of what looked to be an explosion and a bit of acid.
Of course Oliver found himself faced with Gold once more as he tracked him down to defeat him. Brother Blood was also there and they were testing the Mirakuru on Roy. Oliver managed to save Roy after taking care of Arrow business, but Harper’s presumed path to sidekick seems to have stepped up a notch. He survived the Mirakuru, just like Slade, just like Gold. One would presume he may be a little stronger now. We saw his leg had healed from the arrow he got stuck in it. Just what else is he capable of? As Oliver said to Felicity “We are going to have to keep an eye on him.”
Slade Wilson. Honestly when that scene cropped up, I was possessed by the spirit of David Tennant’s Doctor. It was a “What? What?! WHAT?!” moment. I mean, who saw that coming? The first few episodes had laid the groundwork, suggesting Sebastian Blood was the ‘big bad’ of the season but that was well and truly blown out of the water here. The line “Remember your mask can be worn by another…” showed quite clearly who is boss. Blood’s background as an Alderman and he’s now running for mayor – when considering the plan of making an army, it never seemed to add up to me. Not that he wouldn’t support but more that he’d come up with it in the first place. So the fact that it appears Slade is behind it, it definitely adds up a little more. The purpose of it is a little unclear as of yet. How did Blood and Slade come into contact with one another? Is it really about saving the city? Plus we also had the little piece where he spoke about Oliver, I think Slade has a little bit of a lust for revenge, just a little… That monologue on what he plans to do was superbly delivered by Manu Bennett, it was chilling, it was threatening yet so calm. It’s a contrast to the big bads we’ve seen previously, Malcolm last year didn’t know who Oliver was until the very end. His quest basically saw the Arrow get in the way, but with Slade it’s personal. He knows who the Arrow is, he has a score to settle and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. I honestly have no idea whether that will spark the way for an end of season showdown with Slade and Ollie or whether Slade’s present day role may take us into Season 3. If I was a betting man I’d presume that when Slade and Oliver showdown on the island (and Wilson gets an arrow through the eye) it will be similar unfolding in the present day.
But I mean wow! That was a terrific twist. It just goes to show, when you think you know what’s going to happen on this show – it shocks you all over again. I always had a hunch he’d show up in the present day but not quite as soon nor as the one behind Brother Blood.
The shock factor continued with two deaths, one in the present day and one more surprising on the island. Hilton’s death established the threat Gold provided and was carried out rather cruelly – twisting his own gun back on him. It touched Detective Lance though wouldn’t have touched the viewers as much as the island death did. Shado. Poor, poor Shado. I was screaming at my screen for Slade to race back, powered off the Mirakuru to bulldoze Ivo to the ground. Arrow never seems to be afraid to kill off the ‘big’ characters which is a good thing in some respects. When the stakes are as high as this show raises them, there are going to be casualties. But it’s saddening as Celina Jade was so likeable as Shado, she’ll be missed. It was interesting that Oliver chose to save Sara, diving in front of her. Clearly him and Shado had grown into somewhat of an item but through instinct did he show Sara meant more? Did he mean to dive in front of both them? At first I thought he was going to offer himself to die. But clearly Oliver’s route to the man we met in the Pilot is far from complete.
The island itself is set for an excellent second-half now. Sara saved Ollie from Slade’s rage, telling him Ivo shot Shado for no reason. Slade is now superhuman. Ivo found the Mirakuru. For a few scenes, plenty happened. With the way things are, an island centric episode could hold its own this season – maybe we’ll see one again.
Barry Allen continued to be full of likeability, kudos to Grant Gustin for that, he seemed to pick up on Felicity’s ‘like’ for Oliver and it was perhaps hinted he liked her himself. They were a cute duo, his enthusiasm for Oliver’s costumed alter-ego probably mimics that of the fans out there! The end of the episode saw the particle accelerator of Star Labs get turned on, predictably go wrong and Barry suffered the effects of that. The effects in that scene were a joy to behold and deserve a mention, the different fluids floating in the air – that was almost magical visually with the soundtrack proving a perfect compliment. Obviously this is paving the way for the Flash pilot but fingers crossed we’ll see Barry in Starling City again.
Finally we saw Oliver get his mask, a little Christmas present for the Arrow! Thankfully it wasn’t really a cliffhanger to end the year on, I think by this point our brains couldn’t have taken anymore, but that little snippet of dialogue from Oliver and Felicity was something I liked:
“How do I look?”
“Like a hero.”
It was another cracking episode and I couldn’t help but groan when it ended. I wanted more! 2014 can’t come soon enough.
Here is the promo for episode 10 ‘Blast Radius’: