Schism review – A flat finale

With the world approaching nuclear apocalypse (again), Felicity and Curtis raced to save it while Oliver took on Darkh for the final time.

Schism, sadly, was an appropriate, disappointing end to what has been a thoroughly disappointing season. Arrow bit off more than it could chew with the end of the world storyline, failing to deliver episodes to match what was supposedly at stake.

Saving the world

Things have essentially gone in circles these last few episodes. Nukes go on – nukes go off – nukes go on – nukes go off – nukes go on – nukes go off. It’s difficult to care about the same plot for the third episode in a row, considering it’s already been stopped twice. Why would the finale end up being any different?

The bigger issue though is it just doesn’t fit Arrow. Oliver is a street level vigilante, along the lines of Daredevil. He’s not about saving the world – the guy has a bow and arrow, what can he do on a global scale?! He’s about saving his city. We’ve seen it here, he’s done nothing in terms of stopping the nukes, that’s not something he’s going to be able to do. The cynic in me says we’ve just repeated the plot three times to keep Felicity relevant as the season drew to a close – the hacking stuff grew old really quite fast. There’s only so much techno babble and meaningless slapping of keys you can take.

Furthermore, Arrow just hasn’t been able to build the stakes. Characters haven’t been written with urgency. We had no army, no government influence, no secret service – nothing. It never felt like the end of the world. Simply, this is ground Arrow shouldn’t tread again. They’re incapable of handling it effectively.

Damien’s death

As this season began, with an encouraging opening set of episodes, Damien Darkh was undoubtedly one of the highlights. He was a villain with charisma. He had interesting powers. Neal McDonough was great. It’s such a shame that the character hasn’t delivered on that initial promise.

The show made a mistake of having Oliver and Damien face off too often. If we look back to the confrontations with Merlyn and Slade, they were used sparingly. When they came about, they were effective and felt a level above the villains Arrow had dealt with in previous weeks. With Damien, it became far too common place – when you’ve had Oliver coming out on top in previous weeks, the final fight never packs any sort of punch. You’ve got no reason to believe he’s not going to be defeated.

His ridiculous plan aside, Damien’s final stand had the opportunity to at least send the character out with a bang. Unfortunately, what we got capped a bad end to a once intriguing character. It was a poor fight. Poorly choreographed, clunky, green filtery and dull. The pair walloped one another repeatedly as they strived to recreate scenes from Rocky, before all of a sudden Darkh was powerless. In fairness, his powers have been inconsistent all season long but did that make any sense to anyone? Again, it strikes me as Arrow biting off more than it could chew. It couldn’t do a character with supernatural powers justice.

You never know, if we’d gotten over ourselves and stopped with the dull hacking nukes angle or perhaps just given Damien a better plan in the first place, then he could have matched his early season promise.

Like Ra’s al Ghul last season, Damien was a dud unfortunately – despite Neal McDonough’s best efforts.

The Olicity show

The first half hour was all save the world/stop Darkh – though as we’ve covered, it didn’t feel anywhere near as urgent or tense as it should have. The final ten minutes or so seemed to set up the Olicity show for next season!

I’m only partially serious with that, but indeed everyone’s left apart from Oliver and Felicity, whereas they were the ones leaving last season. Beginning with Diggle, I don’t mind him leaving the team I think that makes sense in terms of where his head is at – but rejoining the military? I think it’s a ridiculous move. I also think it’s something they won’t follow through with. He’ll be out again by the end of 5×01 I’d guess.

Moving to Thea, I like how they handled things with her a lot more. It felt right for the character. I also find she’s the only character I still care about in some way. But please, Willa Holland is good and the character has potential – give her some different storylines next season rather than wrongly taking her around in circles as they have done of late.

The worry I’ve got with both of these is, whatever they go through will most likely take place off screen over the summer – a favourite development device of the Arrow writers. Pace it properly. Deal with it when the show comes back. Then, we can spend some time with other characters, avoid Smoak family drama at all costs and maybe, just maybe, grab a better show for it.

Moving on, as for Oliver and Felicity – they were the only ones left. “You thought I was leaving too?” said Felicity. “Not a chance.” In fairness she’s left multiple times (including walking out on Oliver in our favourite scene in the world at the end of Taken) so on reflection there probably was a chance. Regardless, Oliver is set to become mayor now and I actually think that’s a very good move. For me, Oliver has been too much of a nothing character this season. He just hasn’t felt whole. It’ll be good to give him more to do next season.

Overall, I find myself struggling to care what the future brings for Arrow. It’s a show which has fallen so in love with its flaws, I only see more of the same ahead. I like the cast a lot and they deserve far better than the material they’ve been given. It’s been a messy, odd, all over the place season – I’m not sorry to see it go.

Observations:

  • I referenced it earlier but just how noticeable was the green filter they consistently put on Oliver’s costume during the final fight with Darkh? It was especially noticeable when Lance picked him up. How about an actual green costume for season 5, guys?
  • So, we’re just completely going to avoid any fallout regarding the Haven Rock incident aren’t we?
  • “You thought I was leaving too? Not a chance.” Did that feel like a slap around the face to those of us unhappy with the show to anyone else? Or just me?
  • Ghosts. They have guns. Yet, they decide to take on the citizens of Star City in hand-to-hand combat – rather than just standing back and shooting them all? Sure.
  • I’m glad Amanda Waller popped up to explain what Oliver was actually on Lian Yu for in the flashbacks. I hadn’t got a clue. Did anybody enjoy them this season?
  • Did Laurel dying do anything for the storyline whatsoever? Would the plot have been greatly different if she’d been alive? Or, was it a poorly executed storyline, done purely for shock value as the writers had written themselves into a hole and hadn’t bothered thinking things through? I’m leaning towards the latter.
  • Hope. Darkness. Lying. Darkness. Hope. Hope. Lying. We get it, writers. One, let’s have a greater variety of themes next season. Two, SHOW don’t tell.

VERDICT: A boring finale. It never took off. An unsatisfying end to an unsatisfying season. 3/10.

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