First of all, while I've watched Arrow this year, it hasn't inspired me enough to review it. That, and personal commitments have limited my ability to review multiple shows on Monday nights. For one thing, there were two shows on Mondays for most of Season 7 Arrow. First Black Lightning, and then DC's Legends of Tomorrow. I can type fast, but not that fast. Those shows were/are more interesting to review.
Second of all, possible spoilers ahoy. I would avoid mentioning this info, but a) it's news, and b) it's relevant to tonight's episode and Season 7.
Arrow has been renewed for an eighth season. But it will only be ten episodes. And Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity) is leaving the series.
Got that? Good. And those facts explain so much. "You Have Saved This City" is basically a series finale. Yes, the show is coming back. But with one exception, it's not known who is coming back. So everyone was written as if they weren't coming back, or at least as if it wasn't known if they were coming back. Although ironically Stephen Amell got the most definite sendoff and he will be back. Although the final montage doesn't mean Oliver can't show up in Season 8: he could sneak out to do some vigilanting in Star City.
But the non-Emiko stuff in the episode was basically "passing the torch" and "Oliver is going to die and Felicity is going to somehow be reunited with him in an off-screen sort of way".
But the first half of the episode or so is Emiko stuff. And while Sea Shimooka is a competent actress, she got stuck with a character that may have sounded good on paper, but didn't play out well on-screen. For one thing, Emiko had big shoes to fill: Malcolm Merlyn, Slade Wilson, Damien Dahrk, Adrian Chase, Richard Diaz. She never really came close. Part of that was because she wasn't really a villain. Yes, she had her villainous moments but Emiko came across as... conflicted. Stretching her character arc over 22 episodes meant she had to go from good, to troubled, to bad, and then back to good again just in time to die.
Also, the reason her character had such a hate-on for the Queens never made much sense. Well it did, as long as you assume Robert Queen was an asshole. There was never any clear reason given for why he abandoned Emiko and her mother, or left them in such dire financial straits. But that seemed at odds with his portrayal in earlier episodes. Maybe Moira forced him to cut them off, but then that makes her an asshole. Granted, she paid off William's mother to leave Star City. But emphasis on "paid off". No one paid Emiko or her mother off, and they ended up in the Glades. Emiko turned out the way she did mostly because of what Robert and/or Moira did to her. But for them to do that to her, they had to act absolutely out of established character.
And Emikko's death seemed like a waste. Granted, the creative team probably didn't know what to do with her for Season 8. But her dying at the end of this season means she gets no redemption. There's no resolution of issues between her and Oliver. He refuses to kill her, Emiko does a reverse heel-turn, and then she gets killed. She says a few dying words, and that's it. Is Oliver concerned about essentially getting her killed? Did Emiko really have a change of heart? How would she redeem herself for the people she killed, ranging from Dante (Adrian Paul, probably the best part of Season 7) to the bacterially-infected people this episode? Who knows? She'll be quietly whisked down the memory hole between seasons.
Ditto for William. We got plenty of him in the flash-forwards thanks to Ben Lewis, but the present/young version of William, not so much. He went off with his grandparents, Felicity got pregnant again (and we got lots of pregnant woman jokes and tropes), and that was it for Oliver and Felicity's first child. There was some verbiage about how they wanted to protect their children, but how does leaving William with his grandparents when it seems to be fairly common knowledge that he's Oliver son, protect him? The first time the Longbow Hunters want to kill him, he's dead.
So Emiko and Young William, arguably the focal points of Season 7, were awfully muddled as they came and went.
But we got future William, right? Well, sort of. One can't help but feel the flash-forward tended to split the narrative. They weren't that interesting: Galaxy One was basically the Big Bad Corporation. They had no one who was as villainous as the present-day villains. There was the slaughter of the Canaries: a group of women who we never met, and never got much screen time until they were killed.
There were some references that were interesting: Connor showing up and the references to JJ running a street gang. But a lot of the flash-forwards used the mystery of why Felicity wasn't present. And when she finally showed up, the creative team moved to why wasn't Oliver present,
The situation with Connor was also one of the things that never got explained or resolved. Maybe in Season 8. Ben Turner (Michael Jai White) will show up and kick ass. And that's good. And there are hints of how Ben's son Connor ends up with Diggle. But what kind of relationship with JJ did Connor have as the two of them grew up? What happened to Ben? What happened to Laurel's career as a DA? What happened to Curtis? The situation with vigilantes in "the present" seemed pretty much okay by the end of "You Have Saved". Why has it gone to crap in the flash-forwards?
So the plot of the first half of "You Have Saved" is pretty standard Arrow season finale stuff. The Big Bad is doing something to devastate Star City. Team Arrow stops it, and then the bad guy gets taken off the board. The creative team spun it a little differently with Emiko doing the reverse heel-turn. But... did she? One minute she was obsessing about wiping out Oliver, then Virgil (Christopher Gerard) and newcomer, Beatrice (Samantha Jo) showed up to tell her she had failed the Ninth Circle with the obsessing. Did Emiko team up with Oliver because she heel-turned, or because her own people were trying to kill her for being too evil in a way that wasn't helping them? The motivation wasn't pinned down, and that was a big part of the character's flaws: Emiko never did have her motivations pinned down. If she turned against the Ninth Circle, why? Apparently because of Oliver's manly/brotherly charms and because IITS (It's In The Script).
Then we go to the second half of the episode, which is the pseudo-series finale. Everyone gets together at the bunker to say their goodbyes. Curtis goes back to DC, Laurel and Ben figure it's good to be heroes, Diggle and Ben shake hands so later Diggle can raise Ben's son. Sgt. Bingsley thoughtfully cleared Team Arrow with Mayor Pollard.
We do get a touching scene where the Core Three--Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle--share a moment together and Felicity tells Diggle he's part of their family. Awww. Then Diggle takes them to a safe house and disappears (what happened to him in the future?), and we get a montage of Mia being born and her parents raising her. Then the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) from the 2018 crossover shows up to tell Oliver it's time to do what Oliver promised to do: sacrifice himself to save the Multiverse. What a guy with martial arts, a bow, and arrows can do to save the Multiverse remains to be seen in the 2019 Crisis crossover. Tactical geniusry, I guess.
And this involves Oliver lying yet again to his friends and to his wife. He doesn't get called out on it.
Then we flash-forward one more time and Felicity says goodbye to William and Mia. Then she goes with the Monitor into a dimensional portal to be reunited with Oliver. Which is kinda what happened to the Earth-3 Superman in the DC Comics Crisis mini-series when he was reunited with his Lois Lane. That didn't turn out well.
Oh, in the flash-forward, Team Not Arrow blow up the wall surrounding the Glades and take down Galaxy One. Mia shows off her moves, William taps on a computer, Kevin Dale (Raj Paul) shows up to nyah-hah-hah a time or two. In the end the heroes win.
And that brings Season 7 of Arrow to a close. As I noted, I didn't feel inspired to review Arrow this year, primarily because there wasn't much there. A team of black leatherclad vigilantes just doesn't seem to cut it these days. When Arrow first showed up as part of the "new wave" of CW/DC Heroes, he was new and interesting. But familiarity doesn't breed contempt, but a sense of deja vu. There were isolated episodes where Season 7 was good: Oliver in prison ran just long enough to be interesting without tiring out the possibilities.
It was a little strange they kept Richard Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) around past the end of Season 6. It did make a change to have a Big Bad who survived the end of a season. But then they didn't do much with him in Season 7 until they killed him off. Acevedo always brought his A game.
The creative team seemed determined to keep Laurel (Katie Cassidy) on the show. Having killed off her Earth-1 version, they brought in the Earth-2 Laurel. It gave us a good appearance by her sister Sara (Caity Lotz), but having Laurel as a villain-turned DA didn't do anything major for Season 7, other than give us some well-acted scenes of Laurel and Felicity bonding.
We did get Ben Turner for a few more appearances in Season 7, and I'd pay good money to see a Ben Turner/Suicide Squad spinoff series. But Warner and DC do what they do, so no Suicide Squad or Task Force X or whatever they're call it these days on the CW.
The whole "vigilantes have to do police stuff now they're official" episode ("Training Day") was good. But it only featured in a couple of episodes. Other than Oliver not wearing a mask, and a brief flirtation in "You Have Saved" with Team Arrow being wanted by the police, nothing came of it.
There was the crossover, and the crossovers are always fun.
Overall, Season 7 of Arrow just felt too long. That, and to some degree the actual "superheroes" on the CW seem to have passed Team Arrow by. They're just a group of people with one meta who uses her power when the budget allows it. Wild Dog and Spartan shoot people, despite the show's anti-gun episode a few seasons ago. Oliver shoots people with arrows and hits them over the head. Black Canary hits people over the head with her bo staff and occasionally sonic screams. Give me The Flash and DC's Legends of Tomorrow for superpowers and wide-ranging plots, with time traveling bad guys and Big Bads that are really bad instead of just crime lords with (at best) a gimmick or two.
Batwoman looks set to replace Arrow as the costumed non-superpowered vigilante show when Arrow closes up shop. That's got the Batman mythos going for it, and the fact that the main character wears a (relatively) flashy costume and has some neat gimmicks. That makes Oliver and his team look like weak sauce. Not to mention Batwoman is a lesbian, because it's the CW and 2019. Having a main character as a lesbian is going to win the creative team some brownie points and/or good will with the critics.
I won't be sorry to see Arrow go, if Season 8 goes like Season 7. Arrow was good, but after seven years it's just gotten... old. There's plenty of DC characters for the CW to explore, like Batwoman and Constantine. Not to mention the characters on the DC Universe channel. It seems like the creative team concurs: Season 8 is going to be Felicity-less, and maybe a good chunk of it will be Oliver-less as well. Maybe this will give characters like Spartan and Wild Dog and Black Canary a chance to step out of Oliver's shadow. Maybe Ragman will come out of retirement or whatever the heck he's doing.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on May 14, 2019