Arrow “Purgatory” Review
By Justin Carter
In some ways, it’s hard not to talk about Arrow’s closing season without mentioning some behind the scenes matters. Before the show officially announced its end, Stephen Amell spoke about wanting the show to go on without him. Having that information in your mind is perhaps key to “Purgatory”, an episode that, no matter what the ultimate outcome of Crisis, marks the end of the Oliver Queen era of the show.
Even without the upcoming crossover and Mia-focused spin-off in one’s mind, there’s a true sense of finality and full circle to everything that has come. For as often as Oliver has come to Lian Yu, this likely final appearance from the island that borne our hero, is as different as he is, fresh with life after being frequently shot up, bombed, and mined for nefarious purposes. It’s not the most subtle of visual storytelling here, but I do give it a pass because it’s the last season. I’ll even accept how dismissive it is about returning season one characters like Fyers, Wintergreen, and Yao Fei showing up with no real explanation other than it being thanks to powerful ghost energy. It’d be stranger if they didn’t show up.
If there’s anything holding these returns back, it’s that their resolutions come fairly quickly. Yao Fei’s goodbye is incredibly rushed during the final fight scene, while Wintergreen and Fyers don’t even get the honor of a one-on-one execution by either Oliver or Mia. I would have liked something more, particularly for Yao Fei given how instrumental he was to this whole enterprise.
Still, the character work in this episode is maybe some of the best it’s ever been. It’s nice to see William stand up to Mia and talk sense into her; the Diggle family drama feels genuine without being overblown. There’s actual dramatic heft, especially both in Roy losing his arm and Lyla evolving into Harbinger. The Lyla reveal works so well because even though she’s largely been in the background of this show, Audrey Anderson has done a lot to give this character nuance and sympathetic value despite the characters maybe not fully wanting her to.
Arrow’s true finale is over a month away, but I think under the circumstances, “Purgatory” serves as a clean enough true ending for the series if one wanted to ignore the crossover. It’s genuine closure for a majority of its cast and like the rest of the season up to now, feels like a celebration of one of TV’s unlikeliest breakouts in this decade. Now, time to watch our hero do his likely final crossover.
- Roy losing his arm hasn’t happened in the comics in over a decade, but if you watched Young Justice, you know he’ll likely end up with a neat prosthetic.
- See you next week for Arrowverse: Endgame.