Arrow Series Finale Review
By Justin Carter
And here we are at the end, but also the beginning. Probably.
It’s been eight years since Arrow first salmon-laddered its way onto our TV screens in 2012. The superhero landscape has grown dramatically in that time, but the CW has Arrow to thank for the juggernaut success of shows that followed in its footsteps.
Arrow, despite multiple plot changes and ensemble shakeups, has largely stuck to its story involving a guy in a hood doing sick stunts with a bow. Even when the show’s final season dipped its toe into larger cosmic affairs, it never really lost sight of what it or Oliver Queen and the rest of Team Arrow are ultimately about.
To that end, it’s no surprise that “Fadeout,” the series’ final episode, both is and isn’t a classic Arrow episode. It’s got everything ingrained in the series’ DNA, from flashbacks to 2012 when Oliver and Diggle were a duo offering ruminations on hope in between taking down the bad guys, to present day kid William getting kidnapped. It’s got a running subtext on legacy too, illustrated by Sara hopping over to 2040 and bringing Mia to Oliver’s funeral — this giving her a chance to briefly cement herself as the new Green Arrow in the eyes of the present day public. Roy and Thea get to be married and we even finally get a long overdue (but tragically brief) salmon ladder bit with Diggle.
That’s all classic Arrow, but what sets it apart is how much more thoughtful and meditative episode this is. It only boasts two fight scenes and largely sits back so the cast can bounce off one another. And it’s an extended cast, featuring nearly everyone of prominence in Oliver’s life receing some kind of closure. For a show that made its protagonist bloodthirsty for its first year, it’s refreshingly sincere about letting everyone in his life be happy, even if some need more time to breathe than they get. It’s somber without overindulging in misery, and more often than not quite hopeful about its characters and the futures that await them. Whatever else you can say about this episode, it succeeds in tying loose ends in a way that feels natural.
The other thing this episode succeeds at? Letting Diggle take center stage. David Ramsey has always been good in the show, even when the material hasn’t been good to him. He’s doing some good work in this episode as a Diggle still grappling with his mission being effectively over and one in 2012 who wanted a mission to join. It’s an interesting dynamic that anchors everything else and keeps focus in an episode that otherwise might have felt weird without a POV character that’s been around this whole time.
Also: Diggle becomes a Green Lantern. It’s a fan theory I disliked at first years ago but warmed to as time wore on, and I won’t deny losing my mind as he picked up that box at the end. It’s dumb, but also great. And if that isn’t Arrow and its 8 seasons distilled to a single phrase, I don’t know what is.
Like its titular hero, Arrow became someone else—something else—over the last 8 years. It’s had highs and lows, like any show. But it’s always wanted it and its heroes to be better. And in that respect, it hit the mark.
- The spinoff still hasn’t been picked up for series yet, but odds are it will. Either way, it’s a good sendoff for Dinah, Laurel, and Mia, and I’m sure there’s a backup plan for their stories to continue if things don’t go to plan.
- Diggle being a Green Lantern now could go one of two ways; either he’s in the upcoming Superman show with his family, since they’re headed to Metropolis. Or, and this is a big if, he’s one of the two Green Lanterns in the HBO Max show. (Oh please, like it’s really that far fetched now.)
- “He saved this city.” Knew they couldn’t pass that opportunity up.
- Of the many cameos, Lance and Moira’s were maybe the best. Tommy’s was a pleasant surprise, and ditto Emiko’s.
- Thanks for reading my weekly reviews! I’ve had fun watching this show over the years and growing up along with it.