In which there's a whole lot of destruction and a death that no one saw coming

By Nuzhat Naoreen
May 16, 2013 at 04:55 AM EDT
The CW
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When I interviewed Arrow exec producers Mark Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg recently, they said that tonight’s finale was more like a feature film. They weren’t kidding.

From terrific action sequences to some incredibly poignant moments, the episode wrapped up this season’s most pivotal storylines and set the stage for a stellar season 2 in a way that was both cinematic and substantial. Oh and of course, thanks to the final scene, absolutely shocking. (Now, before you read the next sentence, remember I’m writing this from the perspective of someone who has not read the comics. For those of you who have an idea of where this arc is headed, please keep spoilers to a minimum in the comments. Speculation however is totally welcome).

I knew someone was going to die in the finale, but not once did I think it would be Tommy. Thea? Sure. Lance? Why not! Moira? Maybe. But Tommy?! Well played, writers. Well played.

Don’t worry. The death will be discussed in detail below, but first let’s back up to the start of the episode…

After a brief flashback showing Oliver on the raft with his dad post-shipwreck, the episode cuts to Starling City, where our vigilante is chained to a ceiling and yes, shirtless. (Go ahead. Take a look. It’ll be a few months before you see those abs again). Since discovering Oliver’s hooded identity, Malcolm has decided to hold him hostage and sell him on his form of vengeance. Oliver however isn’t exactly the easiest customer. The two are at an impasse, though it doesn’t really matter because Malcolm is convinced he’s winning either way. He thinks Oliver is a weak opponent because he doesn’t know what he’s fighting for or what he’s willing to sacrifice. Before he (literally) leaves Oliver hanging, Malcolm promises that no one will be able to stop his plan to level the Glades — not even the vigilante.

Flashback to the Island: Oliver stabs Fyers’ minion just as he’s about to launch the missile that’s supposed to take down the commercial airliner (and consequently, China’s economy). But he’s not swift enough. The missile is on its way.

In Starling City, Oliver decides he’s done being tied up. He flips himself upside down and works his way up the metal chain latching him to the ceiling until it releases. He ends up landing on his spine and it looks PAINFUL. (This stunt was great, but did it make anyone else cringe? I definitely felt like it was my spine hitting the floor).

Of course, he doesn’t get to make a clean getaway. Oliver is accosted by Malcolm’s men on his way out. Luckily, Diggle — who found Oliver through a tracking device latched inside his boot (it came in handy!) — arrives on the scene just in time.

The two head back to the hideaway, where Diggle tells Oliver that Felicity discovered the design schematics of the earthquake generator. In other words, they can shut it down, if they can find it.

Speaking of Felicity, she gets taken into custody by Det. Lance, who wants to know all about her hacking “hobby.” He connects her to the Hood, but before he can make any headway he’s interrupted by a call from Arrow, who tells him about Malcolm’s plans to level the Glades. Lance realizes that a certain blonde IT girl is the least of his concerns, and lets Felicity go. Before she leaves, however, Felicity gets unnecessarily teary eyed and tells Lance that Arrow is truly a hero or whatever. Couldn’t she have just made an awkward comment? I like her so much more when she’s not emo.

NEXT: Oliver tells Tommy about Malcolm’s plan to demolish the Glades…

So, what’s Tommy been doing since he saw his ex-girlfriend and ex-bestfriend getting it on? Drowning his sorrows in alcohol, obviously. Tommy rages at Oliver (and deservedly so) for betraying him, but Ollie doesn’t have time to tend his wounds. He gives Tommy a half-hearted apology and then moves on to a topic that’s slightly more important: the impending destruction of the Glades. He tells Tommy about Malcolm’s plans, but his pleas are ignored. Instead, Tommy tells Oliver that he wishes he had died on the island. After watching this scene, I was that much more convinced that Tommy was going to tip over to the dark side by the end of the episode. Weren’t you?

Flashback to the Island: Though Oliver, Slade and Shado are in combat with Fyers’ men, they manage to reprogram the missile. The only problem? It gets redirected toward the island. Oops!

Back in Starling City, Lance gets suspended for telling his boss they should clear out the Glades because Arrow said so. Okay Lance, I admit it, you’re growing on me.

At the Queen Mansion, Oliver tells Moira they must to stop The Undertaking, but she’s too scared — or should I say selfish? — to act. While they argue about the right thing to do, Malcolm calls Moira to tell her that he has decided to accelerate his plan to demolish the Glades. He wants the Undertaking to happen that night. Why he’d tell Moira this after knowing her son, Oliver, is the Hood, is beyond me, but all right.

Meanwhile, Laurel shows up at Oliver’s house. She wants to know why he left without saying goodbye. Is she being insecure? Slightly. But given their history, it’s more than warranted. Oliver calms Laurel down and tells her that she’s the only one who always saw him for who he truly is. They kiss. She cries. Wait, why is she crying? Isn’t this supposed to be a happy moment for them? Maybe I’m just heartless.

Cut to what might just be the best — and certainly most cinematic (at least on an emotional level) scene in the episode: A still drunk Tommy tells his dad that Laurel left him for Oliver. Then he says that Oliver also accused Malcolm of trying to level the Glades. So crazy, right dad? Ha ha…um, wait what? Malcolm makes Tommy listen to a voicemail his mother left while she was dying. (In case you need a refresher, Malcolm wants to level the Glades because his darling wife — who opened a clinic there — was robbed and left to die on the street). Tommy is devastated and begs his father to stop playing the voicemail.

Meanwhile, Felicity has figured out that the earthquake machine is positioned underground. Oliver realizes he knows where it’s hidden — it’s situated near where Tommy’s mother died.

NEXT: Moira comes clean and gets arrested…

At the Queen Mansion, Moira decides to hold a press conference. Apparently, Oliver’s chat about doing the right thing actually got through to her. She tells reporters that she has “failed this city” (way to steal Arrow’s line, Moira!), and admits to her role in The Undertaking. She tells the press that the architect behind The Undertaking is Malcolm and offers proof that he’s killed dozens in pursuit of his madness. She includes her husband and Frank (though, to be fair, her husband committed suicide and she was the one who put a target on Frank’s back. But, whatever, technicalities, right?).

Why is every scene with Thea always so absurd? Before Moira is hauled away by the police, Thea angrily confronts her about The Undertaking. She just doesn’t understand how her mother could want to destroy a place where her boyfriend (of what, two weeks?) lives. ANY OTHER PLACE MOM, BUT NOT WHERE ROY LIVES! Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what she meant, but still, her reaction was ridiculous. I know she’s a lovesick teenager and all, but come on!

Malcolm shows a still-in-shock Tommy his Dark Archer suit, but he’s interrupted by the arrival of a handful of cops. (Again, why wouldn’t you send an entire task force to deal with a man who is planning to destroy a portion of a city??!). Malcolm easily kills the police officers, while Tommy begs him to stop. With no other option, Tommy picks up a gun and aims at his dad. Here, I was convinced that Tommy was going to kill Malcolm, and later, in despair, embrace the Dark Archer suit, but once again, I was completely wrong. Malcolm knocks Tommy out.

At the hideaway, Oliver asks Diggle to deactivate the device, while he goes after Malcolm. Diggle, however, refuses to let Oliver go alone. Felicity says she’ll deal with the device but Oliver orders her to leave the Glades. He doesn’t want to put her at risk, but she insists on helping. They end up compromising. Oliver asks Lance to go after the device and tells him that Felicity will walk him through the process.

Meanwhile, everyone is trying to get out of the Glades. Well, everyone except Roy, who hears about the chaos happening outside his door on the news. Late to the party much?

Flashback to the Island: The island is destroyed after the missile hits, but Oliver and Slade make it out okay. Unfortunately, so does Fyers, who takes Shado hostage. Oliver uses a newly discovered bow and arrow to take aim at Fyers. Shado gives him the go ahead to shoot, and he does. Turns out all of those water slapping lessons were pretty effective. Oliver doesn’t miss.

In Starling City, Oliver and Diggle arrive at Malcolm’s office where they see Tommy. Tommy admits that Oliver was right about his father. He asks Oliver if he plans to kill Malcolm, but Oliver doesn’t give him a straight answer. Meanwhile, Diggle discovers a false wall. He and Oliver step inside and find Malcolm waiting for them. He says he wants Oliver and Diggle to watch their city die. They, however, would rather watch Malcolm die. They try to fight him, but he’s too quick. Malcolm ends up stabbing Diggle in the shoulder.

Meanwhile, Lance locates the device and realizes he has only seven minutes to disarm it.

Cut to the Glades where Roy spots some hoodlums who are up to no good. Naturally, Arrow 2.0 has to get involved. He takes out a few of the men, when the leader of the pack pulls a gun on him. Before the man can do any harm though, Thea knocks him from behind with a glass bottle. It’s pretty bad ass, but don’t worry, she’ll go back to being annoying really soon.

Meanwhile, Felicity and Lance inadvertently trigger an anti-tampering alarm that speeds up the detonation of the device. Now, they’ve only got two minutes to go before the Glades goes under. While Felicity tries to figure out a solution, a panicked Lance calls Laurel and tells her he’s not going to make it and then begs her to leave her office in the Glades immediately. Leave it to Laurel to ignore her father’s dying wish.

And now for the most ridiculous moment of the night… Roy and Thea are on their way out of the Glades, when she starts yelling at him for texting and driving. “You do know how dangerous it is to text and drive right?! It can wait!” Look, I agree. No one should text and drive, but was this scene really necessary? Shouldn’t she be yelling about the impending earthquake instead? Whatever. Their escape is stopped short when Roy spots a man trapped between two vehicles. The man needs help getting out, and Roy obviously has to play hero again. He decides to stay and help the man while Thea drives off to safety. Does she make it? Does he? Do they reunite? Do I care? I might have if this scene wasn’t so contrived.

Okay, now back to the real action: Arrow and the Dark Archer go head-to-head on the roof of Malcolm’s office. Once again, it seems like the Dark Archer has the upper hand. He’s seconds away from snapping Oliver’s neck, when Oliver suddenly spots a stray arrow and pushes it right through Malcolm’s chest.

Meanwhile, Lance manages to disarm the device. So, all is well, right? Not exactly. A dying Malcolm tells Oliver that there’s another device. A back-up plan if you will. And it’s too late for anyone to stop it. Oliver and a very injured Diggle watch from the roof as half the city is leveled.

We see Laurel get knocked down inside CNRI. (Did anyone else hope think she wasn’t going to make it?). She’s stranded underneath the rubble and begging for help. Oliver rushes to her rescue, but he’s not the one who saves her. Tommy gets there first and pulls her to safety. He promises he’s right behind her, but when she turns around the building collapses.

Oliver goes inside and finds Tommy, who knows he’s not going to make it. He asks Oliver if he killed Malcolm, and Oliver tells him he didn’t. Before he dies, Tommy apologizes to Oliver for being a bad friend.

As Tommy slips away, Oliver loses it. He thinks he should have been the one to die. But wait a minute, back-up, did Tommy really just die?!

Writers, you win. All season we’ve been led to believe that Tommy would go to the dark side in the finale, but instead, this episode proved to be his redemption. Not only is this a great twist, but it’s a bold move. The show didn’t need another do-gooder, and leaving the episode with Tommy suddenly stepping into the Dark Archer suit would have been both predictable and underwhelming — and this finale was better than that. Much better than that. Here’s to closing out the season right.

Now, time for your comments. What did you think of this episode? Were you as shocked as I was about Tommy’s death? Will the writers find a way to bring Tommy back (I personally hope not. It would ruin the greatness of this twist)? Where does this leave Oliver?

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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