Bettina Strauss/The CW


S4 E23
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May 26, 2016 at 03:38 AM EDT

He takes him down, grabbing his enemy in one hand and a stray arrow in another. Darhk baits him, knowing Oliver can’t bring himself to kill his foe if he wasn’t even willing to kill the man who murdered his mother.

But, Oliver reasons, he had a choice with Slade. With Darhk, there is only one option. So he stabs Damien Darhk dead, ending the battle, and, collectively with the rest of his team, stopping a tiny thing known as Armageddon from unleashing upon the entire planet.

Recuperating back at base, the near-world ending event has given much of the team pause, allowing them to reflect on the state of their lives. Frankly, many of them aren’t too fond of where they find themselves.

Quentin is going to head out of town with Donna, his suspension from the police force now a little more permanent. Thea has to wonder who she really is if she’s willing to threaten the life of a little girl, Darhk’s daughter, in this line of work, and so she needs some time before she loses herself.

So it comes down to the original three, Diggle, Felicity, and Oliver. That is until Diggle tells Oliver he too needs some time away. Lyla may understand why he killed Andy, but John still doesn’t quite understand it. He wants to take this moment to figure out where he went off the tracks so he can get back on them. So he’s re-enlisting in the army, a decision Lyla clearly looks unpleased with, but one John obviously believes is necessary.

On the Island

Season 4’s flashbacks end with a final showdown between Reiter and Taiana, the former dying with the help of a thrown knife from Oliver after Reiter attempts to sap the life and power from Taiana. Yet Taiana then asks Oliver to kill her because she can feel the power of the idol consuming her. She sees no other option, and so Oliver kills her, only to be found by a bunch of her fellow former prisoners.

They’re primed to kill Oliver, but he explains what happened, that Reiter destroyed the plane of prisoners which almost escaped. He offers them another way off the island after they dig a grave for Taiana, that way being the assistance of Amanda Waller and Argus.

She comes, offering him the ability to continue working for her, but he has a promise to fulfill. He and Taiana made a pact that, should either of them die on the island, they would visit the other’s loved ones. So it looks like Oliver’s heading off to Russia in season 5’s flashbacks, which will hopefully find some more thematic and narrative resonance than the disappointing flashbacks did this season.

While that trajectory to Russia seems quite obvious in the flashbacks, things are less unclear in the present day. The fracturing of Team Arrow, at least for the moment, leaves Oliver in a puzzled state himself. While visiting Laurel’s grave, Felicity helps him to see that he’s at war with himself — he’s having trouble reconciling the man who killed Damien Darhk and the man who stood among the people and offered them hope.

He then gets a call that, at least for the moment, gives him some purpose. It’s just an interim position, but Oliver is sworn in as mayor of Star City. He now has two ways of inspiring the people and battling whatever threats come their way (threats which the season finale doesn’t seem interested in necessarily hinting at).

He returns to base, ready to protect Star City seemingly on his own. He’s not alone, though. Felicity returns to stand with him amid the rubble of the Arrow homebase and, really, the rubble of Star City in the wake of Darhk.

They have quite the mess waiting for them, but together — united — they can rebuild.

And so ends Arrow’s fourth season, one that at times hinted at the promise of the show’s glory days but often was almost as at odds with itself as Oliver is with himself. The show seemed as unengaged with the flashbacks as viewers, the season-long arc dipped in and out of properly building up Darhk’s presence and his plans, and the many dour notes the season hit felt at odds with Oliver’s personal endeavors to provide hope.

Still, the finale seems aimed at addressing that last point, of not just instilling hope again in the people of Star City but in the viewers as well. It certainly sets up the possibility of a back-to-basics approach in season 5 that could harken back to the highpoints of the series. Star City can rebuild, and hopefully watching it do so will be worth the wait when Arrow returns in the fall. 

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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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