A cycle of violence evolves into a cycle of heroism
Going into Arrow’s season 7 finale, I had no idea what to expect because there was so much to accomplish. Not only did it have to wrap-up Oliver’s half-season long conflict with his villainous sister Emiko, but it also had to tackle the future storyline and give Felicity an emotional and fitting send-off because her portrayer Emily Bett Rickards is exiting the show after this season.
Was it entirely successful? In the episode’s immediate afterglow, I’m willing to say, mostly yes. Sure, most of it felt rushed and over-stuffed, and I couldn’t keep the particulars of the plot straight. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s not terribly important because “You Have Saved this City” — which was written by showrunner Beth Schwartz and Rebecca Bellotto— landed almost every emotional beat it had to. Not only that, but there was a gravitas to the story that’s been missing all season and made it feel like this was the conclusion to this part of the story.
At the beginning of the season, Schwartz stated that the theme was redemption, and the finale returned to that idea in a big way. The hour, which was energetically directed by supervising producer/oner lover James Bamford, began with Team Arrow narrowly evading being arrested by the SCPD for a number of crimes, because there are more important things to do — specifically, foiling Emiko’s terrorist/Queen family legacy-ruining attack on Star City. Luckily, though, they won’t be doing it alone because several familiar faces return to help: Black Siren, Curtis, and Bronze Tiger, who joins in to help the team calm a crowd down and destroy some Signus dispersing drones.
With Black Siren and Bronze Tiger part of the team, the finale really starts to hone in on this whole idea of redemption. Both of these former criminals acknowledge how Team Arrow helped them turn their lives around, and they support Oliver’s decision to continue fighting for Emiko’s own redemption. As the hour goes on, you get the sense that Arrow’s thesis statement is that redemption is possible for everyone, but you can’t do it alone.
Bamford’s direction does a good job of conveying the importance of the collective. Look at the way the camera sweeps around the bunker in some of the longer takes and shows everyone who’s there, or in the way he tries to cram as many heroes into one static shot as possible, like when everyone in the bunker crowds around Felicity’s workspace. I’ll admit I was truly moved to see Oliver, Felicity, Curtis, Diggle, Dinah, Rene, Black Siren, Roy, and Bronze Tiger standing all together down there. The diversity of experiences sort of reminded me of James Tynion IV’s recent installment of Detective Comics, which focused on a superhero team comprised only of Bat-family heroes. Here, you have a team comprised of Arrow- family members, and that sense of family is incredibly potent.
With Felicity and Curtis’ help, the team tracks Emiko to the old Queen Consolidated/current Palmer Tech building, because Emiko is nothing if not poetic. So, Green Arrow, Bronze Tiger, Spartan, and Arsenal head there and split up. While Oliver heads upstairs to the penthouse to confront his sister, the remaining three stay downstairs to fight the Ninth Circle, disable a relay device that would allow Emiko to set off her many bombs (including the ones there), and evacuate the building. The trio is on the verge of being overwhelmed, but then Wild Dog, Black Siren, and Black Canary show up with the police for reinforcement, having cleared everyone’s names with the help of Sergeant Bingsley.
Upstairs, Oliver comes face to face with Emiko, who is determined as ever to destroy their family’s legacy by bringing the entire building down. Despite everything, though, Oliver never abandons hope that she can be redeemed and spends their entire fight trying to get through to her. In fact, when he eventually gains the upper-hand, he offers to let her kill him.
Right at that moment, though, Virgil and someone named Beatrice (wow, super on the nose) show up with more Ninth Circle reinforcements. However, they’re not there to help their leader. No, the Ninth Circle wants to kill Emiko because her petty sibling rivalry has exposed them to the rest of the world. So, Oliver and Emiko team-up to take them down. Unfortunately, Emiko is fatally wounded in the fight and uses her final words to urge Oliver to go into hiding with Felicity and their daughter because the Ninth Circle won’t stop coming after them. Redemption Achievement, unlocked!
Oliver takes Emiko’s words to heart. When he returns to the bunker, he and Felicity announce that they’re taking a step back from this hero business because he has faith that the team can protect the city without him. “Every bit of success I’ve had along the way has been because of you,” he says. Is this a rehash of the season 3 finale? Yes, but here it feels like there’s more weight to it because the script is drawing on six seasons worth of history. To be honest, I’m not sure if season 7 itself actually earned this moment, but whatever, I don’t care because I was moved. Because Oliver and Felicity are doing this for their children, it feels more definitive and like it would stick were it not for certain extenuating circumstances. Anyway, everyone realizes that Oliver managed not only to end his cycle of violence but turn it into a cycle of heroism because Team Arrow is his legacy.
So Diggle helps Oliver and Felicity move into that isolated home we saw in “Star City 2040” and they all decide not to tell the team about Mia because the Ninth Circle would target them. From there, we’re treated to a montage that shows Oliver and Felicity’s life in the home. It’s super touching.
A few days/months after Mia’s birth, Oliver and Felicity decide their life is calm enough to try to get William back. Naturally, that’s when the Monitor shows up, tells Oliver he needs to hold up his end of the bargain they made in “Elseworlds,” and come help him save the multiverse. Felicity begs him not to go, especially once they find out that Oliver dies in the forthcoming crisis (!), but Oliver agrees. Before he leaves though, he and Felicity share a heart-wrenching and tearful goodbye in which he makes her promise to make sure their children have safe and normal lives.
Meanwhile in the future storyline: Future Team Arrow narrowly avoids being captured by the Zetas and launches a daring plan to destroy the ARCHER program. This requires Mia, William, Zoe, and Connor to infiltrate an ARCHER checkpoint and blow up the entire wall surrounding the Glades, which is where the terrible security program is housed. Of course, Felicity doesn’t want her children risking their lives, but in the end, she has no option but to let them be the heroes she knows they can be. And by the grace of writers, they manage to pull it off, and Mia even gets a badass moment in which she takes down several Zetas before grappling down the wall right as it goes boom.
In the wake of destroying the wall, Dinah, Felicity, and Roy decide to take responsibility for the action so that the young heroes can step up and become the city’s defenders. Before Felicity heads out on the run, though, she meets up with her children at Oliver’s grave (our hero dies in 2019, ahhh) to say goodbye because where she’s going she can’t stay in contact. Mia and William don’t understand, but they accept it. So, as Felicity leaves the graveyard, she walks through a portal with the Monitor to reunite with Oliver somewhere.
Overall, I think the way the show wrote Felicity off is pretty good. It’s definitely a bit stronger than the goodbye Thea got in season 6. Throughout the episode, it felt like we spent a lot more time with Felicity in the bunker than normal missions, and the future storyline gave her the opportunity to reconcile with her children. Even though I wasn’t fully invested in the flash-forwards, I still found her scenes with Mia and William very moving. And the fact that her final scene is her going off to see Oliver is what ‘shipper dreams are made of. That being said, the way she’s written off definitely leaves the door open for Felicity to return for the final season, and hopefully, she does because it’ll be rather disappointing if the show can’t tie this loose end up. Based on this ending, it seems as though the producers are confident they can get Rickards back next year to close the loop.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to season 8, which better just be Arrow & The Monitor: Multiverse Adventures.
Wall of Weird:
- If you have more questions about the Monitor of it all, check out this quick post on how the finale teases “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
- Overall, I’m not entirely sure what to make of the season as a whole. It’s definitely one that I need to rewatch before I decide where it falls on my personal ranking.
- “Trust me, the world needs her,” The Monitor, to Felicity, about her daughter Mia. I smell a spin-off!
- William asks Roy how he landed on Lian-Yu and Roy simply says that’s a long story. If it involves Thea, I would definitely watch that show/web-series!
- Original Team Arrow got a really cute goodbye.
- “So this is what it feels like to save a city,” Laurel, after saving the day.
- The finale explains how the Mark for Four came to be and, well, that’s one of those things that they could’ve just left unexplained or put in a DVD extra.
- Goodbye, Felicity: Look back at Emily Bett Rickards’ 10 bestArrow episodes
- Stephen Amell on Emily Bett Rickards’ Arrow exit: ‘We wouldn’t be here without you’
- Arrow stars and boss preview ‘humongous’, ‘beautiful’ season 7 finale
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