NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow” are present in this review
Arrow’s impact on the television landscape has been pretty huge throughout its eight-year run, more so than the showrunners ever intended it to be! This series ended up inspiring an entire televised DC Universe foundation for The CW, catapulted creator and executive producer, Greg Berlanti to multi-network television stardom, and eventually went on to become an anchoring point for most of DC’s live-action media throughout the years, birthing a multiverse that provides loose connection between live-action DC projects that are old as the Christopher Reeve-era Superman movies, and as current as DC’s upcoming DC Universe and HBO Max streaming shows. That’s not bad at all for a show that’s centered around a lesser-known, B-list DC hero, one that began as a dark and gritty crime drama with no superpowers allowed, and a blatant desire to copy the then-freshly-concluded Dark Knight movie trilogy from Christopher Nolan.
Alas, we’ve now come to the end of Arrow’s very impressive run in 2020 however, with The CW hosting a two-hour event for the show’s final episode, beginning with a first hour consisting of interviews and looks back at the highlights and history of Arrow’s eight seasons, before the second hour contains the series finale proper. “Fadeout” caps off a truncated final season for Arrow that more or less functioned as an extended series finale in its own right (a deliberate creative move, according to the showrunners in the first hour’s interview segments), showcasing a present-era Star City that’s now miraculously free of crime, after Oliver rebooted the multiverse with his dying breath during the recent Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. Not only that, but several dark moments of tragedy from Arrow’s history have now been changed on the new Earth-Prime, with this final episode confirming that the deaths of Moira Queen, Tommy Merlyn, Emiko Adachi-Queen and Quentin Lance have now been reversed, and all of those characters are now alive again. Surprisingly, Earth-1 Laurel and Robert Queen are still dead, though this is speculated to be because Oliver is forbidden from reversing deaths that hugely affected his journey as the Green Arrow. Yeah, this doesn’t totally make sense, because the deaths of Tommy and Moira especially affected Oliver’s heroic journey in a big way, but we can suspend our disbelief and not poo-poo a happy ending for Oliver’s closest family members.
As far as being a final episode for such a groundbreaking vigilante drama goes, “Fadeout” is certainly heartwarming, and mostly satisfying for long-term fans, especially when almost every key protagonist of Arrow makes an appearance for the show’s last bow. Hell, even Rory Regan/Ragman comes back here! I could have done without the forced final crime to foil in what’s supposedly a crime-less city though, wherein Mia is eventually forced to confront one of the survivors from Oliver’s kill list from all the way back in Season One, after the man kidnaps and attempts to kill William. This weak epilogue battle doesn’t really serve the plot for the most part, even if it does provide an interesting glimpse at the exact point when Oliver decided to spare one of his targets at Diggle’s behest in a flashback, beginning their friendship and budding bond as vigilante brothers. Maybe Oliver shouldn’t have started with a notorious human trafficker there, but I guess that’s arguing semantics at this point.
Regardless, most of this episode consists simply of characters saying their final goodbyes to Oliver, to Oliver’s mission, to each other, and to the bunker, with Dinah shutting the lights on the former Team Arrow lair one last time. We also see the statue of Oliver that was glimpsed during the previous backdoor pilot for proposed spin-off series, Green Arrow & The Canaries get unveiled by Quentin, who sums up the unlikely and honourable journey of Oliver pretty eloquently, as most of the show’s pivotal heroes all come out to pay their respects. This eventually culminates in Oliver getting a gravestone placed next to his father’s as well, which sees a few more legacy Arrow characters return for a brief farewell, including Anatoli, Nyssa and Talia Al Ghul, and the aforementioned Tommy Merlyn. Even Flash and Supergirl come to attend Oliver’s visitation, with the characters burying a bunch of mementos in lieu of Oliver’s body, which was lost to the ether.
Obviously though, anyone who watched Crisis on Infinite Earths would know that Oliver has become the new host for the Spectre, despite his apparent death, a power that he still appears to possess, after it’s finally clarified exactly where Felicity travels to with the Monitor in 2040. It turns out that Oliver now lives in some sort of afterlife, in an idyllic and fully saved Star City, complete with the Queen Consolidated building in the center. Felicity was taken by the Monitor to reunite with Oliver in this ‘heaven’, even being restored to her younger self in the process. The two share a very heartfelt final scene, as Oliver says that he now has all the time in the world to fill in the rest of his story with Felicity. It’s a perfect note to leave these characters, the episode and the series on, with Oliver having now found peace, having successfully saved Star City in the real world, and inspiring a whole host of heroes in his wake.
As for the character epilogues, they range a bit in quality, though most of them are pretty solid. We already know that Rene eventually becomes mayor of Star City, for example, and that Dinah doesn’t ultimately stay with the SCPD, with Laurel presumably carrying out the good fight in her own way too. Rory seems to just leave Star City again meanwhile, and Roy hastily proposes to Thea, which falls a bit flat from an emotional standpoint, seeing as Roy and Thea have shared so little screentime in the show’s recent episodes, and Roy’s sudden departure from Thea’s company is never adequately explained. Most pivotal however is Lyla accepting a promotion in Metropolis, and the entire Diggle family moving there, potentially setting up their ability to be guest stars in the upcoming Superman & Lois series. The cherry on top here as well is that Arrow finally pays off a fan theory that’s been foreshadowed and teased for years, wherein some space debris violently crashes near Diggle after he loads a moving van, which is apparently a box, containing a glowing green object. Yes, it looks like Diggle may finally be realizing a new purpose as a Green Lantern for the Arrowverse, at long last, and while this raises some questions regarding HBO Max’s upcoming Green Lantern series, considering that it apparently takes place on Earth-12, not The CW’s Earth-Prime, it does nicely flirt with the idea that Diggle could show up on Superman & Lois with his very own power ring!
Despite some awkward narrative hiccups here and there, “Fadeout” hits most of the proper notes when it comes to seeing Arrow off for good, which it does in a fittingly emotional manner. The kidnapping effort with William doesn’t really feel necessary, and some of the character epilogues do feel a tad rushed, considering the ludicrous amount of key heroes that Arrow has featured over the years, but Arrow fans and general DC enthusiasts will no doubt feel misty-eyed at Oliver’s final farewell. It’s also exciting to see many of this show’s characters primed for exciting new careers in the Arrowverse, despite Arrow’s conclusion, whether it’s on potential spin-off series, Green Arrow & The Canaries, or promising guest spots on other Arrowverse shows like The Flash or Superman & Lois. TV shows may end all the time, but this final episode for Arrow particularly feels like it marks the end of an era, while at the same time setting the stage for a series of exciting new chapters in the Arrowverse, spearheaded by the brave heroes that are determined to keep on fighting in Oliver’s stead.
The final episode of Arrow makes for a heartwarming tribute to its fallen lead hero, while teasing a promising new era for the universe that he helped create.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Emotional, memorable final tribute to Oliver
Earth-Prime resurrecting Moira, Tommy, Emiko and Quentin in a crime-free Star City
Mostly satisfying new career directions for the show's heroes