Cue Europe, because it’s time for “The Final Countdown.” Oliver Queen and his allies have to save Starling City from Slade Wilson and his army, and they need to do it fast before a drone strike levels the whole place. Can they pull it off? Who will live and who will die? Are we finally done with flashbacks to the island? The answers to these questions — and undoubtedly, some brand new questions — lie ahead, but only read on if you’ve already seen it, because there are massive spoilers this way.
Not So Quick Summary: Oliver frets that the mirakuru cure isn’t working on Roy Harper, but Felicity tells him to be patient because the snake venom is still in his system. The proximity alarm at the loft goes off, meaning that Junior Deathstrokes are there. Conveniently, Roy picks that moment to wake up, discovering that the cure works when he hurts himself punching someone. As Team Arrow ziplines to (relative) safety, Diggle’s ex-wife shows up on a helicopter and blows the loft up with a rocket.
Unfortunately, the Foundry has been ransacked. Ollie orders his crew to scrounge up as many injection arrows as they can, as the cure obviously works. As he puts it, “There’s been enough death already.”
Oh yeah, there’s a cliffhanger to get to! It turns out Thea really did shoot her dad, but Malcolm Merlyn is okay thanks to the magic of Kevlar. He’s actually proud of his daughter for having enough conviction to pull the trigger, though she storms off in disgust.
At the police precinct, Detective Lance tries rallying the troops, who are understandably scared by what they’re up against. Sara Lance has sister Laurel knocked out by tranquilizer dart to ensure her safety. Meanwhile, Roy says he doesn’t remember anything that’s happened to him as of late. and Felicity lies and tells him he was out cold the whole time.
Oliver isn’t happy to see the League of Assassins offering their assistance, especially when he learns why: Sara has agreed to go back with them in exchange for their help. This turns into yet another debate about whether Ollie should kill to save the city. Arrow insists that if Nyssa al Ghul and her men are helping, they still do it his way. Roy gets a gift, which is his own red mask, as Ollie explains that going through the crucible makes one stronger. He also tells Roy that Thea is okay since she left the city before the chaos started. He decides to give her a call, pleading with her to meet him so they can leave together. Despite Malcolm’s warnings, she heads for Roy, though Merlyn says, “When you need me, I’ll be there.”
Team Arrow finds Slade at his lair, and when he taunts them about bringing back-up, they show that they have. In the ensuing fight, Deathstroke ziplines to safety (everyone has one of those in Starling, it seems), but Ravager is captured. Isabel is defiant even in defeat until she is seemingly killed by Nyssa.
Detective Lance finds Laurel, who is immediately captured by a Junior Deathstroke after a very brief struggle. And we see that Amanda Waller is true to her word since the drones are on their way.
It’s time for another philosophical debate, and even Detective Lance thinks Arrow may need to kill again to end Slade once and for all. As usual, Felicity argues for the other side, but Ollie says he can’t out-fight or outthink Slade. Her reply: “Make him outthink you.”
Thea and Roy have their reunion, and he swears that he’s both okay and done with the Arrow … and then he gets a “We need you” text, and all of a sudden he’s telling Thea to pack while he does one more thing before they leave for a new life together. She says she trusts him. I sense foreshadowing at work! At the (former?) Queen mansion, Ollie tells Felicity she needs to stay there for safety. She doesn’t want to be safe, but Oliver drops a bombshell on her: Slade wants to kill the woman he loves, but he’s got the wrong girl, as he professes his love for Felicity. And Oliver-Felicity shippers erupt in applause! Some of you do exist, right?
Diggle tells his ex-wife Lyla that he loves her, and the two of them work on something with the clock to the drone strike down to less than 52 minutes. Ah, I see, they’re freeing the Suicide Squad. Diggle tells Floyd Lawton that he can’t be dropping bodies. Waller has lost contact with one of her A.R.G.U.S. companies, but that’s because Slade’s army has already taken it out. Team Arrow and the League take their shot, leading to a huge battle in the tunnels. Copious amounts of injection arrows are fired, Roy seems to remember his training, and Detective Lance even saves Nyssa.
But back at Roy’s place, Thea finds a bow and quiver. That can’t be good. Waller preps the drones, but the Suicide Squad takes the control room despite the fact that it’s treason to do so. During the stand-off, Waller reveals that Lyla is pregnant and Diggle is going to be a dad. Congrats John!
Arrow tells Deathstroke that his army has been defeated, but Slade cares not. Thanks to the bugs at the Queen mansion, he knew about Felicity and already has her in hand as well as Laurel. Ollie rushes to an attempted rescue, but Slade is holding all the cards. Or is he? Oliver tries some mind games, suggesting that Shado would be disgusted at what Slade has done in her name. And then comes the twist: Arrow knew Deathstroke had the mansion bugged, so his speech to Felicity was a ruse. She’s holding a needle full of the mirakuru cure, and she stabs Slade in the neck with it. Laurel manages to escape as well, and the two women head for safety as Oliver and Slade face off.
They fight up to the roof, where a drone buzzes them during a dialogue break. Slade says that Oliver will need to kill him to beat him, but when Arrow gets the upper hand, he uses rope arrows to tie Deathstroke to a pillar. Ollie tells Waller to call off the drones, and she does. No way, are we getting a happy ending? On this show?
Maybe not all the way. The Lances say goodbye to Sara, who says she is leaving with the League of her own free will. Nyssa swears to protect her, and Sara gives Laurel the Canary jacket. It fits, but Detective Lance doesn’t want her getting any ideas. It’s all smiles until Quinton falls to the ground and starts coughing up blood, the result of injuries suffered while fighting the Junior Deathstroke.
Roy returns home to find a note but no Thea. Her voice-over reveals her disgust with being too trusting and too weak. She vows never to return, and we see her getting into a limo with a smiling Malcolm. Roy looks at his red mask.
Slade wakes to find himself in a cell. He’s got a visitor too, and Oliver simply says he’s taken Slade as far away from people to hurt as possible. His final speech is a retort to Slade making him into a killer, which Ollie admits he needed to be to make it off the island. But Slade’s more recent actions helped him become a hero, and he thanks his former friend for that. As Oliver leaves, the A.R.G.U.S. logo is shown on the cell door, and Slade screams that he always keeps his promises.
Yep, the prison is on the island. Oliver tells Diggle and Felicity that there will be more foes who need to be imprisoned there. Oliver and Felicity have a moment, and when she says he had her fooled while telling her he loved her, it seems we don’t have to worry about a love triangle involving them — at least not this season! Diggle says his news can wait until they fly home. Ollie says he wants to fly, but that leads to one final query from Felicity: if you were stuck on the island for five years, when did you learn to fly a plane?
To get some insight, we need to see …
Meanwhile, on the Island: Oliver and the Shado in Slade’s head have a debate. She wins, and Slade masks up and gets ready to kill Oliver and Sara when the torpedo fired by the Russian strikes the Amazo. Chaos breaks out as the ship is listing and taking on water, and Sara is swept away by the current. Somehow I think she’ll be alright.
Mirroring their battle in the present, Oliver and Slade fight, but the mirakuru is too much of an advantage to overcome. Only a timely explosion saves Ollie’s bacon, leaving Slade trapped under some heavy steel beams. Ever the charmer, Slade rants that even if he’s cured of the mirakuru, he’ll still take revenge on everyone Oliver loves. Ollie mulls over the cure in one hand or an arrow in the other and decides to stab Slade in the eye with the arrow. Thus, the choice that haunted him to the present, even though it didn’t actually kill Slade.
In the show’s final scene, scruffy island Oliver wakes up in an unfamiliar bed. Two Chinese men convince him to come along by flashing guns, and he’s met outside by … Waller, who orders him to come along since they have much to discuss. And there, my friends, is you cliffhanger for the summer.
Final Thought: All told, a satisfying conclusion to a second season I thought was stronger overall than its predecessor, and it was cool seeing all of the plot threads come together. Even if you didn’t like the deus ex machina of the mirakuru cure, at least it was established with the flashback scenes as something that existed and not just something our heroes pulled out of their butts. The killing debate got a little heavy-handed at times but ended the way it should have for the season’s arc to make sense. And there were enough lingering questions raised that we’ll all have some things to dissect while we wait for Arrow to return in the fall. Kudos to the writers for this one.