Season five of Arrow ended on a cliffhanger that left the fate of most of the cast up in the air. All summer there was wondering and poking through trailers, teasers and set shots from fans to try and determine who didn’t make it out of the Lian Yu explosion.
Sadly, the cliffhanger resolution was very predictable and a bit of a letdown.
Right off the bat it is pretty much verified that the writers & producers had no intention of killing off a swath of their cast or really anyone all that important to the world they had built. Even though the flashbacks to Oliver’s missing five years came to their inevitable conclusion last season, the series is still hanging onto that mechanism in a different way. For this season six premiere they used the flashbacks to fill in the gaps of what happened after Adrian Chase/Prometheus killed himself and set off the bombs on Lian Yu. This would be a very effective way to drag out the mystery of the survivors alongside telling what happens present day (five months later) except the present day bits reveal very rapidly that all but two were for sure alive.
By the end it’s revealed that only Samantha, the mother of Oliver’s child William, died during the explosion. Except even though the blast was big enough to vaporize most things and leave the island in flames it left her alive enough to stumble out of the woods to tell Oliver to raise their son.
The show did tease the death of Thea, as Oliver did come across her body and cried like she was dead, she is instead just lying in a hospital in a coma so who knows where that all will go. Essentially Adrian Chases grand plan and move to take ultimate revenge on Oliver fell flat because the cast was protected by that great hero, plot armor.
This would not be as much of an issue if this was just the latest of the Arrowverse shows this week that failed to really do much with their excellent cliffhangers from last season. Perhaps the creators need to scale these cliffhangers back this season’s end just to make it easier to not disappoint so much in the resolutions. Or make better resolutions. Either one.
Outside of the flashbacks the present day stuff was okay but wasn’t the strongest. Black Siren is back after left for dead by Quinton Lance and Black Canary on Lian Yu, and blows up the police department for some unknown reason. The swerve of her getting Oliver’s team to go to the police graduation to protect it while instead attacking the bunker was interesting but also kind of silly that the entire Arrow squad took on a group of mercenaries, who I swear kept mysteriously growing and replicating or something to account for how many suddenly appeared to be fought, but somehow let Black Siren slip past them twice in one episode. For a crack team of vigilantes, they are not all that effective.
All that being said, there is stills some fallout from the cliffhanger that haunts the team. Quinton is not dealing well with the fact that he shot and left Laurel/Black Siren for dead when she tried to kill Black Canary. Siren only escapes at the end because she takes advantage of him not being able to shoot her again. Diggle was caught in the blast and seemingly injured in a way that has caused him some PTSD style feelings to deal with that are effecting his shooting, which led to Wild Dog being badly injured and put off screen most of the episode. This subplot is a little odd feeling, cause of all people Diggle doesn’t seem to be the type that would be this thrown off because of such an injury. Oliver is dealing with fatherhood not being easy, because William blames him for his mother’s death and the nightmares are plaguing the young man. This was the fallout plot that felt the most real, because what William went through was rough for someone that isn’t used to the world Oliver inhabits.
Katie Cassidy playing the gleefully evil Black Siren is definitely a highlight as she is just going all in on the character this time around. It also makes the full addition of Dinah’s Black Canary pretty great as the two fighting one another the few times were definitely great, and their rivalry should be pretty great to see play out across the episodes. Where the episode really took a notch up was the conclusion. While it’s nothing new plot wise, the revelation to the world that Oliver is Green Arrow feels different here because unlike the past Oliver has so much more to lose if he cannot shut this down and convince people the image of him as Green Arrow is fake. All the good he’s done as Mayor, his son, his everything would be torn down and pulled apart by the world to get answers. Hopefully this is a cliffhanger style plot that is handled very well going forward.
Overall the episode is a serviceable one, not the strongest or the weakest of episodes. Season five had such a buildup that was great, it seems it was hard to fully carry that over. Hopefully they will be able to reach those highs once again, and based upon some bits of this episode I have hopes that the creators will be able to capture that spark again. I’m not sold on the continuation of the flashbacks because honestly I was sort of tired of them years ago. It would be nice to maybe spend more time in the present day and only use flashbacks sparingly in some episodes for effect. Their proliferation reminds me of the latter years of Lost where all the flashes started to be a little too much. This was the weakest of the Arrowverse premieres, but time will tell what happens next.
Score: 7 out of 10