Would it really be a season of Arrow if one of our favorite dead people didn’t make a cameo? Of course we’re talking about the late Tommy Merlyn, who we lost too early in the season one finale. In “Living Proof”, Tommy appears to Oliver while unconscious, trying to talk some sense into him – and it seems the perfect set up for next week’s big finale.
After Emiko set off a series of explosives to bring down the building she lured Oliver and the team into, Oliver wakes up buried underneath the rubble. This is when a friend lends him a helping hand. Tommy Merlyn appears, just as his friend finds himself in a similar situation he did six years prior, when he lost his life in the explosions set off by his own father.
Oliver believes himself to be severely concussed as he is seeing the ghost of his friend, but that does not stop him from engaging with Tommy. While Oliver is trying to use his trick arrows to get out of the shut-off basement, Tommy tells him to look into his very best qualities to break out of the dangerous cycle he is in and defeat Emiko – loyalty, selflessness, courage and compassion. Oliver on the other hand believes that Emiko is now beyond redemption, especially after she revealed she let their father die willingly.
When Oliver is finally able to make his way out of the basement he comes across Emiko, who threatens his family’s life, including his unborn baby’s. Despite Tommy’s words, Oliver choses to eliminate the threat and shoots an arrow through his half-sister’s chest. But killing Emiko brings out the worst in Oliver, and he watches in horror as all his friends are pierced by his arrows as well. Coming to, Oliver realizes that his stand-off with Emiko has been a hallucination.
Meanwhile, the rest of Team Arrow is struggling on their end as well. Having been a floor above Oliver, the team can easily regroup, but then the search for their leader begins. While at it they come across another problem – the back-up generator has turned itself on after the blast. With the warehouse having previously stored highly flammable chemicals the sparks could cause the whole building to go up in flames.
They are forced to manually shut-off the emergency generator, which is located on a lower level in the boiler room and immersed in a dangerous nerve gas that will kill humans in seconds. While the team is pandering a different way to tackle the situation, Roy ultimately takes a leap and puts himself in danger, but successfully disables the generator. He is badly injured, but alive.
Felicity receives a surprise visit by the SCPD with a warrant to search their home after they received the tape of Roy murdering the security guards. The vigilantes have now officially lied under oath, which tarnishes their reputation and puts their partnership with the police at risk. Felicity uses a remodelled version of the canary cry doubling as a security system to take out the officers in her home before grabbing her tech and leaving with Alena.
Back in the foundry the two women try to assist Team Arrow in finding Oliver when Emiko pays a visit. She threatens to kill Felicity, who begs for her unborn child’s life, handing Emiko some very important information. After the attack Alena asks Felicity how she plans to keep her children safe with the life she chose to lead, which puts the idea in the mom-to-be’s head that maybe she needs to “take her life offline”.
Team Arrow continues to look for Oliver, and find him barely conscious, still buried under the rebar in the basement. Their leader had dreamt about his conversations with Tommy and had never been truly conscious. Together the team is able to free Oliver and return with him to lair. The team realizes Emiko had stolen some of Oliver’s arrows when storming the foundry earlier, when they all receive an alert of an attack at the SCPD.
The team arrives at the precinct to find it in a state of destruction and death. Barely alive, an officer tells them they thought it was the Green Arrow attacking them, and that they had stolen the weapon they previously taken from the subway attack. Oliver pursues Emiko, but she and the Ninth Circle can escape. Instead, Team Arrow are surrounded by a police helicopter, ready to be arrested for Emiko’s crimes.
2040 isn’t any less bleak though, as proven by the flash-forwards. The team looks on as Galaxy One is starting to market their Archer-based helmet called ZETA. William is eager to help Felicity in finding a way to destroy Archer, but his step-mother tells him to stand down. Instead of realizing that Felicity is trying to protect him, William takes it as another way of hers to not let him in.
This leads William to go into the Galaxy Headquarters without back-up and blow both his and Rene’s cover. They are taken captive by Galaxy One soldiers armed with the ZETA helmet, some of which shortly after storm the foundry. Felicity, Dinah and Mia are surrounded by Galaxy One, with no way out.
It is always, always, always a pleasure to have Tommy Merlyn back on screen. We might even be tempted to get excited about Arrow without Felicity if it meant Tommy would come on board full-time again – that’s how much we at 4YE love Tommy Merlyn. But fleeting moments here and there will never be enough to redeem his death, and while we did get a full episode with the man of the hour this time around, what we really wanted was a full arc of him coming back from the dead through the use of the Lazarus Pit. Season 8, here’s looking at you kid.
But apart from the highlight that was Colin Donnell this episode fizzled out quicker than a penultimate episode should. Knowing what happens in the future through the flash-forwards makes the urgency of a regular finale non-existent – we know that Oliver and Felicity go dark to raise Mia, even though Oliver seems to disappear shortly after her birth. We know exactly where everyone ends up down the line, which takes the fun and excitement out of the finale.
As for Emiko, we still don’t care whether she lives or dies.
Oliver: I miss you every day.
Tommy: I know, but I’m always with you.
Catch Arrow Monday’s 9/8c on The CW.