The end is near. In the season seven finale of Arrow both in present time Star City and in 2040, our heroes are faced with their ultimate task: save the city. And while they do, in both timelines the teams are faced with the biggest goodbyes the show has had to face so far. And it hurts.
After Emiko’s attack on the SCPD in the present time Team Arrow has now once again been put on a most wanted list. Knowing they won’t be able to take on the Ninth Circle alone, Oliver calls for back-up in the form of Laurel and Curtis. But Emiko is one step ahead as she calls in a bomb threat in order to start a mass evacuation, ensuring she assembles as many people in one spot as possible. This is when she releases drones carrying the fatal bio-weapon, which kills several people before Oliver can stop it.
Emiko then secures a dozen of attacks across the city, with the main detonator being in her possession at Palmer Tech, formerly Queen Consolidated. The SCPD join the heroes after having confirmed that they weren’t behind the initial attacks, and eventually Oliver comes face-to-face with Emiko in his father’s old office. He is willing to give her a second chance when she is attacked by the Ninth Circle who have turned on her. In her dying moments, Emiko changes her tune, stating she regrets her actions and that she just wanted to be a Queen. She also advises him to hide his family because she put everything in motion for them to be killed.
Having defeated Emiko, the team splits up again, with Curtis, Laurel and Roy going their separate ways. This is when Oliver and Felicity announce that they will be giving up vigilantism. Oliver says that his legacy was not saving the city, but creating this team that would protect Star City. They say goodbye to John and to the lair, before starting their new life in what could be considered an ARGUS approved safe-house.
There we witness Oliver and Felicity live out the next few months in bliss, as they spend evenings on their front porch, they welcome their daughter and discuss bringing back William into their lives. The perfect bubble they have created is destroyed with the arrival of the Monitor, who now asks for Oliver to hold up his end of the deal. He helped save Barry and Oliver, and now he demands Oliver join him on his mission, a mission he will not survive. Oliver says a teary-eyed goodbye to his daughter and finally to his wife. He makes Felicity promise to keep their children safe and says the only regret he lives with is not telling her he loved her sooner, before leaving.
In the future, the Zetas are about to arrest the vigilantes, but Connor, hidden under one of the Archer helmets comes to the rescue. On the other end of town, Zoe helps out her father and William, who were caught inside Galaxy One.
Reunited they realize the only way to stop Galaxy One and the Zetas from taking Star City is from within the walls surrounding the Glades, an area only Mia has access to as Felicity ensured all Smoak and Queen DNA wouldn’t’ be recognizable by Archer. With the help of Zoe, Connor and William Mia fights her way to the top of the checkpoint between Star City and the Glades where detonates a handful of bombs within the wall, breaking it down and with it the border between Star City and the Glades.
Mia makes it out alive at the last second and when the group re-assembles, the adults pass the torch and say that Mia, Connor, Will, and Zoe are ready to take over the role of protectors of Star City. They share their heartfelt goodbyes, but Felicity takes her children to the Queen family graves, which now includes Oliver’s. She bids goodbye to Mia and Will, before calling for the Monitor. She is ready to reunite with her husband, knowing full well she won’t be able to return to her life on this Earth.
Well, if that wasn’t a very quick resolution of everything Arrow has ever built up to. After defeating Emiko and the Ninth Circle, who never really seemed like much of a threat anyways, Oliver suddenly declares that this is it – the city is safe now. Huh. It surely is an easy way out, but lefts us feeling unfulfilled. Our heroes barely survived the Undertaking, Slade and his Marakuru soldiers, the league of Assassins and freaking Prometheus (the last great Arrow villain) … but after the Ninth Circle, merely a blurb on the radar of evil and we’re meant to believe that this is it?
What always had Arrow stand out as a superhero show was that it was grounded in reality. Apart from that very brief time in season four we’d all rather forget about, Arrow tried to work around the superhuman and mystical and left its spin-off shows to deal with the more magical aspects of heroism. This is why Felicity and Oliver’s ending, which feels like a double-exit, is so very painful. Do we really want to see a season of Arrow completely set in another universe, completely delegated by the rules of the supernatural? Especially when the original universe and its stories deserved so much more time to be explored?
But the most upsetting thing about the finale? That this is not the future our heroes (or their children) deserved. After fighting for justice for the past seven years, Oliver is forced to leave his family and never get to know his daughter, to go on a mission he knows he won’t survive, and Felicity is left raising Mia by herself, knowing her husband won’t return. Really? They both deserved better than the few stolen moments they had over the years and a future that was ripped away from them. Knowing they will reunite in some universe at some time is merely a small comfort.
And yet. While there are many factors about the season seven finale that may have rubbed us the wrong way, we have to give credit where credit is due. Emily Bett Rickards has given us seven years of Felicity Smoak – of making us laugh through her faux-pas, of making us swoon through the ups and downs of her relationship, of making us cry over all that she has lost – and she went out with a goddamn bang. For all the time we got to spend with this smart, courageous, witty and strong woman we will forever be thankful.
Those final moments between Rickards and Amell will most likely have the toughest viewers at home in tears. The raw emotion in those scenes is palpable and oh so gut-wrenching. It’s their sizzling chemistry that made Olicity so interesting and compelling, and it’s a massive loss for the show. And the last scene between them and David Ramsey? We’d bet a hundred dollars that none of those tears were fake.
We now live in a world without the OTA. Let that sink in … and then think long and hard about whether you’d really like to watch another ten episodes about Oliver’s quest to save the multiverse while sacrificing his own future, and his life. We’ll likely fast-forward to the series finale. Unless the new season turns out to be about the new heroes – William, Mia, Connor and Zoe.
Oliver: I’ve spent a long time thinking about my legacy as the Green Arrow. I always hoped it would be saving the city but now I know that my greatest legacy is this team. I started this mission alone and I was certain I would end it alone. The truth of the matter is that every bit of success that I’ve had along the way is because of all of you. The city is saved because of your courage, your compassion, your selflessness and your loyalty.
Felicity: Wherever you go, whatever happens, you’ll never leave me. On our wedding day, you told me I was the best part of you but the truth is we are the best parts of each other. And that is so much bigger than the freaking universe.
Arrow will return with season eight later this year on The CW.