Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor
In an Arrow season filled with magic and finding hope, the season four finale entitled “Schism” has a lot to tie up. With Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) wreaking havoc on Star City, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and the gang fight to save their beloved city and the world. With so much at stake and so many character arcs to wrap up, Arrow delivers a finale that leads the show back to its roots and sets up season five perfectly.
Directed by John Behring and written by Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, Arrow’s season four finale provides the perfect closure for a season that threw a lot at fans. Between magic being introduced to Team Arrow, a mayoral run by Oliver, H.I.V.E and the first real season of “Olicity,” season four covers a lot of ground. Taking a cue from its most successful finales, season four wraps up similarly to season two: a three-part finale. The last three episodes of season four established Darhk’s plan to end the world in a nuclear explosion and the team scrambling to prevent it. Although season two still remains the far superior finale, this episode comes very close. Between small doses of heart and a major stunt sequence, Arrow showcases its strengths.
One of the strongest points of the Arrow season four finale was the remembrance of Laurel (Katie Cassidy). This season, Arrow proved no character was safe when it killed off Laurel in “Eleven-Fifty-Nine.” The Arrow writers do an incredible job this week of reminding fans that her death is not taken lightly. Each character has a moment in the finale where they look for solace in what Laurel would’ve done. One of the moments that stands out is a Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Oliver scene very early on. When H.I.V.E busts into the Arrow Bunker on a rampage, the team launches into attack mode. A regular occurrence on Arrow, however this fight has a small piece of symbolism. Felicity gets in on the action by hitting a Ghost over the head with Laurel’s baton knocking him unconscious. It’s hard not to take this as a literal “passing of the baton” from one leading female to another. Laurel was the female lead on Arrow and now Felicity is there to pick up her mantel. The epic moment continues when Oliver and Felicity have a heart to heart as they pick up the shattered remains of the Arrow Bunker. As they place the Black Canary suit back in its case, Oliver tells Felicity “We made a decision to come back here, I tried to do things differently and for a time I did and now I am left here to wonder if I hadn’t… would Laurel still be alive?” The writers do an incredible job with the finale especially when it comes to remembering Laurel’s death. Instead of simply having Rickards step into the leading female protagonists shoes, she has been gradually easing into them. Cassidy’s portrayal of Laurel continues to be a career-defining role for her and Arrow has seamlessly transitioned between the two female leads without overshadowing the other completely. The little conversations about Laurel help remind fans her death continues to reverberate to every corner of Arrow.
Echo Kellum has become a key player on Arrow this season and that continues in the season four finale. This episode fully embraces Curtis as an official member of Team Arrow. Kellum’s best moment this week comes after H.I.V.E raids the Arrow Bunker. With Oliver’s hope of finishing off Darhk fading, Curtis steps in and has his very own Felicity “I believe in you” moment. Curtis reminds Oliver of the promise the Green Arrow made in the beginning of the season, “to be the symbol of hope The Arrow never was.” Kellum showcases his unbelievable talent in this scene opposite Amell. He proves he can hang with the best on Arrow as he begins his transition into a series regular for season five.
Besides his work alongside Amell, Kellum and Rickards prove they are the duo to beat on Arrow. It has been a beautiful transition watching the two actors share more scenes together and blend their characters so perfectly. With Curtis now in on the Team Arrow action, he aids Felicity in stopping Rubicon. One of the best parts of adding Curtis this season has been watching Felicity have another tech nerd beside her. This episode alone, Curtis is Felicity’s right hand man. Between re-routing the nuke headed for Star City to stopping Cooper (Nolan Gerard Funk) from programming Rubicon, it’s safe to say that Felicity has found her “John Diggle” in Curtis. Kellum has grown tremendously over the course of the season and it will be a privilege to watch him grow the character even more in season five.
One of the strongest players on Arrow continues to be Rickards. From the moments she walked on screen in season one, she shook Arrow to its core. Felicity has been through a lot in season four. Between finally giving her heart to Oliver to being paralyzed to losing him, it’s been a rollercoaster. Although this finale deals with Oliver and his quest to find the hope inside himself, it’s also an episode about Felicity and her finally becoming the main female protagonist. Rickards has taken on a leading role with ease and this episode fully solidifies her as the star she deserves to be. She wears her heart on her sleeve and it’s hard not to cry when Felicity does in those rare moments of defeat. From the first opening moments of the episode as fans watch her cry over Darhk hurting Donna (Charlotte Ross), Rickards has the audience eating out of the palm of her hand once again.
Stephen Amell is the blood, sweat and tears of Arrow and it’s hard to imagine this TV show without him. He’s paved the way for countless other superheroes on television and it’s been an amazing journey to witness. Amell has honed his acting skills and grown alongside the character of Oliver and this season finale has a monumental moment for both. Following Curtis’ words of encouragement, Oliver takes to the streets of Star City to offer people hope. In an epic, applause worthy monologue, Oliver tells Star City, “We will look to each other for hope. We will cling to each other for strength… if we do that, no matter what happens, then we can all stand here united.” The powerful words written by the Arrow writers coupled with the conviction and hope Amell portrays leaves fans speechless. Malcolm (John Barrowman) sums up fans thoughts perfectly when he tells Oliver, “Quite a speech Oliver, it made me long for a voting booth.” Amell has truly proven himself over the course of the season and this moment is a combination of all his hard work. Bravo Captain Amell.
One strong element to this finale is the importance of every single character. This episode could’ve easily centered solely on Oliver and his road to finding hope, but it didn’t. With so much happening to each character this season, Arrow does a remarkable job of giving each character time to deal with the consequence of their actions. One of the best examples of this comes in the form of Diggle (David Ramsey) and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson). A couple that is often pushed aside for others, Diggle and Lyla are a key component of the season finale. The duo had a massive arc this season involving Andy (Eugene Byrd) and his involvement with H.I.V.E. The immediate danger came to a close when Diggle killed his brother, however the consequences are still there. When H.I.V.E busts into the Arrow Bunker, Diggle freezes before killing a Ghost because he remembers Andy. A pure moment of PTSD that sets Diggle and Lyla on a beautiful arc for the finale. An arc of acceptance and reassurance. Anderson and Ramsey have always worked beautifully together and although their screen time together is often limited during the season, they make each moment count.
Arrow has never shied away from massive stunt sequences and this week is a prime example of this. In one of the biggest action scenes Arrow has taken on, Green Arrow fights Darhk in the streets of Star City. Instead of Darhk and Oliver slinking away to have their final fight, it happens right in the middle of a large scale fight between Star City residence and H.I.V.E. With so many extras and unbelievable coordination, the stunt department deserves a round of applause. The long awaited fight takes up more than an act of the finale and never feels boring. The stunt sequence also doesn’t detract from the plotline or feel gratuitous, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. One of the best parts of the final fight is that magic isn’t used. It’s good old-fashion hand-to-hand combat, something that allowed Arrow to stand out when it premiered. Although Darhk was a welcomed villain this season, the magic caused Arrow to lose some of its charm. Leave superpowers and magic to The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow has always thrived more without it, as proven by this scene.
With Darhk defeated, Arrow has time to set up season five and does so beautifully. Once again, the story isn’t concentrated on Oliver and Felicity, but rather the ensemble as whole. Mimicking the season three finale, each character must come to terms with what comes next. Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) and Donna decide it’s best to head out of town and find closure with Laurel’s death and Thea (Willa Holland) realizes that she has lost a lot of herself and steps back from the team. With each character slowly leaving the Arrow Bunker this leaves Original Team Arrow to assess what comes next. In a very poignant moment, Diggle tells Oliver that he needs to find his way back to himself. Oliver replies with the gut-wrenching line, “I have never done this without you.” Ramsey and Amell have proven to be the backbone of Arrow and this small moment between their character brings Arrow right back to where it started in season one. Each character has reached a crossroads and it will be interesting to see how they each find their way back.
Of course Arrow couldn’t end without some Oliver and Felicity moments to truly bring the entire season full circle. This season featured the first real introduction of “Olicity” in a relationship and it thrived, however the thrill of the chase is often more rewarding. Rickards and Amell continue to soar in the small, intimate moments between their characters. Their unbelievable chemistry with each other is enough to send fans into a frenzy and that is what happens in this finale. Mimicking the early days of “Olicity,” Oliver and Felicity have a final heart to heart. After Oliver is named the new Mayor of Star City, he goes back to the Arrow Bunker alone fully aware he may be the last member of Team Arrow. Enter Felicity to help provide one of the best endings to a finale. Felicity tells Oliver, “You thought I was leaving too? Not a chance.” As the camera zooms out to reveal the duo standing side by side, Arrow season four reaches an epic, full circle conclusion.