I’m going to do my best to review the episode chronologically, because the ending really does change the complexion of the entire episode, season, and series. Be warned that spoilers follow.
1. Make the City Great Again
One of the first scenes of the episode took place at Mrs. Dahrk’s acceptance speech after winning the mayoral election. She used a very specific figure of speech; she wants to “Make this city great again.” Now, that’s obviously a reference to Donald Trump, but depending how deep you want to take it, it is pretty damn close to the Arrow staff calling Trump pure evil. I can dig it.
2. Merlyn’s single mindedness
You have to sort of love Malcolm Merlyn – dude has been through a lot throughout the series (Losing his son, losing his hand, gaining and losing the League of Assassins), and all he has left is Thea. Thea is the last thing that he can hold on to and protect, and he will do anything to do so.
It’s a nice choice for the character, who is pretty much a bastard in every other aspect. Hell, he will beat the shit out of his daughter in order to save her! But he’s as close to a ‘true believer’ as the show gives us. He never wavers in anything he does, there’s no second guessing – he is there to both get as much power as he can and protect his daughter.
In fact, he’s sort of the mirror image of Captain Lance. Lance, instead of desiring power, desires justice. But his children’s protection is just as important to him.
3. Cat and Mouse
I have to give the show a lot of credit for the tension it built in this episode. We all heard that someone was going to die, and the show set up three scenarios in which that could happen: would Merlyn finally kill Thea? Would Andy betray John? Would Darhk kill Laurel?
The show didn’t exactly tip its hand too much, as each character was given a bit of personal character moments that could act as farewells – but Thea was the first to fall from contention. It became a race between Diggle and Laurel, and while I wasn’t ‘rooting’ for either one to go, it seemed to me that the show had more use for Diggle, even if it should have more use for Laurel. Black Canary is a character with such history alongside Green Arrow, plus having Laurel in the DA’s office, it just seemed like it would make the most sense to have her stick around. When she came out of the surgery intact, I thought maybe it was going to be Diggle dying in a last minute twist.
4. Diggle Family Dynamics
The stuff with Andy always felt a bit heavy-handed, if only because all the Diggle stuff is usually dour and stifling. Diggle’s life, even when happy, is still humorless. Andy was an opportunity for Diggle to experience some joy, especially after bringing him happiness through marriage and a child. But, instead, it was more of the same. Again, I wasn’t rooting for Diggle’s death, but adding even more sorrow to his story isn’t exactly the way to make Diggle a more interesting character. Giving Diggle even more grief, guilt, and anger just doubles down on the character’s already frustrating traits.
5. R.I.P. Laurel
OK, so let me get this caveat out of the way: I don’t truly believe she’s dead. I mean, it would be pretty fucking cruel for Ollie + co to trick Darhk/the world that Laurel is dead, especially as Ollie and the team sold it so well to Quentin.Continued below
But if she is dead, the last two episodes showed us the best of Laurel, and will give the show a real hole in the middle of it. And look, no one has been harder on that character than I’ve been. The show has regularly made her dull and frustrating, beginning fun things with her and then abandoning them almost instantly (remember Wildcat?). But the show also tried to remind us frequently about her commitment to justice, and hers was different than just about everyone else’s, because of her legal background.
I feel like this season has been Laurel’s best since Season 1, and now we know why.
Fare thee well, Laurel Dinah Lance.