My name isn’t Oliver or Emiko Queen, it’s Mike, and here are my thoughts on Arrow‘s Season 7 finale “You Have Saved This City.” It’s finale time which means the city is in some state of being on fire, and with a vengeful sister ready to unleash some very bad stuff, Team Arrow needs to spring into action.
1. Season Finale Remix
Arrow Season 7 has been constant exercise in remix by showrunner Beth Schwartz. That kind of reflexivity is perhaps a bit odd for a show not given to pop culture references like The Flash, but Schwartz mined and twisted various plot beats and tropes to tell a seasonal story about Team Arrow taking stock in what they have and have not accomplished.
The two main reference points of “You Have Saved This City” were the season finales for season 2 and 3, “Unthinkable” and “My Name Is Oliver Queen” respectively. “City” director James Bamford and the editors used the concept of parallel editing from “Unthinkable,” when Oliver and Slade fought across time and space, to unite a father and daughter who never really got to know each other as they saved the city. Overall Bamford and the editors did a good job of creating matching moments, either with Ollie and Mia or Ollie and Emiko. The visual storytelling helped keep this episode together in a way most episodes of Arrow aren’t.
“My Name Is Oliver Queen” similarities come from each episode offering on similar structures, like the condensed deadline plot involving a biological macguffin, and tropes, a suicidal turn by a Queen. Running against the clock, like “Queen” did, creates a frustrating loop where things have to happen so plot can move forward but it fails to earn the character beats or fully explore the implications of the moment. For a brief second Team Arrow was back to being true vigilantes! Until they weren’t … and they seem to be off the hook for that whole covering up a double homicide part to.
Remixing elements from each finale is interesting since the season 2 finale is an series high note and “Queen” is a bit of a rushed job that lacked emotional heft and was overall unsatisfying despite several good moments by themselves. Overall “You Have Saved This City” is a fine, if a bit rushed, finale that leans on creating moments of audience emotion and mostly succeeds on earning them.
Bamford and the choreography team using the bodies coming in and out of frame as natural wipes to keep the pseudo long take running is probably the technical high point of the episode. Just a fine example of good choreography and filmmaking coming together.
2. A Moment of Subtly, or Redemption for Emiko
For some reason comic book fans, pop culture fans in general, seem to have this disregard and taste for melodrama. Which is odd for the superhero side of things, the visual nature of the genre and its overall excess is explicitly melodramatic. But alas, melodrama brings comparisons to soap operas. Arrow is at its best as a series when operating in the tenor of sincere melodrama, excessive action set pieces lead to excessive moments of emotional reunion. It’s kind of shocking it took the show till over halfway through the first season to realize this. Which is why Emiko’s moment of redemption plays a bit odd. There is no loud moment of catharsis and realization, like Oliver breaking down and admitting he enjoyed murdering those people. Bamfrod and actress Sea Shimooka go much smaller, a single tear after a heartfelt moment of recognition from her half-brother. Most times when these moments of actualization occur they’re large displays of action, Darth Vader throwing Palpatine into the heart of the Death Star 2.0 – which George Lucas for some reason thought was so subtle that he had to add a “NOOOOOOOO” to it too make the point.
Conceptually I think it works, but is underserved by the overall truncated nature of resolving the Save the City VII plot in roughly 20 minutes. Maybe if their fight was given more time and Ollie could’ve played the willing punching bag to state his case. Their sequence was rhetorically a bit one sided for such a complex and overall developed moment leading up to it. With how things are paced out, I’m curious to see what if any deleted scenes will be released as extras and what is on the cutting room floor.Continued below
3. Star City 2040: New New Team Arrow
It’s funny, the Star City 2040 plot side of things due to the nature of being the ‘C’ plot has had to operate in an overall condensed state. Which makes them cleaning up their side of things in maybe 10-15 minutes a lot less jarring. After everyone comes back together, it becomes clear this is a job for New New Team Arrow, and we get a nice passing of the torch between generations.
Going into this season I was a bit weary of the 2040 side of things, but this turned out so much better than I’d imagined it would. With news that they’ll be back for season 8, that can only be seen as a good thing.
4. Arrow’s Legacy
Oliver realizing that Team Arrow, and to a degree Team Flash, are his legacy is the kind of profound moment of character growth that you could end the series on. All indications are it was written and produced that way just in case, and it would’ve been a fine end to things. OTA standing in the bunker, Stephen Amell clearly getting misty eyed at the whole thing, and ending on the final close up of him as the light went out would be how you end a series.
For all intents and purposes it is, though it has me very curious as to what exactly the final 10 episode season 8 looks like.
5. And then the Monitor Shows Up
But wait, we still have 10 minutes left! It’s here that Arrow goes to its melodramatic roots giving us a montage of Ollie and Felicity living the good life for a change. Content at the monotony of suburbia, unlike at the start of season 4. The image of Ollie sleeping with little baby Mia is just adorable and heartening. It’s an earned moment that I never expected this show to get if you asked me to imagine 7 seasons out. They got their Happy ending.
And then the Monitor shows up … another set of words I’d never of imagined actually writing about Arrow. He’s there to take it all away, to whisk Oliver to be his aid in fighting the looming Crisis of Infinite Earths, a job that will take him away from all of his family and inevitably end in his death. But he made a promise, and this shows about keeping them. Meanwhile in the Star City of 2040, Felicity keeps one of her promises and walks away with the Monitor to join her husband in the fight.
I’m certain there will be a sect of the viewership who loath the idea of spending these final 10 minutes on Olicity, but it’s such a good emotional setup for Crisis of Infinite Earths (whatever that actually looks like) and recognition of what helped orient the show into being what it is. As the Monitor speaks of the Multiverse and other such out there concepts that it makes your eyes glaze over at the enormity and wish the show had stuck to the streets. Because all of that plot business doesn’t mean squat if they fail at telling an engaging emotional narrative – something the vast majority of Event books fail at – and using Olicity to jump start that narrative is some of the smartest use of the assists the DCWverse has at their disposal.
I have no idea what Crisis of Infinite Earths is going to be in terms of a televised product, but man I want to see Felicity 2040 reunite with Ollie real bad.
Bonus: Arrow Season Power Rankings: 2,5,7,3,1,6,4