As Arrow comes to a close, it must end where it begins. The team wakes up not in Star City, not in Russia, but back on the island of Lian Yu, newly lush and green after an energy spike caused rapid growth (and because they didn’t have the effects budget to make it look like they blew up an island). Spoilers follow for Arrow season 8, episode 7, “Purgatory.”
Arrow continues its streak this week of using convenient metaphysical nonsense to give us some awesome character moments. Team Arrow has been summoned to Lian Yu to build a device using the parts and plans they spent the rest of the season collecting. They don’t know what the device does or why they’re building it, but Lyla makes it clear that the Monitor has said the device is necessary. That’s what we call a macguffin.
While most of the team is already on the island, the last three are approaching by plane. Roy, Rene, and Dinah Drake are on the approach with the plutonium that Roy and Diggle appropriated before. A surface-to-air missile takes them down, though, sending the plutonium one direction and the three passengers in another, causing the team to split up to recover both.
That gives an excuse to do two things: teach Oliver one final lesson and revisit some old characters. Thanks to the convenient energy spikes, some of the many people who died on Lian Yu back when Oliver was stranded there have returned to the world of the living. They’re not exactly alive, but they’re not dead either, and they’re certainly alive enough to point guns. Or fire arrows.
Old enemies and old friends
Oliver and Laurel quickly recover their cargo, and Oliver takes the chance to tell Laurel that he’s glad she’s part of the team, which on its own shows a huge amount of growth for the once-loner vigilante. The pair runs into none other than Fyers, the mercenary that Oliver fought way back in season 1. They fight, but Fyers gets away. Oliver runs off to chase him and bumps into none other than Yao Fei, the archer who taught Oliver to fight and survive. The two work together but end up captured, which gives Yao Fei the opportunity to impart some last-minute wisdom to Oliver.
The team eventually finishes and turns on the device, stopping the living-dead soldiers in their tracks. Lyla and John have a moment together, and Oliver gets a moment with just about every current member of Team Arrow. This episode is about making peace with that which we cannot change. The Crisis is coming. Lyla is committed to helping mitigate it, and Oliver knows he’s doing to die saving the world.
Oliver’s conversations with his children are particularly touching. Oliver and William didn’t part on good terms in the present age, and both have seen a new side of each other. Oliver is proud of who his son grew up to be, and his son has an adult’s point of view on Oliver’s ongoing fight. Mia, who is just barely an adult, is still frustrated, and the conversation she and Oliver have is a tearful one. Mia is still coping with the shock of meeting a legendary person, and who happens to be her father at that. They part on good terms, though.
One of the plot points has Roy getting trapped under some fuselage from the crashed airplane. His arm is pinned, and John Diggle refuses to give up on pulling him out from under the immovable wreckage until Roy and Connor make the call to take Roy’s arm. Fans of the comics will recognize this. The Roy Harper/Arsenal of the comics has lost an arm a few times over the years due to drug use or other causes. We don’t see him in action with his missing arm, but I’m curious if we’ll get to see that moment during Crisis. Even so, it’s a cool nod to the character’s comic past that feels like it was handled well given the circumstances.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the plot of this episode was pretty silly. But a lot of this season of Arrow has been silly in a show that is usually so self-serious and self-unaware. That they keep using these silly plots to put characters in emotional situations that resonate back through the long-running series speaks well of the writers’ room this year.
But now, it’s time for the Crisis to begin.