‘Arrow’ Finale Photo Recap: “Sacrifice”

Arrow 1x23 Destiny

“Sacrifice” was an appropriate title for the Arrow season finale since it was definitely the central theme of the episode. That, and dramatic lighting cues. (More on that later.) Oliver’s father sacrificing his life so his son could live; Oliver sacrificing his love life to help save Starling City; Detective Lance sacrificing his safety to try to save the Glades; and of course, the incomparable Tommy Merlyn, whose sacrifice marked the single saddest moment of the show to date—including that time Yao Fei made Oliver kill a chicken. (RIP Clucky.) I have to say, I was pretty shocked by the ending, but it was a sufficiently climactic finale, due in large part to the aforementioned dramatic lighting.

Before we get too far into the epic finale, let’s look back on what led up to it, since I failed to do a photo recap for last week’s episode (insane workweek + out of town weekend + Mother’s Day = no time for ten-hour photo recap), which is a shame because the episode was named after a Bruce Springsteen song, and if there’s one thing I love as much as I love inventing ludicrous captions to accompany images from my favorite TV shows, it’s Bruce Springsteen. Also, cake. Luckily nothing important happened in the last episode…

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Oh yeah. THAT. I was kind of too shocked to be genuinely excited about Oliver and Laurel sleeping together. I almost felt like it was too soon. But that’s what I love about The CW! They never stop surprising you. Just when you think, “They won’t…” they DO! And they do it well! (Usually.) Poor Tommy witnessed Oliver and Laurel’s steamy reunion from outside her apartment, where he had arrived to confess his love for Laurel (per Oliver’s misguided suggestion). This started off the worst 48 hours of Tommy’s life.

Other possibly important plot points from last week’s episode included Moira’s confession of her involvement with the Undertaking, Yao Fei getting shot, some unremarkable Microsoft product placement, and a few hilariously un-subtle innuendos from Felicity. Oh, and Malcolm discovered that Oliver is the vigilante…while in the process of beating him to a pulp. So that’s pretty much where we left off. Which brings us to…the finale!

Fortunately for everyone, Malcolm decided to take Oliver’s shirt off before chaining him up in his evil sewer dungeon (which has some seriously ominous recessed lighting so that the spinning fan blades create a pulsating shadow effect, giving off a kind of supervillain rave feel). Three cheers for gratuitous shirtlessness!

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Malcolm must have underestimated Oliver’s BAMFness…or overestimated the strength of those chains he bought on Craigslist (shoulda gone to Lowe’s, man), because our fearless hero wasted no time breaking out.

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Cue dramatic showering of water.) Three armed goons later, guess who showed up.

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And that’s why so many superheroes opt for Spandex. It’s much stretchier, not to mention more breathable. Then again, not everyone has a devoted sidekick slash seamstress like Diggle, whose other lesser-known skills include building birdhouses and reciting the monologue from Jerry Maguire.

After Oliver and Dig successfully escaped Malcolm’s fan-lit dungeon, Felicity called to make sure Oliver was they were both safe.

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After being reassured of the status of Oliver’s six-pack, Felicity hung up the phone and was immediately confronted by Detective Lance, looking rather smug. (Has anyone else noticed that when he tries to look “smug,” it just comes off as drunk/creepy? Kind of like a deranged clown.) He took her to the station to question her, but his interrogation was interrupted by a phone call from the Hood. It was like a big, fun game of phone tag, but Lance didn’t realize he was playing. In any case, Oliver and Felicity succeeded in convincing Lance that the vigilante isn’t a total sociopath.

Oliver had a somewhat awkward encounter with his former best friend, who appeared to be more than a little inebriated—totally understandable, given the fact that his life sucks in many diverse ways.

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Wow, Oliver. WHAT A DICK. First you sleep with your best friend’s (ex-)girlfriend after telling him to work things out with her, then you tell him that his father is an evil psychopath, and THEN you bring up the fact that his mother is dead?! Congratulations on winning the award for Worst Friend of the Year. Geez, at least have the decency to let Tommy get a good hit in when he drunkenly takes a swing at you. But no…Oliver let him fall on his ass instead. YOU’RE GOING TO REGRET THIS IN 24 HOURS, BUDDY. Poor Tommy…

Back on Flashback Island, something important was happening, but I was too busy not caring to pay attention. (Something about missiles and China? Whatever.) I know, I know—it’s probably not the best fan etiquette to write off an entire portion of a show, but I can’t help it that the present-day characters are so much more interesting and well groomed. Spoiler alert: Oliver gets off the island. Who cares why and how? Okay fine, I care a little. Just not as much as I care about Felicity and Diggle and Roy Harper’s cheekbones. (Did you really think I could make it through a recap without mentioning his angelic James Marsdenian bone structure?)

Anyway, back in the present, Laurel and Oliver were enjoying a swoony morning-after moment together amidst the chaos and clusterf**kery happening around them. Those crazy kids deserve a little happiness…

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You can tell they’re in love because of how the lighting is all romantic-like… (Again, thanks for the atmospheric touch, lighting team!)

Aaaaand cue Tommy, who’s officially having the Worst Day Ever. (And it only gets worse…)

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SERIOUSLY COULD THIS DAY GET WORSE FOR TOMMY? (Answer: yes.)

Meanwhile, Oliver was still finding time to catch up on five years of pop culture…

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For the record, I would totally watch a web series where Felicity tutored Oliver on all the pop culture and world events that he missed while he was on the island. Can you imagine her trying to explain Twitter to Oliver? Okay, sorry, I’m getting off-track… Also Felicity figured out that Malcolm planned to set off his destructo-machine in the subway tunnels. Dun dun dun!

At some point, Oliver went to talk to (read: guilt trip) his mother about the whole being-complicit-in-the-killing-of-innocent-people thing. After getting a stern lecture and a frosty cold-shoulder from her son, Moira Queen decided to do the right thing.

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Moira’s little truthquake caused quite a stir. Thea took a few seconds to show her disappointment in her mother before she declared her love for Roy and ran off to save him from the about-to-implode Glades. At the same time, some very well armed men went to see Malcolm, who battled them with the most powerful weapon at his disposal…

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Oliver suited up for his showdown with Malcolm, knowing there was a slim chance he’d walk away from it alive. But first he had a beautiful moment with his two closest friends.

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I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term “OT3,” but if you are, these three are the perfect example, in my opinion. If you don’t know what that means, please don’t Google it. I’ve already sacrificed enough of my dignity in writing this recap.

Speaking of my shameless fangirling, Roy Harper was watching the press conference that announced the impending destruction of the very ground he was standing on.

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Things were getting pretty hairy in the Glades. Oliver & co. were in a race against the clock. Detective Lance had been called up to the big leagues for a very special mission: disarming the device that was going to level the Glades (with help from Felicity, of course). Oliver was about to face off with Malcolm, who was waiting in his fan-lit lair…

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In the midst of the chaos of the doomed Glades, Roy was taking a cue from his idol and trying to help the people of Starling City. Specifically the old man who was being accosted by some hoodlums.

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Things weren’t looking good for Roy, who was no match for a guy with a gun. Just when it looked like the beautiful Roy Harper’s luck had run out, someone tossed a bottle at his assailant’s head. And that someone was…

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Traditional gender role reversal for the win!!! This episode made me love Thea even more, mainly for this show of feminist badassery, but also because of her firm stance against texting while driving—even in the face of imminent doom.

Speaking of badass women, Felicity was attempting to direct Detective Lance in disarming the seismic scrambler or whatever that thing is.

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Having essentially doomed himself and everyone in the surrounding five-mile radius, Detective Lance called his daughter to tell her to get to safety, and that he loved her. *tear* It was a very Armageddon moment, especially with all the flashing blue lights… It reminded me of Liv Tyler crying as she said goodbye to her dad, Bruce Willis, for the last time while the bluish screens flickered in the background…

Great, now I have “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” stuck in my head. Anyway, points for Detective Lance for trying to pull a Bruce Willis, even if he kind of f***ed it up…and also there was another device, so it didn’t really matter. But at least he tried! (And he did succeed for a second there.)

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Just as they were speeding out of the Glades, with Thea berating Roy for trying to use his phone while driving, they came upon a busload of people in need of help. Newly having-of-purpose Roy couldn’t turn down a chance to do some good in this moment of crisis.

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Again, love the romantic lighting… Sure, it’s probably from an exploding transformer signaling the death of some of the surrounding bystanders, but it’s still romantic. Also, have I mentioned how much I love Roy? And Thea? And Roy and Thea? Because I do. I love them something fierce.

Oliver and Malcolm were still going at it on the roof, socking and bopping their way through an increasingly irrelevant final battle. (I mean, the crumbling city kind of makes Oliver’s catfight with Malcolm a bit of a moot point…except from where Oliver is standing, I guess…)

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Laurel, of course, was still at work, and scrambling to grab some incredibly important files that were apparently not saved on a backup drive, or in the Cloud, or at least on a f***ing floppy disk or something, for God’s sake. What is this, the 80s? I mean, come on. I’m not sure whether to find her act of stubbornness admirable or just plain dumb.

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Oliver had just discovered that Laurel was in danger, and he only hesitated long enough to check that Dig would be okay without him if he went to save his lady love.

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But the person to save Laurel wasn’t Oliver, surprisingly…

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Summoning the strength of ten Charizards, Tommy lifted up the piece of rubble that was crushing Laurel and she was able to escape the collapsing building, but the heroic Tommy was not so lucky…

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Oliver arrived too late to save his best friend, but at least he got to say goodbye.

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WHYYYYYYY? *screams in agony while pounding fists on the ground emphatically* Why did it have to be this way??? Why did they have to kill off one of my favorite characters? (Okay, my fourth-favorite character, but still…) At least Tommy got to finish his redemptive arc, and he got to be the one to save Laurel. He’s come a long way from the selfish rich boy he was when we first met him. What a f***ing champion. Tommy Merlyn, I salute you.

It’s hard to believe this is the end of the first season. Honestly, it feels like this show has been on for a lot longer. Maybe it’s just me… Like Tommy, this show has definitely evolved since it first debuted in September. It’s got a full cast of well-developed characters, all of whom have emerged like beautiful butterflies from their season-long cocoons. Thea has gone from a bratty party-girl sister to a badass who saves her hot boyfriend from thugs. Diggle was once the begrudging bodyguard, but has blossomed into a loyal friend and partner. Felicity is no longer just the I.T. girl who appears in every third episode. Now she’s a full-fledged superhero sidekick who makes hilariously suggestive comments about her attraction to Oliver. And of course Roy has also advanced from random hot bad boy to Oliver’s protégé/stalker/future brother-in-law. Hell, even Flashback-Oliver has transformed from a whiny, pathetic, horrible-wig-wearing pansy into a bow-and-arrow-wielding semi-formidable fighter. All in all, Arrow has really come into its own this season. It has become something more than I thought it could be, and I’m so excited to see where it goes from here. I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope it involves plenty more shirtless pull-ups.

What did you think of the finale? Were you surprised by Tommy’s death? (*whimper* Too soon…) What do you think this means for Oliver and Laurel’s relationship? How long before Roy fulfills comic book lore and takes his rightful place as the Green Arrow’s sidekick? Can you explain to me what happened in the island flashbacks and why I should care? Do you agree that Armageddon is one of Steve Buscemi’s most underrated performances? Weigh in on these important questions and more in the comments section! Thanks for reading! See you next season!

-L

See the rest of my Arrow photo recaps here

*All images are property of The CW

Posted on May 17, 2013, in Arrow Photo Recaps, Photo Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Oh my god, I died laughing with this recap. Thanks hahaha.
    But seriously, this show is so good, more people should be watching. The finale was one hell of an episode. And we got a lot of character development throughout the season, so I can´t complain. Also, OT3 for the win! 😛
    I´m sad they killed Tommy, but I´m happy that they didn´t make him the bad guy. I was afraid they would make him follow his father´s footsteps. It´s good that he redeemed himself. I´m still sad he didn´t say sorry to Tommy for telling him he wished he would´ve died on the island. Though I guess he was too busy dying to do that haha.

  2. First thing before I start to comment: Oliver is not prettier than Malcolm, Barrowman fan here, hello! The man is gorgeous!
    Saying that, I agree with all the rest and you REALLY make me laugh.
    I can’t explain the island thing either, it’s meh! I like Slade and Shado but the events of the present are more interesting.
    I wasn’t surprised by Tommy’s death, after he found out about Oliver I imagined. But, NO I don’t like it, he was my (non evil)favorite character, but at least was a good way to go, heroic. And yes! he really had a bad day!
    Oliver/Laurel is something I don’t care! Surely will be all guilt the next season.

  3. I clicked “read the rest of this entry”, went to another window, came back and bang smack in the middle of my screen was “I just had sex”. Needless to say, I lost it.

  4. I wonder if we going to get any recaps for S2?

  5. I wish you still did these because all your Arrow recaps made me laugh outloud maybe 15 times each. And then I’d read them again, and laugh all over again. It was delightful.

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