REVIEW: Arrow, S5 Ep23 – Lian Yu

Oliver Queen returns to the place where the Arrow was born: the island of Lian Yu. Adrian Chase, with the help of Talia al Ghul and Black Siren, has kidnapped all of Team Arrow, including Oliver’s son William and William’s mother Samantha. Getting the team back is no simple feat as Chase always has another ace up his sleeve, further complicating any of Oliver’s plans. With this in mind, Oliver makes the choice of requesting assistance of an old friend turned enemy: Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke.

Team Arrow takes on Team Prometheus

One of the best aspects of “Lian Yu” is the unlikely team-up of Oliver and Slade. For one, it’s just great to see Manu Bennett back in the iconic costume, fully sane, with the effects of the Mirakuru having worn off. Secondly, because the Mirakuru has worn off we get to see Slade how he was when we first met him. Despite having killed Moira Queen and having served as season two’s primary antagonist, Slade feels appropriately guilty for his actions and is ready to aid Oliver in his mission in any way possible. Watching the two interact with each other we remember that the two of them were once friends, so seeing them team-up and Oliver’s justification makes sense.

Additionally, Nyssa al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn also join Oliver in this final battle with Chase. These additions make sense since Nyssa remained on Oliver’s side after Ra’s al Ghul’s death and Merlyn just always flip flops from side to side anyway, but what doesn’t make sense is Oliver requesting the help of Digger Harkness, a.k.a. Captain Boomerang. While I’m glad to see the character return, only because the character was used in Suicide Squad and I thought some movie characters would be off the table for the Arrowverse, Oliver deciding to ally himself with him just didn’t make sense. While Oliver has had a relationship and past with Slade, Nyssa, and Merlyn, there is nothing behind Oliver and Boomerang’s relationship. There was never any reason to trust him, so when Boomerang inevitably betrays him it just isn’t surprising.

As far as story goes, “Lian Yu” plays out exactly how we’d expect, despite the episode’s conclusion. At one point Slade seemingly betrays Oliver, but it’s all part of their plan for Oliver to break out his Team. By the time Oliver gets to this point, a pretty fun battle ensues between Team Arrow and Team Chase. Oliver fights Chase, Nyssa fights Talia, Black Canary fights Black Siren, and so on. For the most part the action in “Lian Yu” was definitely a fun watch.

The big twist in “Lian Yu” is that Chase has the island rigged to blow up if and when he dies, preventing Oliver from killing him. A tense moment takes place when Oliver corners Chase on a boat while Chase threatens the life of his son. Oliver is given the choice of either killing Chase, saving his son but dooming his friends still on Lian Yu, or letting Chase kill his son thus saving his friends from the island’s explosion. Unsurprisingly, Oliver wins with a surprise arrow to Chase’s knee. This is where I got a bit annoyed with the episode. Oliver won. All he had to do was apprehend Chase, but he let him sit there, not thinking that Chase would do something like shoot himself in order to blow up Lian Yu. Yes, that’s probably unexpected, but Oliver should have never taken any chances. Once he had beaten him he should have cuffed him and prevented him from doing anything else.

Oliver Queen v. Adrian Chase

“Lian Yu” concludes with the fate of Team Arrow, including Malcolm Merlyn who may have been killed by an old landmine off screen, up in the air. Unlike Arrow‘s sister series, The Flash, there is some fear present that a main character may die. With “Lian Yu” ending the way it did, I highly doubt all of Team Arrow died in the explosion, especially considering there is an A.R.G.U.S. bunker they could have hid in, but it’s highly possible at least one of them might have perished. For that reason, the conclusion of “Lian Yu” works as a solid season finale cliffhanger.

Overall, “Lian Yu” was an enjoyable episode for its action throughout and suspense in the final scene. As usual the flashback scenes were not enjoyable, but at least this should be it. The flashbacks have finally come full circle and Oliver was on his way back to Starling City as we saw him in season one’s premiere. The flashbacks also featured a welcome cameo from Moira Queen towards the end. I really hope they cut it with the flashbacks in next season, because that has often been Arrow‘s weakest element. As far as the entirety of season five is concerned, this season was definitely a mixed bag, but for the most part the series has fallen off since season two. I had hoped with Arrow returning to its roots and bringing a more grounded plot it would have been much better than previous seasons, but in a lot of ways it was on par with season four. At least Adrian Chase is officially dead. He was just the worst.

 

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