Review: Arrow 8×10 – “Fadeout”
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: James Bamford
Writers: Marc Guggenhiem and Beth Schwartz
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards, Katie Cassidy, Paul Blackthorne, Katherine McNamara, Susanna Thompson, Colton Haynes, Audrey Marie Richardson, Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, Colin Donnell, Sea Shimooka, David Nykl, Katrina Law, Lexa Doig, Joe Dinicol, Johnny Cuthbert, Jack Moore, Jessica Heafey
Reviewed by: Jason Larouche
After eight seasons, the time has come to say farewell to the journey of Oliver Queen, The Green Arrow.
Nostalgia was the rudder guiding this episode – hell, even the salmon ladder made one final humorous appearance – and hands down hit all the right notes. I will try my best to condense and stay on course. So, here we go. Arrow 8×10 – “Fadeout”.
As with all of the CW shows post-Crisis, viewers are brought in to the new status quo, and the writers hit the ground running with both a new intro and the focus on one of the most powerful scenes in the show’s history: The death of Moira Queen….averted? Given that this is the opportunity to lay the foundation of what will be Green Arrow And The Canaries, elements from episode 9 are revisited. The Mark of Four tattoo is the only remaining tie to the original timeline that led to the dystopian 2040.
One month after The Crisis, Team Arrow is slowly learning the new world they now inhabit. Star City has been cleansed of crime, Queen Consolidated and the Queen family estate are no longer destroyed, and familiar faces are back from the dead. While at first glance it may appear as though the gravitas of the show has been erased, one must look deeper into the heart of Oliver Queen. sMoira, Tommy, Quentin, and even Emiko were whom he considered his greatest failures. As The Spectre, he has managed to undo those unfortunate losses. Further, all are aware of the original timeline, which works better than being completely oblivious and happy. As to the state of the city, he has managed to establish a safe place for his children to grow up in until 2040.
Guggenhiem and Schwartz, two of the three key people who created this series, revisited much of what made this show great. It was the best decision to utilize Oliver’s new godhood to fulfill his father’s wish and make amends in a way he never could with a bow and arrow.
The theme of moving on is keenly felt amongst all major players in this final installment. Relationships are put into a state of progression and reconciliation. Besides the rocky sibling bond between Talia and Nyssa, a good example is the romance between Roy and Thea. After all of the ups and downs over the past eight years, Roy finally shows maturity. His resurrection – and maybe the loss of his arm – matched up with her loss, push them both together at a time when Roy’s fears and insecurities have once again torn them asunder. Again, the nostalgic points in Colton’s dialogue keep the viewer invested in that final acceptance by Thea of his marriage proposal. From lost kids to hardened heroes and finally an engaged couple, Roy Harper and Thea Queen have grown up in the viewer’s eyes.
Then there is the brotherhood of John Diggle and Oliver. Brilliant idea to have one more flashback for old times sake. Further, in true Arrow tradition, the writing team cleverly tied the past to the current abduction of William at the hands of a disgruntled name from Oliver’s infamous list. Layering a mournful Diggle in the present against a Diggle shortly after their alliance was forged demonstrated how far they had come. Stephen brings back that blunt delivery Oliver once had, fresh from five years in hell. He and David brilliantly recreated the season one dynamic. It reminded viewers of the hardened vigilante Oliver had once been.
A return to the stellar solo battle with no-holds-barred take downs and kill shots got viewers exhilarated. It also showed viewers that weren’t around for the first few seasons at how far Oliver had come as a hero. Following it up with Oliver admitting that Diggle was on his way to both being trustworthy and ready for field work. The metaphor of Mia respecting her father’s mercy of this freed human trafficker is not lost on the viewer. Leaving John Byrne’s fate up in the air before transitioning back to the past got across further than actually seeing Oliver relent. (EASTER EGG: John Byrne is one of the best known DC artists in the business)This also spoke to the relationship between Mia and the legacy her father bequeathed to her. It demonstrated how deep their bond had become, and her ability to overcome her present dilemma over 2040’s William’s abduction. The return of Emiko Queen, and Moira’s acceptance of her as Robert’s daughter, added to the fresh start Oliver had provided her.
The moments of levity were needed in this very sad episode, and were provided by returning Caity Lotz, Colin Donnell, and Joe Dinicol. The return of the Earth-1 Tommy Merlyn, and the revelation that he and the deceased Earth-1 Laurel had been married, demonstrated how impactful his death had been. Keeping Tommy slightly quipping about the surreal brought you back to season one. It was also an interesting 180, whereas in that season it had all been about Oliver coming back from the dead. Caity brought some Legend-esque humor through Sara appearing in Mia’s bedroom and not using the front door. And lastly, the back-and-forth between Ragman and Wild Dog was keenly missed. And, of course, how Anatoly’s vodka really tasted. A “Prochnost” toast apparently is an acquired taste.
The memorial and the funeral was fan service done right by giving Oliver his due. Paul Blackthorne back from the dead as Mayor Quentin Lance, commemorating Oliver bookends how they began in the pilot. The writing is smart in his speech that sums up how that antagonistic relationship changed, how his views of Oliver as a man changed. Going back to the subjects of relationships evolving, a city that once condemned him as a vigilante has now embraced him for his sacrifice. Hell, even his documentary director ate crow earlier in the episode by retooling her project into a tribute. The design of this statue is amazing, and the location – Green Arrow with head bowed overlooking Star City – was very symbolic. Then, during the funeral, symbolism gives way to legacy. Brilliant decision to bring back every significant guest star, be they longtime allies or former adversaries.
The return of Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak for both the crisis involving William and the service was what fans had been hoping for since her departure last year. Further, the Arrowverse had to be represented, so who better than Grant Gustin, who debuted as Barry Allen on season two’s “The Scientist” before the premiere of The Flash? And Melissa Benoist, whose Supergirl series had been embraced by the Arrowverse when it was still on CBS? Emily’s chemistry with Grant and with Katherine were keenly felt, however brief their exchange was. With Barry, Felicity has evolved from a fling to the best of friends. As for the paradoxical feeling of seeing an adult Mia while present-day Mia was teething, you got that mother-daughter connection instantly. It was during the funeral scene that Diggle finally got to say what was rolling around in his soul. The flashback and his covered grief provided the backbone of the gravitas in his eulogy. The montage of where the characters are going post-Oliver came across well. You felt the pain in his voice when he said “I was his brother, and Oliver Queen was mine.” A bond forged through hardship and sacrifice. And that brillaint alternate meaning to Ollie’s trademark “Someone else, some thing else” line really got you in the feels. Diggle was the heart of this episode, the light that Oliver brought into his world years ago. One that will keep burning. And, if that green light in that box that fell from the sky is what I think it is, and Metropolis is where he’s heading, nothing will escape that fire’s sight. (wink)
What made this final bow work so well was that Stephen was barely seen with the exception of the flashbacks…until that last scene that tied last year’s finale’s loose end. 2040 Felicity emerging from that portal as she had appeared in 2012 and in Moira Queen’s office. The notion of Oliver, now The Spectre, creating his own realm for he and Felicity to spend the rest of their lives – Are they immortal, for that matter? – was reminiscent of how Wolfman concluded the story for Earth-1 Superman and Lois in the last issue of Crisis. Joined by Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor, they would go to another dimension to watch this new universe unfold. Is this what Marc and Beth decided as Oliver and Felicity’s “happily ever after?” Either way it works. It gives fans what they had been hoping for the moment Emily’s return was announced. It also gives Oliver that sense of peace. Presumably, he had to wait 20 years for Felicity to join him from that now-extinct timeline. The final shot of them together where they had begun their relationship was very poignant and the best way to end the series.
My final complaints on Arrow focus on the aesthetic. The Hood suit looked slightly different from what we remembered. I know Stephen had given the original jacket to a cancer survivor, but the costumers could have kept better notes as to which materials to use. The shot of year one Oliver ziplining up the side of the building to confront Byrne was misaligned from the previous angle of him descending. The glowing green interior of that box was supposed to contain (SPOILERS), but you could see the light bulb inside if you looked close enough.
I give this a resounding, and final, 5 out of 5. It has taken me three hours to figure out what to say because this is my last review of a show that has been such a huge part of my life since 2012. I took a break from it mid-season 3 because of anxiety and got back into it in season 5. I’m thankful that I did. Stephen, David, Katie, Emily, and all involved have created this incredible series that birthed three spinoffs. They are to be commended for their commitment and their performance. The nostalgic aesthetic and dialogue gave the fans exactly what they wanted. And Stephen delivered that fantastic action-packed fight that really took you back to that first year. It would’ve felt empty without seing Ollie draw that bow one more time. Or, in this case, twenty-plus times given how many guys he was facing. The finale had everything that made Arrow great. While I am saddened to see Oliver’s journey concluded, I’m glad to see that he finally achieved the peace that had long eluded him. I want to thank Josh for giving me the opportunity in the late sixth season to review this fantastic series. I wish the cast and crew all the luck in the world in their future endeavours, and hope that they will not be strangers in the amazing universe they’ve brought to TV. I would say Rest in Peace, Oliver Queen, but I believe that’s too negative. To borrow from Star Trek, peace and long life to Oliver and Felicity. Two souls finally reunited.