Arrow ‘Lian Yu’ Review and Recap
“The name of the island they found me on is Lian Yu. It’s Mandarin. For purgatory.”
Those were the lines that we first heard Oliver Queen speak five years ago in the pilot episode, it introduced us to the unforgiving island of Lian Yu and promised us an exciting series, yes the show has had it’s up and downs and some seasons have been so radically different from each other that if you compared seasons 1 and 4, they would look like a completely different show, however season five has been a return to form and with this season finale Arrow has officially earned it’s title back being my favorite Arrowverse show. Spoilers for Arrow from this point on.
It’s fitting that this episode acts like a finale for the entire show as it is a culmination of everything we’ve seen and it literally is an episode five years in the making. There was a lot riding on this episode and I had insanely high expectations that I was almost sure the show wouldn’t reach, but it didn’t reach my expectations, it exceeded them in every way possible. I think this is the first Arrowverse episode that I really feel is a perfect episode.
So the entire episode takes place on Lian Yu and we pick up right where we left off last episode, with Oliver attempting to recruit Slade to help him take down Chase. It was so good to see Manu back on the show and in full Deathstroke gear, and it was even more fun to see Oliver and Slade back working together again which is something we haven’t seen since the early season 2 days. So many times did it appear that Slade was switching sides and every time he pretended to I was freaking out and hoping it’d be a ruse, lucky for me it was.
Somebody who really was switching sides however was that of Captain Boomerang who was never even with Team Arrow at all, we saw very little of Nick Tarabay in any of the promos or pictures for this episode so I wasn’t really expecting him to be in the episode much but he ended up being in it even less than I thought. He apparently dies along with Malcolm Merlyn and while yes coming back to life seems to be almost everyone’s signature move in this universe but I don’t think we’ll be seeing Digger Harkness again anytime soon which is kind of disappointing because of how we may never see him with the Rogues on The Flash.
Speaking of Malcolm Merlyn, it appears that John Barrowman has taken his final bow (pun intended) out of the Arrowverse as he heroically sacrifices himself to save Thea. Once again it’s entirely likely that he’ll return at some point down the line but with the fact that John Barrowman posted a big goodbye video and thanking the Arrowverse fans on his social media accounts, I wouldn’t count on him coming back anytime soon either.
Now while it was amazing seeing Manu as Slade back and Nyssa vs Talia, none of this in my opinion is the best of the episode, the best came in the form of Oliver against Chase and him trying to save his son from William, the final scenes between them on the boat is some of the most well acted, intense and amazing episodes of the series. Oliver proves that he really has changed when he refuses to kill Adrian and it really shows how far he’s come on his ten year journey, from killer to hero to killer again and now hopefully back to hero for good. Stephen Amell was amazing when he takes William from Chase, his reaction and whimper as Chase pulled William out of the cabin felt real and genuinely had me scared, and Oliver’s “DON’T YOU TALK TO HIM, DON’T EVEN LOOK AT HIM” gave me chills.
Josh Segarra also gave his best in his final scenes as Adrian, up until the last moment he was brilliant, and I kind of hope we see one of his doppelgangers from a different Earth at some point. Another amazing scene that needs to be mentioned is the unexpected return of Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen in a heart wrenching scene that shows us the moment when she found out her son was alive. Seeing the exact same scene that opened the pilot episode was surprisingly amazing to witness given the new context we have for it.
The ending to the episode is a bit mysterious and I don’t think for one second that they just killed off the entire supporting cast of the show, however I highly doubt that every character will make it out of there alive and I do think there will be some big casualties.
I could go on and on about this episode forever but to close this out I’m going to bring up some great continuity that you all maybe missed.
- The opening lines of this episode are the same opening lines of the pilot.
- They use the opening title card from season one and the music as well, the season five opening music is a little different.
- The temple/ house place were Team Arrow is being kept was actually scene from far away by Oliver in the flashbacks in season 2 episode 3, it was never mentioned or seen again until this episode though.
- The gun Chase shoots himself with looks identical to the one Robert Queen shot himself with, this could be completely coincidental but given how they both die on the same waters and on a boat, I don’t think it is.
- We see the plane that Oliver, Slade and Shado lived in for the first time since season 2.
- The airstrip that Team Arrow is on at the end of the episode appears to be the same one that Oliver and Slade tried to escape on back in season 1 episode 14, I also think that was the only other time we saw the airstrip.
- The skeleton of Konstantin Kovar and the helicopter he flew can be seen earlier in the episode before he actually dies.
It has been a lot of fun reviewing Arrow since the mid season and I hope all of you have enjoyed the show as much as I have but overall I think it’s safe to say that this very well could be Arrow’s strongest episode to date and I really hope season 6 can be as good as this season was.
10/10 Arrow capped off its fifth season with an episode that may go down as the show’s finest.
Connor Cunningham covers ENTERTAINMENT for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @Connoriscoolio.