This season of Arrow has had its ups and downs, and the finale was much the same way. Regardless, it still included some amazing moments — as well as some big twists that will almost certainly play a key role when Season 7 roles around.
Spoilers ahead for “Life Sentence,” the Season 6 finale of Arrow, which aired Thursday, May 17 2018 on The CW.
It’s been a messy season, to put it mildly. In Year 6, the creative team tried some different things to explore new angles of Oliver Queen and his gang of heroes. Some worked, some didn’t. After spending much of the season turning Team Arrow into two separate factions that can barely stand to be in the same room, the final few episodes have rushed to get all these heroes back on speaking terms — with “Life Sentence” even featuring the Oliver Queen Apology Tour as he makes quick amends with Rene, Dinah and Diggle.
The nigh unstoppable Ricardo Diaz was taken down in less than an episode after Oliver reaches out to the FBI for help in cleaning up the corruption. It comes at great personal cost to Oliver (more on that later), but still, they couldn’t have thought to do this weeks ago when Diaz was still consolidating power and turning Star City into his own criminal playground? The Diaz story didn’t even get a satisfying resolution, with the final fight ending with Laurel conveniently blasting him into the river after Oliver manages to obtain his digital corruption ledger.
If anything, this episode had way too much heavy-lifting to do in one hour to reset the board for next season and struggled under the weight of it all. It’s all wrapped up far too quickly, at least in comparison to the sheer scope of corruption and power they had tried to convey to make Diaz seem so formidable. The Longbow Hunters also get a very pointed name drop (and we’ve already heard they’ll be players next season), and with Diaz still in the wind and plotting revenge, his return looks to almost be a certainly next season. As for the comic-based Longbow Hunters, they look to be getting some minor tweaks for the Arrowverse, described here as three legendary assassins that even the League of Assassins is scared to mess with.
The episode also featured the death of a major, original character who had been with the series since Season 1: Quentin Lance. Word had already broken that actor Paul Blackthorne wouldn’t be back next season, so his death wasn’t quite as much of a shock as it may have been otherwise. But, even that was just a sloppy way to end a character who had already survived so much pain and loss over the past six years. His daughters have died (multiple times), and he’s struggled with alcoholism for years. If anyone in the Arrowverse, anyone at all, deserved a happy ending it was Quentin. Instead, he simply dies off-screen during surgery for a gunshot wound. Yes, it’l almost certainly be narrative fodder for Earth-2 Laurel next season to continue her quest toward redemption, but still. Quentin deserved better, and this just seemed such a sloppy way to dispose of a character who had been there since the beginning.
Last but certainly not least: The final twist. Oliver’s deal with the FBI came with a hefty price via his full confession and a lengthy prison sentence. He buys the freedom of the rest of his team, and even leaves Diggle his own Green Arrow uniform to take up the mantle. Heck, Oliver even gets his own “I’m Iron Man” moment, where he finally confesses his secret identity to the city while being walked out by the FBI. The episode ends with the clank of the cell door, and though it makes for an interesting note to end on, the only real question is exactly how Oliver will get out, and how long it will take next season.
*Anatoli betrays Diaz and lives to tell the tale, though that could always change next season. But for now, everyone’s favorite Russian is still alive and well.
*Rene seems to still be struggling with compartmentalizing the dangers of being a vigilante, and it seems they could be setting up his potential retirement by next season. Just a hunch, but they’ll need to clear at least a little roster space for the return of Roy Harper, too.
*Dinah finally seems to have moved beyond her quest for vengeance against Laurel, actually working alongside her as they tried to save Quentin. But, real talk, is there really room on this show for two Canary Cry-powered superheroes?
*Quentin may be gone, but he at least got a decent send off. His scene with Oliver, where Oliver says he seems him like a father, was touching — especially knowing how far these two have come over the years.
*We knew Sara would be making a cameo, and now we know why — she showed up just in time for Quentin to pass away. Again, this is a family that has had enough loss already. By far.
*Bit of nerdy trivia: Oliver is headed to super max prison, a twist that mirrors the plot of an aborted superhero movie that was developed back in 2008. David S. Goyer wrote a treatment for Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax, which found Oliver locked in a prison with the worst of the worst in DC baddies. I mean, not likely we’ll see much of that, but still worth noting.
Up next: We’re off for the summer! But Arrow returns this fall, when it will be moving to Mondays to air alongside Legends of Tomorrow.