(WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEASON 7 EPISODE 21 OF ARROW!)
When things go boom on Arrow, what follows is always quite interesting. With Emiko trying to bury Team Arrow in an abandoned building, it’s time for the internal search and rescue to begin. Wait until you see who shows up on “Living Proof”.
The good news is, everyone looks like they will make it out of the explosion alive. The only one who hasn’t been found early on is Oliver. It seems like he might be hallucinating too, because he looks to the side and sees Tommy. This looks all too familiar, doesn’t it? This time Oliver is the one that is trapped, but things turn out much better for him. Tommy helps him escape more falling rocks. Oliver lives, but his bow doesn’t get so lucky. So is Tommy really there or not? My initial thinking was not, but we’ll see.
Emiko’s second bomb goes off, this time more of a metaphor. Her special package arrives at Star City PD, and now they have raided Felicity’s office. They’re looking for Roy, Archer and they’re about to arrest Felicity. Thanks to a sonic pulse, Felicity manages to avoid capture. It seems like things that will be a theme for her in the future as well, but we’ll get to the future forward stuff later.
Oliver is still stuck with no way out and the rest of the team is looking for him. Meanwhile, Oliver is stuck talking to Tommy about what is going on with Emiko and trying to find his own way out. Oliver wants to kill Emiko, but you know Tommy isn’t about to let him keep that frame of mind. Roy is also mulling the idea of turning himself in for killing those guards. The team is a bit split on whether or not they want him to do that. Time isn’t really on their side now, because generators have turned the lights on creating sparks that could cause an even bigger explosion. It always has to get harder doesn’t it?
New obstacle, the generator is surrounded by a dangerous nerve gas. Oliver isn’t getting help any time soon, so more arguing with Tommy. Oliver thinks Tommy would still be alive if he listened to him about his father. He’s using that as his excuse to kill Emiko. Tommy tells him that he needs to break the cycle his father put him on. It’s pretty clear that Oliver’s judgement is clouded. At least it’s not literal.
Roy decides to leap into the gas to turn off the generator. The team wasn’t fast enough to stop him. You forget how skillfully Roy can move until you get to see him work. All those moves don’t help, as he jumps fully into the gas. Yes he gets the generator off, yes he survives, but for how long? Felicity is about to walk them through the next step of the plan before she is interrupted by Emiko. Just when it looks like Felicity is about to take an arrow, she blurts out that she is pregnant. It might have saved her in the short term, but in the long term this is very valuable ammo for Emiko to use later on.
Tommy is still trying to get Oliver to break his cycle of hate, but it doesn’t look like Oliver wants to hear it. Suddenly, a way out appears and he is on his way. It’s a bit chilling when Oliver says goodbye to Tommy, like he knows it’s for the final time. Maybe I would feel differently if next season wouldn’t be the last for Arrow. So is Oliver saying goodbye to Tommy or his opportunity at a better path? Maybe a little bit of both.
As we head towards the end, we get a couple of minor revelations. The first being that Dinah is now going to back Roy up, and has done a 180 about him turning himself in. We also get a glimpse of the beginning of Felicity deciding to go off the grid to raise her baby. It does seem like an odd time and place for this, but I guess she technically did have a near death experience. She’s not the only one, because the team has been cheating that all night too.
Oliver finds his way back to the group, but it doesn’t seem like they will just be walking right out. Emiko shows back up at the warehouse to finish the job, and she brought help. The fight is on, and Oliver comes face to face with Emiko. He has the shot to kill her, and he takes it. Problem is, Diggle has taken an arrow too. So has the rest of the team. That’s when we get the biggest shock of all.
None of it was real. Yep, everything we saw was all inside Oliver’s head. I have to say, I was mad at myself for not seeing this coming sooner. Oliver always looks to Tommy when he has these moments of questioned conscience. This may have been the most elaborate way of proving a point, but it may be what sets Oliver back on the right path. So the search for Oliver looks like it was real, but everything after he meets up with the team not so much. This is confirmed when Felicity tells the team that Emiko paid her a visit. Now Emiko is trying to attack Star City PD with Oliver’s arrows to frame the team even more. This clearly won’t stop Oliver from going after her.
When they get there, the Ninth Circle has taken down almost every officer in the city. Luckily one of them knows that it was not Oliver, so they will probably be in the clear. The team takes down the goons and Oliver goes after Emiko. He tries again to talk her down, but she’s not hearing it. He also has the opportunity to kill her and doesn’t take it. So she ends up taking off with the device that could destroy the city, just as an SCPD chopper catches the team on the roof.
As far as the future forward scenes, there really wasn’t much. William tells Felicity he’s still upset about being abandoned, which Felicity regrets. William then goes ahead with a plan to schmooze the CEO of GalaxyOne while he copies the root code off of his computer. The plan is to finally destroy Archer, but that would be too easy. William blows it, his real identity is exposed and now it looks like pretty much everyone is getting caught.
Normally I’m not a huge fan of the whole “it was all in their head” kind of episodes. This one just happened to be executed pretty well. Arrow just finds a way to do that, and it’s a credit to the writing team. On the flip side, this was my least favorite episode as far as the future forward scenes were concerned. It just felt very out of place and forced in. There were some parallels, but it just didn’t work for me. Seeing Tommy just makes me realize how much I miss him on the show. If Oliver really does die next year in the Crisis crossover, we had better see Tommy right there to greet him. That’s another discussion for another day. For now, we are left to wonder if Emiko can really have a change of heart or give in to the hate. There is only one episode left to find out.