[Review] “Arrow” Season 8 [SPOILERS]

Oliver Queen has been put to rest with an amazing legacy in his wake, and now it’s time to go over the last 10 episodes of the show that started CW’s massive DC universe.

Once again, Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen/the Green Arrow. Mainstays of the past season return, with David Ramsey, Katie Cassidy, Rick Gonzalez, Juliana Harkavy, Katherine McNamara, Ben Lewis, and Joseph David-Jones all reprising their roles. Added to the cast is LaMonica Garrett as the Monitor. Noticeably missing from the main cast is Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, although she does appear in a few scenes, like a plethora of other Arrow characters did throughout the season.

I have to say, this season was not perfect. It’s close to the quality of season 5, but a few things hold it back, specifically regarding the last two episodes. I’ll get into the negatives later, but first I want to discuss what I think the season did right. As far as today’s CW standards go, the final season of Arrow surprisingly stayed true to what the show was at heart, really hearkening on the dark past of Oliver Queen and his legacy, while also setting up his grand sendoff in Crisis.

I think one of the main reasons why season 8 was so good for me is that it didn’t repeat some of the mistakes that the past seasons have made. A huge improvement was the drama, or lack of it. Maybe slashing season 8 to less than half the normal amount of episodes left less space for drama, but I’m not complaining. Most of the drama this season came from Oliver accepting his death in Crisis and how his legacy will live on, which I think was perfectly fine. Felicity also wasn’t in most of the season, which might also have something to do with the lack of unnecessary drama.

Another problem I had with the show in the past came from the season 7 flash forwards with Mia, William, and Connor in 2040. When they were initially introduced, I thought the idea of the flash forwards could be interesting, but I quickly grew tired of them. They seemed shoved in to take up time, and I honestly wasn’t invested in the storyline, which seemed so unnecessarily convoluted; not to mention they broke pacing for the present day scenes. Season 8 has a few flash forwards, but then the future characters are brought to the present and things suddenly got much more interesting.

I was mostly intrigued by Oliver’s relationship with Mia in the present day. It kind of reminded me of the relationship Barry had with Nora in The Flash season 5. Oliver takes on the role of a mentor, passing the mantle of the Green Arrow to his daughter. I got the sense that he wasn’t just teaching her the skills she needed to be a hero, but also how to not make the same mistakes he made.

The last season also did a pretty decent job of paying homage to Arrow history. The Undertaking on Earth-2 in the premiere was maybe one of my favorite moments in the season because it took something longtime fans were familiar with but changed it up to make it fresh. Other moments, like Oliver returning to Russia, the Hong Kong episode with China White, and Fyres returning as a ghost of sorts on Lian Yu all throwback to the past, with just enough changed to seem different.

A few of the supporting characters across seasons also get some good final moments on the show. Katana, Roy, and Thea each get their turn in the spotlight without stealing the show. My personal favorite episode of the season (excluding the crossover) was 8×06 “Reset.” It focused a lot on getting closure for Quentin’s death while also showing Oliver that his own fate of dying cannot be denied. It was a powerful way to involve Quentin’s character, while relating the homage to the character to the narrative.

But then the last two episodes came, and while they were not horrible, they certainly brought the season down a bit in my opinion. There were things I liked about these episodes, like Mia taking over as the Green Arrow of 2040, and Diggle getting the Green Lantern ring, but overall these last two episodes were a bit unremarkable to me compared to the episodes that came before them.

I will admit that I didn’t hate 8×09 “Green Arrow and the Canaries,” because it genuinely wasn’t that bad. It was a decent episode, and pretty much on par with the other Arrowverse shows of recent years. My problem with it was that it was put in as a backdoor pilot for a Mia Queen Arrow spin-off, and as a result, just felt out of place. I think the premise of the show is a tad bit interesting, but the decision to release it the week before the finale was an odd choice I didn’t like.

There were only a couple things I didn’t like about the finale itself: the William subplot and the last scene. The whole kidnapping storyline just brought in some random demon from Oliver’s past who we never saw before; I would have thought the villain would be someone we know, which would have tied things together better. This seemed like another case of CW filler, as well as a reason to have everyone suit up for the last time.

As for the final scene with Felicity, it just kind of highlighted my personal problem with the Arrowverse: having heroics take the backseat in favor of sappy romance. I guess it appeals to fans who ship “Olicity” but it’s just not my cup of tea. While the concept could be done well, I just found the scene kind of cringeworthy. The fact that this was the last scene of Arrow ever is what bummed me out. Of all the ways the show could have ended, why with this?

Overall, Arrow ended pretty solid, executing a surprisingly good sendoff for Oliver Queen. You know what to expect with CW shows, so I knew not to set the bar too high, and I was happy with what I got. This season is definitely one of the better ones, and has a lot to offer for fans of the show from its earliest days. Arrow wrapped up with a pretty good run, which I suspect will hold up for years to come.

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