I find it interesting the dichotomy of the Flash and Arrow endings. Whereas Flash was all about revenge and loss. Arrow’s was about hope, inspiration, and trying to be better when faced with death.
“Schism” really excelled for me when it showed just how hopeless the situation was at times. After all, when 15,000+ nuclear missiles are threatening to destroy the Earth, why wouldn’t you be without hope? Seeing it happen with both the members of Team Arrow, and then the city itself was very compelling. As the early attempts to stop the missiles were shot down (no pun intended) near immediately.
Then, to see Lyla risk a dangerous maneuver because she didn’t know what else she could do was equally compelling. Again, what else would you do? Now yes, things did turn around, but it took a while. Which was good, as it allowed things to build. Even hearing Damien talk about how he basically had given up hope because of his wife’s death was very true. Darhk has been a truly amazing villain, and even here, at the end, with his death all but guaranteed, he still delivered in spades.
The action here was top notch in my opinion, from the opening standoff scenes, to the surprise battle in the Arrow Cave (can that thing last a season?), to the final showdown, it was good, and even in those final moments between Damien and Oliver, you wondered what would happen. And it was so satisfying when he killed Darhk. They even gave a legitimate reason for how Ollie could die now that the entire city was with the Green Arrow. It was a better version of the “Midnight City” fight we got last season.
You might be wondering why the action bits are talked about first. But the answer is simple, because the characters won the day. Oliver’s struggle to both save the world and admit he was likely not strong enough to save it was powerful. Even again invoking Laurel and wondering if he hadn’t come back would she be alive? Then you had John, who was struggling still with killing Andy, and even told Lyla what he had done. This was strong character moments that tied everything together. Even the smaller moments, like Felicity begging Lance to take her mother away. And Curtis talking about how Ollie’s speech as Green Arrow at the beginning of the season inspired him and his husband to stay, that’s strong.
Now yes, some people are complaining about the “cheesiness” of Oliver’ speech to the people. But again, why wouldn’t Oliver try this? He was desperate, and wanted to at least try and show the people of the city that they can be better, even in the face of death. How is that not honorable? Obviously, we knew they weren’t going to die, but we forget that they don’t. In the context of the scene, they don’t. So yeah, it might have been a “TV moment” that we’ve seen before. But, for Oliver to put himself out there like that? To try and be what he’s wanted to be for years now, an inspiration, a hope for the city? He got to be that, and it reverberated throughout.
The island was mercifully wrapped up, and while it didn’t answer all the questions (like how Darhk received the idol), it did put a bow on things and put Ollie on the path to his final flashback adventures. It even brought back Amanda Waller to give her a proper farewell. One that spoke to the heart of being a hero, and knowing that sometimes you can’t have justice without death.
The ending was very interesting. As nearly all of Team Arrow disbanded. Truly giving “Schism” its name. But again, each departure was true to character. Thea is lost in her mind. She’s still not all there from the Lazarus Pit incident and what happened with Malcolm. John is still haunted by killing Andy. Laurel is dead, and Quentin needs to mourn. All that’s left is Ollie and Felicity. And that’s ok. This shows that it’s not just Ollie who gets affected by these things, it’s everyone involved.
Unlike last year, it’s unclear where Arrow Season 05 will take us. But with Ollie now mayor, and the others paths not set, it opens up a wide array of opportunities. I know it’s not a popular opinion, but I believe Arrow Season 04 had some of the best stories and arcs of the entire run. I would honestly put it above Arrow Season 02 personally. So for me, I was really glad it ended on the note it did.