SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of tonight’s Season 7 finale of Arrow.
Game of Thrones isn’t the only series counting down to its big finish with a nasty war between Queens, plenty of long-lost sibling drama an uncommon level of commitment to both archery and earth tones. That’s right, there’s also Arrow, the bullseye center of the CW’s shared superhero mythology (aka, the Arrowverse) which has spread across space and time in more ways than one. Arrow and its sister shows — The Flash, Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and the long-gone Constantine — have collectively aired 461 episodes to date and effectively expanded the Arrowverse canon with every single installment. More is one the way, too, with Batwoman premiering in the fall. Taken all together, it’s a somewhat staggering achievement and one that no one foresaw when Arrow notched its first episode in October 2012.
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Arrow delivered its jam-packed Season 7 finale tonight and as the story started off it seemed like Star City might be channeling distant Westeros — both Arrow and Game of Thrones are coming off a recent chain of episodes centered on warring Queens and uneasy sibling relations. In Star City, however, the combative Queens are named Oliver and Emiko, the divided children of the late Robert Queen and (in very different ways) mutual inheritors of a family legacy steeped in violence.
The finale tied up plenty of loose ends (by cleverly pinching off the season-long flash-forward story line set in a dystopian future, for instance) but it also departed from the tone of all previous six season finales. The energy of “You Have Saved This City” (which was written by showrunner Beth Schwartz and Rebecca Bellotto) was in the end less heart-pounding cliffhanger and more of a heart-tugging tearjerker. That because the finale also marked the final episode for Emily Bett Rickards, who portrays the tech-savant Felicity Smoak, a core character for seven seasons, dating back to her debut in the third episode of Season 1.
The Smoak role was originally crafted as a one-off character but Rickard won over the show’s creative team with a fizzy mix of hacker charm, cerebral heft, and brainy beauty. The character became the MVP of Team Arrow and, eventually, the key love interest of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Rickard’s exit came after the announcement that Arrow as a whole will hang up its quiver after next season.
Many fans were worried that Rickard’s savvy character might be dispatched in some unsavory way for dramatic purposes (which would have been especially awful given her pregnancy) but in the end there was Smoak but no fire. Instead, Smoak walks away from the hero business hand-in-hand with Oliver, who can’t forget the dying warning from his half-sister who said that the Ninth Circle would stop at nothing to get the bowman’s baby. A lovely montage shows the couple enjoying family life that becomes their routine. (The emotion of the sequence in some way echoes the quiet-life choice made by Captain America in the Avengers: Endgame.) The bliss doesn’t last — Oliver gets a visit from the Monitor who says it’s time for the hero to live up to his Elseworlds bargain. There’s a good chance Oliver won’t make it back alive from his multiverse mission and that was etched into the emotions of the couple’s forlorn farewell.
Both poignant and practical, the choices made in the finale reset the game board for next season, upped the stakes, doubled down on emotional backdrop, and handled the Smoak character in a way that respected her story arc and motivations and didn’t treat her like an expendable pawn or forgotten gambit. All of It was also nicely in keeping with the gender empowerment and representation themes that have become so central to the Arrowverse shows — it also preserve Smoak’s viability for a final season reunion moment if that narrative opportunity presents itself.
As for the future, Season 8 will be the end of Arrow but not of the Arrowverse it spawned. “This was a difficult decision to come to, but like every hard decision we’ve made for the past seven years, it was with the best interests of Arrow in mind,” Arrow executive producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Beth Schwartz said in a joint statement in March. “We’re heartened by the fact that Arrow has birthed an entire universe of shows that will continue on for many years to come. We’re excited about crafting a conclusion that honors the show, its characters and its legacy and are grateful to all the writers, producers, actors, and — more importantly — the incredible crew that has sustained us and the show for over seven years.”
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