'Arrow' finale recap: Season 5 ends on an explosive cliffhanger

'Arrow' finale recap: Season 5 ends on an explosive cliffhanger
Source: The CW
Source: The CW

(Editor's note: Spoilers ahead for the season three finale of Arrow.)

The season five finale of Arrow felt like a culmination of everything that had come before it. The action took place entirely on Lian Yu, the island where it all began. And when episode 23 finally came to a close, we were left with an image very reminiscent of one from the series premiere: a father and son on a boat. If it wasn't for the massive cliffhanger (we will get to that in a bit), it would almost feel like the season five finale was set up as a fitting end to the series. 

This, of course, was not the series finale, and Arrow will be returning in the fall. But when the sixth season begins, it will not be entirely clear which characters will be coming along for the ride. Episode 23, "Lian Yu," begins where the penultimate episode left off, with Oliver Queen approaching one of his greatest adversaries and asking for his help. As it turns out, Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, played absolutely brilliantly by Manu Bennett, has reformed quite a bit since we last saw him. 

Slade agrees to help and joins forces with the rest of Oliver's team, including Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa al Ghul and Captain Boomerang. It doesn't take long for Adrian Chase to spring his first trap, and it is revealed that Captain Boomerang is actually on Prometheus' team. Fortunately, Slade plays a double agent quite a few times in the season finale and always to benefit Oliver. But even with Deathstroke cutting down one enemy after another, it appears that Prometheus rigged the game so that he couldn't lose. 

Fight night

Let the battle begin.
Source: Dean Buscher/The CW

Arrow fans are treated to more than a few epic battles in the season five finale. Nyssa al Ghul faces off with her sister, Talia; Black Canary goes head-to-head with Black Siren; Green Arrow takes on Prometheus; and Deathstroke, well, he takes on everybody else. When the dust settles, Team Arrow easily comes out on top. Each one of Oliver's allies dispatches their opponents with relative ease, until all that is left is Oliver with his arms around Chase's neck. 

The problem, though, is Oliver still did not know where Chase is hiding his son. And he has little interest in giving that information up. All Chase wants is to prove that Oliver is a murderer and thus begs for his own death. But it appears that Oliver has grown, and he announces that under no circumstance will he give Chase the satisfaction of being right. And then, Chase utters what could have been his last words to Oliver: He says Oliver's son is dead. 

Fighting back emotions so intense that they probably can't be fully described, Oliver still manages to refrain from killing Chase. And it is a good thing he does so. Moments later, Oliver hears from Felicity that Prometheus has rigged the entire island with explosives that will go off the moment he dies. And so, Chase never had any intention of getting off Lian Yu. 

How does Oliver stop Prometheus? 

Looks like the Green Arrow has the upper hand!
Source: Dean Buscher/The CW

The fifth season of Arrow revolved around trying to figure out a way to stop Prometheus. But Adrian Chase has always been 10 steps ahead of Oliver from the beginning, So, how does Oliver beat him? Well, it sure doesn't look like he succeeds in stopping him. In fact, Arrow's season comes to a close, and from all angles it appears as if Prometheus has won. 

After Oliver refuses to kill Chase, the latter flees for a boat to get off of Lian Yu. A chase obviously ensues, and Oliver is able to make it on the boat and go head-to-head with Chase once more. But then Chase reveals that Oliver's son is not dead, pulling him out from within the cabin of the boat. And with his arms around his son's neck, Chase gives Oliver a final choice: Save his son or his friends. 

If Oliver decides to kill Chase, the island will explode, killing Thea, Felicity, John, Quentin Lance and everyone else Oliver loves. But if Oliver refuses to kill Chase, he will kill his son. In the end, Oliver figures out a third option and shoots Chase in the leg, saving his son and his friends — that is until Chase pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head. Only seconds later the entire island goes up in flames. 

Did Team Arrow survive the blast?

Do they make it off the island?
Source: Dean Buscher/The CW


Arrow's fifth season has come to a close with one of the biggest cliffhangers imaginable. Fans are left to believe that nearly every main character perished. Obviously, that is not what happened. Somehow, someway, they survived — at least some of them. If they didn't, there would be no more Arrow. How they survived, though, is a solid question. 

We know that Team Arrow's best shot to get off Lian Yu was to go to the ARGUS supply ship that was halfway across the island. It is highly doubtful they could have made it there before the blast went off. We also know that there were bombs in the holy temple that they were being held hostage early in the episode. It seems their best bet was to flee to the ARGUS underground prison on the island where Captain Boomerang and Deathstroke were being kept. 

Since Chase seemed to have anticipated their presence in his fight with Oliver, he may never have thought it necessary to rig the prison with explosives — because nobody would be there. That is just conjecture, but we can safely assume that most of the main characters made it out of this episode alive. Two characters that likely didn't make it out of the finale alive are Malcolm Merlyn and Captain Boomerang, as the former appeared to have sacrificed his life to save his daughter.

The best news about this cliffhanger, though, is that it leaves open the possibility of seeing more Deathstroke when Arrow returns — well, if he survived. And if so, that's a win for everybody. Time to begin the countdown until Arrow's season six premiere. It's gonna be a long summer.

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