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Arrow - Schism - Review

Arrow finished out its fourth season with “Schism” with story by Greg Berlanti and teleplay by the team of Wendy Mericle and Marc Guggenheim. The episode was directed by regular John Behring. The episode reunited Berlanti, Mericle, and Guggenheim who also wrote the first episode of the season. For me, this was the flattest and most disappointing season finale of the series. Fitting, perhaps, as this was also the flattest and most disappointing season too.

Previously, I’ve been impressed by how all the different story threads advance the story and especially at how the flashbacks remained relevant. This season, I feel like we are simply right back to where we started the season, only worse, and I feel like the flashbacks had little to no relevance at all. Anything that moved the story along at all feels like it happened – or could have happened – in the first 2 or 3 episodes.

Darhk (Neal McDonough) tosses Curtis (Echo Kellum) has Donna (Charlotte Ross) by the throat. Diggle (David Ramsey) and Oliver (Stephen Amell) show up but can’t do anything to stop him. Thea (Willa Holland) stops Darhk from sucking the life force from Oliver by threatening the life of Darhk’s daughter (Tuesday Hofman) – who he’s about to kill anyway. He gives up, steals Rubicon and goes off to destroy the world. McDonough has been fun this season, though with that over-the-top edge of humor that I’m not a huge fan of. It would also have been nice if they’d been able to find a slightly better body double for him – but that is nit-picking.

Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) remarks that Oliver wasn’t able to fight off Darhk’s magic, and Oliver explains that her faith in him isn’t enough to counteract Darhk anymore because Darhk is too powerful now. I’m really not digging the “channel light and hope” magic that Oliver is now privy too. Will this be an on-going power or was it just for Darhk? Is magic any different from super powers or meta humans? I’ve complained before about the move away from having Oliver as a “regular” guy…

Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) shows up to help. She wonders why he’s moving ahead when he still has his daughter and no way to protect her. Diggle points out that Darhk has lost hope – “all of us have.” And Lyla finally sees what a dark place Diggle is in, especially when he finally confesses what really happened with Andy. Naturally, Lyla absolves him – he did what a soldier had to do.

Just as with every season finale, the team has two hours to save the world – but only 45 minutes to save Star City – and yes that was about 15 minutes in to the hour. Felicity gets Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) to take Donna to safety. The ARGUS team moves on Darhk and is utterly destroyed while the lair is attacked. Malcolm (John Barrowman) shows up to save Thea. Lyla has to save Diggle when he freezes. Once again, the arrow lair is destroyed. I did love Felicity using one of Laurel’s batons. These are some really great fight scenes, and kudos to the entire choreography and stunt team. These continue to be some of the best fights on television – or anywhere!

In surveying the damage, Oliver muses that he tried to do things differently, and wonders if he hadn’t, if Laurel would still be alive. It’s up to Curtis to get up off his sick bed – broken ribs, internal injuries – to deliver the hopeful speech to re-motivate everyone. He starts by saying someone needs to have some optimism left. He goes on to say that no sane person would live in Star City after three terrorist attacks – now four! – but the Green Arrow convinced him to stay – remember I said we came full circle, still not feeling like we really went anywhere. Curtis wants to know why the Green Arrow can’t provide more hope now.

In the next scene, it’s Oliver, NOT the Green Arrow, who jumps on a taxi and delivers the stirring speech of hope to the rioting crowds. Oliver manages to inspire not only the crowd but also his team – and Quentin, who turns around and comes back to Star City to help. Meanwhile, Felicity and Curtis take out the missile heads straight for them.

Oliver goes after Darhk, leading to the big show down. It was pretty hilarious to watch Darhk toss him around at first. But Oliver isn’t alone and the crowd is there to back him up – and power up the magic of hope.

        While Darhk and the Arrow fight, Felicity goes after Cooper (Nolan Gerard Funk) who is still running Rubicon for Darhk. In order to break from Darhk, Cooper sacrifices himself, dying but allowing Felicity to take control of the missiles. Ultimately, Oliver defeats – and kills Darhk.

The rest of the episode is a long wrap up as one by one the team leaves. Quentin’s suspension is now permanent, and he leaves town with Donna.

       Thea has a crisis of conscience and decides that Laurel would tell her to get out before she loses too much of herself. The last we see of Thea she is curled up on the couch in Laurel’s apartment. Does she have any purpose left? She was helping Oliver try to get elected – could she not find herself in that work? Helping restore the city?

Felicity is actually happy to have “Team Arrow” back with just Oliver, Diggle and herself, but even that is not to be. Diggle is also taking some time away from the team and the city. Last we see him, it looks like he is also taking time away from Lyla and Sarah and rejoining the army? Nice way to abandon your family too, Diggle. Oliver is also worried because he’s never been the Arrow without Diggle – except as we see him in the early flashbacks this season – and Diggle is the one who keeps him in line.

Oliver and Felicity talk over Laurel’s grave. Oliver is afraid that Thea and Diggle have left because of their own struggles with darkness – something he thinks they caught from him. Felicity argues that it’s not darkness – it’s a schism that has Oliver at war with the two sides of himself.

Oliver is asked to step in as Mayor and we see him sworn in. Oliver admits that he’s conflicted about taking the job, but is also ready for it. What happens to the Green Arrow is completely unclear. Though Felicity is still waiting in the lair and swears she isn’t going anywhere – of course, she doesn’t have an actual job, right?

The flashbacks seemed equally pointless. Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola) and Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) fight and Taiana kills Reiter. Then Oliver has to kill her before the darkness takes her over. Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) shows up and offers Oliver a job, which he turns down. Also, perhaps the most miraculous recover from a bullet wound to the leg... He tells her he has a promise to keep – will the flashbacks next season take place in Russia as he tries to fulfil his promise to Taiana to let her family know about her and her brother’s deaths?

Overall, except for the fight scenes, I didn’t find this a satisfying finale. But then, I came into it without a lot of enthusiasm. Even the cast seemed tired in this episode. Can you change my mind? What did you think of the episode? Speculation for next season? I have to confess, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be back for season five…

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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