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Arrow - S4E23 - Schism

Previously on Arrow, “Lost in the Flood”

The season finale was an underwhelming end to an underwhelming season; not good, but not bad enough to get on any ‘worst episode’ lists. It was just a beige episode of television, unremarkable in pretty much every way.

The gang race against time to stop Darhk’s missiles from destroying the world (Yes, that is the same plot as episode 21, just somehow less exciting). Spoiler alert: they succeed. Instead of his fists, Oliver uses the power of motivational speaking to save the day (just kidding, he also uses his fists - this is Arrow, after all). In what is very nearly a moving scene, Oliver convinces Star City to stop looting and instead band together to defeat Darhk with the power of positive thinking (and also punching). For his service, Oliver is awarded the role of mayor.

Images: The CW

The Good

This episode reset everything (Oliver is the Mayor, Team Arrow has very nearly disbanded, Darhk is dead), which gives hope for a re-energized season five.

The Bad

There are definitely a lot of benefits to the DC TV shows sharing a universe, but knowing that there are literal superheroes hanging out in other cities as a guy who is good with a bow and arrow is left to stop the nuclear apocalypse doesn’t really make a lot of sense. They might have been able to prevent the tens of thousands of deaths from the one nuke that dropped if they had just thought to give Barry a call. Hell, even just getting help from the government, or from any of the other smart, capable people in the rest of the world couldn’t have hurt. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to have the fate of the world resting in the hands of a couple of vigilantes.

The whole nuclear Armageddon plot doesn’t really land. Why was the key to taking control of all of the world’s nukes hidden in Lyla’s arm? Why isn’t Felicity upset that she changed the course of a missile and it killed tens of thousands of people? Why do all of the characters have time to air out their personal dramas when the world is about to end? The writers created a shocking plot line, but refused to actually give it the depth it deserved. It’s very hard to take it all seriously when Felicity is able to take out a nuke with an iPad.

Neal McDonough is a strong enough actor that it can be easy to ignore that Damian Darhk is a character with very little substance. We are expected to believe that he is willing to destroy the world, killing himself and his daughter, because of the death of his wife, and yet we were only given maybe three scenes of them together, none of which fleshed them out as a couple. We know nothing about Ruve at all for someone whose death was the catalyst for everything, and that is not good enough. Female characters are not props, and their importance should not just be in the effect they have on male characters.

Quote of the Week

“News flash – my mother lives in the world” - Felicity pointing out the stupidity of Darhk threatening her mum to get her to assist in the apocalypse.

Arrow S4E23
  • 4/10
    Plot - 4/10
  • 8/10
    Performances - 8/10
  • 6/10
    Dialogue - 6/10


The actors did the best with what they were given, but that does little to save this unexpectedly boring season finale from a predictable villain and a plot line the writers refused to truly commit to.

User Review
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About Alison Millward (103 Articles)
Alison is a big nerd living in Melbourne, Australia. She is a lover of all things television, particularly anything in the "hot young people in depressing sci-fi situations" genre. When not watching tv, Alison enjoys long walks on the beach, corrupting young minds, and actively avoiding thinking about her future.
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