As series finales go, The CW's Arrow's "Fadeout" solidly just sort of "exists," but doesn't exactly disappoint. In that way, it follows up on the last few seasons of the flagship show of the eponymous Arrow-verse. In so many ways, it would be impossible to cap off everything this show has been over the last eight years.
Hence why they've been capping off their legacy all season long. But judging this episode as the finale of Arrow out of context is sort of like trying to critique the legacy of a seminal band based not in totality of their final album but only on the last track of that album.
Since it would be impossible to try to finish it all in one episode, instead we get this mostly quiet, introspective turn as all of our supporting characters (yes, all, including stars from seasons past) come back and turn the page in this brave new post-crisis world.
And we get a nice capstone on the life and work of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) as we flash all the way back to one of his earliest revenge missions, working off his father's notebook, and see how his choices reverberate throughout the city, the timeline, and therefore the universe.
But ultimately it's these smaller, quieter moments that work best as they each individually try to answer what their place is in this new universe. A moment in the bunker between Diggle (David Ramsey), Dinah (Juliana Harkavy), and Rene (Rick Gonzalez) as Team Arrow hangs up their spurs on their hangout.
Moments between Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz) and Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) at Oliver's funeral. Hugs and cameos from Barry Allen and Kara Danvers. And a final, beautiful moment between Oliver and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) in an afterlife where they have all the time in the world to be with each other. I shed a tear, I am not ashamed to admit.
Speaking of tears, the co-MVPs of this episode were Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity. An incredibly quiet scene between Quentin and his daughter Laurel (Katie Cassidy), wondering why when Oliver reset the universe to "fix" it, he left her, the former criminal from Earth-2 on their new earth instead of their original Laurel, Quentin tells her it's because she never needed "fixing," I almost lost it.
And then I definitely lost it as Oliver's funeral when Felicty, who had been avoiding Mia (Katherine McNamara), finally talked to her future-daughter. It was such a perfect, beautiful moment.
This is what made the episode work.
And then there's the giant shocker moment that, unfortunately, has gotten spoiled far too much on social media. (Seriously, MAJOR SPOILER here). But when that spaceship crashes in front of Diggle and he opens the box with the green glow. . . we all know what time it is.
And it makes me so happy that John Diggle will be out there in the universe as John Stewart, Earth's Green Lantern. (This is something I predicted would happen in Crisis, was sad when it didn't happen, and had given up hope it would happen, so this is a great moment.)
Anyway, what didn't work? The sort of clunky shoehorning in of one final adventure where William is kidnapped and everyone has to join forces (since we're all conveniently in town) to track him down. It's literal overkill to assemble all these heroes to deal with one white collar criminal Oliver Queen put in Iron Heights eight years ago. But oh well- the finale structure demands we have a team-up! So here it is!
I do have to say, it was good to see Ragman (Joe Dinicol) and Mr. Terrific (Echo Kellum) back. Kellum especially has such a specific energy that has been missing from the show since he left. It's good to have him, and all the rest of them back. It's just sad that the "one last hurrah" thing felt a little forced.
Speaking of forced. . . I have mixed feelings about the Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) / Thea Queen (Willa Holland) marriage proposal.
Reserved. This has never been a ship I cared about in particular, although I understand it has its fans. I'm happy they're happy, I guess? But it just feels more like the finale of, I dunno, Friends? Where we just sort of say, "Ok, these two go get married I guess?" It feels like more shoehorning of traditional things we expect from series finales.
So, overall– quiet moments? Very good. Giant, crazy moments involving power rings from Oa? VERY good. "One last hurrah!" and "Somebody's getting married!" tropes we expect? Less so.
But I'm going to miss Arrow. It's a show I never missed an episode of, even during some of those middle seasons where I was hate-watching it and the later seasons where I was watching out of loyalty. But this final season has been great. And it's leaving an Oliver Queen-sized hole in our hearts, our souls, and our tv-schedules.