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Arrow #223 - Unthinkable Review

4

Team Arrow gears up and they're ready to take on Deathstroke's army.

"Unthinkable" is all about two things: action and emotion. If you've been watching the show (if not, get out of here and go play catch-up), then you know Slade Wilson has an army roaming around the city and they're acting like total jerks. And, if you saw the last teaser, then you know this episode is going to deliver an epic showdown. Thankfully, it does indeed live up to the hype and there's some hugely entertaining action segments. The fight in the tunnel is extensive and the "boss fight" is creative (will elaborate on that later). When people aren't getting punched in the face or stabbed in the shoulder, the episode also produces some pretty compelling drama. I won't talk about it too much because we like to keep things mostly spoiler-free here, but every character is granted at least one key scene. None of the performances fall flat, either. In fact, one exchange had me leaning forward and fully immersed in what's happening.

This episode also does a fine job teasing the next season. There's nothing here that'll blow you away, but enough is done to effectively set-up a new dynamic for the show's return. One character embarks on a major change, another is left with an uncertain fate, and they managed to work in a whole new premise for the flashbacks. Honestly, the big moment with the character that has an uncertain outcome felt a little predictable. It was one of those "everything is going too well, so something bad is so going to happen" moments. That said, I'm a sucker for the character and it still left me anxious to see what'll happen. Here's hoping for the best, right? We knew that other character (man, staying mostly spoiler-free is tough) would eventually walk a certain path, but they did an appropriate job pushing him or her in that direction. Also, we've yet to see what the new flashbacks will revolve around, but the tease is ample enough and the change of scenery is definitely appreciated.

Felicity, you continue to be one of the best parts of Arrow. Her remark to Ra's al Ghul's daughter was amazingly witty and she without question has one of his best personalities on the show. When that scene happened with her, I exclaimed "YES!" Seriously, I have no shame in admitting that. So when that other scene happened, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The moment was real and this is obviously acknowledged, but it seems as though it's swept under the rug so they can return to the status quo and keep pulling the "will they or won't they" card.

Arrow, thank you for the fan service with Roy. The developments with him aren't necessarily game changing, but they're enough to set him in a new and very exciting direction. There's one quick shot of him in there that's sure to make any Arrow fan smile like a goofball. Sara and Laurel (and their dad, of course), feel secondary in this one but thankfully not neglected, either. Their roles are rather limited but it's just enough to keep them in the picture without awkwardly fiinding a way to work them in. Besides, they've both had a more than fair amount of focus in the prior episodes. And, one moment in the end definitely feels like a nice dose of foreshadowing.

After weeks and weeks of teasing Slade Wilson, Oliver Queen finally has his big showdown with Deathstroke. The choreography is solid -- as is the directing -- but what makes this fight truly special is the editing. It's clipped together with the brawl in the past and there's more than a couple of clever transitions. It's definitely not what I expected and it was done very well. I just wish Slade didn't kind of steal a line from General Zod (no, he doesn't tell Ollie to kneel). That on top of the The Dark Knight Rises parallels felt like the show borrows a little too much from DC's movies. But you know what? It did it damn well so credit is still due. One gripe about the flashback, though. We all knew Oliver would wind up stabbing Slade in the eye -- we've known that for quite some time now. So it's a little odd they chose to present that scene with so much tension. We all knew the choice he'd make, so I'd rather see it occur during an especially intense part of the fight instead of making Ollie weigh his options. That would feel a little more effective instead of waiting for the outcome we already know.

Minor gripe: as much as I enjoyed the action, it does bother me a bit the Mirakuru soldiers have become fodder just because there's more of them -- hits that would previously not faze them at all give now have a slight impact. I'd much rather see everyone forced to fight smarter rather than being cool with taking these superhuman dudes on in close combat. Yes, they have the cure on them, but one good connect from these villains can do some major damage -- that's something we've seen before, after all. There was also a minor inconsistency with how they reacted to the cure. The first one spazzed out, then the rest just fall immediately upon being hit with the cure. Then Slade's still kicking just fine after a dose to the neck? Obviously, having Slade collapse right away would have been anti-climatic, but I couldn't help but have that thought cross my mind. Last but most certainly not least, I love Manu Bennett's performance, but his script was way too heavy-handed with the whole "you're a killer, Oliver" preaching. Some lines here and there to emphasize this conflict are fine, but it was one remark after the other and they were all essentially expressing the same thing. It definitely felt like overkill (intentional pun is intentional). Oh, and holy abrupt ending with Isabel Rochev?!

"Unthinkable" is a great finale. It's full of thrilling action, engaging performances, gripping bits of emotion, and more than enough fan service. Honestly, I'm sure many of you out there will want to give this one a perfect 5/5 and that would be totally understandable. However, while reflecting on this one, little issues began to pile up and, for me, they added up just enough to give this one a 4/5. Regardless, it's an episode that's sure to satisfy fans and, while it doesn't leave us on a very strong cliffhanger, it's still good enough to keep us speculating. Thanks for the memories, Season 2.