Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 23 - Lian Yu

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


With the rest of Team Arrow abducted by Prometheus and held captive where it all began on the island of Lian Yiu, Oliver Queen must build an unlikely army of his enemies! Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa Al Ghul, Captain Boomerang and even Slade Wilson will stand beside him for one reason or another. Yet even if they triumph over an army that includes Talia Al Ghul and her followers, Evelyn Sharpe and Black Siren, can Oliver count on them letting him live long enough to enjoy the victory once Prometheus is brought to justice?


Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #66 (Basic plot of Oliver Queen and his friends and family vs. an island full of killers) and Justice League: Cry For Justice (A villain called Prometheus threatens everything Oliver Queen loves.)


It's a minor thing, but it just seems weird for Thea to be calling Sara "my friend's sister" instead of by name.

Unfortunately, all the drama of the episode is killed by the final minute, because - even ignoring press releases confirming the cast for Season 6 - we can't believe for a moment that they're killing off the entire cast except for Oliver Queen himself.


I never realized how much I missed Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson until now. I know the DCTVU is already a bit over saturated with shows but... 2018?  Deathstroke series? Please?

Well... now we know why John Barrowman didn't get his contract renewed for Season 6. Still, if Merlyn had to go out, we couldn't have asked for a better send off and Barrowman couldn't have given a better final performance as everyone's favorite bad guy you hate to love.

Willa Holland and Emily Bett Rickards haven't gotten a lot of scenes together. The brief moment they have bonding as the daughters of villains who did try to make it up to their daughters shows what a mistake that has been, as the two play off each other beautifully.


The washed-out filter used to make the flashbacks look grayer and more miserable/dream-like is a nice touch.

It also helps to provide contrast during the fight between Team Arrow and Prometheus and his recruits when the episode cuts between the fight and Oliver's final battle with Kovar. A masterful bit of directing and editing, that.

The Nyssa/Talia sword fight is a great one.


The episode starts with the same words that started The Pilot. "The name of the island they found me on is Lian Yu. It's Mandarin for purgatory."

The blue top and black leather jacket that Dinah is wearing in this episode resemble the DC Rebirth Black Canary costume.


Felicity says that she and Curtis combined have an IQ over 500.

Prometheus created a network of hundreds of charges of linked C-4 explosives.

Oliver gives Dinah the collar that Curtis built for her. It allows her to focus her Canary Cry but also allows it to overcome sonic dampeners.

Prometheus removed the on-wing hydraulic system from the plane he took to Lian Yu, rendering the plane useless.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Oliver has just knocked out the ARGUS guard who refused to abandon his post. He turns around to find Slade Wilson locking his cell door behind him.)
Slade: Would you like to explain what's going on?
Oliver: I'd like to talk about you for a minute. (pauses, clearly considering his words carefully) You seem...
Slade: What? In possession of all my marbles?
(Oliver just nods.)
The Mirakuru wore off a long time ago, kid. I mean, I remember everything that happened. I'm not trying to escape that. It feels like some... bad dream. Now, regardless of my sanity, why do you want to help me?  After everything I've done?
Oliver: There's a man here on the island named Adrian Chase. He's holding my friends and my family hostage. Including Thea... and my son.
Slade: (smirking) Since when do you have a son?
Oliver: Slade, are you going to help me or not?
Slade: I think I'm stating the obvious when I say I killed your mother.  And for that alone you should have killed me.
Oliver: Maybe what's happening now is the reason I didn't.
(Oliver retrieves a memory card from his pocket and hands it to Slade.)
Oliver: This is all the intel that I've been able to gather on your son, Joe. Including his present whereabouts.
Slade: (openly shaken at the mention of his lost son) Are you offering to help me find my son?
Oliver: I want us to find both of our sons.
(Oliver turns around and walks to the bag that he dropped when he first entered the prison block. He opens it to reveal the Deathstroke mask. Without a word, he returns to Slade and offers him the mask. Slade nods.)
Slade: You and me, kid. Like old times.

Merlyn: Are you looking for applause? Clapping is a little more difficult for me these days.

(Oliver, Slade and Digger discover Felicity, Samantha, Curtis and Thea caged in an open field.)
Slade: Why are they unguarded?
Captain Boomerang: It seems pretty obvious to me, mate.
(Talia and Evenlyn drop out of the trees, guns and bows drawn.)
Captain Boomerang: (sighing) It's a trap.
Talia: Don't even think it Oliver, or your son loses his mother.
Captain Boomerang: Oh, and, uh.. don't worry about that gun, mate. (reaches into his coat pocket to reveal he already has one)  Mr. Chase gave me this nice new one. Along with a better offer.
Evelyn: (nodding to Slade) Adrian thought it would be pointless to reach out to you.
Talia: Although given this turn of events, perhaps you've changed your mind?
Captain Boomerang: What's it going to be, Slade?  Care to side with the winners?

Captain Boomerang: I assumed you'd want to be on the winning side.
Slade: Assumption is the mother of all failures!

(Merlyn unlocks Thea's cage.)
Merlyn: You okay?
Thea: (tiredly) Go to Hell.
Merlyn: I'll take that as a yes.

(Oliver hands Curtis a communicator.)
Oliver: Comms. Just in case something goes wrong.
Curtis: You mean "when", right?

Slade: So instead of marrying the blonde, you married Ra's Al Ghul's daughter?
Oliver: Uh... Nyssa talks too much.
Slade: She hasn't explained your beef with Chase.
Oliver: (sighs and shakes his head) My past is coming back to haunt me.
Slade: Seems to be a recurring theme with you, kid.
Oliver: Don't know why.
Slade: Well, it's not really that complicated. You suffer from survivor's guilt. You can't get over the death of your father.
Oliver: Adrian Chase has nothing to do with my father.
Slade: Kid, when it comes to you, everything has to do with your father. You and I are not dissimilar. We're both haunted by our pasts. And the only way to bury that ghost is by forgiving yourself.
Oliver: Forgiving myself?  For what?
Slade: You blame yourself for your father's suicide. And everything else that has gone wrong since. You need to forgive yourself for your sins.
Oliver: You say that like it's easy.
Slade: It's the hardest thing in this world. 

Merlyn: You may not think of me as your father, Thea, but you'll always be my daughter.

Captain Boomerang: Go after the rest!
Merlyn: I wouldn't do that if I were you.
Captain Boomerang: Well, you don't seem too bright. Standing out here in the open like this? What kind of ass-backwards strategy is that? 
Merlyn: (smirking) Let me show you.
(Cut to: Felicity, Thea, Curtis and Samantha running through the woods. There is an explosion in the distance. Thea turns around and looks behind them in shock.)

(Nyssa has just left Oliver and Slade to scout ahead in the old building.)
She doesn't trust me.
Oliver: Can you blame her?
Slade: No.
(Slade suddenly cold-cocks Oliver, knocking him out. Black Siren rounds the corner with several of Talia's students and smirks.)
Slade: Tell Mr. Chase I have a gift for him. 

Felicity: I'd ask if you're okay, but I don't see how you could be. 
Thea: Honestly, I... I don't even know how I feel right now. 24 hours ago I... couldn't even think of Malcolm without wanting to scream, and now? Now I miss him. Is... is that insane?
Felicity: It's not insane. He's your father.
Thea: He manipulated me. He lied to me. He... he got me to kill my friend's sister! I... how can you miss somebody that you hated so much?
Felicity: Yeah. I mean, I have some experience with evil dads too. My father abandoned me. Lied to me. And then took a bullet for me, saving my life. (pauses and looks at Thea) Malcolm was not a good person and he was an even worse father, but... in his own way... he loved you. Today, he proved that.
Thea: I don't know. It's like today, I got... I got to see the father that he could have been but... he'll never get to be... because he's gone.
(Felicity pulls Thea into a tight hug.)

(Oliver has just given Dinah the collar Curtis made to enhance her powers.)
Dinah: Oh, I love that Curtis!  (To everyone else) This may hurt a bit.
Rene: Just sing, Canary!
Quentin: Actually, it's Black Canary.
(Dinah takes a deep breath and looks at the joint connecting their chains. She screams, breaking it.)

Nyssa: We have unfinished business... Sister.
Talia: I heard you gave up The Ring of The Demon's Head. What a foolish woman you've grown into.
Nyssa: It was your selfishness that forced me to grow up alone.
Talia: Our father never would have passed his mantle on to a woman. I had to forge my own path.
Nyssa: And you left me, knowing I would suffer at Father's hand.
Talia: Do you wish to settle the score now?
Nyssa: I stand with my friends!
Talia: You ally yourself with our father's murderer? He'd be ashamed of you.
Nyssa: (chuckling) Father was always ashamed of me.

(Black Siren and Black Canary knocked themselves down with their point-blank sonic cries. Siren is the first to get to her feet.)
Black Siren: You thought you could replace me? That's cute. 
(Quentin runs up behind Black Siren and hits her across the back of the head with a bo staff.)
Black Canary: You didn't have to do that.
Quentin: Oh, I did. For so many reasons. 

(Oliver has Prometheus's neck in a death grip.)
Prometheus: It's all over, but only if you do it! Do it, Oliver! And show everyone - show yourself who you really are!
(Oliver winces for a bit, sorely tempted, but he looks out to his friends, who are all watching him struggle with Prometheus.)
Oliver: No!
(Oliver releases his grip on Prometheus, leaving him gasping for breath. Oliver takes Prometheus' gun and empties it before tossing the gun away.)
Oliver: That's who I was. That's who I was before! It's not who I am now. You can blame me for your father's death for the rest of your life. I'm done blaming myself for mine. 
(Oliver starts to walk away from Prometheus.)
Prometheus: I knew it would come to this.  (growling) Your son is dead, Oliver!
(Everybody stares at Prometheus in shock. Oliver moves in and kneels by Prometheus, forcing him to meet his gaze.)
Oliver: (speaking with an eerie calm) I don't believe you. Because you are a liar. You're lying to me to manipulate me into doing what you want. But Adrian, here's the thing. If you're telling the truth? If you killed my son? I am never going to be the person you want me to be. Not ever.


Slade Wilson was last seen in 314.

Oliver offers to help Slade find his son, Joe, whom Slade first mentioned in 114, in exchange for his help.

Captain Boomerang was last seen in 308.

Samantha Clayton, William's mother, is among the hostages on Lian Yu.

Captain Boomerang was recruited by Prometheus, in case Oliver tried recruiting him as well.

Oliver is skilled enough with a throwing knife to knock an arrow out of the air.

Merlyn used to own three Gulfstreams and can fly any plane like it.

Before the Chinese government turned it into a prison, Lian Yu was a holy retreat.

Merlyn sacrifices himself to save Thea from a landmine and takes out Captain Boomerang in the process.

Nyssa. Slade and Oliver discover the ruins of the plane that was Oliver and Slade's home on Lian Yu some nine years earlier.

Thea refers to the events of 301 and how Merlyn manipulated her to kill Sara Lance.

Felicity refers to the events of 421 and how her father, The Calculator, took a bullet for her.

Neither Felicity or Curtis knows how to fly a plane.

Quentin gives Dinah his blessing to use the name Black Canary.

Dinah's newly focused Canary Cry is capable of breaking metal chains.

We learn that the burn scars on Oliver's back came from Kovar pushing him back against the burning wreckage of the helicopter that Oliver shot down.

Oliver kills Kovar by snapping his neck.

John is not an ace pilot but he can get a plane started.

Susanna Thompson - who played Moira Queen - has a cameo in the flashbacks as Oliver calls home to tell her that he is alive.

The episode concludes with Prometheus killing himself and Lian Yu blowing up - supposedly with all of Oliver Queen's friends and family still on the island.

The Winick Factor

There's a lot of great character moments here that are ruined by a completely random ending that only serves to make the villain look invincible and smarter than the hero. That describes about 90% of Judd Winick's Green Arrow stories and most of the Prometheus stories in Season Five, in all honesty.

The Bottom Line

For a story that draws upon elements of two of the most infamously bad Green Arrow stories of all time, this one does a miraculous job of doing that this show set out to do for five years and, for the most part, did successfully - take the fractured history of a B-list (at best) comic book hero and turn it into something epic. Ignoring the last minute of the episode, that's what they did. The cliff-hanger doesn't ring true, however, and it ends the whole thing on a sour note.

Ignore that though and focus on the good - Oliver being true to his ideals, Manu Bennett redeeming Deathstroke into something like the anti-hero he's meant to be, the Susanna Thompson cameo, Oliver's final battle with Kovar, Black Canary and Quentin kicking Black Siren's ass - and this is one hell of a Hail Mary for a season that did much to restore the good old days of Arrow.  I honestly can't wait for Season Six.

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