Arrow 4×23 Roundtable: ‘Schism’

Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Arrow and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.

Today, we’re breaking down the season 4 finale of Arrow, “Schism,” where we discuss Oliver’s schism, our thoughts on Oliver and Felicity, and what we’d like to see in season five.

What were your overall thoughts on “Schism?”

ALYSSA

While it didn’t have the “ooh” and “ahh” that you’d expect in a season finale, “Schism” was a very satisfying end to Arrow’s fourth season. One of the things that I’ve learned recently, especially with shows going for the big bang cliffhanger to end their season, is that you don’t need a cliffhanger to make your season finale worthwhile. It’s nice when the story itself does that, as evidenced with “Schism,” where everything appeared to come full circle. While it was far from perfect (I still don’t understand how Darhk lost his magic and yet killed Cooper with it), you can’t force too much logic on these superhero shows. When compared to the other superhero shows out there, Arrow’s finale had the most logic of all of them, honestly.

LIZZIE

I enjoyed it. It was a good finale that didn’t end on an absolutely terrible note, didn’t end in a bad cliffhanger, but it still left most things dangling, and I like that. Last season felt a little like too much closure, and this feels a bit more exciting. The rebuilding is always better than the tearing things down – and both are bound to happen. It’s the nature of TV. So, I think the finale did what it had to do, it got rid of Damien Darhk in a way that felt natural, it explained his motivations, it had a little chaos, a lot of hope and we saw some consequences to everything.

LYRA

I appreciate the season finale of Arrow for what it was trying to do. It was about Oliver’s journey in believing himself and finding that light within. That’s beautiful and deserves all the happy tears because our boy has grown up! This isn’t the Oliver of Season 1. This is a man who wants to save his home without sacrificing his values, family, or the happiness he’s found in Team Arrow. And sure I could’ve done without Damien’s lackluster conclusion but we’ve got to stick to the good for our own sanity during the hellatus.

Loved the blossoming father/daughter relationship that was clearly hinted at between Felicity and Quentin. Loved that Diggle and Thea decided to take a well deserved break from vigilante life. And I loved that standing on a random car and giving a spirited speech can make you Mayor. The stuff of dreams there! :p It’s going to be a different kind of arena when Arrow returns for it’s fifth season.

P.S. At least the world didn’t end with Felicity dying in that hideous coat. *shudder* It’s horrible and no one (especially people on Twitter) can change my mind!

As the title implies, we saw Oliver experience a schism within himself as there was a balance of light and darkness as emphasized by his inspiring the city and being able to kill Damien Darhk because it was necessary. What were your thoughts on that?

ALYSSA

This has always been an interesting debate within Oliver: Can he overcome the darkness that nearly overtook him during his five years of hell? For so long Oliver has been fighting to be good and only good. How could a true hero possess even a shred of darkness, he wondered. But the thing is heroes are not perfect. In a way that would make them less relatable than we know them to be. A hero is someone who fights to protect those that need it and is someone willing to sacrifice his/her life for the greater good. There has never been any doubt that Oliver Queen is a hero to us; but to Oliver it’s always been a doubt.

One of the more interesting aspects of this episode came with the killing debate: When is it acceptable? As Damien Darhk said, Oliver spared the life of the man that killed his own mother. But as Oliver countered, he had a choice then. Slade Wilson had killed his mother, yes, but Darhk had killed not only Laurel but tens of thousands of people. Oliver learned an important lesson: Sometimes you don’t have a choice. For so long Oliver had tried to defeat the bad guy without killing, but if Oliver learned anything from this it’s that sometimes killing is the only option.

LIZZIE

Honestly, I think Oliver is as close as we’ve ever seen him to balance. You can’t hope to eradicate darkness completely, not when you do the job he does, and I think he’s been so focused on trying to be perfect that sometimes he’s lost sight of the fact that he’s human and he’s allowed mistakes every once in a while. And yes, it might look like he’s struggling right now, but he’s actually accepting that he can’t banish one side or the other; he has to find a balance. It’s the only way to actually be a hero. If you’re not willing to do what’s necessary, then what are you?

So, hopefully, this being an origin story of sorts, we’re getting ever closer to the Green Arrow we all want to see.

LYRA

I’m going to be honest. I’m still kind of confused by it. And it’s not like I don’t love complicated plots. (Interstellar and Inception were more complicated than this storyline and I got them.) Even Tinkerbell, the closest movie that I could equate to this mess, was easier to understand than Oliver’s sudden strength to kill Damien. I can appreciate that they tried something new. Unfortunately it didn’t hit the mark.

While it wasn’t necessarily the closure we were hoping for, Oliver and Felicity were set on course for rebuilding their relationship next season. What were your thoughts on how Oliver and Felicity ended the season? Were you satisfied with a longer solution?

ALYSSA

While it wasn’t the happy ending we all wanted, this was the closest thing we were going to get. There’s no denying that Oliver and Felicity are a significant part of the heart of the show. There’s also no denying that they’ll find their way back to each other as they’re each other’s true love story. But it was never going to be this quick fix that so many people wanted. And truthfully, it shouldn’t be a quick fix. If it was a quick fix I’d be worried. It would lack the development that needs to happen in order to ensure this doesn’t happen moving forward, as well as making them stronger for it.

Oliver and Felicity ended the season the same way they started it: standing side-by-side and ready to take on whatever challenge thrown their way. If the symbolism of that giant ring encompassing them as the final shot zoomed out wasn’t enough for you, there is no doubt that Oliver and Felicity are on the path to reconciliation come season five. Sure, we’ll have to wait to see how their journey plays out, but ultimately that’s what’s for the better. Hopefully we’ll get to see them working on their own issues and their relationship onscreen rather than hearing about it happening during hiatus.

LIZZIE

I’m not going to say I wouldn’t have liked a resolution – I think the setup needed more of a payoff than them standing together at the end, but at the same time, I’m not worried. They’re endgame, and the show is clearly going to take more time to rebuild their relationship because they care about these characters, they care about this relationship. That’s just the way it is. And I can choose to be mad that the show places this relationship so high in its list of importance that they’d drag it out, or I can choose to accept it and go along for the ride. One of those might give me an ulcer, the other one won’t. So I’m just going to enjoy this and trust that the same writers who’ve given us so much so far know what they’re doing.

LYRA

Not gonna lie, I would’ve loved a little more resolution. Maybe a little peck or declaration because the world was presumably going to end. But…I guess I’ll make due with what we got. Felicity’s decision to stay by Oliver’s side is her way of telling him that there is still hope for the love between them. It hasn’t disappeared despite all the crazy angst around them and “the” lie. Both have gained the most valuable thing in the past couple of weeks, perspective. It can only go uphill for these two lovebirds.

Damien Darhk finally met his end at the hands of Oliver. What were your thoughts on Darhk as a villain this season?

ALYSSA

While I was never a fan of the magic as Arrow has always been at its best and most genuine when it’s grounded and gritty, Damien Darhk has been one of the better big bads. Darhk was what we were promised Ra’s al Ghul would be in terms of the overall threat, as well as the type of villain he was. Darhk was the kind of villain that you loved to hate but couldn’t help but be captivated by his charisma and charm. Neal McDonough was sensational as Darhk, but there were times when Darhk didn’t make as much sense as I believed. But overall I was pleased with the big bad this season.

LIZZIE

I liked him, but he lost a little steam at the end. It’s like his plans were too big, his reasoning a little thin. Especially when it came to saving his daughter but being willing to see her die anyway. Villains are tricky, though, and Darhk was effective at being a force for most of the season, and he did do some terrible things, like Felicity’s paralysis, Laurel’s death, that affected the team in profound ways. He wasn’t a bad villain, not at all, I just think that considering all that I mentioned I sort of expected more than I got in the end. Such is the burden of high expectations.

LYRA

Damien Darhk didn’t live up to the hype. I thought he had some sort of master plan that would frighten and defy everything we knew about villains…I was wrong. He fell apart by the end of the season, his plans completely destroyed for unexplainable reasons. (Anarky was really responsible for the destruction of an expensive and innovative ark? Don’t believe it one bit!) And what about the other people across the world that helped Damien? Hive? Just too many lose ends to feel like a satisfying end do a dastardly looking villain.

The season ended as it began but in an opposite way with certain people stating and certain people leaving Star City. What are your thoughts on that?

ALYSSA

Arrow loves its parallels, and this was no different. This was something that also made the season come full circle was the characters’ journeys this season. While Oliver and Felicity started the season together away from Star City, they ended the season together in Star City. While Diggle, Thea, and Lance started the year in the city they took a much-needed break following the emotional events of the season. In a way Oliver and Felicity staying in Star City really felt earned. They started the season taking a break and ended it standing strong together preparing to protect this city in their friends’ absence.

Here’s the thing with those leaving Star City: they need a break – Diggle, Thea, and Lance. Diggle, more than anyone, needs to get back on the right path after the events with his brother. He’s more broken than we’ve ever seen him, and whatever he needs to do to find himself again is fine by me. From the start of the season I questioned Thea’s decision to jump right into being Speedy without really asking herself why she was doing this. It took this season to make her really step back and question who she is, and she’s going to take some time to really ask herself if she’s doing this for the right reasons. Then you have Lance, who obviously needs to take some time to just rest and recollect himself following Laurel’s death. He never really had time to deal with the grief, and this break will hopefully allow him, as well as help guide him in a new direction now that he’s no longer a cop.

LIZZIE

I liked the symmetry of it all. Like Diggle said, Oliver is perfectly capable of doing this, and with Felicity by his side it’ll give them a chance to get back to the roots, to what first made them grow together. It’s good not just for Olicity, but for the team at large. Thea needs a break, and she needs to put herself first. I think they might be setting her up as a big bad in the future, and I’d be so down with that. Diggle also needs to find himself, and in his stead, if Team Arrow ever need a hand, Lyla will be there to help. How awesome would that be? Team Arrow comprised of two women and the Green Arrow? Give me all of that! Where do I sign?

LYRA

I loved how the beginning of the season echoed the end. Especially when it comes to Olicity. Sure they weren’t romantically together but they were together as companions and friends. It’s the first step in fixing what was broken in their relationship. As for Thea and Diggle leaving the team for a bit, it’s well deserved. Oliver and Felicity took time away from the team to figure out their relationship and as a reprieve from all the craziness of hero life. Why can’t Thea and Diggle do the same? They need time to get their house in order, aka their mind, before returning to Star City. Oliver and Felicity will hold down the fort and give them all the time they need.

As we close out this fourth season of Arrow, what would you like to see heading into season five?

ALYSSA

The number one thing I want to see for Arrow in season five is a return to the dark, gritty, grounded nature that the show thrived in. Arrow has always been the superhero show without superpowers, but it was forced to be something else in order to shepherd other shows and superheroes into this universe that was founded by Arrow. So I just want Arrow to be Arrow in season five. Then of course on the Oliver and Felicity front I really want to see them work to repair their relationship. I don’t want that development to happen off-screen, I want to see them working through their issues onscreen. And of course I’d like to see more focus on the characters rather the action. Basically, I don’t want to see storylines pushed at the expense of the characters. Also, I’d like to see Arrow not have to push other shows or storylines like it has these past two seasons.

LIZZIE

I would like to see Oliver and Felicity taking the time to not just remember how much they love each other, but understand where the other was coming from. I would like to see Oliver treat Felicity as a partner in everything, and I would like to see Felicity not run when the going gets tough emotionally (she’s already started on this, thankfully). I would like them to have everything under control at first. I would like it for Thea and Diggle to return because they want to and not just because they’re needed. I would like it for Lyla to be more involved in Team Arrow business. I would like less supernatural and more gritty fighting. I would like for Barry’s fuckups to stay on The Flash and not affect Arrow too much. And I would like for Olicity to get back together at some point that’s not the end of next season.

LYRA

Heading into Season 5 of Arrow, I’d like to see a return to the show of before. I understand that there are metas and magic out there, we can’t avoid it. But Arrow has become lost in a sea of the impossible. There’s a reason why people stick to Arrow instead of watching The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow or Supergirl. They like the dark noir, angst, and action of a drama starring a man as powerless as we are. It makes him even more extraordinary and worth while to watch.

What are your thoughts on “Schism?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!

Arrow returns Wednesdays this fall on The CW.



Alyssa Barbieri

Co-Executive Editor

Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment | Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes | Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters | Co-executive Editor for Fangirlish | Contributor for Bears Wire at USA Today SMG | Producer/Co-Host of Buffone 55 for Bears Barroom Radio Network | Contact: alyssa@fangirlish.com.