(Arrow title card. Photo courtesy the CW.)
The second season finale of Arrow (based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow) airs tonight on the CW, with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who operates in Starling City as the vigilante known as the Arrow, going up against his former friend Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett).
A lot has changed since the mid season point. Police officer Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), recently restored to his rank of detective, is now a staunch supporter of the vigilante he’d once been determined to capture. He doesn’t know the Arrow’s identity, but his daughter, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) does. Lance insisted she not tell him.
Laurel also knows that her sister, Sara (Caity Lotz), is the vigilante known as the Canary (called the Black Canary in the comics).
And hours before she died, Oliver’s mother, Moira (Susanna Thompson) revealed that she knew his secret.
We haven’t learned how Moira learned the truth, but Wilson told Laurel. He also told Thea Queen (Willa Holland), that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), not the late Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan), is her father.
Merlyn, who precipitated an attack on a poorer section of town called the Glades at the end of the first season— and whom Oliver believes to be dead, returned last week and confirmed the truth.
(Malcolm Merlyn confronts Thea Queen. Photo courtesy the CW).
Thea wanted nothing to do with him and shot him.
Prior to the series’ opening episode, Oliver had spent five years marooned on a hellish island. There, he befriended Wilson, an Australian intelligence agent, who helped teach the then-callow youth how to survive. At one point, Wilson suffered severe injuries and Oliver made a desperate gamble to save his life. He injected his friend with an experimental chemical called Mirakuru, created by the Japanese during World War II. The fatality rate was high, but survivors gained enhanced strength.
They also underwent drastic personality changes, including bouts of rage. At one point during their time on the island, a Mirakuru-affected Wilson held a gun to Oliver’s head before regaining his self control.
(On the island, Oliver Queen helps a Mirakuru-affected Slade Wilson remain calm. Photo courtesy the CW.)
That wouldn’t last, however. Wilson regarded Oliver as his enemy once he discovered that Oliver had chosen to save Sara Lance instead of a woman named Shado (Celina Jade), when a man named Anthony Ivo (Dylan Neal) had held a gun to the women’s heads and made Oliver decide who would live.
(Anthony Ivo demands that Oliver choose between Sara and Shado. Photo courtesy the CW.)
Wilson also suffers from hallucinations of Shado urging him to exact revenge. He recently recreated Ivo’s actions by abducting Oliver, Moira and Thea, taking them into some woods and demanding that Oliver choose whether his mother or sister would live. Moira made the decision for Oliver, offering her life in place of Thea’s. Wilson ran her through with his sword, severed Thea’s bonds and walked away, promising that “one more would die.”
(Slade Wilson kills Moira Queen. Photo courtesy the CW.)
Moira had been running for mayor against Alderman Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), a friend of Oliver’s and an ally of Wilson’s (though none of the Queens had known that at the time). Moira’s death propelled Blood into the mayor’s office. Oliver subsequently told him that he was the Arrow and Blood informed Oliver that the “one more” to die would be whomever Oliver loves most.
I’m guessing Wilson will kill Sara. After all, Oliver saved her rather than Shado. Also, since Dinah Laurel Lance is the Black Canary in the comics, Sara’s death would move Laurel one step closer to taking on that role in Arrow.
During their confrontation in the woods, Oliver learned about Wilson’s hallucinations. Wilson acknowledged that Shado wasn’t his, but Oliver’s. However, the fact that Oliver chose to save another woman enraged him all the more.
Oliver told Sara— and others— that he did choose her, but when Ivo threatened the two women, it looked to me as if Oliver had charged straight at him. Either way, he was faced with an impossible choice. Even if he was in love with Shado, he’d known Sara for years— possibly her entire life— and had been involved with her.
If I ever happen to be at a convention attended by Manu Bennett, I’d be interested in getting his take on this question: If Slade Wilson had never been injected with Mirakuru, would he still have held Oliver responsible (more so than Ivo, in fact) for Shado’s death? I’m guessing he wouldn’t.
Wilson’s vendetta extends to destroying Starling City. With Blood’s help, he’s created an army of men and women— including several escaped prisoners— who’ve been injected with Mirakuru and who’ve attacked the city. When Blood realized Wilson meant to destroy his beloved city, he delivered a serum that’ll reverse Mirakuru’s effects to Oliver. Wilson had him killed for doing so.
A few weeks ago, Oliver was determined to find a cure and “save” his former friend. Last week, he used it on Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), Thea’s boyfriend, whom Blood had injected with Mirakuru earlier in the season; but given recent events, Wilson is past saving in Oliver’s mind.
I’ve written before about how the Slade Wilson of Arrow compares and contrasts with his comics counterpart, the mercenary known as [Deathstroke the] Terminator. One significant difference is that the Wilson of Arrow would kill millions to achieve his goal. In the comics, Terminator took out a reluctant contract against the Teen Titans (to fulfill his late son’s obligation). He also has a code of honor, despite being an assassin. In Tales of the Teen Titans #55 (July 1985), written by Marv Wolfman, he has this conversation with Gar Logan, the Titan called Changeling, as they eat lunch together in a diner:
Wilson: “You called me a villain. Never thought of myself as that. I’m a mercenary. A soldier for hire.”
Logan: “You kill people.”
Wilson. “I’m a soldier. I don’t steal or kill for personal gain. I have a strict code of ethics.”
And later, as Wilson gets up to leave:
Logan: “I keep thinking I should stop you.”
Wilson: “But the courts won’t imprison me [he’d been found not guilty of kidnapping a man]. Look, my crimes are locked inside my head… And you’ve expunged yours from your soul. I think you’ll be doing a helluva lot better than I will. Take care of yourself, kid.”
I doubt Wilson will ever have a conversation like that with Oliver. Which is a tragedy, because he’d once been a good man. In a first season flashback to the island, Wilson, Oliver and Shado prevented a man named Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) from firing a missile at an airplane and starting a war.
Government agent Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), aware of the danger a Mirakuru-affected army poses, has given Oliver only hours to administer the serum. If he fails, she intends to bomb the city to stop Wilson’s army. I think we can safely say that Oliver will succeed in delivering the “antidote” (most likely in aerosol form) to Wilson’s army, but it’s an open question as to whether Wilson himself will be cured.
My guess: he’ll be restored to normal and will redeem himself by making some noble sacrifice.
If not that, he’ll either die fighting Oliver or be imprisoned. But he’ll no longer have his enhanced abilities. If he did, he could just synthesize Mirakuru from his own blood again. And that’d be a redundant storyline.
Arrow’s too good a series to re-tread the same ground.
Copyright 2014 Patrick Keating.