Arrow Season 5 Finale “Lian Yu” – Advance Review Arrow Season 5 Finale “Lian Yu” – Advance Review
GreenArrowTV's Craig Byrne reviews the Arrow Season 5 finale "Lian Yu" Arrow Season 5 Finale “Lian Yu” – Advance Review

Here’s a little bit of behind-the-scenes information about what it’s like to review TV episodes in advance: Often times, a network or studio will include a list of DNR’s, or Do-Not-Reveals, asking us not to spoil or ruin the biggest parts of an episode.

The DNR list for Arrow’s season finale “Lian Yu,” airing tonight on The CW, contained nearly 20 plot points.

Yes, this episode is big. It also happens to be one of the most exciting and satisfying episodes of the entire series, and quite possibly the best season finale for the series yet.

(Yes, better than Season 2).

To tie in with the wrapping up of Oliver’s “five years in Hell” in the flashbacks, the present day story also goes to Lian Yu, with a collection of all-star guests, including the long-awaited return of Manu Bennett as Slade. While Bennett’s Twitter activity denying that he was in the episode is a bit puzzling, it’s all worth it as his material is among the best in the episode. Also a welcome sight this week, who we also saw a little bit last week, is Katrina Law as Nyssa. Some of her scenes with Malcolm tonight make me wish for a sitcom spinoff for the two. In all seriousness, though, while the show cast already is a bit large, I would love to see Manu Bennett and Katrina Law on Arrow on a more permanent and regular basis — assuming they make it out of the season alive — as they both elevate the material and the action.

It’s also interesting, as Slade was arguably the best and most realistically threatening villain Oliver had faced prior to this season, that he’s back for the final showdown with Adrian Chase, a.k.a. Prometheus. As played by Josh Segarra, Chase has been a monster, and that does not let up in this finale, as he’s always steps ahead of Oliver and his team. As evil as Slade got — I mean, he killed Moira (spoiler warning!) — at least he seemed to have a soul and a conscience. Not so for Adrian, who is just downright sadistic.

There’s a lot of action this week, as is probably to be expected from an Arrow season finale, but the episode also works because of a collection of conversations and character moments. Oliver and Chase. Oliver and Slade. Oliver and Digger Harkness. Oliver and Felicity. Felicity and Samantha. Laurel and Dinah. Nyssa and Talia. Malcolm and Thea. Malcolm and Nyssa. Thea and Oliver. Oliver and… well, you get the picture, and we can’t give every conversation away. These are relationships built over 5 seasons and 115 episodes, and these are moments earned. Some of these moments and conversations are things we’ve been waiting for a while to see. I do sometimes wonder why Lyla and a team from ARGUS weren’t called in as backup, but I can only imagine it’s because Oliver wanted to keep things from escalating to a point that his loved ones would be in even more danger.

One criticism of Arrow, especially at season finale time some years, is that some fan groups or viewers feel left out. I think almost every group will be satisfied — maybe one could argue that the finale needed more Black Siren, but she does get one of the best lines of the entire hour, she does have some pretty juicy scenes in the finale, and she is a series regular next year, so I’m sure we’ll have more of her. Some of the newer recruits like Curtis, Rene, and Dinah may have less to do than many others too, but hey, there’s a lot to juggle this week, and again, every character that does show up serves a purpose in one way or another.

It’s the end of the island flashbacks, which will give viewers nostalgic Arrow pilot episode feels. I think I may want to go watch the pilot again next. And finally, there’s at least one moment in the finale that will probably leave you in tears. You’ll know it when you see it, but I will say that Stephen Amell especially performed excellently in that scene. Oh, and keep your eyes open for some very clear visual ties between the flashbacks of 5 years ago and the things that are happening in present day.

“Lian Yu” is a reminder of the show we all fell in love with, the capper on what I feel has been a successful fifth season. It is by far the best of the four DCTV finales on The CW this season. It will leave audiences wondering what exactly the future of this world will entail, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Arrow season finale “Lian Yu” airs tonight (May 24) at 8PM ET/PT on The CW. Extras including photos, screencaps, trailers, clips and more can be found here.

Craig Byrne

Craig Byrne has been writing about TV on the internet since 1995. He is also the author of several published books, including Smallville: The Visual Guide and the show's Official Companions for Seasons 4-7.

  • callistawolf

    May 24, 2017 #1 Author

    I think this is a great recap (nonspoilery of course!) and I’m intrigued by all you’ve mentioned here. Can’t wait to see it! Must be pretty awesome if it’s better than 2×23!


    • Craig Byrne

      May 24, 2017 #2 Author

      Calistawolf, I’d be really intrigued to hear what you think of the episode too. If you end up posting a review leave me a comment with a link. I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye but I do think (hope?) we’d agree on this finale.


  • Delaney

    May 24, 2017 #3 Author

    Katie gets the short-shrift again? Shocking.


    • Billy

      May 24, 2017 #4 Author

      Could you guys once shut up about Kaite and just enjoy the show?

      You people are about as bad as the Olicty shippers with their constant need to talk about Olicty in everything.

      I actually hate Olicty so I’m not one of them.

      Mind you I have some issues with season 5 but yikes this tune is getting so old. We should be getting a really well done finale and yet you people just can’t let it go.


      • Shanariah

        May 25, 2017 #5 Author

        Agreed. But the season finale overall was great also the Katie talk isn’t all that bad especially with the season finale it’s quite valid but some people do over do it and I’m not that much of a fan of Olicity more because I like Black Canary and Green Arrow’s relationship and also my issue with season 5’s season finale was the fact they even had Harkness/ Digger aka Bommerang in it he didn’t really do anything at all I didn’t expect him to do I knew he was going to betray and also the fact that they showed less of Black Siren only to show the fight scene (which wasn’t bad) to only give her that one juicy line ” you thought you could replace me that’s cute” she literally almost ended Black Canary are you insane! But at the same time it is how it is and we’re just going to have to wait to see if everything gets resolved in season 6


        • Delaney

          May 26, 2017 #6 Author

          Im sure Marc looooved making Katie say that line to the actress he replaced her with and also having Laurels dad happily replace his daughter by having him hand Tuna the BC name.


          • Craig Byrne

            May 28, 2017 #7 Author

            Her name is Dinah.

      • Delaney

        May 26, 2017 #8 Author

        Nah. Turns out I was right, too.


    • Craig Byrne

      May 24, 2017 #9 Author

      I didn’t suggest that either; I just don’t want people to think that she’s at the forefront when there are over a dozen characters who need to be serviced.


    • Shanariah

      May 25, 2017 #10 Author

      Honestly Katie isn’t really that important to the overall series in this seasonale finale was still great also it made since why she had gotten short-shifted it’s not a big deal and hopefully she’ll return but I mean deal with it the writers aren’t going to be doing everything in this episodes as far as your interests are concerned hate to break to you I mean every single person probably has their issues with this season finale but overall it was still good and rather clever


  • King Kong

    May 24, 2017 #11 Author

    Hope Roy Harper comes back in season 6 or the finale if season 5


  • Shanariah

    May 25, 2017 #13 Author

    The season finale was amazing I for one think the fact Black Siren had gotten less screen time and that Olicity might be over is great it gives the Arrow Universe writers more options about how season 6’s storyline should go and the fact he has William is a double whammy plus not everyone died I don’t think and this is DC so the characters might resurrect especially key characters and ones that just found their spotlight like Black Canary and I kind of am hoping her and Oliver hook up not soon but overtime plus I like this Slade he has to be alive I mean who doesn’t love a plot that has to do with freneimes I mean it only makes since but all and all it was great and a hell lot better the season 2’s


  • Domi Phoenix

    May 27, 2017 #14 Author

    I love Adrian Chase, 1 of my best villian. Arrow is my best from the Arrowverse and season 5 made me sure of why it is. If there were any flaws, I’ll be that they are still not emphasizing on the Oliverand Nyssal Al ghul relationship. That would really be cool considering the husband stuff between. All the same I love arrow. Shout-out to Stephen, Emily, John Barrowman, and every other actor or actress I did not mention



    June 8, 2017 #15 Author

    I must rate Arrow Season 5 Finale Lian Yu as 3.75 stars out of 5.00. No where near as strong an episode as Missing. Missing was rated as 4.25 stars out of 5.00 by the way. The final showdowns were severely watered down. Black Siren was about to finish off Black Canary when Lance intervened and hit the Earth 2 Laurel from behind. Typical cowardice from a person who essentially is still a cop masquerading as Deputy Mayor. And speaking of that, who is running City Hall in Star City? The Deputy Mayor could be dead and the Mayor is stranded on a boat off the coast of China somewhere. As for the fight Talia vs Nyssa, one punch and one kick and Talia goes down? Please. Boring. Since when is Renee a master fighter able to disarm trained warriors with swords with his bare hands? Evelyn Sharp and Capt Boomerang were duds and of course Thea was her normal, useless self. And then there was the death of Malcolm Merlyn. Can’t the writers of these shows simply have an anti-hero or pseudo villain fade off into the sunset with life intact? Why do they feel it is necessary to kill a character off if the actor/actress does not wish to return? Personally, I would have like to have seen Thea and Merlyn together as father and daughter going off on adventures of their own. And the battle between Oliver and Chase, well, that was so one sided it was as if Chase was not even trying. He was essentially the proverbial gym punching bag for Oliver to tee off on. I was disappointed in the massive cliff hanger because at the rate those charges detonated, no one could have possibly survived that massive explosions on that island. Here’s waiting till October to see how most everyone I would want to see dead magically survives.


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