Recap: Arrow S 1 E 23 Sacrifice

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On the island, Fyers orders a missile to be launched. Oliver cuts his bindings loose and attacks, but the missile is headed towards commercial airliner. Shado attempts to redirect it, but must fight off Fyers’ men, so Oliver has to finish connecting the reprogrammed guidance chip. When the missile returns and blows up the camp, Fyers has Shado at gunpoint. Oliver shoots Fyers in the neck with an arrow.

Oliver frees himself from Malcolm’s chains and, with Diggle’s help, escapes the building. Detective Lance brings Felicity into interrogation for her connection to the vigilante. The Hood calls Lance and warns him to evacuate the Glades. He lets Felicity go and is suspended for pushing the Hood’s agenda. At Verdant, Oliver alerts Tommy to their fathers’ plan, but Tommy does not believe him until his father later admits it’s the truth.

Moira holds a press conference to out Malcolm’s plan, which will take place tonight, and is afterwards arrested. Thea rushes to the Glades to save Roy, but Roy chooses to remain behind to help others. Having escaped the cops who came for him, Malcolm is found hiding behind a false wall by Oliver and Diggle, and they engage in a hood-on-hood battle. Oliver runs an arrow through his own and Malcolm’s chest to free himself, severely wounding himself and mortally wounding Malcolm.

After narrowing down the location of the device, Felicity coaches Lance on how to find and disarm it. Lance succeeds, only to find out there is another one at work. The wreckage of CNRI traps Laurel inside. Tommy sets her free, but is soon pinned down himself. Oliver rushes in and hovers over Tommy as Tommy dies.

Tropes applying to this Episode:

  • And Your Little Dog Too: Malcolm threatened to kill Moira and Thea after he's done with Oliver.
  • Bomb Disposal: Quentin and Felicity disabling the Earthquake Machine.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Moira uses it, Played for Drama
    My name is Moira Dearden Queen, and God help me, I have failed this city.
  • Blatant Lies: Oh, Felicity.
    Det. Lance: Not exactly a hardened criminal, are you.
    Felicity: I'm not any kind of criminal.
    Lance: What do you call computer hacking?
    Felicity: A hobby. beat That... I do not engage in?
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Ollie uses the bow he used to kill Fyers in his duel versus Malcolm.
  • The Bus Came Back: Joanna after leaving in "Burned"
  • Call Back: The desperate student Oliver left beaten, bleeding, and bound in a cave because he didn't know him, couldn't trust him... he shows up again, one of Fyers's men, and the only one not in a balaclava (because he needs to be comprehensible over the radio). Oliver was right to leave him, and he's pissed that he was forced to make that choice.
  • Cassandra Truth: Detective Lance is on both ends of this one, given how nutty the whole "prominent citizen creating an artificial earthquake" plan sounds to him and later his captain. Notably, the police don't seem to believe the story until after Moira's press conference confirms everything.
  • Chain Pain: Oliver uses the same chain he was shackled with against Malcolm's Mooks.
  • Crazy-Prepared: After the climax, Malcolm is bleeding to death, and the Markov device is deactivated. Why is he laughing? Because he has a second Markov device.
  • Cry Cute: The normally cheerful Felicity breaks down when the backup/main(?) Earthquake Machine started functioning.
  • Dies Wide Open: Malcolm dies this way.
  • Downer Ending: The last shot of season 1 is Oliver crying as Tommy dies, while the Lances hold each other against the backdrop of the now-mostly-destroyed Glades.
  • Dramatic Irony: Like his late mother, Tommy died in the Glades while doing something noble.
  • Flat "What.": Played for Drama when Tommy hears Malcolm admitting his plan to destroy the Glades.
  • Foreshadowing: Before Tommy rushes to rescue her, there was a shot emphasizing a rebar pointing out of the debris that was pinning Laurel.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Malcolm makes a one last Evil Gloating before dying.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tommy is impaled on a rebar while saving Laurel from the collapsing CNRI.
    • Also, on the Island Oliver chooses to save Shado than to take Fyer's offer of a rescue ship whisking him off the island.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Two examples, one in the present and one in flashback.
    • Fyers's plan and base are destroyed when Oliver and Shado redirect the missile he fired.
    • Oliver manages to defeat Malcolm Merlyn by stabbing them both with one of Merlyn's own black arrows.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Once the Undertaking becomes public knowledge, mass looting, opportunistic street crime, and rioting overtake the Glades and stymie the evacuation.
  • If I Do Not Return: When it appears Lance isn't going to be able to disarm the device in time and escape, he calls Laurel to tell her he loves her.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Tommy states, in a fit of anger, that Ollie should have died in that island.
    • You Should Have Died Instead: Inverted, as Tommy closes his eyes for the final time, Ollie cries that he should have been the one who died, not Tommy.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Fyers shooting Yao Fei in front of his daughter
    • Merlyn announcing to kill Thea and Moira after he is finished with Ollie.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Oliver assures Tommy that he didn't kill his father, letting him believe that his father was still OK.
  • Manly Tears: Oliver breaks down after Tommy dies. Tommy himself had a Single Tear while apologizing to Oliver before succumbing to his wounds.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": We see most of the cast react to Moira's press conference in horror.
  • Meaningful Echo: During the "The Reason You Suck" Speech, Malcolm tells Oliver he keeps losing in their fights because he doesn't know what he's fighting for. At the end of the episode, Oliver tells him, "Thank you for teaching me what I'm fighting for, but my father taught me how." before killing him.
  • Motive Rant: Malcolm shows his true colors to his son and explains the whole plan.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Moira’s middle name or maiden name is “Dearden.” Dearden also happens to be Thea’s middle name. The second “Speedy” in the comics (with Roy Harper as the first) was “Mia Dearden.”
    • Related to the above, Thea mentions that she must have "wicked aim" after taking out a thug in the Glades.
    • There’s a reference to a station near Papp. George Papp was one of Green Arrow’s co-creators.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: Detective Lance and Felicity just barely defuse the Markov Device...and then Malcolm reveals he has a backup device elsewhere that goes off anyway. More broadly, Team Arrow and Detective Lance finally work together and seemingly achieve a clean victory, only to lose the Glades and Tommy Merlyn minutes later.
  • Oh Crap!:
    • Det. Lance cuts the blue wire. There's a noise...
    • Everyone when the second Markov device goes off.
  • Please Wake Up: At the end, Oliver weeps over the body of Tommy.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Malcolm Merlyn destroys a sizable portion of the Glades, but at the cost of alienating (and accidentally killing) his son and exposing himself as a mass murderer and Moira Queen as one of the conspirators. Considering that he and the other conspirators were acting out of love for their families, it's a bit of an own goal.
  • Season Finale: The inaugural.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Malcolm does this when Tommy tries to point out that he is willing to kill everyone in the Glades. Even the person he's talking to gets startled by this. This moment signals the beginning of his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Spanner in the Works: Island Oliver, Lampshaded by Fyers.
    Fyers: Amazing. A two year operation undone because a young playboy happened to wash up on the shore.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After beating him at the end of the previous episode, Malcolm has Oliver chained up and spends some time telling him how he sucks and that he can't stop what's going to happen at the beginning of this one. Oddly, given that he could have just killed him, and during the speech he apologizes for having to do this as well as explaining why, the speech is, in a very strange way, actually a Pet the Dog moment for him.
  • Rule of Three: This episode marks the third time this season we (and Oliver) get to see a present-day antagonist do an Arrow Catch (Helena and then Malcolm Merlyn); this time, though, Oliver anticipates it and uses an Explosive Arrow.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Fyers lampshades this to Oliver, noting that he's come far from when he was just a stranded billionaire playboy. The confrontation ends with Island!Ollie shoots Fyers in the neck, while he's holding Shado hostage.
  • True Companions: Team Arrow cements their companionship when they refuse to leave Ollie behind.
  • Turn in Your Badge: After Lance goes to his Captain with Oliver's information about the Undertaking.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Malcolm's begins when Tommy points out his mass murder, implicitly rejecting him, then escalates when Moira exposes him on live TV and continues through the episode, his Affably Evil facade destroyed.
    • Fyers falls into one after Ollie breaks free.
  • Wham Episode: Moira goes public with the Undertaking and is arrested for her part in it; Oliver kills Malcolm but is unable to completely stop the destruction of the Glades; Tommy manages to save Laurel from the collapsing CRNI building but is mortally wounded in the process; and in the island flashback, Oliver, Shado and Slade manage to stop Fyers' plan, destroying his base and killing him and his men, but now leaving them with no way off the island.
  • Wham Line:
  • White Shirt of Death: Tommy is wearing a white polo when he dies. The blood is also emphasized.
  • With My Hands Tied: Oliver kills two men using the very chain that was shackling him without unlocking it.