Best Arrow Episodes, From Oliver’s Death to Lian Yu

If you’re still hung up on the good old DC TV days, then there is no better place to revisit than the series that started it all: The CW’s Arrow starred Stephen Amell. Serving as the first in a long line of CW DC series, all set in a single universe — later dubbed the Arrowverse, this superhero series paved the way for comic book heroes to once again return to the small screen. Arrow premiered back in 2012 to solid reviews and established itself as a staple of scripted television during its eight seasons. It’s for this reason that we’re breaking down eleven of the Best Arrow episodes.

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“Starling City” (Season 8, Episode 1)

The final season of Arrow commenced with an alternative earth that The Thinker (LaMonica Garrett) had put Oliver (Stephen Amell), which mirrored the events of the Season 1 pilot and brought back fan favorites like Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell and Josh Segarra. It was a great way to kick off the final entry to the series and clarify how Arrow was going to keep its past in full focus as it drew to a close.

“The Promise” (Season 2, Episode 15)

The flashbacks in Arrow have been hit-and-miss at best but “The Promise” made a case for why they existed in the first place, delivering an episode almost entirely set in the past and one that sets up the rivalry between Deathstroke and Green Arrow. Oliver having to keep his cool from him as he stops a man he knows wants him dead around his house, was the icing on top of a tense but very enjoyable episode.

“The Climb” (Season 3, Episode 9)

Everyone knows that Season 3 of Arrow was when things started to go off the rails for the show, but who doesn’t remember the stellar fight between Oliver and Ra’as Al Ghul (matt nable) and the ending with Oliver’s “death”. It’s a high point for an otherwise weak season but it made The League of Assassins’ leader finally feel like a formidable threat.

“Unthinkable” (Season 2, Episode 23)

Yes there’s quite a lot going on here, but we get resolutions to season long arcs of all characters in a way that feels invigorating for the show as a whole. Slade (Manu Bennett) ends up back in Lian Yu, and Oliver and company all embark on newer arcs, the most significant of which turns out to be Oliver’s no killing rule.

“The Slabside Redemption” (Season 7, Episode 7)

Just when it seemed like Season 7 was losing its touch, the show reeled everyone right back in with an episode that seemed to be ripped straight from The Punisher and Daredevil. The show brings one of the best stunt choreography works in the series to the forefront with a prison brawl that is violent and wildly creative and becomes the standard for what can be achieved on prime time TV.

“Three Ghosts” (Season 2, Episode 9)

Arrow‘s take on The Christmas Carol seems like a crazy idea on paper, but kudoz to the team who executed it so well. Tommy, Shadow (Celina Jade) and Slade all play a massive role in who Oliver becomes and their reintroduction to the present timeline that makes for a great episode. The revelation that Slade really is in Starling City and now his mortal enemy is one hell of a start to what becomes an excitingly personal duel.

“Kapiushon” (Season 5, Episode 17)

There’s a lot of Season 5 in this list and for good reason, the show really found its stride after two muddled seasons. The season’s 17th episode is a great example. We’ve had plenty of Oliver getting tortured scenes at this point, but it’s Adrian Chase’s ability to make Oliver confront that he kills not for the sake of protecting others but because he enjoys it, that makes this episode so refreshing. “Kapiushon” is a game changer for the series and continues to have long ramifications years later, with Oliver constantly examining himself and his approach to things by keeping in check his darkest tendencies.

“Sacrifice” (Season 1, Episode 23)

If there’s one thing Arrow knows how to do, it’s to set a killer finale. ‘Sacrifice’ the series first season finale was everything fans wanted and more. Tommy Merlyn’s death underlined the hardships of being a superhero in a city like Starling City, and it became a unique way that fate punished both the hero and the villain of the first season with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) losing his son in his Machiavellian schemes. The final showdown was great between Merlyn and Queen and there was enough tension the entire hour for fans to worry about the major characters of the show.

“What We Leave Behind” (Season 5, Episode 9)

There were bound to be missteps in the Green Arrow’s crusade against the evildoers in Star City but Oliver Queen mistakenly thinks he’s moved beyond them by the time Season 5 rolls around. It’s this hubris that Prometheus so wisely mines in Episode 9 making him indirectly responsible for the murder of Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) boyfriend. It’s a dark turn for the already grim season but an early indication of the kind of psychological manipulation that would come to define Prometheus.

“Seeing Red” (Season 2, Episode 20)

What makes this episode of Arrow one for the books is how quickly things spiral from bad to worse for Oliver Queen and who is behind his suffering. While Tommy’s death seemed like a matter of when not if, from the start of the series, Moira Queen (susanna thompson)’s sacrifice and death was altogether more shocking. It served as a testament to the writers that fans had little idea if the show would be willing to kill off a character who had such a big presence on the show. Furthermore, this was a nail in the coffin for the two former friends Slade Wilson and Oliver Queen, and given how their friendship started out, Slade murdering his mother in front of Oliver and his sister injected new stakes to the series, while making viewers rethink their reality of how far Slade was willing to go. Another reason why this episode hits though, is that the writers never lose focus of how complicated Moira Queen was right up till the end, which underlined her best and worst tendencies of her in a way that made complete sense.

“Lian Yu” (Season 5, Episode 23)

What makes “Lian Yu,” the final episode of Season 6, Arrow’s most compelling to date is its no holds barred approach to the characters and story. After a season long game of cat and mouse with the Emerald Archer’s toughest adversary to date, ‘Lian Yu’ wisely decided to let Green Arrow lose with the consequences being fatal. An entire island of people he knew and loved blew up and all seemed on the line for Oliver Queen. Of course, the Season 7 opener quickly undid with all of that and brought everyone safely back into his life, but it still can’t match the shocking cliffhanger that was Prometheus shooting himself and bombing the place where all the heroes we knew and love were contained. As an hour long television goes, this one was one of the finest, keeping fans at the edge of their seats while serving as a satisfying end to an all together brilliant season of network TV.


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