Arrow "S4E18 11:59" - Review: A heart hitting goodbye

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Arrow "S4E18 11:59" - Review: A heart hitting goodbye

Ever since they teased it with a flash-forward in the season opener, there's one question that fans have been asking: Who is in the grave? Well after a good 6 months of speculation and theories, this week, Arrow finally shows its hand as “the end of an era” sees a major character departing the show for good (except for flashbacks, dream sequences and multi-verse alternatives, of course). Brace yourselves for a bit of a tear-jerker as this arrow hits deep into the feels.

11:59 – When Andrew Diggle’s tip off to a HIVE attack exposes the team to an assault by Merlyn and costs them Darhk’s power idol, Oliver questions whose side Andrew is really on leaving Jon torn between family and friendship. Meanwhile, the victorious Mayor Adams offers Laurel the position of Star City’s new District Attorney forcing her to choose between making a difference as Laurel Lance or the Black Canary.

Now, the last episode’s closing bombshell of Merlyn meeting with Andy felt very throwaway in the way it setup Andy to be a traitor in a not unexpected twist. However, right from the first scene, this episode wipes that away by playing into it and immediately suspending our beliefs over Andy’s allegiance. Has he been positioned to betray them all along? Is he only now being manipulated by Hive/Merlyn? Or is he genuinely on Team Arrow’s side? Throughout the episode, the events effectively keep juggling all the possibilities before snatching the truth out of the air in final act for a reveal with both meaning and consequence. All manner of suspicions and doubts are well-indulged with the family dynamic keeping the focus of the character emotions rather than the plot points. In many ways, Jon takes center stage in the episode, which he really doesn’t get to do enough and excels here in conveying his conflict. Stephen Amell also does well as he shows Oliver’s reluctance in marking Andy as a traitor. He knows he must for the sake of the mission but simultaneously knows what kind of revelation will do to Jon. Say what you will (and many do) about how Arrow handles it’s romantic storylines but there’s no doubting that they nail their bromances.

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As to the big kill-off, the episode keeps this nicely open, which adds genuine peril to many great action sequences throughout. We know Oliver and Barry are safe for being seen with the grave and so too is Felicity for being absent but everyone else: Jon, Andy, Thea, Laurel, Quentin and even Merlyn have a target on their backs. Keeping it spoiler-free, both the moment itself and the handling of the departed character are done well. It is used to add drama and stakes to the main Hive story and comes as a brutal and gut-wrenching moment. The choice of victim may prove devise among fans as someone with plenty of story still to tell but at least they got a good send-off.

With only a handful of episodes to go this season, 11:59 takes a few crucial steps forward. Hive previously stated that the next stage of Genesis required control of City Hall so showing Ruve Adams getting elected gives a good feel of progression. The write in ballots tease of support for Oliver also suggests that the comic referencing “Oliver Queen for Mayor” storyline may not have reached the end of its campaign. There’s every chance that if the team manages to foil Hive’s plans, it won’t end well for Ruve.  So we could still see Oliver Queen taking office in the aftermath or as an early Season 5 development. It would also solve the problem of the new Arrow Cave (sorry but “The Bunker” just sounds lame) being located above his old campaign office.

The action and fight sequences heavily impress this week, especially as it is Thea and Laurel that get all the best hits in. Following Merlyn’s George Lucas special, he and Thea are now clashing swords with the feel of equality in skill that gives each kill opportunities on the other with only their lingering sense of dysfunctional family values making them hesitate. Merlyn bringing a few League loyalists along for the ride helps keep the Arrow Cave combat fats and energetic with the camerawork exploiting space well as it swirls around Laurel fighting in the center circle. Similarly. the prison riot (who doesn’t love a good prison riot?... apart from the guards) makes things more brutal as their convict opponents favor lumbering strength-based attacks. Seeing Laurel confidentially striding through the cell blocks recalls images of Malin Akerman in The Watchmen.

While it does raise the stakes and make him a fully formidable again for the building climax, in some ways, it’s a shame to see Darhk’s magical time out come to an end as it was becoming a fascinating new take on his character. 11:59 is a well-structured episode that accomplishes its difficult objective.  It makes best use of the flashbacks in 2016 as several beats relate well to the main story while progressing things on the island. This promo was right in that this is the end of an era and may signal a troubled few weeks as the show readjusts its dynamic to fill the void. Yet the show has already achieved this many times, and of course, for every door that closes, another opens. We’ll just have to wait and see who walks through it.


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