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‘Arrow’ season finale recap: 5×23 “Lian Yu”

Arrow 5×23, “Lian Yu” aired May 24, 2017

Season five of Arrow went out with a bang.. literally. In it’s best season finale to date, Arrow pulled out all the stops – paying tribute to the past five years while still setting up a hell of a cliffhanger to start season six on.


For the first time in Arrow history, our flashbacks and present day story-line were all set in the same place. Lian Yu, as the title of the episode suggests, plays host to the entire episode. The flashbacks tell the story of Oliver’s final moments on the island. A lot of it is also in the pilot, but this time around we see Moira Queen’s reaction to Oliver being found alive. Susanna Thompson returns to give us an emotional scene featuring a phone call between her and Oliver just after he is rescued. It was a tear-jerker, to be sure, but it’s far from the most emotional part of the episode.

Arrow Season Finale

The Big Bads

Team Arrow, Samantha, and William are being held by Adrian Chase on the island. Oliver recruits the help of past season’s villains to help him rescue his loved ones. He enlists Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa al Ghul, Digger Harkness, and Slade Wilson in his mission. Surprisingly, only one of the villains betrays him. Harkness quickly reveals his allegiance to Chase by turning on Oliver and his team. The Substitute Team Arrow is still able to overpower Harkness and Evelyn Sharp, freeing Felicity, Thea, Samantha, and Curtis from their island cages.

Arrow Season Finale

Splitting up is always a great idea

Oliver decides the best course of action is to send the rescued members of Team Arrow away while he focuses on rescuing the remainder. As they part ways, Felicity kisses Oliver goodbye, “just in case.” The team parts ways – Felicity, Curtis, Thea, and Samantha going with Malcolm to find a plane. Meanwhile, Oliver, Slade, and Nyssa attempt to locate William and the others. They come across a building and decide to split up to search it when Slade turns on Oliver, knocking him out and turning him over to Prometheus. Oliver joins the other prisoners (Diggle, Dinah, Rene, and Lance) and gives Dinah a choker to allow her to access her meta-human scream, which is currently being silenced. Dinah uses the canary cry to release the team, and she is officially bestowed the title of “Black Canary” by Quentin. It turns out, Slade was in on the plan. He did not actually turn on Oliver, but rather allowed Oliver to gain access to Dinah to give her the device.

Arrow Season Finale

The Magician’s Sacrifice

As Malcolm Merlyn heads across the island with the Team Arrow rescues, Thea steps on a landmine. With Oliver not around to swing her to safety (ala Felicity in the season two premiere) Malcolm decides to take her place. He pushes her off the mine and steps on to it himself. When Harkness attacks moments later, Malcolm activates the mine – killing both Harkness and himself. Although a villain for the majority of the show, Malcolm went down a hero, dying for his daughter.

Arrow Season Finale

Canary vs. Siren

A fight ensues, and Black Canary and Black Siren face off, knocking each other backwards with their supersonic screams. The fight ends when Lance knocks Black Siren out. Meanwhile, Nyssa faces off with her sister, Talia, and comes out on top as well. Things are looking good for Team Arrow. Oliver still cannot locate his son and insists Chase reveal William’s location while threatening his life. Chase clearly intends for Oliver to kill him, but Oliver chooses to refrain. It’s a good thing, because soon after Felicity radios warning Oliver not to kill Chase – he has the entire island armed with explosives that will go off when his heart stops beating. After this revelation, Chase escapes in a puff of smoke.

Arrow Season Finale

The Chase

Oliver chases Chase across the island, jumping on his escaping boat at the last moment. After a fight, Chase reveals that A) William is on the boat with him and B) the plane Team Arrow was planning to escape on is broken. He gives Oliver an ultimatum even more difficult than the one he faced in the season two flashbacks. Oliver can kill Chase, saving his son but killing all of his friends, or he can do nothing and watch his son die. Oliver chooses option three and delivers chase a non-lethal wound. With William in his arms, Oliver has finally won. In a devastating turn of events, Chase reveals a gun and shoots himself in the head, and Lian Yu explodes, with the entirety of Team Arrow still on the island.

Arrow Season Finale
  • This whole episode. Seriously.
  • Olicity rises!!
  • Moira Queen’s reappearance was amazing.
  • That ending was so WTF that I am still in shock.

For more Arrow, check out our Arrow page. And while you’re here, go vote for your favorite female character in our Best Arrow Character Poll Series!




Reagan Pierce

Reagan studies English and Film Studies at Texas Tech University. She aspires to be a film and television critic or entertainment writer. She loves all things TV and film. She spends her free time obsessing and blogging about Arrow, Teen Wolf, and Supergirl. Her favorite superhero is Lois Lane.

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