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How Did Arrow Set the Stage for Its 'Insane,' Penultimate, 'Double' Finale?

Arrow Recap 7x21

In teasing Arrow‘s Season 7 finale, showrunner Beth Schwartz used loaded words such as “insane” and “huge,” adding it “is quite big, both in terms of our action, in terms of characters that might be coming back, and in terms of the ending…. It definitely propels you into Season 8″ aka the CW series’ last.

Schwartz also said that the May 13 episode is effectivley two finales-in-one, in that both the present and future storylines get payoffs. “I’m super excited about, specifically, our flash-forward story in the finale,” she said. “They’re going to have their own finale, which is going to be pretty large.”

So how did this Monday’s episode set up “both” of next week’s finales?

In the current timeline, after Emiko dropped a building on Team Arrow, Oliver was coaxed by a vision of his dearly departed bestie, Tommy Merlyn, to carefully extricate himself from a near-death-by-rebar (callback! #TooSoon). Tommy then let loose with about 30 minutes of psycho-babble, basically counseling Oliver not to avenge the Queen’s Gambit‘s sabotage and thus his father’s death by killing Emiko, but instead channel the better parts of himself to appeal to any shred of decency residing inside his super-bitter half-sister.

Urging Oliver to break that “cycle of lies and hate,” Tommy said, “You’ve got a shot at something we never had — a clean slate.” Oliver, though, held firm: “If I need to be as ruthless to her as she was to my father, so be it.” Bidding Tommy adieu, Oliver sought out the rest of his team but ran into Emiko instead. They both drew on each other, but it was Oliver who let fwip! with an arrow, straight into his sis’ belly. Oliver then turned to see Diggle behind him, also slain by an arrow…? Dig toppled to the platform below, where he landed alongside a dead Dinah, Roy and Rene!

Oliver then awoke from the prolonged dream/nightmare, still pinned between the slabs of concrete where Tommy “found” him. Tommy appeared again to assert that his friend was “living proof that people can change,” so maybe Emiko can, too. “I miss you every day,” Oliver said, before again leaving Tommy. “I’m always with you,” Merlyn assured.

As Oliver reunited with Diggle, Dinah, Rene and Roy — the latter of whom had heroically endured his own brush with death (re-death?) — they ran into Emiko, who taunted her sibling with her recent discovery that Felicity is with child. Oliver & Co. were unable to stop Emiko from escaping with the weapon she stole the week prior, and with which she plans to burn her brother’s city to the ground.

Meanwhile in 2040, Felicity aimed to shut down the growing Archer program with which Galaxy One and their Zeta soldiers planned to turn Star City into a police state, But to do that, she needs a piece of Archer’s root code, which is in Keven Dale’s possession. William defied his protective mother’s wishes and tried to pinch the code from Dale, using flirtation if need be, but after a close call in which William and Mayor Rene nearly revealed their alliance, Dale got the drop on both gents. Felicity, Future Alena, et al, meanwhile, were found and arrested for vigilantism.

So, heading into the “double” finale, Team Arrow must find and stop Emiko from following through on her evil scheme (if not “turn” her completely), while the 2040 gang has been captured by Galaxy One, with seemingly no ally to rescue them….

Which of Monday’s finales are you most looking forward to? And did Alena set up Emily Bett Rickards’ exit, by suggesting that Felicity take her life “offline” to do better by her baby-to-be than she and Oliver did by William?