Major spoilers for tonight's season five finale of Arrow, 'Lian Yu', below!
This season of Arrow has focused heavily on the theme of 'legacy'. And with tonight's season finale episode, a character who has been involved in the world of Arrow since its beginning faced their legacy head-on...with tragic results.
Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) sacrificed himself in tonight's episode, in order to save his daughter, Thea Queen (Willa Holland). While Team Arrow - accompanied by Merlyn - was attempting to leave Lian Yu, Thea accidentally stepped on a live explosive. Merlyn quickly volunteered to stand on the land mine in Thea's place, which led to a rather explosive death for the character.
This should have been expected by some, especially considering the recent news about Barrowman's fate in the Arrowverse's upcoming season. At a recent panel at Planet ComicCon, Barrowman revealed that he was not expected to show up in Arrow or its sister shows next season.
Of course, there is always a chance for Merlyn to be brought back into the fold of the Arrowverse in some manner. With the various versions of time travel and parallel universes existing on The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, there would be a way for fans to see a cameo or two of Barrowman in some way. But, for now, this seems to be the conclusion of Merlyn's story within the present-day Arrowverse timeline.
While Merlyn hasn't been featured prominently in Arrow's recent seasons, he has gotten a chance to shine across the Arrowverse - especially in this past year. Merlyn was heavily featured in the sophomore season of Legends of Tomorrow, as a member of the Legion of Doom. In addition, Barrowman lent his singing talents to 'Duet', the musical crossover between Supergirl and The Flash. So while it's disappointing to see Barrowman exit the Arrowverse now, it's nice to know that he did so on a high note.
The battle between Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) culminates in a final epic battle on Lian Yu. After recent events, Oliver decides to recruit a group of unlikely allies – Slade (guest star Manu Bennett), Nyssa (guest star Katrina Law), Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Digger Harkness (guest star Nick. E. Tarabay) – to defeat Chase. However, Chase has his own army – Black Siren (guest star Katie Cassidy), Evelyn Sharp (guest star Madison McLaughlin) and Talia al Ghul (guest star Lexa Doig) – and the forces collide in an explosive season finale.
Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW Television Network.