Warning: HUGE spoilers ahead for the Season 5 finale of Arrow, called "Lian Yu."
Arrow has spent the past five years building to the one episode that would need to bring closure to Oliver Queen's flashbacks to his years of hell. This was one episode that absolutely had to be epic and change the game for the Green Arrow in a big way. Well, the finale has aired, and I'd say that "Lian Yu" definitely was a game-changer. By the end of the hour, the fates of a whole bunch of characters are fairly grim, and it set the stage for Season 6. A lot of people died in "Lian Yu."
Of course, the episode was always likely to be a bloodbath. After all, Prometheus hasn't really pulled his punches so far, and Oliver and Co. were only still alive because Prometheus hadn't killed them yet. So, when Prometheus kidnapped all the people Oliver loves to lure him to Lian Yu, the odds were good that people were going to die. Now, in the aftermath of the huge finale, we've broken down the fates of the folks who appeared in the finale.
Characters Who Are Totally Not Dead
The cliffhanger of "Lian Yu" featured the titular island being blown to smithereens, which normally would have been pretty great for poor Oliver, who always seems to get stuck back there. Unfortunately, when last Oliver heard from his pals on Team Arrow (and Nyssa), they were stuck on Lian Yu with no means of escape. Oliver told Felicity that they needed to head for the ARGUS supply boat that their unexpected ally Slade could lead them to, but it was on the other side of the island, and there was no time for them to make the trip. Chase activated the explosives that he planted all over the island, and the island went BOOM.
Given that all of Team Arrow aside from Oliver was last seen on the island, we can bet that they escaped. Arrow has gone for epic cliffhangers in the past, but there's no way the show would kill off Oliver's lady love Felicity, his best bro Diggle, his little sister Thea, and the rest in one fell swoop. Besides, we already know that the new Black Canary and Wild Dog are on board as regulars in Season 6. Team Arrow and Nyssa totally made it to the ARGUS supply boat, which means that Slade led them there and is currently alive as well. Samantha was with them as well, and Oliver had William with him, so the Clayton crew survived as well.
Characters Who Are Possibly Dead
There are a few major characters whose fates are uncertain. Team Arrow and allies managed to defeat Prometheus' forces in the temple of Lian Yu. Nyssa al Ghul won her showdown with her sister, and Quentin gave Dinah the assist in taking down Black Siren. Talia al Ghul and Black Siren were last seen injured and unconscious in the temple, which presumably blew up with the rest of the island shortly thereafter. Both ladies could well be dead, although Talia is a big character to kill off after one season and Katie Cassidy will be back in Season 6.
Then, there's Evelyn Sharp. Team Arrow and Slade captured her pretty quickly after Talia abandoned her, and she was locked in a cage. Oliver did promise to go back for her, but he was otherwise occupied with Prometheus when everybody was trying to make their escape, and she wasn't spotted escaping the island prior to the explosion. If she was still in her cage when Prometheus activated the explosives, she has to be dead. If not... well, we'll have to see if Team Arrow can redeem her next season.
Characters Who Are Probably Dead
The Arrow Season 5 finale seems to have finally killed off the unkillable cockroach of The CW's superhero universe: Malcolm Merlyn. While leading Felicity, Thea, and Co. toward the plane that was supposed to take them all to safety, Thea stepped on one of those pesky Lian Yu landmines, which had rusted over to the point that it could not be defused. Unwilling to let his daughter be blown apart by a land mine, Malcolm knocked Thea aside and took her place.
The good guys had to run when Captain Boomerang and a handful of Talia's minions showed up. Malcolm Merlyn had one last murderous act in him, as he let Captain Boomerang get close... then stepped off the landmine, almost certainly killing them both as well as Talia's minions (and explaining why John Barrowman will be gone next season.)
All things considered, most of Talia's minions probably died by the end of "Lian Yu" with the explosion of the island. Then, there's the poor, innocent, well-meaning ARGUS guard who refused to stand aside when Oliver sprung Slade and Captain Boomerang from the clink. Oliver knocked him out and left him on the floor of the ARGUS prison, where he probably was still stuck when the explosives all over the island went off. R.I.P., ARGUS guard. You did your best. Given that we didn't actually see these characters die, however, we can't be absolutely positive that they're gone.
Characters Who Are Definitely Dead
Prometheus really had the entire scenario on Lian Yu planned out, from recruiting Captain Boomerang to stashing William on an escape boat where he would confront Oliver for the last time. After a brutal (and awesome) fight, Prometheus gave Oliver a terrible choice: he could kill Prometheus, which would save William but activate the dead switch that would set off all the explosives and hypothetically kill all of Oliver's loved ones other than William. Alternately, he could let Prometheus kill William to spare his friends. Oliver had already declared that he wouldn't give in and kill Prometheus, but it seemed there was no option that didn't involve Prometheus getting the win somehow.
Ultimately, Oliver found the way to rescue William without killing Prometheus. He shot Prometheus in the foot, which gave William the chance to run to Oliver while Team Arrow was relatively safe on Lian Yu. Naturally, however, Prometheus had one last backup plan: suicide. He shot himself in the head, rendering himself very definitively dead and setting off the dead switch that blew up the island and everybody still stuck on it.
Kovar and his gang of goons died in the flashbacks as Oliver raced to finish them all off before he lost his window to escape the island and return home to Starling City. Finally, and perhaps most importantly of all, Oliver's flashback wig has been killed off. The final flashbacks of the episode led to the beginning of the present day action in the pilot, meaning that Oliver was shortly going to be clean-shaven with a spiffy haircut. Huzzah!
Season 6 of Arrow is bound to look very different now that Oliver has concluded his flashback journey and lost a couple of his supervillains. He'll be in trouble if Slade betrays him again, as Slade now has a way off the island. This could be a long hiatus as we wait to find out what happens next.
Arrow will return to The CW in the fall for Season 6. For a peek ahead, check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Arrow Season 6. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in TV news, and don't forget to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to discover all your viewing options now and in the coming weeks. Be sure to drop by our rundowns for cable/streaming and broadcast TV renewals and cancellations as well. Our TV season finale schedule can give you all you need to know about your shows ending.