It’s May, so Starling City must be under attack! That’s right, folks. It’s Arrow season finale time.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘My Name Is Oliver Queen’ is an interesting attempt at a series reboot. Note that I said interesting because I’m not necessarily sure that it is successful. In the end, it’s a mixed bag: there’s a plane crash, hotel heist, a viral attack, and a last-ditch dam attack. There are a lot of moving parts and the unfortunate result is that the finale feels more like a series of start/stops than a cohesive whole.
Obviously the central conflict is the plan to destroy Starling City using the Alpha/Omega virus developed in flashbacks in Hong Kong five years earlier. ‘My Name Is Oliver Queen’ opens almost immediately after last week’s penultimate adventure: most of the team are subdued in Nanda Parbat and Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Ra’s (Matt Nable) are en route to deliver the lethal payload. The first part of the narrative concerns the path to Starling, which ends in a plane crash that is Arrow at its most comic-booky. An airborn ninja fight, with League Assassins dropping out of the back of the plane? Silly. Ra’s snagging the sole parachute like a villain in an old-timey adventure serial? Silly. Oliver and Nyssa (Katrina Law) crash landing in a pile of bad CGI? Mmm…more unfortunate than silly.
Ra’s setback buys some time for everyone to regroup and reset. This somehow translates into the finale’s most bizarre plot as #TeamArrow turns into a spy agency to track down Ra’s secondary target after the city: Damian Darkh (Christopher Heyerdahl). After patching – but not exactly repairing – the damage done by Oliver for repeatedly lying to them, the group moves into position to set up a meeting with Darkh. In a move that’s not at all a set-up for next season, Darkh is revealed to be a proxy and is immediately killed. As a result, the real Darkh remains at large and ready to cause conflict in Arrow‘s fourth season.
With no leverage to use on Ra’s, the team falls back into defensive mode. Using their limited intel, they deduce that the Head of the Demon will unleash the virus at four different highly populated points in the city. It’s a narrative strategy that allows everyone something to do: Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) tracks the locations while Ray (Brandon Routh) creates a mechanism to dispense the inoculation, leaving Diggle (David Ramsey), Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Nyssa and Malcolm (John Barrowman) to take down the human operatives intent on spreading the virus. Along the way Diggle’s mark gets the upper hand, thereby providing an excuse to introduce Red Arrow / Speedy, aka Thea (Willa Holland), to the crime fighting team. Thea even gets her very own Arrow hero theme and quintessential pan up the body introduction!
Oliver, meanwhile, faces off against Ra’s on Checkov’s dam. Repeated shots emphasizing the steep fall virtually guarantees that someone will go over the edge , so it’s only natural when someone does! Despite being defeated by his S3 nemesis twice – once as Oliver Queen and once as The Arrow – Oliver still comes out swinging thanks to a somewhat cliché but nonethless inspirational chat by Felicity. She chastises him a few times in the episode: first when she learns he intended the plane ride to end in his death and later when he laments that he will be unable to beat Ra’s. Naturally the power of love wins out and Oliver (far too easily and anti-climatically in my opinion) impales Ra’s in an inversion of their initial confrontation.
Then he gets shot. Repeatedly. Because Lance (Paul Blackthorne) is an ass who can’t control his own men. Yeah…let’s just forget about him and revel in the fact that Arrow FINALLY lets Felicity do some saving of her own. In an unexpected twist, she dons Ray’s ATOM suit to save Oliver from certain death over the dam and earns herself a boyfriend and a drive along the coast in return. Yes, the aftermath of the season-long conflict finds Oliver “retiring” from active crime fighting duty to take a vacay with his best girl, leaving responsibility for the strangely high crime rate in Starling to his friends in leather. It’s a suspiciously sunshine-y end to the series’ darkest season yet and hopefully one that suggests Arrow is taking a cue from its more light-hearted sister show, The Flash. A little sunshine, daffodils and levity was never more earned than it was for these characters.
Until next season, at least…
- Really? Malcolm’s (John Barrowman) price for helping Oliver these last fews months is the leadership of the League of Assassins?! That seems like a pretty bad idea. Although if Nyssa’s (Katrina Law) presence – and her vendetta for his role in Sara’s death – keeps Malcolm in check and reduces his screen time to vital plot lines, then I’m fine with it. Love Barrowman, but Malcolm’s ability to survive despite being a grade A dick is beyond unlikely. A little healing time is just what the TV gods ordered.
- I like Ra’s weird yellow Chinese finger puzzle <sarcasm>. Oh wait, that’s just a weird ornament, symbolic of his power as the head of an international league of not-so-great-assassins? Never mind.
- Presumably Thea took a while to show up because she had to get Roy’s Arsenal suit professionally tailored and spray-painted?
- The appearance of Barry Allen aka The Flash (Grant Gustin) helps to realign some of the discrepancies that resulted from 1×22 of The Flash. It’s still unclear exactly when Oliver had time to sneak away from Ra’s to help Barry deal with Thawne, but at least now it doesn’t seem like the egregious error it did last night.
- I’m guessing that the final scene when Ray blows himself (and the top floor) up would have played out differently if the Arrow/Flash spin-off, the atrociously named Legends of Tomorrow, hadn’t been picked up. As it stands, I’m fairly sure Ray will be just fine with his shrinking ATOM suit.
- Finally, revisiting Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) and Maseo’s (Karl Yune) break-up in Hong Kong five years ago is considerably less rewarding this week. In ‘This Is Your Sword’ their story was the episode’s emotional lynchpin as Tatsu said goodbye and released her husband. This week Maseo’s departure feels significantly less meaningful because we already got closure. Plus because we know that he’s off to join the League, these scenes simply feel redundant and unnecessary, which is my general complaint about all of the flashbacks this season.
- Felicity (trying to keep track of all of Oliver’s plans): “Assuming this is a double-double cross or triple-triple cross, I’ve lost track”
- Barry (surveying the Lazarus Pit): “You guys have a hot tub? Nice”
- Lance (when Laurel arrives with a dire message): “The city’s in trouble? Must be May”
- Felicity (when no one spots the source of the virus at the four points): “Do you see anyone in a League of Assassins outfit? That would be a dead give-away.”
Your turn: what did you think of the finale? Did you find the plot jumped all over the place? Did everyone get a chance to shine? Which cliffhanger surprised you most: Malcolm’s inheritance of the League, Ray’s “death” or Oliver’s decision to retire? Are you excited to see Thea suit up? Hope Lance’s alcoholism is never mentioned again? And will Ra’s nemesis Damien Drake show up in S4 to cause trouble? Sound off below.
Arrow has finished airing its third season. It will return in the fall for a fourth on The CW. Thanks for reading!