Episode 323 “My Name is Oliver Queen”
[Photos: Cate Cameron & Diyah Pera/The CW]
Well another season has come and gone, and this time the city didn’t burn.
One of the things that has frustrated me about Arrow has been the repetition of the “burning city” in each season finale. End of season one, it was the aftermath of the earthquake machine. Season two ended with Deathstroke’s minions attacking the city. In each case, Starling City was in flames. And I was holding out hope that the production team would choose another option for the end of season three. Fortunately, they did, and we got an ending that could very well be described as — dare we say it? — happy.
With Team Arrow apparently dead all over, Oliver accompanies the League of Assassins on a cargo plane bound for Starling City with the intent of delivering the Alpha Omega virus to kill the entire citizenry. Of course, as we’ve suspected for a while, Oliver has a different plan. He and Malcolm have conspired to fool everyone into thinking Oliver has been whammied into believing his only option is to be the next Ra’s, when it’s been a very big ruse all along. Oliver even enlists the Flash to break Team Arrow out of their dungeon in Nanda Parbat. But even Barry has a tough time convincing the team that Oliver has been playing his cards close to the vest.
Trust has been broken, and it’s not easily going to be regained. Especially with John Diggle.
Oliver, meanwhile, has sabotaged the plane with the intent of crashing it with all hands on board before the virus can be released. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as expected, as Ra’s Al Ghul proves himself to be skilled at sword play even as the plane begins to tumble through the air. He manages to get away, jumping out with the only parachute, leaving Oliver and Nyssa to fend for themselves as the plane goes down.
Oliver manages to get the plane down relatively in one piece, and he makes his way back to Ray Palmer’s lab, where Team Arrow has a few choice things to say to Oliver for his deception. On top of that, Felicity realizes that Oliver’s plan never went beyond the plane crash, because he didn’t expect to live, and that infuriates her.
(Of course, we all know from watching The Flash that Oliver lives to a ripe 86 years of age…)
Now the challenge is finding the operatives from the League of Assassins before they can release the deadly plague onto the population of Starling City. Setting aside all of their differences — after Diggle slugs Ollie, of course — the team pools their resources and figures out the possible dispersal pattern for the plague. Laurel goes to her dad to get his help from the police department, getting us the one scene that really sticks out because it doesn’t quite fit.
For me, this scene just retreads the same ground as before, and the bad blood between father and daughter with the escape into the bottle is starting to get a little bit tired. Something else needs to be done with this character dynamic — either they need to reconcile, or they need to be completely disconnected from each other, or Captain Lance has to die.
And with the return of Sara Lance to the land of the living, there’s even more reason to get past this roadblock in the relationship between Laurel and her father.
Figuring out the most likely dispersal pattern for the toxin, the team moves to intercept. With the exception of Diggle, everyone succeeds at stopping the League operatives, who are themselves carriers of the virus. Diggle’s target manages to expose people in the immediate area, but he’s stopped before it can get completely out of hand — by Diggle and the new Red Arrow, played by Thea Dearden Queen.
Well, Red Arrow in her mind, although Oliver reveals at the end of the episode that he already told everyone to call her Speedy. But that probably sets up the eventual rise of Green Arrow in the next season.
The final confrontation between Oliver and Ra’s is somewhat anticlimactic, as it’s almost inevitable that Oliver is going to kill Ra’s because it’s their third battle, and following the Rule of Three gives you the payoff at the end of the set. So of course Oliver is going to win. And he gets the One Ring to Rule Them All, which he then hands over to Malcolm Merlyn, of all people.
In the end, Oliver realizes that as much as he’d like to do this whole quest for justice alone to make sure no one else gets hurt, there are other people just as fully invested in the safety of Starling City (and when are they going to correct that??), and he also realizes that the safety of the city doesn’t necessarily depend on him. As long as there are people — heroes — ready to stand against the villains, then he can run off with Felicity to do some California Dreamin’…
…which is an ending that’s so diametrically opposed to the tone of the entire show. And yes, producers have said next season is going to be a bit “lighter”, but this ending felt more like it belonged on The Flash.
It’s the end of a very rocky season, with character arcs that felt a bit contrived. That, plus the fact that Green Arrow has been dealing with all of Batman’s villains for a while now… it just feels like the show is in need of a big reset button. Hopefully, between the drive up the coast and Barry’s tampering with time, we’ll actually get that next season.