So what is Arrow without the Arrow? That’s a question this season has asked numerous times: First, when Oliver fell to Ra’s al Ghul and was left for dead on the cliff face; second, when Oliver put aside his identities in order to become Al Sah-him; and finally, at the season three finale’s conclusion, where Oliver returned to his former name but left his alter-ego as the hooded vigilante behind. What’s Starling City to do without its sterling defender?
Well, honestly, it does just fine, thanks mostly to the other heroes the Arrow has gathered around himself over the last few seasons. Each time Oliver has stepped away from his heroic duties for one reason or another, the rest of Team Arrow has stepped up. I think Oliver recognizes this at the end of “My Name Is Oliver Queen” and he finally trusts his teammates enough to leave the care of his city in their hands. Oh, after he ties up a few loose ends…
It seems that all his globetrotting has left Al Sah-him pretty sleepy (probably from hopping the red-eye back from Central City to deal with Barry’s Reverse Flash problem) since he and the reigning Ra’s al Ghul discuss the potency of their dreams. This theme will come back into play later on in what’s sure to become a fan-favorite moment, but in the meantime, Al Sah-him and Ra’s al Ghul have a city to destroy … or maybe not. As we knew all along (right?), Oliver was simply getting close to Ra’s in order to learn the madman’s plans. Having sufficiently sabotaged the Demon’s Head’s plane, Ollie planned to sacrifice himself along with Ra’s and the virus in order to keep Starling City safe. Good plan, but it doesn’t exactly work out that way.
Meanwhile, if you’ll remember from last week, the other members of Team Arrow are dead. Wait, no, Malcolm slipped them a cutaneous inoculation against the bio-weapon via synthetic skin patches infused with Oliver’s vaccinated blood; if that’s not the most comicbook explanation I’ve ever written for these shows then I don’t know what is. Anyway, everyone’s alive, but they’re still imprisoned … until lightning strikes. The Flash arrives, presumably making good on a favor he owed Oliver for his help earlier in the week, and dispatches all the bad guys lickety-split.
With the exception of Tatsu, the team makes its way back to Starling City where Oliver and Nyssa meet up with them at HQ. This is not exactly the warmest of receptions, but they all manage to put their differences aside in order to face down the bigger threat. Ra’s survived the plane crash along with his waiting assassins, who still plan on releasing the bio-weapon. How will Team Arrow stop them?
Plan A was to destroy the plane; that failed. Plan B is to track odd activity in the city with the hopes that it gives them a clue to Ra’s’ strategy; this tactic leads them to Damien Darhk (or at least his assistant, played ever so briefly by Christopher Heyerdahl). Unfortunately, Ra’s was one step ahead and he quickly assassinates the man. Onto Plan C!
After alerting the SCPD to the impending threat to the city, Felicity positions the team members in four likely locations. Diggle spots the first one, who takes off running with a metal briefcase, which is ever the sign of a henchman up to no good. Though Thea shows up (in her new red costume which looks pretty rad) to help Diggle out in a pinch, it’s soon revealed that the assassins are carrying the virus in their very blood. Then, all Hell breaks loose in Starling City once more.
While the team is taking out assassins and attempting to contain them to prevent the spread of the virus, with Ray programming his nanites to go airborne and isolate the bio-particles, Oliver heads to a Parkour-friendly location atop the Starling City dam in order to fight Ra’s al Ghul one last time. While Oliver seems to have little trouble handling Ra’s in round two of their sword fight, the waiting SCPD snipers waste little time in taking him out once he’s proven himself victorious. Even if the League armor would have kept him alive, the fall from the dam surely would have killed him were it not for Ray flying in to save him at the last second. Except, wait a minute! ::Gasp:: It’s not Ray at all, but Felicity in the A.T.O.M. suit!
So after fans picked themselves off the floor from the shock of this moment, things settle down in Starling City once more. The outbreak is contained and everyone is more or less in one piece. Oliver goes round-robin and thanks his friends for all their help before admitting that he’s giving up the hero game.
Before we look into that a bit more, let’s revisit this episode’s flashback sequence. The relatively short conclusion to the bio-weapon story in Hong Kong shows Oliver torturing General Shrieve, who was ultimately finished off by a grieving Maseo. The loss of their son Akio has forever changed the man, who now sees his failure reflected in Tatsu’s eyes, forcing him to exile himself. Tatsu bids farewell to Oliver at the docks. (I have a feeling there was something here that I missed, something about the ship, perhaps?) She returns to Japan to, one would guess, take up her mantle as Katana.
Now back to the episode’s final moments in which decisions were made that will reverberate through season four. Oliver wants to give up the Arrow for a chance at love with Felicity. Can’t blame the guy. Ray and Diggle, however, don’t take this news well. Ray already lost his girlfriend to Oliver and has now lost his Vice President to him as well. Diggle, however, is left feeling betrayed, confused, and abandoned by his best friend … but will Oliver’s absence open up a new heroic path for Diggle? Could a new identity be in line for him? “John Stewart” has a nice ring to it.
Somehow, that’s not the craziest moment of the finale, since it’s revealed that Oliver gifted Ra’s al Ghul’s ring/claw to Malcolm Merlyn (!) as part of their arrangement. Yes, you read that right: Merlyn is now the reigning Ra’s al Ghul! While it’s an insane comicbook moment for the show, it makes absolutely zero sense, with the exception that the coldblooded and ruthless Malcolm likely made this an ironclad stipulation of his deal with Oliver. Whatever. If it keeps John Barrowman around for another season, I’m all for it.
So how do we feel about season three, and what do we expect in season four? To answer the first question, I’d say this was easily Arrow’s weakest season to date. Still entertaining, and they folded in lots of fan-favorite moments and lore, but it was so schizophrenic that it was tough to stay invested for the season-long arcs. The intercuts of The Flash didn’t help, regardless of how enjoyable the cross-overs were, but now that that shiny distraction is old news, hopefully future cross-overs will be managed a little more evenly.
As for season four, there are quite a few questions. Will Nyssa manage to exact her revenge on Malcolm/Ra’s? What exactly will Oliver become while at Felicity’s side, and how soon (if ever) will he be back? (I also have a completely unfounded theory that Stephen Amell was battling injuries this season because he seemed to be turning a lot of the action duties over to his teammates/stuntmen in the last few episodes. Am I alone on this one? Is it just a result of his TMNT duties?) Um, also, is Ray in one piece? Last we saw, he was tinkering with the miniaturization abilities of his super-suit when he detonated the entire top floor of Palmer Technologies. But he’s totally fine, right? Right??
For the moment, it looks like Starling City’s defense is in the hands of Red Arrow/Speedy, (Black) Canary, A.T.O.M., Wildcat (?) and possibly … Green Lantern? You’ll have to tune in this fall to find out for sure!
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very Good
Season Rating: ★★★ Good
Malcollm: “All we have to do is wait.” Laurel: “Wait for what?” Malcolm: “The thunder.”
The Flash: “You guys have a hot tub? Nice!”
Felicity: “Barry!” The Flash: “Thank you, Felicity. You just outed my secret identity to a supervillain … no offense.” Malcolm: “None taken.”
Ra’s al Ghul: “Your name is Al Sah-him and you will become Ra’s al Ghul.” Oliver: “My name … is Oliver Queen!”
Diggle: “We got bigger problems than hurt feelings and broken trust.”
Nyssa: “My father doesn’t frequent hotels.”
Malcolm: “You want to trade Damien for the virus? That is cold-blooded and ruthless … I approve.”
Quentin: “What, the city’s under attack? Must be May!”
Guys! Remember when the Lances were alcoholics?? … Guys?
Felicity: “Don’t fight to die, fight to live.”
People on social media are loving Ollicity. I mean, first there was the whole, “I dreamed about you every night,” speech, then Felicity’s suit-up to fly to Ollie’s rescue, so I can totally understand it. What say you?
F.E.L.I.C.I.T.Y.: “If I could figure out how to take this suit off I would totally be kissing you right now.”
Malcolm: “Does that mean we’re enemies again?” Oliver: “That depends on what you do with your end of the bargain.”
Oliver Queen: “Can I say something strange? I’m happy.”