ARROW Season 3, Episode 23 ‘My Name is Oliver Queen’
So here we are: the finale of Arrow’s third season. Strap yourself in, for this is a slightly longer than usual review.
After a nice little recap of the season so far, we pick things up with Al Sah-Him (Stephen Amell) continuing his ascension to taking over from Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). Last week’s This is Your Sword saw Al Sah-Him seemingly leave the friends of Oliver Queen to die. Of course, as we presumed, that isn’t actually the case.
Whilst the last episode showed that “Oliver Queen” maybe wasn’t quite as dead as was being portrayed, all became clear here. As Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Diggle (David Ramsey), Laurel (Katie Cassidy), Ray (Brandon Routh), Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) are supposedly on death’s door, a familiar red-adorned face turns up to save the day: The Flash (Grant Gustin). We’d seen the Scarlet Speedster in the promo footage for the episode so this was no great surprise, although we’d learn that his arrival was always part of a plan that only
Oliver Al Sah-Him and Malcolm were privy too. That plan also involved Malcolm chemically saving the day and preventing our heroes from biting the bullet. Whilst The Flash’s arrival was timely and needed, plus it’s always a pleasure to see the Sultan of Speed turn up in sister show Arrow, it did feel just a tad off to see him deciding against helping our key Arrow faces in their battle against Ra’s al Ghul. Granted, he’s got his hands full with Reverse-Flash over in his own show, but the threat of Ra’s meant that all of Starling City could effectively be wiped out. Pretty serious, no? Apparently not serious enough for Barry Allen to give up an evening.
With The Flash helping free those locked up in Nanda Parbat, Al Sah-Him, Ra’s, Nyssa (Katrina Law) and some other League of Assassins types take flight for Starling. It’s here, in the episode’s relative infancy, that Al Sah-Him steps aside and Oliver Queen comes to the fore once more. Of course, this doesn’t go down particularly well with Ra’s. After a scuffle, The Demon’s Head bails out of the plane with the Omega virus and the only parachute, leaving Oliver and Nyssa on a doomed airplane that is nose-diving towards Starling City. Luckily Ollie just so happens to have some serious aviation skills, landing the plane with only the merest of bumps.
Switching the action over to the Hong Kong flashback moments, we get to see the aftermath of the death of young Akio Yamashiro. With General Shrieve (Marc Singer) firmly to blame (after being a bit of a bastard), we get to see a side to Oliver Queen that we haven’t seen for a while, if ever. Season 1 of Arrow had Oliver Queen as “The Vigilante” or “The Hood”, a man who killed those who had “failed this city”. Where Shrieve is concerned, Oliver batters and tortures him. As in, really, really brutally. Call us blood-thirsty, but there’s something truly awesome about seeing Oliver Queen beating the ever-living shit out of Shrieve. Then comes the torture. Whilst we don’t see it on-screen, we do get to see a barely alive Shrieve and an Ollie who is covered in blood and holding a hammer. In fact, the actions of Oliver Queen here give off an almost Jason Todd-esque vibe of doing some seriously messed up things to some no-good people. As it goes, Maseo (Karl Yune) puts Shrieve out of his misery, although his own misery is too much. This is the moment that Maseo Yamashiro essentially dies, explaining to wife Tatsu that he is now “without a soul” and how he sees only failure when he looks into the eyes of Tatsu. Whilst we see Maseo vanish, we all know that he will end up finding a home amongst the League of Assassins.
Back to present day Starling City and tensions are high. Not only is Malcom Merlyn now giving orders to Team Arrow, Oliver and Nyssa also turn up in the Arrowcave to a less than warm welcome. And by less than warm, we mean Diggle planting a fist into the face of Ollie. In fairness to Digg, this is the same Oliver who had Diggle’s other half kidnapped. Oliver tries his best to explain why he did what he did, how it was for the greater good, how scheming with Merlyn was the only way to infiltrate the League of Assassins and take down Ra’s al Ghul. It even comes to light that Oliver’s plan was to die along with Ra’s in order to save Starling City. Whilst Diggle was pissed off about the whole kidnapping thing, it’s Oliver’s plan to die that bugs Felicity. Still, as Diggle puts it, “We have bigger problems than hurt feelings and broken trust.” And with that we get to find out Ra’s real M.O. for destroying Starling City. That would be the presence of Damien Darhk. Yes, he’s been previously referenced by Ra’s, but now he really makes his presence felt. Well, kind of. When it came to the crunch, Darhk had already fled Starling once he became aware of Ra’s plan to take him out. We did, however, get a rather awesome hotel-based assault from Oliver, Diggle, Nyssa and Merlyn. Remember the name, though, for it’s looking very likely that Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. will be at the centre of Arrow’s fourth season.
With Ra’s having unleased “four instruments of death” on Starling City, it’s down to Team Arrow and the now back-on-side Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne) to hunt out the Omega and save the city. For Oliver Queen, he is instead goaded into one final fight with Ra’s al Ghul. As Felicity tells Ollie, he has failed to defeat Ra’s as both Oliver Queen and The Arrow, and he now has to fight to live rather than fight to die. Poignant words from the show’s resident geek, especially considering how the episode plays out in the end.
So off Oliver goes to fight Ra’s, and the rest of the team soon make the connection that the actual conduits carrying the Omega virus are really Ra’s’ men. With Thea (Willa Holland) having now joined the action, the plan is in place to take down the four carriers and to also look to help those who have already become infected by the virus. But the main course here is the bridge-side showdown between Ollie and Ra’s. Complete with a great score, the duo battle it out in a good old fashioned sword fight. If fighting the man who has already killed you once before isn’t enough of a problem, the situation isn’t helped when the SCPD turn up and have Oliver in their sights. Felicity pleads with Ray to don his Atom suit and help Ollie, but the billionaire is busy working on a remedy to save the city as a whole. As Ray points out, he can’t sacrifice the chance of saving thousands of people just to save one… even if that one is Oliver Queen. When it comes down to it, though, Ollie has things under control and eventually kills Ra’s. “I knew I chose well with you, boy”, the fallen al Ghul mutters as he hands over his own mantle to Oliver. Oh, but then the police sabotage things by filling Ollie with a couple of bullets, sending him plummeting off the bridge in a moment reminiscent of his “death” scene in the season’s mid-season finale. Fear not, for The Atom arrives, only this time it’s Felicity Smoak not Ray Palmer in the armour. Odd, yes, and just a little bit of a rip off of Pepper Potts donning Tony Stark’s armour in Iron Man 3.
With Ra’s dead and the Omega virus contained, all is seemingly happy ever after. As in, really, really happy ever after. Far too happy ever after, in fact. Having teased it for an age, Oliver Queen finally decides to live his life as a regular, happy guy, giving himself to Felicity and driving out of Starling City, essentially choosing Miss Smoak over The Arrow. Sure, Diggle’s trust is gone and it was just a tad awkward to see Ray Palmer stood there whilst Ollie and Felicity gushed over each other, but all is seemingly well for Oliver Queen. Finally he has learnt to trust others in looking after the city, with Thea Queen now even being allowed to be her own hero. Whether she ends up being called Red Arrow or Speedy, we’ll have to wait and see in the end. It was kinda cool to see her refer to herself as Red Arrow, though, even if Ollie had other plans for her name.
Before Ollie and Felicity literally drive off into the sunset, we see Oliver hand over the mantle of Ra’s al Ghul to Malcolm Merlyn, with that having been part of their working arrangement all along. As Oliver says, he still remembers what Merlyn did to both Sara (Caity Lotz) and Thea, so gives him a warning not to try any funny stuff. And then there’s Ray, who seemingly blows himself up whilst finally attempting to get his Atom suit to shrink (as opposed to just being Iron Man-lite). But there we have it, Season 3 of Arrow is officially in the books.
Where does the show go from here is the big question. Damien Darhk is looking likely as the big bad of Season 4, and there’s still the presence of Malcolm Merlyn, now heading up the League of Assassins, should the show wish to bring him back into the fold at any point. Ollie did make reference to Diggle about getting himself an alter-ego, so expect that to be something that’s expanded on next season, as well as Thea now becoming a fully-fledged member of the hero club.
As for Oliver Queen, flashback Ollie seems to be heading to Coast City (home of a certain Hal Jordan) and present day Ollie is heading off to live the Disney-like ‘happy ever after’ with Felicity. It was certainly a strange ending to the season and almost came off like a series finale rather than just a season finale. Oliver Queen will be back at some point, though, and you’d have to think that the way things have panned out make it a perfect moment to finally have him become Green Arrow. And if the flashback moments do happen to take in Coast City, wouldn’t that be a great way to bring in Hal Jordan and also to have John Diggle revealed to be “John Stewart” Diggle? Just sayin’.
Season 3 of Arrow has been a largely impressive one, laced with some great moments, performances and episodes, although it ultimately struggled to live up to the ridiculous highs of Season 2. That’s not to say it was bad – far from it – but was just always fighting an uphill battle. Getting to see Ra’s al Ghul fleshed out in the second half of the season was great, with Matt Nable a welcome addition to the show, and some of the recent moments with Tatsu have been emotionally charged and noteworthy (not to mention downright cool seeing her in full Katana gear). And then there was the “death” of Oliver Queen. This was a huge, huge moment that was handled absolutely masterfully at the mid-season point of this latest run. But then it was all hugely hindered by Ollie returning to Starling City just three episodes later. Sure, we all knew he’d be back sometime, but that really hit the season hard.
My Name is Oliver Queen itself is likely the perfect way to sum up the season as a whole. Generally good, at times hugely impressive, although sometimes just feeling a little lacking.