Oliver can’t be Oliver Queen and the Arrow, so where does that leave him? Identity is a theme that has been a major part of the entire third season, and in the Wednesday, May 13 finale, “My Name Is Oliver Queen,” he makes a decision to be “someone else” and “something else.” But how does he get there? And what’s coming next?
First, let’s get a couple of necessary bits out of the way. The flashbacks are still disruptive, still boring and still too often. Maseo kills the General and heads off for the League, Tatsu leaves to a monastery near her childhood home and Oliver boards a boat to go on to the season 4 flashbacks. That’s really all there is to know about them.
Meanwhile, Ray has a spin-off to get to, and just like “Three Ghosts” last season ended in a way that propelled Barry off to “The Flash,” the season 3 finale does the same with Ray, as, after the city is safe, he begins tinkering with his suit, and while performing a miniaturization test, he blows out the entire top floor of Palmer Technologies. Guess he had to really become the Atom for “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”?
In a way, the “Arrow” season 3 finale doesn’t feel much like a finale, perhaps because of the similarities between the send-offs for Barry and Ray, since Barry’s came in the midseason finale. With so much to wrap up, it seems like not as much time is dedicated to each storyline as it maybe should have been, and it is very “strange” – Oliver’s word – to see the season end with Oliver leaving Starling City and “happy” – again, Oliver’s word – after everything that has happened this season. Yes, Oliver deserves it. He deserves to be happy, but at the same time, it’s clear that this can only be temporary. He may not be the Arrow anymore, may not be able to be the Arrow anymore, but all this means is that something is going to happen at the beginning of next season to bring him back and to propel him to the next step in his journey, and while the finale does seem to offer a tease about just that with Ra’s’ intended target in Starling, it’s hard not to have wanted more about that.
“My name is Oliver Queen,” Oliver declares after sabotaging the plane carrying himself, Nyssa, Ra’s al Ghul, League members and the Alpha Omega bioweapon to Starling City. While Nyssa fights off the League members, Oliver deals with Ra’s, who jumps off the plane with the only parachute and the bioweapon, leaving Oliver to call upon his ability to fly a plane to crash land safely.
Back in Nanda Parbat, those chained up in the cell come to, and Malcolm explains he inoculated them, but Ra’s had to believe that Oliver was still loyal to him, hence everything. As for the matter of them still being chained up, that’s where The Flash comes in, and the few minutes he is there bring the lighter side of things that is prevalent on the spin-off as he rounds up the League members and comments about the “hot tub,” and Felicity accidentally reveals his identity to supervillain Malcolm. He can’t help them with the supervirus in Starling City because he has a conversation he has to have with Harrison Wells, but he’s sure that, despite the wardrobe change, Oliver still needs their help. Fortunately, they have the plane they came in to get them home – why Ra’s didn’t disable their means of transport is a mystery, but maybe he didn’t even fathom they’d be alive to use it? – and once they’re back at Palmer Technologies, Oliver and Nyssa join them.
A punch and a brutally honest conversation later (more on that in a bit), and everyone’s working together to figure out what Ra’s is up to, and that’s when they realize he hasn’t released the virus yet because he has an intended target: Damien Darhk, who just so happens to be in town. Oliver is willing to trade him for the virus, a “ruthless” and “cold-blooded” move Malcolm approves of, but after, with Diggle, Malcolm and Nyssa’s help taking out his guards, Oliver zip-lines into his hotel room, he discovers that Damien skipped town already. (Of course he did. How else could he be the season 4 villain, as has so obviously been set up?) The only one left is his employee, played by Christopher Heyerdahl, who, let’s face it, would have been a formidable enemy on “Arrow.”
Even though Ra’s failed to succeed in that plan, he’s still intent on carrying out his other plan: releasing the bioweapon in Starling, via four vessels. While at first they think the bioweapon is in metal suitcases carried by Ra’s men, as Diggle and Thea (suited up!) realize upon taking down one such man, it’s much worse than that: the virus spreads when the infected blood of those men is exposed to the open air. That means stopping these men without spilling any blood, which Malcolm easily accomplishes when he kills one of them. Laurel takes down another with a series of moves that proves once again that Nyssa’s training has really paid off.
Meanwhile, Ra’s summons Oliver for another duel, atop Starling City Dam, and he will either ascend or die. Oliver does much better this time around against Ra’s, with the Demon’s Head commenting about his will to live. That’s a very different attitude from the one Oliver had even hours earlier. As he revealed to Diggle and Felicity, he never thought he’d have to fix the relationships he ruined with his actions to stop Ra’s because he thought he’d die in the plane crash he planned to kill Ra’s and stop the virus from reaching Starling. Going into the fight, he knows he can’t beat Ra’s as Oliver Queen or the Arrow, but as Felicity reminds him, he has become “someone else,” “something else.” Despite his best efforts, he let himself feel something and that, she says, is his key to beating Ra’s. “Don’t fight to die,” she tells him. “Fight to live.” And that’s what he does. “What you were offering isn’t living,” Oliver tells him, and despite Ra’s gaining the upper hand and disarming Oliver, it’s Oliver who, with Ra’s sword, stabs the other man and kills him this time.
However, even after that, Oliver’s problems aren’t over, as SCPD has an order to take out the men fighting on the Dam, and Lance, despite his problems with Oliver, doesn’t want to see him killed when he’s trying to save the city. He calls Felicity to warn her, and, after an officer does shoot Oliver and he falls towards the water below, the Atom saves him. But it’s not Ray, it’s Felicity. Yes, Felicity puts on the suit and saves Oliver, and as awesome as that is, the biggest surprise is how quickly she’s able to put the suit on – considering it’s made to fit the taller Ray – and fly in it. (Unless Ray fixed his tech and is the one controlling it like Oliver did against Deathbolt?) Whatever the case may be, the best part about that has to be Oliver’s smile at seeing that Felicity saved him.
So with Ra’s dead and Oliver obviously not ascending to the title, who takes his place? None other than Malcolm Merlyn, who is once again everyone’s enemy (though he still was even when they had no choice but to work with him) and enjoys it too much when he tells the League – and Nyssa – to kneel before him. But Nyssa will have her justice; it’s just a matter of time.
As for Thea, seeing her in red during the crisis won’t be the last time she suits up, as she’s joining the masks, the heroes, of the city. She even has her own name picked out – the Red Arrow – though Oliver tells her he’s told everyone to call her Speedy. But the name doesn’t really matter, not at this point. What does is the fact that she has suited up, and she’s made two incredible entrances to help the team – and save Diggle – in the last three episodes.
There’s even time in the finale for Laurel to confront Lance about his continued anger towards her – and his return to drinking. He can hate her for lying, blame them for Sara, she tells him, but if he falls off the wagon, that’s on him. Now, Laurel was definitely in the wrong when she kept Sara’s death from him, but here, in this instance, she’s right. As an alcoholic, he can’t have his drinking under control, despite his claims of just that with two drinks a day. He can either keep drinking and being angry, or he can make both his daughters proud and help save the city, and he does the latter with the threat of a bioweapon hanging like a black cloud over Starling. Is this conversation the first step towards father and daughter working to repair their relationship? Maybe. Hopefully. Either way, it does seem to at least be a step towards steering Lance away from his own crusade against the Arrow and Oliver since he does call Felicity to warn her about the order to take him down.
While Oliver may not have planned to be around to fix the damage he’s done to his relationships, he is, and one that is not going to be easy to fix is his brotherhood with Diggle, whose first action upon seeing him again in Starling is to punch him. Even with the threat of the bioweapon out there, Diggle does confront Oliver about trusting Malcolm with his plan instead of himself and Felicity, the two people closest to him. Oliver’s explanation is he was making sure they were safe, and while he may have had the best intentions, that doesn’t mean it was the wisest move. But his actions are too big for apologies, and while Oliver may be happy by the end of the finale, it’s going to be a long journey to get his and Diggle’s friendship back to anywhere what it used to be. Even as Oliver tells him he’s been his rock and the person he could count on for the last three years, Diggle admits that he doesn’t know if they can get past what happened. For now, they’re going their separate ways. (And Diggle is at least willing to think about some form of identity concealment.) Is there hope? Somewhat, but again, it’s going to be a long road.
Once the city is saved, Oliver surprises the team when, after admitting that despite his first instinct to go at it alone, they won because he wasn’t alone, he tells them that he knows his crusade can live on after him because of the other heroes in the city. Because of them, he no longer needs to be one – and he doesn’t want to, even though he can’t be the Arrow if he wanted to be because of Ra’s. So what does that mean for Oliver Queen? It means making a different choice than he did in the premiere, as he tells Felicity, “I want to be with you.” He wants to discover more about the “someone else” he is now, if she’ll come with him “someplace far away from here,” a decision he tells Thea he is very sure about. And so, just like in most of the dreams Oliver has had since the mountain where he does things differently, he and Felicity drive off together and he’s “happy.”
But how long can that happiness last? Hopefully at least for a while, because they do deserve to be happy together, but at the same time, they can’t stay away from Starling for too long, even though it does have others to defend it. It’s strange for the finale to end like that, and in a way, it feels almost like it could have been a series finale, so what does that mean for what comes next?
“Arrow” season 4 will air this fall on the CW. What did you think of the season 3 finale “My Name Is Oliver Queen”?