UK VOD TV recap: Arrow Season 3, Episode 23 (Finale)
Speedy to the rescue!8
Felicity to the rescue!7
The Flash to the rescue!6
Matthew Turner | On 16, May 2015
The finales of Seasons 1 and 2 of Arrow were among the best episodes the show has done, so expectation was naturally extremely high for the final episode of Season 3. While My Name Is Oliver Queen was an entertaining and generally satisfying end to the season, it was still a far cry from the heights of the Season 1 and 2 finales, thanks to a lack of focus in the overall plotting throughout the past 22 episodes.
The episode opens on a plane, with Ra’s, Oliver, Nyssa and a whole bunch of ninjas flying towards Starling City, where they intend to distribute the Alpha-Omega virus. As the plane catches fire, Ra’s realises it’s been sabotaged and blames Nyssa, which forces Oliver to finally come clean to Ra’s, stating the episode’s title in one of the best moments of the hour. There follows an almighty ninja-tastic scrap on the plane, as Oliver and Nyssa take out as many assassins as possible, before Ra’s steals the plane’s only parachute and disappears, leaving Oliver and Nyssa to crash-land the plane. Kudos to the effects team here – the crash actually looks pretty good.
Meanwhile, back in Nanda Parbat, to the surprise of precisely no-one, the remaining members of Team Arrow wake up to find that they’re not dead after all. The actual reason is extremely lame and, frankly, we would have gone with our own explanation from last week (Malcolm switching vials while pretending to beg for mercy with Ra’s), rather than the ridiculous contrivance we get here (Malcolm secretly innoculated everyone using a skin-graft anti-toxin – no, we didn’t really understand it either), but whatever works.
Then The Flash shows up to get everyone out of the dungeon, which seems a little gratuitous, to say the least. Maybe a third crossover episode was a contractual obligation or something? Whatever the reason, it completely screws with Arrow’s continuity – exactly when is Oliver supposed to have made his appearance in Episode 22 of The Flash? Before he went back to Nanda Parbat in the first place? So, like, when he was still pretending to be evil? It makes no sense. But it’s fun to have Barry around, even just for a few minutes and his reaction to seeing the Lazarus Pit (“You guys have a hot tub? Nice!”) almost makes up for his nonsensical appearance.
Back in Starling City (once again, it’s amusing how quickly the characters all travel back and forth to Nanda Parbat – Barry apparently runs there, for example, so Oliver must have given him good directions), Oliver tries to make amends with the rest of Team Arrow and receives a well-deserved punch in the face from Diggle for his efforts. Still raging from last week, Diggle quite rightly points out that Oliver crossed a line by kidnapping his wife, leaving his infant child alone and not telling his trusted friends what his plan was all along.
To be fair, Diggle, who’s almost always presented as the moral centre of the show, has a point and the writers are asking for an awful lot of forgiveness – from both the characters and the audience – for Oliver and Malcolm. The latter can sort of get away with it, partly because John Barrowman sells the character so brilliantly, plus he accepts that not everyone around him is going to trust or like him, but with Oliver it’s a tougher sell. Still, they all agree that they can’t worry about all that now, as they have a city to save.
Speaking of which, the threat to Starling City – Ra’s men using themselves as carriers of the virus and infecting as many people as possible – doesn’t quite have the emotional impact of the threats in Seasons 1 and 2, but after you’ve already destroyed the city and invaded it with an army of super-soldiers, there’s really very few places you can go after that. To compensate, we get some well edited sequences of Team Arrow working together to track down the carriers, including some nice Laurel and Nyssa moments and the fabulous, fist-pumping appearance of Thea in Speedy costume, continuing her habit of showing up just in time to save the day by shooting someone with an arrow.
Speaking of Thea, she doesn’t get much to do in the episode overall, but she’s definitely a confirmed member of Team Arrow from this point on. (We particularly enjoyed her telling Oliver she might call herself Red Arrow, to which Oliver replies: “I already told everyone to call you Speedy…” This is a nice nod to the history of Oliver’s sidekicks in the comics, something the show has had a lot of fun toying with over the past three seasons.)
Another character making only a brief but effective appearance is Detective, sorry, Captain Lance. (We very much like that the show lets Felicity make that same joke every week.) He has a terrific scene with Laurel, where she confronts him over his drinking and essentially tells him to get his arse in gear and help them all save the city. (He also gets the episode’s best meta-line: “Is the city under threat? It must be May!”) Anyway, it seems that Lance is at least temporarily back on board Team Arrow, given his inclination to save Oliver during the bridge-top battle.
Oh, right. Damien Darkh. Who, you say? Why, next season’s Big Bad, of course! Yes, it turns out Ra’s had an ulterior motive for destroying Starling City, which was to take out the enemy he mentioned for the first time last week, former League member Damien Darkh and his stolen Lazarus Pit waters. Oliver initially plans to trade Damien for the virus, but a Darkh underling (an interesting-looking character actor) informs him that Darkh has skipped town, setting him up nicely for Season 4 (and giving the network time to finalise his casting). The theory that he’ll turn out to be Felicity’s father still holds, by the way, as she comments that his name is surely an alias.
So, back to that afore-mentioned bridge-top battle. With the virus carriers taken care of, and Ray’s nano-mites dispersing a cure across the city (off-screen), all that’s left is for a final showdown between Oliver and Ra’s. Unfortunately, given that it’s the climactic battle of the entire season, it was largely disappointing, not least because it was often impossible to tell who was hitting who, thanks to their identical outfits. Moreover, the sequence fails to improve on their fantastic, mid-season finale cliff-top fight from The Cliff, when it should have had Oliver defeating Ra’s because of something he had learned in the meantime. Instead, Ra’s dies, believing Oliver will succeed him as the new Ra’s after all.
This does, to be fair, lead to another of the show’s best moments – Felicity knows that Oliver is about to be shot by the police, who have been watching the bridge-top fight. With Ray busy with the nano-mites, Felicity dons the ATOM suit and flies to Oliver’s rescue. A ridiculous, but nonetheless fun and charming moment. Let’s not worry too much about how she learned to control the suit so quickly, or the fact that it somehow fits her perfectly, despite her being significantly not the same shape as Ray Palmer.
And that’s pretty much it. Malcolm becomes the new Ra’s al Ghul, which may or may not have been his plan all along. He has some sort of pact with Oliver to do with how exactly he’ll be commanding the League of Assassins and it remains to be seen whether that pact will hold. Nyssa, for one, isn’t happy, and she makes no secret of the fact that she intends to kill Malcolm the first chance she gets. (We actually thought she was going to stab him in their final scene together, which would have been pretty great and a fitting end to Malcolm, but we guess he appeases her by bringing Sara back to life in the Legends of Tomorrow pilot, if the promotional trailer is anything to go by. Although that would have been a GREAT final moment for the episode. Just saying.)
And so Oliver and Felicity get their happy ending, with Oliver apparently deciding to leave behind the superhero game, confident in the knowledge that the rest of Team Arrow can save the city just fine without him. All this rather raises the question of just what this season has been about in the first place – surely, if he’s learned anything, it’s that Team Arrow functions best when they’re all together, and that Felicity is a vital part of that team? Besides, we all know they’ll be back in Episode 1 of Season 4, so why bother giving them that into-the-sunset ending? We get that this works for a large portion of the show’s fanbase (we hesitate to use the word “Ollicity”), but it doesn’t really do it for us and feels like a sop to certain vociferous elements. We hope they can find some way to dial down their relationship next season.
Speaking of hints for next season, there is yet another indication that Diggle may be getting a mask and / or costume when the show returns, which is fitting, as it looks likely to be about HIVE (Damien Darkh’s organisation) and why they wanted Diggle’s brother, Andy, killed. We also get Ray’s exit from the series, as Ray Palmer Industries blows up as he’s testing the suit’s shrinking powers, although it’s not much of a cliff-hanger, especially if you’ve seen the trailer for Legends of Tomorrow (and you really, really should).
Meanwhile, in our final visit to Flashback City, Oliver tortures and nearly kills Shrieve and Maseo apparently finishes him off, before telling Tatsu that he’s leaving, as he can’t deal with his part in Akio’s death. Oliver then takes his own leave of Tatsu and boards a ship bound for Coastal City, which, intriguingly, is the home of Green Lantern (recently referenced in The Flash) in the comics. We’re not convinced that Shrieve is really dead – we know he’s still alive after Oliver’s torture and we don’t see where Maseo shoots him – but if he is, then that’s a terrible waste of Marc Singer.
It’s a shame that the flashbacks haven’t really worked this season, especially when you think back to how beautifully they dove-tailed in Season 2, with Oliver fighting Slade Wilson in both the past and the present. Still, we’re intrigued to see where they take Oliver next season.
All in all, this is a solidly entertaining season that just about papered over its dodgier scripting moments, even if it never quite achieved the highs of Season 2. It has delivered plenty of action, some great laughs and some terrific character work, especially with the supporting cast. Bring on Season 4.
Season 1, 2 and 3 of Arrow are available on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, for free next day UK delivery on Amazon items, as part of a £79 annual Prime membership.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.