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Was “My Name is Oliver Queen” a great end to season three? Not really. Did it make up for the mess that Arrow has become throughout the last half of the season? Nope. But, it resolved the lingering storylines well enough. And, considering how the episode could have really gone off the rails, I suppose that is enough.
The key to the episode, and for the series moving forward, is how the finale managed to completely hit the reset button on the show. Every character ends the season in a vastly different place than where they started, and most end up in a state of flux. The only characters who are continuing to live the life of vigilantism are Thea and Laurel (never thought last year I would be writing a sentence like that one), while everyone else is off doing their own thing. Well, except for Ray, but I’ll get to that later on. But, is it really a reset?
I know the writers set out to “blow up the show” with the finale (per showrunner Marc Guggenheim’s interview with Vulture) by removing the show’s core characters from their everyday way of life, but they didn’t succeed. We know Oliver will be back. We know Felicity will be back. Thea and Laurel will continue their crime fighting. Ray is off to his own series (and, finally, might be miniaturized). Malcolm will make Oliver rue the day he gave him the ring. Nyssa will avenge Sara’s death (or, Sara will come back to life on the spin-off and make that blood debt moot – that one is a little up in the air, I guess). Diggle is really the only question mark. While the status quo may have been disrupted, I have every faith our players will be back together sooner rather than later.
And that is the problem. While the Ra’s storyline should have had major stakes, it ended up resembling the fight between Peter Pan and Hook in Hook (particularly the part where Ra’s let down his guard one last time – poor form, Ra’s). I was hoping that, perhaps, Ra’s had infected himself and Oliver’s killing of him would release the bio weapon into the water supply or something. Anything other than what happened. It was just another let down after a string of them, so I don’t even know why I was hoping for more. I guess it’s because we know the writers are capable of more. They managed to put together a taut and strong first season, and, despite dragging out the Mirakuru storyline a bit too long, season two was solid. When you are working with one of DC’s most lethal and complex villains, as the show was this year with Ra’s, you expect something better than what we were given. And that is the most disappointing part.
While I could go on for a while about things I would have liked to see changed, I’ll simply address the most glaring issue I saw in “My Name is Oliver Queen:” The treatment of Malcolm. In what world is it a good idea to give Malcolm control of the League? Even with Nyssa on hand to challenge him at some time in the future. I understand that he helped a lot with the great bait and switch plan that gave everyone (characters and audience included) whiplash with the number of times Oliver switched sides, but really? If we’re allowing Malcolm to ascend based on surviving torture and getting freed, then Oliver could have just as easily given Nyssa command since she tried to fight her father and was allowed to live after. I suppose he didn’t draw enough blood? But how can Oliver be as stupid as this? It’s mind boggling in the worst way.
And that is one of the major issues with the back half of the season. If the characters are consistently making poor choices with no hint they have learned anything, why should we continue to root for them? Just because they are on the side of good? Because, at some point, they will realize their errors and make a solid choice? People make mistakes, and characters should as well. But with the number of dumb decisions made this year (from everything surrounding Malcolm, Laurel’s early attempts at crime fighting, Oliver’s ridiculous kid-gloves approach to Felicity, and everyone continuing to keep Thea in the dark about everything), it’s amazing the team made it through the year intact.
For next season, I hope the writers find a better balance than they showed this season. I hope characters continue to grow and get a chance to shine (for all the show did wrong this season, they did seriously right by both Thea and Laurel). I hope the villain is worthy of his or her role. And, for the love of all that is holy, I hope the flashbacks are actually interesting. Until next fall, Arrow.
— We know that Brandon Routh will be moving on from Arrow to DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, so I assume this is the last we’ll see of him on Arrow for some time. I also assume that explosion is what will give him the ability to shrink. And, since we saw him get Felicity to sign documentation giving her control over the company in the event of his death, I have a feeling Ray Palmer will be presumed dead.
— How cool did Thea look in her new threads?
— Once again, we were shown the Lazarus Pit (which looks to be still in working order). So, there’s that deus ex machina waiting if it’s needed again.
— Finally, as the episode made clear, watching Flash is just a crucial as watching Arrow if you want to understand both series fully. Barry’s appearance makes perfect sense if you caught the Flash finale. If you aren’t watching, it’s turned into a truly excellent series- way lighter than Arrow. I highly recommend checking it out.