One thing that has remained reliably about Arrow is that the show always delivers when it has to. Fortunately, the Season 3 finale is one of the better episodes this season. It’s just too bad that episodes of this quality were not the norm for most of the season.
“My Name is Oliver Queen” does provide justification for the rolloercoaster of seemingly poor decisions made by various characters up until this point, but it still doesn’t provide ex post facto improvement to the majority of the rest of the season.
The big questions for this episode were how Oliver was going to get out of this situation, but even more so, how will things get back to normal when he does? The answer to the first question was fairly direct, but surprisingly, that latter question had a much more nuanced answer: they won’t be back to normal.
It may not have been much of a surprise that Oliver was lying to Ra’s the whole time, but it was definitely more of a reveal to see that most of the issues with the rest of the season were due to Oliver and Malcom scheming for this together for quite some time.
Of course, Oliver had to keep his friends out of it, because he wanted to protect them, but that’s nothing new. He’s made that mistake over and over for 3 seasons now. If Oliver has learned one thing between Lian Yu, Hong Kong, and Starling City, it’s that he needs to trust his friends and be open, because leaving them in the dark is the most dangerous thing he can do.
It also causes drama. Fortunately, there was too much action in this episode to get too drawn into his drama with Diggle and Felicity, but it did finally put a knife in the drama in the Lance family. The first two thirds of the season left us wondering why nobody would tell Quentin Lance that his daughter had died, then the last third of the season left us wondering just how crazy he had gone (and maybe yelling “I told you so” at our TV screens a little bit). Laurel didn’t really tell him anything new, but since it was time for the Macguffin of Lance hating Oliver to end, he finally acquiesed and that arc is finally behind us.
I was actually pleasantly pleased with elements of the resolution of Oliver’s role as Al Sa-Him. While it appeared that Oliver was just being his stubborn old self, the entire thing was actually a sacrificial play that he didn’t plan to survive. Given, the arrival of The Flash quickly pokes any holes in the idea that it couldn’t be done any other way, the story at least follows through to it’s own conclusion with Oliver facing off against Ras one last time. Now that he has training from the Demon’s head himself, and has something to fight for (as opposed to die for… again), he finally puts Ras down.
The flashbacks also finally brought an end to a still mostly unrelated Oliver backstory, but anoyingly still haven’t come full circle to Season 1, although it is close. Hopefully that’s not to leave room for more flashbacks next season, unless they focus more on the villains as they did on Floyd Lawton in Episode 17: Suicidal Tendencies, which seemed like a far better suited use of the style. It’s safe to say that the Oliver backstory well is all but dry.
Although this episode closed the door on a lot of glaring issues with the show, most of the relief provided by this episode can be compared to hitting ones head into a brick wall so you can feel the relief of stopping. Truthfully, everything was brought full circle, so the issues with this season won’t provide major hurtles going into Season 4. In fact, season 4 is primed to be the best episode of Arrow yet, so it’s hard to entirely condemn where this season ended up. It just could have followed a better route to the same destination.
A lot of things also changed. Oliver and Felicity left Starling. Odds are they will both be back. Their exist was conceptual just as much as it was physical. Olive has finally shed his dark side, and it looks like the next season may give us a more light hearted Arrow like the classic portrayal of Oliver Queen in the comics. Maybe we’ll even get a good mustache from Amell? That last part might be a stretch, although it would be awesome.
More than likely, they will both be involved from Episode 1 next season, but maybe we will find them set up in Seattle when Season 4 starts, loosely following the comics where Oliver set up in Seattle temporarily.
Ray Palmer is also shown finally experimenting with miniturization technology. It doesn’t appear to work out so well, but we know he will be prominently featured in the CWs new Legend’s of Tomorrow, so his story still has quite a bit to play out.
Overall, this season did accomplish a lot. The path was rocky at times, but I can confidently say that Season 3 did a lot of work to make way for what could be an excellent Season 4, set up some great crossover characters, and hopefully rid itself of some loose baggage. At the end of the day, it was still fun.
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