Starling City is under attack and Team Arrow needs to save it, because duh.
Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW
S3 E23
  • TV Show
  • The CW

“City’s under attack? Must be May.” (Quentin Lance)

It’s an Arrow season finale, which means the fate of Starling City hangs in the balance. Like the season it is concluding, “My Name is Oliver Queen” is an uneven episode with many thrilling and strong moments. Arrow makes very little effort trying to hide the fact that stopping Ra’s al Ghul from destroying Starling City is secondary to its other goals: bringing Oliver’s personal journey to a close and dealing with Olicity. There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s just dive in.

As Ra’s, Oliver, Nyssa, and the rest of the League are making their way to Starling City for the newlyweds’ mass murder themed honeymoon, the rest of Team Arrow regains consciousness in the dungeon. Malcolm reveals that one of Oliver’s associates used Oliver’s blood to manufacture a vaccine for the virus, and Malcolm administered it to all of them subcutaneously. He’s expecting a thank you for saving their lives, but is left very disappointed. Felicity points out one flaw in the plan: their still trapped in the cell.

There’s nothing to fear, however, because that’s when they hear the thunder, which lets them know help is on the way in the form The Flash. Newly freed, Team Arrow gathers up their equipment and starts to head out. Even though they didn’t die, the Team still doubts that Oliver is on their side. Barry reassures them that despite everything that’s happened, one thing remains the same: Oliver needs his team. Believing to have fulfilled her obligation, Tatsu doesn’t return to Starling City with them and chooses to return to her life of solitude.

Meanwhile, the engine of the plane carrying Oliver and the League to Starling City blows. Because Oliver proved his loyalty by appearing to let his friends die at the end of “This is Your Sword,” Ra’s immediately assumes Nyssa tampered with the engine. But, Oliver shocks Ra’s by admitting to the sabotage. Ra’s reminds him he’s Warith Al-Ghul, but Oliver—finally getting his “Who Am I” moment after a season-long identity crisis—proclaims, “My name is Oliver Queen!”

…And fighting ensues, because natch. While Nyssa handles the assassins, Oliver and Ra’s wrestle over the cannister housing the virus. But, Ra’s eventually gets his hands on it and casually uses it as a melee weapon against his daughter before jumping out of the plane with the only parachute. Thus, Oliver is forced to bring the plane in for a very destructive crash landing.

Team Arrow returns to Palmer Technologies and is preparing to regroup when Oliver and Nyssa make their presence known. Not everyone is happy to see Oliver, especially Diggle, who punches him and calls him a son of a bitch. The rest of the team decides to give the original three a moment to themselves.

Naturally, Diggle and Felicity are upset that Oliver chose to trust Malcolm Merlyn, a supervillain, over his two most closest allies. Calling on his favorite excuse, Oliver says he lied to them to keep them safe and didn’t worry about having to fix their broken relationship afterward because he didn’t plan on surviving to have this conversation. He was planning on sacrificing himself to ensure that Ra’s died and the virus was destroyed in the plane crash. But, there’s little time for them to work through all of this because of the impending threat.

Unfortunately, finding Ra’s won’t be as easy as they thought because he’s using old school techniques to evade Felicity’s new school/high tech means of detection. However, during their scouring of the web for anything unusual in Starling City, they discover that Damien Darhk, Ra’s nemesis, is staying in a Starling City hotel. Oliver assumes Ra’s plans on using the virus to kill Damien and decides the only way to save the city is for Team Arrow to capture Damien themselves and exchange him for the virus. “That’s remarkably ruthless and cold blooded. I approve,” says Malcolm gleefully.

This plan goes south fairly quickly. By the time Oliver infiltrates Damien’s room, Damien has already fled the building and in his place remains one of his emissaries. Damien left Starling the moment he found out Ra’s was in town. At that moment, a sniper kills Damien’s emissary and Ra’s calls Oliver to let him know he’s one step ahead and that he’s already released the virus via four instruments of death. Get it, like the Four Horsemen?

NEXT: Dream therapy with Felicity

While Ray and Felicity work on locating and finding a way to neutralize the virus, Laurel visits her father to warn him of the imminent attack. She’s very disappointed in what she finds at the CCPD: Her father has started drinking again. Quentin claims he’s got it under control by limiting himself to two drinks a day, but Laurel calls b.s. Her verbal undressing is enough to snap Quentin out of his relapse long enough for him to alert the CCPD of the situation.

Felicity discovers that the virus emits a sort-of radiation and uses a satellite to track it. As the computer is doing its thing, Felicity, breaking her vow to never bring him coffee again because she sees he needs it, uses the down time to talk to Oliver about his plan to take out Ra’s by dying. Oliver tells her of this recurring dream he’s had since he returned in which Felicity begs him not to go fight Ra’s, he listens to her, and they drive off into the sunset and leave Starling City and all its drama behind. His dream falls into the second of the three types of dreams Ra’s listed earlier on: the ones about desire (although there’s some temptation in there). At the heart of it, Oliver is unsure he’s capable of defeating Ra’s, but, have no fear, everyone’s favorite hero whisperer is here.

Felicity reminds Oliver of what he said during their night together in Nanda Parbat: Both Oliver Queen and the Arrow are dead. Which is a good thing because neither of those men were capable of defeating Ra’s. In his time away, Oliver has become someone, and something, different; someone who allowed himself to feel something. And, according to Felicity, it’s because he’s opened himself up to feelings that he has a chance against Ra’s this time around. “Don’t fight to die. Fight to live,” says Felicity and it’s enough to reinvigorate Oliver’s spirits.

Once Felicity narrows down a list of the four most likely targets, Team Arrow heads out to find Ra’s henchmen. Diggle spots one of Ra’s men in plain clothes carrying a briefcase and chases after him. In the ensuing struggle, Ra’s’ henchman manages to get the upperhand and is about to kill Diggle, but Thea, sporting Roy’s freshly tailored Arsenal uniform, shows up in time and puts three arrows in the assassin’s back. It’s a strong character moment that she has more than earned.

We’ll have to hit pause on celebrating Thea’s badass arrival, because the briefcase the assassin was carrying is empty. Ra’s’ assassins are carrying the virus, and the virus spreads the minute infected blood hits open air—which is great for a virus for which bleeding from every orifice is a symptom. Now, Team Arrow needs to rush to locate the other three assassins before they spread the virus even further. Since the virus has been released in one area already, Ray begins modifying his nano tech to fly over the city and disperse a cure.

Meanwhile, Ra’s invites Oliver to meet him at the Starling City dam for one more duel. This time things go much differently. Like Laurel, Thea, and Roy, whose skills improved as the season went on, so have Oliver’s and it shows. Right when Ra’s thinks he’s gained the upper hand by breaking Oliver’s sword, Oliver swipes Ra’s own sword Rush Hour-style and uses it to kill him. But, his victory is short-lived because the Chief of Police orders Oliver be shot. A bullet hits him and he goes falling over the edge of the dam. Thankfully he has a guardian angel in a supersuit who catches him in time. However, it’s not Ray (who is busy dispersing the cure) underneath the helmet. It’s Felicity.

With Ra’s taken care of and the city saved, the team regroups at Palmer Technologies. Further driving home how much he has changed, Oliver admits he wouldn’t have succeeded were it not for his remarkable team. Knowing that they are heroes in their own right and are capable of handling whatever Starling City throws at them means Oliver no longer needs to be one. He announces that he and Felicity are leaving the city. At first, Diggle is the only hold out because he’s not sure if he can get past all that’s happened, but he agrees to think about it.

Before leaving, Oliver fulfills his end of his and Malcolm’s deal by making Malcolm the new Ra’s al Ghul. Malcolm assumes this is the start of a beautiful partnership, but Oliver makes sure he understands it’s not; Oliver does not forgive him for what he did to Sara and Thea. Whether or not Malcolm and Oliver are enemies, however, is dependent on what Malcolm does with the League. Malcolm’s first order of business as the new Ra’s is to command everyone, including Nyssa, kneel before him and acknowledge his command. (ASIDE: Doesn’t this mean Oliver is now Malcolm’s Damien Darhk? END ASIDE)

My name is Oliver Queen. After five years in hell, I returned home with only one goal: to save my city. And I did. I became a hero who helped people. But, now it’s time for me to be someone else. It’s time for me to be something else.

And by something, he means happy. This voice-over plays over a montage of the police bagging and tagging evidence from the old Arrow cave and leads into Oliver and Felicity driving off into the sunset. (ASIDE: How did Oliver afford that Porsche and what about his marriage to Nyssa?)

NEXT: Let’s talk about the season and what’s next

Arrow‘s third season has been a rough one. The highs have been rather high and the lows have been almost insufferable. For some reason, everything never clicked into place and there was some awkwardness throughout. The season’s biggest weakness was undoubtedly its big bad, Ra’s al Ghul. It took 23 episodes for the show to finally reveal Ra’s al Ghul’s motivation—using the Alpha/Omega to kill Damien Darhk. Before tonight’s episode, we were unsure of what Ra’s al Ghul wanted and why he was doing what he was doing. It didn’t help that Matt Noble didn’t make a terribly convincing Ra’s al Ghul.

Furthermore, the show never really explained the League’s ideology. It’s all been rather hazy. Hopefully next season, with Malcolm as the new Ra’s al Ghul, we’ll gain some more insight into the purpose of this incarnation of the League.

As we’ve discussed throughout, the theme of this season was identity, specifically Oliver Queen’s identity. As Maseo warned him in a flashback, a man cannot live by two names, and we watched Oliver struggle with this throughout. At times, it was frustrating because very moody Oliver isn’t very enjoyable and, more importantly, his identity crisis usually became intertwined with the Olicity of it all. Olicity turned out not to be as fun as some of us may have hoped and started to become too much of the season’s focus.

Nevertheless, Oliver’s solo journey paid off. Pitting him against his team not only allowed for us to see different sides of him, but also allowed the rest of the cast to grow as well. Laurel, who was once the show’s biggest problem, came into her own this season as she became a full-fledged, leather-outfit-wearing member of Team Arrow. By the end of the season, Thea had affirmed why she’s one of the show’s best characters. Most importantly, however, turning Oliver into the villain of his story allowed Arrow to explore and give Diggle, and his relationship with Oliver, some much-needed attention. “For three years, you have been a rock; the city’s rock, my rock. For three years, you have been the person I can count on,” said Oliver toward the end of tonight’s episode—and it’s true. If anything, Oliver’s relationship with Diggle was far more interesting than Oliver and Felicity, and there were moments when the show seemed to realize that.

Despite the season’s problems, there is something to be said of the fact that almost no one could have predicted this ending at the beginning of the season.

So where are we heading next season? Well, Damien Darhk and the rest of H.I.V.E. will most likely be the Big Bad, or at the very least become a thorn in Team Arrow’s side. Hopefully, the ending of tonight’s episode means an end to Olicity drama for sometime. We can expect Thea to become a permanent member of Team Arrow as either Speedy (Oliver’s choice) or Red Arrow (her choice). Before leaving, Oliver also suggested that Diggle start concealing his identity if he was going to continue being a hero, so hopefully, Diggle will have a cool alias when we return next season.

Wall of Weird:

  • Flashbacks: We finally see Maseo leave his grieving wife. Tatsu decides to go to a monastery near her home, and Oliver, believing he needs to be alone, boards a ship marked for Coast City.
  • At the end of the episode, the entire top floor of Palmer Industries exploded while Ray was trying to make his suit shrink. But, there’s no need to worry since Ray is part of Legends of Tomorrow. Quick guess: Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) saves him before the explosion or something.
  • Let’s get this straight: Ray Palmer is still working out the kinks of his suit, but, Felicity can fly it and save Oliver with no problem on her first go? Guys, the power of love is very strong.
  • Still not sure when Oliver found the time to travel to Central City, but whatever. It’s really not too important.
  • Do you guys feel like Oliver’s happy ending with Felicity was earned? I’m still on the fence.
  • Thanks for reading along this season. It’s been so much fun recapping one of my favorite shows, and I hope you guys enjoyed it, too. See you in the fall!

Episode Recaps

Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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  • Marc Guggenheim
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  • Greg Berlanti
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