By Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
Arrow wrapped up its third season with an episode that was one for the ages. Last week’s episode saw Oliver (Stephen Amell) leave everyone he holds dear for dead in Nanda Parbat as he flew off with Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) to unleash a deadly bio-weapon on Starling City. The Arrow season three finale entitled, “My Name Is Oliver Queen” demolished the very foundation of Arrow and it was not necessarily a bad thing.
Last week fans watched as Oliver Queen severed every relationship he held dear in order to prove to Ra’s al Ghul that he was worthy of becoming the Demon’s Head. With Malcolm (John Barrowman), Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Ray (Brandon Routh), Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Diggle (David Ramsey) clutching to life, fans anxiously awaited how they would get out of this precarious situation. Ray Palmer sums it up best when the Team miraculously wakes up when he says, “Not that I’m complaining but shouldn’t we be dead by now?” Malcolm reveals to the team that he inoculated all of them and Oliver had to complete this task so Ra’s could fully trust him. Let’s just say, Team Arrow was less than thrilled. So, how does Team Arrow get out of this situation? In the words of Malcolm “All we have to do is wait… [for the] The Thunder.” Cue everyone’s favorite speedster, The Flash/Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) to come save the day. Gustin fits back into the world of Arrow flawlessly and further exemplifies how integrated The Flash and Arrow storylines are.
With Team Arrow struggling to leave Nanda Parbat, Oliver, Nyssa (Katrina Law) and Ra’s al Ghul are on route to Starling City with the deadly bio-weapon. In a truly remarkable scene, the plane appears to be tampered with and everyone’s favorite vigilante, Oliver Queen rises to the occasion. In a pure battle of wits and skill, Ra’s, Nyssa and Oliver duel. What happens is an Arrow fight for the ages. This season alone, Amell took Oliver/The Arrow from a homeless, ex-billionaire, to a recovering vigilante, to Al-Sah Him and now as he declares, “My Name is Oliver Queen.” Amell has shown an incredible range of acting skills in this season alone and if anyone ever doubted his acting abilities, they have been silenced. Unlike the season two finale, this scene was one of very few fight sequences this episode. In the season two finale, the entire episode was taken up with Emmy Award worthy stunt sequences however; this time around the dialogue and pure talent of the actors drove this Arrow episode home.
Arrow fans patiently waited for Oliver, Diggle, Felicity and the rest of the ever growing Team Arrow to be reunited and those fans got what they wanted this week. When Oliver and Nyssa descend into Palmer Technologies like two excerpt assassins, Diggle is less than thrilled to see Oliver and he delivers a crushing right-hook to Oliver, which is something he frankly deserved at this point. Ramsey and Amell have always played the lighter side of the Diggle/Oliver brotherly relationship so this quick moment was a change of character, especially for Diggle. Diggle isn’t letting Oliver off the hook easily. In a heated discussion Diggle tells Oliver, “You trusted Malcolm Merlyn more than you trusted the two people closest to you!” Ramsey does another incredible job at making Diggle a fully fleshed out character that isn’t afraid to show every range of emotion.
If any Arrow fan ever doubted Felicity Smoak’s place within the Arrow universe they were proven wrong in Arrow’s season three finale. All season long, Emily Bett Rickards has transformed Felicity Smoak into a full-blown superhero in her own right and she has ascended to Arrow royalty. Not only does the character pass the Bechdel test with flying colors, thanks to Rickards and the incredible writing staff, but she also holds her own in every scene with Oliver. Rickards had two career-defining moments in the finale. One of them comes during the confrontation with Diggle and Oliver. With Diggle ready to kill Oliver after everything he has done, a heart-broken Felicity asks what Oliver’s plan all along was. He reveals that he tampered with the plane in order to send Ra’s al Ghul and the bio-weapon crashing to their immediate death. With tear-filled eyes, Felicity asks Oliver, “You never expected to have this conversation. You were planning on dying. So, that was your big plan? Sacrifice yourself to take out Ra’s?” Rickards continues to tug at fans heartstrings with just a simple expression. She doesn’t have to say anything, her pure talent holds the same weight as any emotional monologue would and that is a testament to Rickard’s incredible acting performance.
Amell and Rickards seem to be the heart and soul of Arrow. Without the two of them putting everything they have into every scene, facial expression, and stunt sequence, Arrow would not be the show it is today. Throughout season three, their chemistry has been pushed to the breaking point as Felicity and Oliver began to take incredible strides towards becoming a couple. This season they went through hell and back. They started by going on a date, to getting blown up, to barely speaking to each other, to sleeping together and now they are trying to mend their relationship once again. Amell and Rickards have unmatchable chemistry. There hasn’t been two actors with so much sexual tension and chemistry since Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer sent fans hearts soaring with the will-they-or-won’t-they storylines of Rachel and Ross on Friends. This Arrow finale was all about the two of them and it all started with one of the most uplifting and powerful monologues delivered by Ms. Rickards.
When Oliver and the Team try to find the location of the deadly bio-weapon and Ra’s al Ghul’s whereabouts, it leads him to a Mr. Damien Darhk, a ruthless villain seen in the DC comic book universe and a likely villain in the upcoming season four of Arrow. When Damien has fled Starling City upon hearing Ra’s al Ghul is looking to kill him, Oliver seems to be out of ideas as to where Ra’s will be unleashing the deadly toxin. Cue an Oliver and Felicity heart-to-heart and one of Felicity’s most heart-warming and awe-inspiring monologues since the penultimate episode in season two. Upon believing he can’t beat Ra’s al Ghul, Felicity tells Oliver, “Oliver Queen can’t. The Arrow can’t. Both those men tried and both those men failed…You’re no longer either of those men. You’ve become someone else. You’ve become something else… This is different now because despite your best efforts you’ve let yourself feel something… It’s your key to beating Ra’s. Don’t fight to die. Fight to live.” Rickards delivers a stunning performance and further proves that Arrow would not exist without Felicity Megan Smoak.
With the deadly bio-weapon about to wreak havoc on Starling City, it forces Laurel and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) to finally have a conversation. Cassidy and Blackthorne deliver a heartfelt performance as Laurel learns that Quentin has taken to drinking again. Cassidy’s transformation into the Black Canary this season is the very definition of character development. Last season, Laurel was an alcoholic who just wanted to hate the world. This season Laurel has risen from the ashes and has turned into a lovable, key member of Team Arrow. This scene completed the transformation when she finally has the ability to stand up to her father and say, “Make both of your daughters proud and throw away the bottle and help save this city.” Cassidy’s flawless acting has helped transform Laurel into a completely new character and fans cannot wait to see where she goes in season four.
With the bio-weapon being unleashed on Starling City and Team Arrow trying to contain it, Oliver Queen and Ra’s al Ghul have one last, epic duel. Amell and Nable battle it out in what appears to be a very well choreographed dance. Ra’s al Ghul and Oliver fight to the end until Oliver Queen finally rises victorious and brutally stabs Ra’s al Ghul. Nable became a key player in season three of Arrow and he will definitely be a tough villain to follow as Arrow heads into season four. This duel didn’t end without a care in the world though, before Oliver can run around Starling City singing “I win. I win,” he’s gunned down by one of Ra’s al Ghul’s men. In a moment very reminiscent to the episode “The Climb,” Oliver falls to his death only to be saved by…… Felicity Smoak in the A.T.O.M Suit. Talk about a moment for the ages. In a major role reversal, Felicity saves Oliver and fans can’t help but swoon.
The hour comes to a close by setting up what is sure to be an exciting season four of Arrow. Oliver gives a rousing speech to Team Arrow where he thanks them for being by his side even though he thought this was a mission he had to accomplish alone. He realizes that his legacy of helping Starling City can go on because of every single member of Team Arrow. In a crazy, twist Oliver decides it’s best to hang up the arrows and the green hood and search for happiness elsewhere. In a moment that will have Olicity fans screaming for weeks, Oliver asks Felicity to run away with him and leave Starling City in the capable hands of Team Arrow. Oliver tells Felicity, “I told you I couldn’t be the Arrow and be with you. I want to be with you.” Talk about a major plot twist. Can Oliver and Felicity finally have their happy ending free of villains and crime-fighting? Let’s be honest that would be lovely but fans love it more when Felicity and Oliver are dueling villains and saving Starling City side by side.
By season finale’s end, Thea (Willa Holland) has officially turned to a life of crime fighting as Speedy (we love the costume) and Malcolm has ascended to the calling of Ra’s al Ghul. Every Arrow character seems to be in a good spot, except for everyone’s favorite tech nerd, Ray Palmer. At episodes end, Ray is trying out the miniaturization feature on his A.T.O.M suit when it explodes causing the entire upper portion of Palmer Technologies to collapse. Could this be a lead in to Ray’s spin-off series The Legends of Tomorrow? Our guess is a 100% “Yes.”
Season three of Arrow closes similarly to how it started with Oliver and Felicity trying to get their happy ending together. Oliver and Felicity jump in a car and literally drive off into the sunset together. The finale closes with Oliver delivering a variation on his voice over. He says, “I returned home with only one goal, to save my city. And I did. But now it’s time for me to be someone else. Something else.” Before the episode closes, Oliver turns to the love of his life and says, “Can I say something strange? I’m happy.” Oliver seems to be happy as he and Felicity ride off to what we are sure is going to be another explosive, heart-pounding, tear-inducing, season four of Arrow.