Ok, I guess that was one way to end season three of Arrow, totally not the way I thought we would end it, but ok. So our hero rides off into the sunset much like he did last year, it is just that this time it does not quite feel as satisfying or earned as last time. I mean you have a lot of moving parts and yet somehow none of them manage to stick in quite the right way as to make this season feel like a whole. Rather it feels like we started out with a lofty goal and even lofty villain and everything just managed to spiral out of control very quickly, to the point where certain characters refused to make logical or even in character decisions. That’s why “My Name is Oliver Queen” is such a confusing bit of television as it does not feel like a season finale in any way, it fact it barely feels like an episode of Arrow.
So let’s start with the bad as the pacing of this episode felt off and frankly not in line with previous seasons of Arrow. We focused heavily on the flashbacks which were inconsequential to the main plot this week, had way more set up for season four than closure on season three, and for some reason there was an all powerful villain who ended up being neutered for the sake of a shit plot. This episode managed to sabotage all of the good will and character building that Ra’s had done over the course of the year and somehow mange to reduce him to being something less than a man. If you look back at any of the past seasons you can see that there was a clear plan for managing both the wrap up and the big final confrontation, this time it all felt jumbled and out of touch with the show we have been watching.
Case in point Ra’s Al Ghul, our alleged big bad of this season had one goal and only one goal that we know of, to find an heir to take his place. We saw how dangerous he was by taking out Ollie mid season, we knew how driven he was about his mission and the League, and then we got here and he became as worthless as some one off villain. This is nothing against Matt Nable who did great work with Ra’s as a character, but it felt like in the end we were presented two very different Ra’s rather than one whole character. Ra’s in his first few appearances earned the respect and fear that comes with his character, but as soon as Oliver accepted Ra’s offer everything went south. He became a confused and out of focus mess driven by the fear of a man we have yet to meet. Damian should not even have been mentioned in this episode let alone for some fortuitous reason possibly be in Starling. It made Ra’s not the threat of the episode and completely invalidated large parts of the overall plot.
Similarly we have Malcolm and the reveal of his end goal that although cool, felt like there was an easier way to achieve that endgame. It is great that Malcolm not only made it out alive, but also became the next Ra’s as it maintains a strong antagonist for Oliver to deal with as the series moves forward. However, by making Malcolm ascend we have another fundamental flaw as he had to tell Oliver this was his endgame and Oliver had to choose to go along with it. Yes, Starling was in danger of being wiped out, but Oliver just handed his mortal enemy the keys to an incredibly dangerous weapon without batting an eye. Oliver just assumes that Malcolm won’t attack Oliver or the city ever again, but nothing Malcolm has ever done would earn him a fraction of trust. It felt like Malcolm should have just been the big bad of season three and have Oliver finally confront and finish off a monster who has tormented him since day one.
This leads me to my biggest issue with the finale Oliver deciding to stop being the Arrow. Yes there are plenty of people who can help save the city, but they are not as well trained or prepared to make the big sacrifice as Oliver would. Thea is new to the game despite being trained by Malcolm, and Laurel’s proficiency at crime fighting fluctuates wildly depending on the opponent she is facing. The only member of the team who is able to stand on their own two feet is Diggle and he not only hate Oliver for what he did but also is seemingly emotional compromised that his best friend would just so easily give up on the fight. There is no reason for Oliver to simply say that there won’t be big enough threats to warrant his return is childish and there is no reasonable explanation. Oliver can attempt to live a normal life despite knowing that it will never truly work, while being The Arrow. In fact why the hell would anyone believe that retiring earns them the right to a normal life.
Despite all of this there were indeed some fun parts of this finale. Barry popping up to save the team and crack some jokes was extremely enjoyable, Malcolm becoming Ra’s although happening in an extremely roundabout manner is an exciting turn for his character, and the tiny bits of action were excellently choreographed, especially that sword fight between Ollie and Ra’s.
Overall it was a very confusing ending for a confusing season.
Final Grade C
Final Season Grade C
+Malcolm becoming Ra’s
+Oliver vs Ra’s
-Ra’s being neutered as a character
-Roundabout way of Malcolm becoming Ra’s
-Tonally really confusing
-Lines of the night go to Barry “Thanks for exposing my secret identity to the super villain Felicity.” “You have a hot tub? Neat” and Lance “There’s another attack? Must be May.”
-So Ray suffers an explosion at the end of the episode. I am guessing someone saves him.
-Somehow everyones costume manages to fit anyone regardless of gender and height. Notable examples Thea and Felicity.
-Oliver boarded a boat headed for Coast City at the end of the flashbacks. Hopefully he makes an ally with a love for the color green and space aliens.