It’s no secret that this season of Arrow has paled in comparison to its stellar second year. With an excess of melodrama and too many fractured storylines, fans and critics alike have deemed a lot of its episodes as weaker installments in the series.
But fortunately, season three went out on a bigger high note than anyone could have anticipated. This was an epic, action-packed episode which tied all of this season’s loose ends together and ended on a major cliffhanger. I already can’t wait for season four.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen Ollie transition into an entirely new role as the Demon’s Head, Ra’s al Ghul’s successor. Last week’s episode ended with him marrying Ra’s’ daughter Nyssa and leaving his friends to die in a cell in Nanda Parabat, via a virus. This same virus is used as part of Ra’s’ plan to destroy Starling City.
While we always knew that Ollie was only doing this and aligning himself with Malcolm so he could bring down Ra’s, I had no idea how he would pull it all off. Fortunately, this finale laid out both his and his opponents’ hidden agendas.
It opens with Ollie and Ra’s on a plane to Starling City. As the plane starts shaking violently, Ra’s discovers that Ollie had sabotaged it. The two square off, and Ra’s escapes with the virus via a parachute. This forces Ollie and Nyssa to manually operate the plane and crash land.
Meanwhile, back at Nanda Parabat, the rest of Team Arrow survives through a vaccine which Ollie and Maseo had developed years earlier. We then see The Flash swoop in to rescue them from their cell (remember how Ollie asked Barry for a favor in this week’s Flash episode), before leaving to go after Wells.
Once the team finally reunites in Starling City, tensions arise between them as Ollie reveals that his plan was to sacrifice himself on the plane in order to kill Ra’s and destroy the virus. This of course does not sit well with Felicity, and we even see Diggle throw a punch at his best friend for his deception and secrets.
But amidst these internal struggles, nothing can stop Team Arrow from coming together to stop the League of Assassins. The action only intensifies as the virus spreads and Ollie faces Ra’s at his request for one last showdown on Starling City’s bridge.
Even more climactic than Ollie killing Ra’s and Ray producing an airborne vaccine to save the city is how the episode ends. Realizing his desire to be with Felicity and put away the Arrow identity, Ollie leaves the city’s protection in the hands of the rest of the team, which now includes Thea as Roy’s successor Speedy.
Yet since someone must take up Ra’s’ mantle, he passes the title to Malcolm with great reservation, warning his once arch nemesis to keep his end of a deal between them. As the episode ends with Ollie and Felicity riding off into the sunset, I and every other fan can’t help but wonder where the show will go from here.
What’s great about this episode is that it plays out like a chess match between Ollie and Ra’s, particularly in the first half. Both double-cross one another and each of their master plans unfold and clash with one another as the story plays out.
While the previous season finales have been climactic, this one took things up a notch by changing the series forever. Yes, season one is memorable in that it ended with Malcolm leveling the glades and Ollie watching his best friend die, and season two did a phenomenal job with Deathstroke, but the season three finale has managed to defy everyone’s expectations for how it would end and set Ollie on an entirely new course.
Beyond that, it delivers a strong sense of emotion without all the melodrama. In a scene between Ollie and Felicity in which they discuss his failed self-sacrifice attempt, she tells him: “Don’t fight to die. Fight to live.” Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards both gave great performances, and I’m glad the writers devoted the proper time toward the character relationships as they did the high stakes action in this episode.
Felicity really gets her chance to shine when she swoops in using the Atom suit to save Ollie from the cops ordered to target him and Ra’s.
There were also some exciting Easter eggs toward the end. In addition to Thea’s new role as Speedy, we got another potential reveal when Ollie suggested to Diggle that he develop his own superhero alter-ego as he wished him farewell. Is this a confirmation of the John Stewart rumors that have been circulating over the past few months? We did just get a Green Lantern tease in this week’s Flash.
We also finally got to see a glimpse of Ray experimenting with miniaturization. It’s about time we see the full extent of the Atom’s abilities, as he’s looked too much like Iron Man since he first appeared in the suit.
Showrunner Marc Guggenheim and company also brought closure to the Honk Kong storyline in the flashbacks. Here we see the true birth of the Arrow as Ollie helps avenge the death of Maseo and Tatsu’s son. It’s a key moment in the series, and revealed the true purpose of Ollie’s being here.
All in all, this was an epic season finale from start to finish and paved the way for an exciting new chapter. While the first half of this season was especially rough, I think Arrow fans can rejoice and be excited after watching this episode.