It’s season finale time. Or, as Captain Lance puts it: “The city’s under attack … it must be May!” Let’s dive in.
The episode opens with a large cargo plane flying in the night sky. It’s Assassin Airlines! Turbulence jars “Al Sah-Him” awake from a plane catnap. Ra’s has been watching Al Sah-Him sleep and wants Al Sah-Him to tell him all about his dreams. (Obsess much, Ra’s?) But the plane starts to malfunction, and the pilot has bad news: Listen, y’all, it’s a sabotage! Ra’s quickly threatens Nyssa, assuming she’s the culprit. Al Sah-Him jumps in to save her, but to do so, he must confess that he is one who tampered with the plane. Ra’s, in denial, tries to put Al Sah-Him back in his place. But the jig is up, as Oliver growls, “My name is Oliver Queen!”
A fight ensues in the plane’s cargo hold. Between the tight space and the slick Tron vibe of the set, the scuffle creates a neat visual effect. But Nyssa and Oliver can’t defeat Ra’s before he grabs the virus, takes the last remaining parachute, and jumps out of the plane. Oliver, with Nyssa’s help, jumps into the cockpit and manages to crash-land the plane safely.
Meanwhile, back in Nanda Parbat, Team Arrow wakes up from their virus fog. Malcolm explains to the group that he didn’t really betray Oliver and that Oliver needed to poison Team Arrow with the virus to earn back Ra’s trust. Ray wants to know how they survived. Okay, stay with me on this one: Because Oliver was inoculated against the virus five years ago, Malcolm used Oliver’s blood to create a synthetic skin graft, which Malcolm attached to his palm. Malcolm was then able to vaccinate everyone through their skin without them knowing. (Why, oh, why, could we not see a scene of Malcolm trying to sneak in a skin-rub on Diggle?) Before I have time to marinate too long on the lunacy of this explanation, the Flash shows up, blowing out Nanda Parbat torches with his superspeed along the way. The Flash rescues Team Arrow and Tatsu, who decides to return to her life of solitude.
Team Arrow regroups at Palmer Tech in Starling City, and, in a fun twist, Malcolm is giving the orders. Suddenly, Nyssa and Oliver drop through the ceiling panels. Diggle almost immediately punches Oliver in the face, while Felicity opts for her usual weapon of choice: snark. (“Nyssa looks happy. You two on your honeymoon?”) Oliver tries to explain the need to keep them in the dark about his plans, which happened to have included sabotaging the cargo plane so it would destroy Ra’s and the virus. Felicity quickly puts together that the same plane crash would have destroyed Oliver. It was a suicide mission. But Starling City is in danger, and so Felicity and Dig set aside their issues with Oliver for now and focus on finding Ra’s.
Back at Palmer Technology, Felicity brings a worn-down Oliver a cup of coffee. Felicity opens up a can of you-almost-killed-yourself-in-a-plane-crash worms. But it’s not a heated discussion; there’s little judgment on Felicity’s part. Oliver shares with Felicity that every night since he fell off the mountain, he’s had a dream where she begs him not go (one of which we saw in “Midnight City”). He tells her that sometimes it ends badly, but that most times they escape, just the two of them, and they’re “just driving.” There’s a look of utter bliss on Stephen Amell’s face as he says the word “driving.” It’s also a reminder that Oliver, although returned from the “island” for three years, is still very much in a prison of his own making. Amell is the king of nuance, and this monologue is one of his best of the series. Emily Bett Rickards is also excellent in this scene. Her spot-on delivery of “Don’t fight to die, fight to live” elevates otherwise-semi-cheesy dialogue. Speaking of fights, Ra’s summons Oliver to a duel at the Starling City dam.
Turns out Ra’s has already released four “vessels” of the virus into the city. Dig tracks down one of the four “vessels” when he spots a man with a silver suitcase. (Silver suitcases rarely contain happy things.) The suitcase is a red herring; the vessel is actually the virus-infected man carrying the suitcase. The city dissolves into chaos, and Team Arrow tries to find the remaining vessels. Lance, who’s off the wagon, is also helping with the search. He calls Felicity to warn her that police have spotted two men sword-fighting at the Starling City dam, and the chief of police has ordered them to shoot to kill. An unusually desperate Felicity begs Ray to use his A.T.O.M. suit to save Oliver, but Ray’s busy working on a way to inoculate the city, so he pulls an Oliver and tells her the city comes first.
Oliver and Ra’s are in the middle of Duel: Part Deux. Only instead of on a snowy mountain, the fight takes place on a narrow road, situated at the top of a large dam waterfall. Ra’s alternates between attempting to kill Oliver and praising him for his improved fighting skills. (Ra’s doesn’t know how to quit you, Oliver!) Oliver is fighting with the sword that Ra’s used to slay him in “The Climb.” But that’s not the only callback to that episode: When that sword breaks apart, Oliver is left kneeling before Ra’s, weaponless, and Ra’s is about to strike. But, learning from the master, Oliver catches the blade in his hand, just like Ra’s did 14 episodes ago. Oliver then takes Ra’s sword and kills him, telling Ra’s that Oliver will be the next Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s has a giddy-but-dying expression and offers Oliver his Ra’s Al Ghul ring. (Um, this was not the proposal fans were hoping to see!)
So, Oliver did it! He defeated Ra’s! He — wait, were those gunshots? As Lance warned, the cops shoot Oliver, who tumbles off the road and down a gigantic waterfall. NO NO NO NO NO. Oh, thank goodness, the A.T.O.M. suit swoops in at the last minute to carry Oliver to safety. This seems kind of like a ho-hum resolution to Oliver’s impending death, until it’s revealed that it’s not Ray in the suit: It’s Felicity! YES YES YES YES YES. “If I could figure how to get this thing off, I’d be kissing you right now,” she says. She looks absolutely like the world’s biggest dork in the suit, and I could not love her more than in this moment. My joy is only compounded by Oliver’s huge grin and genuine laugh(!) at Felicity’s moxie. I think this might beat the Nanda Parbat love scene for my favorite Olicity moment of the season.
Everyone then gathers at Palmer Technology, where Oliver acknowledges that Ra’s was defeated because Oliver had help, thanks to the other “masks” and heroes. He then walks up to Felicity and tells her he can’t, nor does he want to be, the Arrow anymore: “I want to be with you.” There’s no dramatic kiss or hug. Instead, Felicity just leans into his shoulder and breathes in like he’s a bouquet of the world’s most handsome flowers. Shoulder sniff is the new shoulder touch, y’all.
Diggle does not want to sniff Oliver’s shoulder or talk to or even be in the same room as Oliver. Dig tells him he can’t forgive him for the lies. They part with a cold handshake. Malcolm and Oliver also have a tense good-bye. Oliver tells him that he will never forgive him for what he did to Sara or his sister. Malcolm, as usual, seems to delight in the animosity, which will serve him well in the new gig he got as a result of a bargain with Oliver: the next Ra’s Al Ghul! (Sorry, Nys.)
Remember that dream Oliver has where he and Felicity are just driving? Oliver finally gets to live that dream: He and Felicity are driving along the coast in a convertible Porsche. Felicity’s not sure where they’re going, but she’s doesn’t seem to care. As for Oliver? “Can I say something strange?” he asks, as the sun sets behind them. “I’m happy.”
Me, too, Oliver. For me, this season finale highlighted two of the best aspects of Arrow: being clever enough to add one more twist on the already expected twist (Felicity instead of Ray; guns instead of a sword) and being bold enough to decide when not to have a twist (ending a super-dark season with a literal ride into the sunset and the hero’s declaration that he’s happy).
HONG KONG FLASHBACKS
Grieving over Akio, Oliver goes “dark” and tortures General Shrieve. Maseo starts to show his Sarab, and Tatsu, abandoned by Maseo, heads to her childhood home. Though free to go anywhere, Oliver does not go to Starling City but instead boards a boat called Triton’s Daughter, owned by the Wallace Shipping Co., out of Coast City.
- So many exciting possibilities for season four — Dig troubles, Damien Darhk, Malcolm as Ra’s. Any guesses as to next season’s flashbacks? The boat info ring any bells?
- Love how Oliver had to physically turn away from Malcolm when he refers to Oliver as his “son.” He’s so disgusted by the thought.
- For Oliver’s “retirement” as the Arrow to feel like a big, momentous change, I think Oliver will have to hang up the hood for a good portion of season four.
- “Ra’s is old-school, and every way I know how to find him is new-school,” Felicity says while using her computer to track Ra’s.
- Oh, I forgot: Ray blew up! But presumably lives because he’s got a new show now.
- I was very moved by Flashback Oliver’s reaction to the urn and decision to go dark. Stephen Amell has had to play so many different levels this year — Al Sah-Him, pre-assassin flashback Oliver, post-assassin Flashback Oliver, pacifist present-day Oliver. I make a lot of shirtless jokes about him, but he really is one of the most talented leading men on television.
- Nice coffee callback to “Identity” from season two.
MISSING THE MARK
- The self-referential dialogue (e.g., “someone else/something else”) was a little much
- Couldn’t even have one Olicity kiss? Hug? Game of footsie? High five? Thumb war?
- I kind of wish Felicity wouldn’t have given up her job for a man, especially when she was so great at it; couldn’t she have just used some vacation time? But with Ray “gone” and the ownership papers in her name, maybe that’s what brings her back to Starling City in season four?
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 0 (I’m looking at you, season four).
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