Must Be May
Oliver, Ra’s al Ghul, Nyssa and several other faceless League members are aboard a plane headed for Starling City to carry out the final part of Oliver’s ascension as the next Demon’s Head. Oliver and Ra’s briefly discuss the power of dreams when something starts going wrong with the plane. At first, Ra’s believes that Nyssa is the one responsible for sabotaging the plane until Oliver finally drops the charade and a fight ensues with Oliver taking on Ra’s while Nyssa deals with the other League members. Unfortunately, Ra’s is able to make his escape and takes the Omega with him.
Back in Nanda Parbat, a “surprisingly” not dead Team Arrow begin to regain consciousness in their jail cell. When Ray rightfully questions how they’re still alive, Merlyn reveals that he and Oliver had the team secretly inoculated from the virus in a manner so hilariously convoluted that I want get into here but no matter, our heroes are all still alive. Just then, Team Arrow gets some surprise backup from Barry/The Flash, who makes quick work of the League members guarding the cell and frees the team, though not before Felicity thoughtlessly blurts out Barry’s identity in front of Merlyn (though considering how bad Barry is at keeping his identity secret I assumed Merlyn already knew). Barry and Tatsu opt to sit out on the big action and go back to respective homes while Team Arrow take Merlyn’s jet back to Starling City. I can understand Barry not taking part since he’s got his own problems to deal with but I would’ve thought Tatsu would show a little more interest in stopping the virus that killed her son.
When Oliver and Nyssa make their way to Team Arrow, Diggle and Felicity are understandably not all that happy to see him. Felicity gets even angrier at Oliver when she finds out that he never planned to actually survive his undercover mission with the League (once again Felicity, way to prioritize), though they all agree to set aside their differences for the time being. With Oliver and the rest of the team back and (sort of) reunited in Starling City, they get to work on stopping Ra’s and the League. Laurel goes to the police station to have Captain Lance get the police ready, Ray works on a way to neutralize the Omega and everyone else searches for the Omega itself.
During the search for the Omega, Felicity finds out that none other than Damien Darhk is currently in Starling City, leading Oliver to conclude that Ra’s also plans to use the Omega to take out his nemesis and kill two birds with one stone. Oliver decides that they need to capture Damien in the hopes that Ra’s will hand over the virus in exchange for his bitter enemy. Diggle, Merlyn and Nyssa take care of Damien’s guards while Oliver zip lines into Damien’s hotel room. Unfortunately, the guy Oliver captures is just a rather smug lackey and the real Damien is long gone. The lackey isn’t left with much time to brag as Ra’s quickly has him taken out. Ra’s then calls Oliver to tell him that he has already set his plan in motion and that the Omega will be distributed through four separate vessels and that there’s no way he can stop all of them (they could sure use a guy with super speed right about now).
Laurel goes to Captain Lance to warn him about the attack with the Omega. Since Captain Lance apparently isn’t quite done with being a prick, he doesn’t believe her. Thankfully, Laurel has gotten just as annoyed with Captain Lance’s behavior as I have and finally calls him out on it as well as his apparent relapse into alcoholism. She tells him that he can continue being a bitter drunk or he can actually do something to help save the city (which let’s face it, he’s been doing a pretty poor job of the last couple of months). As annoyed as I am to see Captain Lance regress as a character this season, I will admit he perfectly sums up both the plot of this episode and one of the show’s biggest tropes in seven humorous words. “The city’s under attack? Must be May.”
Once Felicity comes up with a list of places Ra’s is likely to release the virus, Team Arrow and the cops mobilize to the locations. At one of the locations, Diggle sees a suspicious looking man with a metal briefcase and starts chasing after him. The assassin gets the drop on Diggle and just when he’s about kill him, gets hit with three arrows in the back by Thea (who’s now wearing Roy’s old Arsenal uniform). This may have done more harm than good however, since it turns out that the League members have the virus in their blood and they are the actual vessels for distributing it. The assassin then slits his own throat and all hell begins breaking loose once again. Meanwhile, Oliver goes to the Starling City Dam for one final duel against Ra’s.
At the Starling City Dam, Oliver begins his duel with Ra’s. Unlike their previous duel in ‘The Climb’, this one is far less one sided and much more intense, though Ra’s is still clearly the better fighter. To make matters worse for Oliver, Captain Lance finds out that the police chief has ordered a sniper to kill both Oliver and Ra’s once he has a clear shot (how the police chief even knows about these two and why the sniper hasn’t already shot at them is anyone’s guess). Captain Lance calls to warn Felicity about Oliver’s predicament. Felicity figures the only way to save Oliver is to have Ray fly in with A.T.O.M. suit but unfortunately Ray is still hard at work with the inoculation (not that it stops Felicity from trying to selfishly persuade Ray to abandon his post anyway and let thousands of people die). Despite all of this, Oliver is eventually able to get the better of Ra’s and kill him in a similar manner to how Ra’s disposed of him during ‘The Climb.’ With his dying breath, Ra’s passes over his Demon’s Head ring to Oliver, thereby officially naming him as the next Ra’s al Ghul. At that moment, Oliver is shot by the sniper several times in the chest and falls over the dam. Luckily the A.T.O.M. flies in at the last second to save Oliver (yeah it turns out, Oliver was wearing some special League body armor that magically makes bullets useless or something) though instead of Ray piloting the suit, it’s revealed to be none other than Felicity.
In the aftermath, we find out that thanks to the efforts of Team Arrow, the casualties were kept relatively low and the virus was successfully contained. Oliver decides that the time has come to hang up his bow and run away with Felicity since he now feels confident that the city will be left in good hands without him (at least until season 4 starts presumably). Sadly, Diggle still hasn’t forgiven Oliver for his betrayals and it’s left him unsure as to whether or not he wants to keep going with the crime fighting (I suppose we’ll find out in a few months). Meanwhile, Thea suggests going by the Red Arrow in the field, though Oliver admits that he’s already told people to call her Speedy.
The season closes as Oliver and Felicity drive off into the (likely temporary) sunset with Oliver admitting that for the first time in awhile, he is actually happy.
As it turns out, part of Merlyn’s agreement to help Oliver is that he becomes the head of The League in the event of Ra’s death. Oliver being a man of his word, hands the Demon’s Head ring over to him and thereby passing on to him the title of Ra’s al Ghul. Back in Nanda Parbat, Nyssa is naturally pretty angry about this and vows to Merlyn that she still plans to get revenge for Sara’s murder. Nevertheless, when he commands her to bow to him as the new Ra’s al Ghul, she reluctantly complies (not sure why she would do that since she wouldn’t even do that for her own father, much less the guy that killed her girlfriend but whatever).
Once the main plot has ended, Ray continues to make some modifications to the A.T.O.M. suit. This time he tries to see if he can shrink it, though that doesn’t exactly go as he hoped. The suit malfunctions, triggering an explosion that takes out the entire top floor of Palmer Technologies. I would probably be a little more worried about Ray if it wasn’t for the fact that Brandon Routh has already been cast to reprise his Ray Palmer role the CW spin-off Legends of Tomorrow.
General Shrieve issues on ultimatum to Oliver and the Yamashiros to basically surrender or die. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t go as planned as Oliver and Maseo make short work of Shrieve’s men and Shrieve himself is captured once again.
A couple of days later, Tatsu has Akio cremated and put into three jars, one of which she gives to Oliver. At that moment, Oliver decides to excuse himself and immediately gets to work torturing Shrieve. Several hours later, Maseo and Tatsu find Oliver standing over a bloodied and unconscious Shrieve. A horrified Tatsu looks at Oliver while Maseo finishes off the general.
With Maseo now a shadow of his former self and unable to face his wife after failing to save his son, he decides to leave Hong Kong and Tatsu behind and presumably heads to Nanda Parbat. An equally devastated Tatsu decides to exile herself to a monastery in her home town. Oliver on the other hand, not wanting his family to be anywhere near the darkness he showed to General Shrieve, decides that it’s probably best that he doesn’t go back to Starling City just yet and that it’s better for him to be alone for awhile (plus he needs to make his way back to Lian Yu somehow).
While this finale was far from perfect, I still found it perfectly enjoyable as it both wraps up the season arc and leaves a number of elements to look forward to next season. Merlyn becoming the new head of the League of Assassins gives the character plenty of possibilities for the future and it’ll be interesting to see if ends up being a friend or foe for Team Arrow in the future.
It also makes sense to me that Diggle isn’t ready to bury the hatchet with Oliver yet. He was arguably the one most effected by Oliver’s betrayal and probably took it the hardest out of anybody in Team Arrow, so it isn’t necessarily that surprising that he doesn’t just forgive and forget like everyone else seems to. What this means for his future with the team is something I’ll be looking forward to seeing.
At this point, I’m about 80% sure Damien Darhk will be the big bad for season 4 since he was given the same kind of exposition the last couple of episodes over how evil he is that we got for Ra’s al Ghul last season. Even the finale’s plot briefly grinded to a halt so we could be reminded of his evilness.
There’s no way around this, this was not Arrow’s strongest season. To me, it boils down to two big problems.
One, Ra’s al Ghul just did not end up being as interesting or as threatening a villain as Slade Wilson. With Slade the fight against Oliver was personal where as with Ra’s it was merely business. Slade’s blinding hatred towards Oliver made him much more motivated to succeed which of course made him all the more dangerous. Ra’s on the other hand wasn’t so much interested in destroying Starling City as he was in passing over his legacy and as a result seems far less invested in actually destroying the city. If anything, the only real reason he wants to destroy Starling City is out of desire to go ahead with a rather idiotic tradition.
The second problem is that the longer this season went on, the more obvious it became that it’s sister show The Flash has been more entertaining and better written. The successes with The Flash have consequently made the problems with Arrow’s third season harder to ignore. It’s also probably not a coincidence that the best episode of the season ended up being a crossover episode with The Flash.
It wasn’t what I would call a bad season but I still have a feeling that it could have been so much better. With all of that said, see you in season 4.