Arrow: Season 3, Episode 23 – My Name Is Oliver Queen

BannerIf I hadn’t already known Arrow would return for another season, I might have worried it was the end for Oliver and his friends. Driving off into the sunset, happy no less, is not how I expected the series to end. Not that I’m complaining, you understand. Olly deserves a little happy after everything he’s been through. But I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. There was a lot to love about the finale, so let’s reflect on what happened.

The show continued right where it ended last week, and after marrying Nyssa, Olly spent his wedding night on a plane with his father in law – bound for Starling City. With the bio-weapon packed and ready to go, Ra’s didn’t waste any time in moving forward with his plan.

Team Arrow in cell

Back in Nanda Parbat the team regained consciousness in their cell, clearly confused, though thankful they weren’t dead. Merlyn couldn’t wait to take the credit for their miraculous recovery. His betrayal last week was just another thread in the tangled web of deceit, and all a plan so Olly could prove his allegiance once and for all.

John Barrowman was at his best this week. He took control almost immediately, delivering the news that the group had been vaccinated against the virus. His smug line, ‘I believe the words you’re looking for are, thank and you!’ was classic Merlyn. But then he knew what was coming, and so did we given the teaser trailers. Enter the Flash! Barry was his usual entertaining self, disabling the guards as he came to the aid of his friends. It was a particularly nice touch when he referred to the Lazarus Pit as a hot tub! It was only a flying visit, but Barry managed to spread some of his cheer.

Flash

One of my favourite scenes was undoubtedly the moment Olly stood up to Ra’s. Granted, he was on a doomed flight at the time, having sabotaged the plane, but it was still pretty great when he declared, ‘My name is Oliver Queen.’ I might have cheered a little! I didn’t even mind when Ra’s got away, because it was obvious the show couldn’t end there. Still, it was tense when Ra’s took the only parachute and left Olly and Nyssa to fend for themselves. The landing was a little rough, but they managed to touch the bird down.

The team made it back home too, converging in Ray’s lab to decide their next move. Merlyn continued to have fun, barking out orders to each member of the group, and standing his ground when they hesitated, ‘I’m sorry. Did I mumble?’ Diggle was the one to allow him the role of temporary leader.

Merlyn

Not that it lasted very long. Olly and Nyssa arrived moments later. It was actually kind of sweet when she moved to protect Olly from the hostility. Diggle still got a punch in though, which was deserved. Olly was quick to explain why he sided with Merlyn, and though Diggle pointed out that sorry didn’t cover it, there were bigger things to deal with than hurt feelings (and broken trust).

Felicity was angry about the fact Olly would have sacrificed himself to take down Ra’s on the plane. But she too recognised the urgency and set to work. It was nice to see the team working together, even Malcolm. They learnt that Damian Dark was in the city, which meant Olly’s ascension wasn’t the only thing on Ra’s agenda. He wanted to take down his nemesis.

Team Arrow searching for Ra's

In a coordinated effort, they set out to confront Damian, and instead found one of his associates. The man himself was long gone, so that was a dead end. Ra’s couldn’t resist taunting Olly though. After putting an arrow in Damian’s associate, he ranted about releasing four vessels in the city; four instruments of death. It at least gave the team something to work at.

Laurel visited her father at the station, a memorable scene because it turned out Captain Lance had fallen off the wagon. She challenged him, made him face a few facts and left him to decide whether he wanted to hide behind the bottle, or help save the city.

Ray, in the meantime, was working to build and disseminate an inoculant, utilising his nanotech. The others were trying to determine the four probable locations.

Olly and Felicity

I’ve missed seeing Oliver and Felicity together, sharing a connection which has been lacking recently. In another favourite scene, Olly finally opened up. He spoke of his reoccurring dream, the one he’s had since leaving the mountain. It starts the same way, with Felicity begging him not to fight Ra’s. In the dream he agrees, and sometimes they even escape. In that version, it ends with the two of them driving away.

Throughout the season we’ve seen Olly struggle with his identity, and it’s clear he’s winning the battle. Felicity too believes he is someone else, something else, and that his heart is the key to defeating Ra’s. It was a powerful moment, especially when she asked him to fight to live.

The final scenes were great in terms of the cohesion between the team. We saw Lance rallying the troops, everyone take their positions on site, and Speedy arrive to join the fight. They quickly discovered Ra’s had turned his men into the weapon, and got to work disabling the threat as Ray continued to find a way to get the inoculation to the city.

Ra's and Ollie fight

Meanwhile, Ollie faced Ra’s again and the pair fought a fierce battle. This time, Olly was victorious, earning the position as the new Demon Head. Unfortunately, the police saw him as one of the enemy and opened fire. Olly took a few shots to the chest, before falling over the side of the dam.

Felicity saved him, wearing Ray’s suit, which was a really nice twist. It was like old times again when she told him she’d kiss him if she could figure out how to get the thing off. It’s the first time I’ve seen Olly smile in quite a while.

Felicity in Ray's suit

Perhaps the most surprising twist in the series, was Olly’s decision to leave the city, though as he said himself, there are enough heroes to watch out for Starling. Including his sister, who finally took her place as Speedy. Even Diggle may be getting a new identity.

Merlyn’s storyline ended on an interesting note since Olly gave up his title, allowing Malcolm to fill the Demon Head’s shoes. It will certainly be fun to discover what kind of leader he turns out to be, and what his plans are for the League.

Another story arc which will be thrilling to watch in the next season, or indeed if the spinoff happens, is the Atom. Ray’s last scene was explosive, literally. Who knows what’s in store for us now, or whether Felicity has just inherited her own company.

Ray

Which brings us to the final scene. It was really moving when Oliver chose Felicity, a decision which must be long overdue for Olicity fans. As the pair drove off into the sunset together, Olly happy for the first time in who knows how long, I had to wonder what’s next for the Green Arrow. Maybe he’ll return in season 4 a changed man. We might see a happier, lighter Oliver Queen.

What did you think to the finale? Are we going to see Olly’s lighter side? Whatever happens, it is sure to be a thrilling season. We don’t have too long to wait, as the season looks set to return in October (if previous seasons are anything to go by). Until then, thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’ll look forward to joining you for Season 4.

driving into the sunset


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

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Arrow: Season 3, Episode 22 – This Is Your Sword

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The penultimate episode addressed some of my doubts regarding the validity of Ollie’s alliance with Malcolm Merlyn. It never really sat well with me, but at least it makes more sense. Essentially, it boils down to the fact he understood how useful Merlyn’s knowledge would become.

But let’s look at the episode, and discuss the revelation that Ollie was faking it (not a complete surprises given the spoilers). The fact he decided to take on the League from the inside, cut all ties to his life and hurt those he loves is a little extreme, even for Ollie. He rarely takes the easy route, and he certainly knows how to punish himself, but if he continues to burn those bridges, there won’t be anything left to stand on!

The show opened with a flashback, but I’ll skip over that for a moment. It likely served to remind us of Ollie’s history with Maseo and their experience in dealing with the Alpha-Omega. As it turns out, Maseo gave Ra’s the virus. It’s certainly a powerful bargaining chip, given its destructive potential.

ollie and ra's

Shortly after Ra’s made a speech about wiping the slate clean, and sending death to Starling City (on a plane), they moved to the subject of Ollie’s impending union with Nyssa, and had a rehearsal dinner. Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t strictly a wedding rehearsal, but they certainly talked about Nyssa becoming a wife and mother. Ra’s is seems, would like to become a grandfather!

Olly excused himself because, though he was no doubt genuinely unnerved by the topic, he had arranged to meet with Merlyn. The pair discussed Ra’s schedule, and given that things were moving at an alarming rate, Ollie decided to call in reinforcements. It was clear neither Olly nor Merlyn had thought the plan completely through.

When Ollie’s continued absence was noted by Ra’s, he sent Maseo looking for him (luckily Malcolm was gone by then). I liked that we got to see a glimpse of Maseo’s inner torment in the scene with Ollie. The fact Maseo is stuck inside a prison of his own making – which began with the death of his son.

Team Arrow

dig

In Starling we saw that Diggle and Black Canary were working to keep the city safe. They took down a street gang, with a little help from the Canary Cry (and Cisco’s modifications). The action was enjoyable, especially the way they worked together. It took a turn for the worse though, when Diggle lost the leash on his control. He is barely hanging on to his anger.

Merlyn only made things worse when he arrived to tell them that Ollie’s allegiance with the League is a charade. Since both Malcolm and Ollie anticipated their reaction, Malcolm brought Tatsu with him. It was a little odd, because they don’t know her, yet anyone stood a better chance than Merlyn at gaining their trust.

After hearing about the virus, they agreed to accompany Malcolm to Nanda Parbat, though there was more than a little resistance. They found the plane which was fuelled and ready to go. Felicity did her thing (remotely connecting to the on-board computer), as the others fought a group of assassins.

gang arriving

Ray joined the gang, coming to their rescue and blowing the plane from the sky. His timing was impeccable, given that Felicity’s equipment was damaged. It was a treat to see Ray fly in, though he might want to work on his landings – he literally crashed to the earth. It didn’t hurt his sense of humour ‘you should see the other guy’ was a nice touch.

In an earlier scene between Ray and Felicity she signed papers which turned out to be a transfer of ownership (not that she even looked at the document). I’m not sure what Ray’s plan is, but he’s definitely up to something!

Thea and Roy

Thea decided to go looking for Roy, and the reunion was incredibly sweet. The chemistry between them was reminiscent of their earlier relationship, so it’s a shame that their time together was short lived. Roy decided to cut the ties because he didn’t want to subject her to a life on the run. He left her with his suit (which she managed to get back via her father). It means we will likely see Speedy in action pretty soon.

Maseo and Tatsu

tatsu

The flashbacks this week were focused on the fight to save Akio’s life. When they realised the inoculation wasn’t working, Ollie and Maseo teamed up to locate a cure. It ended badly for all of them because, not only were they too late, and Akio died, they managed to walk into a trap set by General Shrieve.

Back in the present, Tatsu fought with Maseo as the team took down the plane. It was a difficult battle to watch, especially when Maseo gained the upper hand and was about to end her life. In the end they both lost. Though Tatsu killed Maseo, she did so at great personal cost. Maseo’s final words were poignant. He thanked her for releasing him from his prison.

Nanda Parbat

episode 22The scenes between Ra’s and Nyssa were disturbing. We rarely see him lose that icy control, but he certainly lost it this week – threatening untold horrors to his daughter.

His mood didn’t improve when he discovered Ollie’s friends in Nanda Parbat. It meant there was a traitor in his ranks. The plane had been a test, which was an interesting twist. Ra’s had the virus the whole time. Of course this put seeds of doubt in his mind about Ollie’s true allegiance, something Malcolm fed into by telling him about their plan. Why am I not surprised Merlyn double crossed Oliver to save his own bacon? In any case, it didn’t make a difference. Ra’s decided to give Ollie the benefit of the doubt.

After breaking the news that Ollie was to be married, he threw the gang in a cell. The look between Ollie and Felicity was heart-breaking – you could see the pain in Felicity’s eyes.

unconscious

It only got worse, because Ra’s released the virus in their cell. And still Ollie did nothing. Not even after Diggle told him he’d lost more than his friendship – he’d lost his respect and trust. He walked out of the cell, closing and sealing the door – and their fate.

So that leaves us with the cliff-hanger. As Ollie got married (he almost got stabbed by Nyssa, but he’s learnt a few tricks), the team could be seen in the cell. It was eerie, not because I believed them to be dead. It was more about the symbolism – that of a dying friendship.

wedding

One thing is certain, it will be an emotional and action paced season finale. What do you think? Did you enjoy the episode? Do you have any predictions? I’d love to hear from you.


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 21 – Ah Sah-Him

BannerIt seems that Ollie has flipped his humanity switch, or hero switch, one or the other! I have to say that I’m with Diggle on this one – I thought he was stronger. After everything he’s been through, both on and off the island, I didn’t think Ra’s could turn him into a mindless machine. That said, he makes a pretty terrifying assassin – which is no surprise. I enjoyed the contrast because, though he’s not the most expressive person, usually his emotions are plain to see. Not this week, this week he gave absolutely nothing away.

It was a grueling initiation process and, with the drugs in his system, it took three short weeks for the brainwashing to take effect. Perhaps this is an occasion when his strength worked against him. At the beginning of the episode we saw Ollie execute Diggle, or a man he thought was Diggle. The fact he killed someone without showing any sign of remorse was disturbing to watch, yet at that point I was hoping it was a ruse. Okay, so I’m still hoping it’s a ruse!

Al Sah-Him

There was one major benefit to Ollie’s transition because, given he proved himself worthy, Ra’s let slip a few of his secrets. He spoke of his nemesis, a man he was required to kill, but failed to – Damian Dark (Damien Darhk in the comics). According to Ra’s, Damian has been causing havoc ever since (attempting to steal Malcolm Merlyn’s earthquake machine, for example.) This no doubt links to H.I.V.E – the mysterious organisation behind Andrew Diggle’s death. It could mean we’ll see more of the organisation, and Damian – perhaps in Season 4.

But this isn’t the only bombshell Ra’s dropped during the episode. He informed Ollie (or Ah Sah-Him) he must eliminate his rival to the throne, the only one capable of preventing his ascension.

Nyssa and Laurel

In Starling City, Nyssa and Laurel continued to bond (something we haven’t seen nearly enough of in my opinion). Laurel’s skills have certainly improved under Nyssa’s tuition. The party soon ended though, because Nyssa discovered that Ollie accepted her father’s offer, which meant only one thing – he was coming for her.

Thanks to Nyssa, the team learn exactly what kind of training programme Ollie has been subjected to. They all try to deny this knowledge, but nobody fights harder than Diggle. He doesn’t want to believe his friend is lost to them. That Olly is gone. David Ramsey’s performance this week was exceptional, especially in the scenes where Diggle assumed a leadership role.

Both Diggle and Felicity were reluctant to interfere with League business, but Laurel managed to convince them to help Nyssa. They arrived in the nick of time too, since Ollie gained the upper hand (it was fun to see him using swords). I loved the way Laurel (Black Canary) screamed like a Banshee, and though she had a little help with the effect, it looked really cool.

Diggle and Felicity

I enjoyed the way the team dealt with the emotional impact of losing their friend. They banded together, showing how strong they are as a unit, and this included Thea. While she seems to have recovered from her dip in the Lazarus Pit, she’s hurting because of Ollie’s sacrifice. When she learns who her brother has become, she seeks her father’s help.

Ollie further burnt his bridges, when he kidnapped Lyla, and I don’t think Diggle will forgive him for putting his family in danger. The team showed up at the rendezvous point to exchange Lyla for Nyssa and though they made a pretty good attempt to stop the League, Ollie won the round and took Nyssa back to Nanda Parbat.

Two things stood out for me in this particular scene. The fact Diggle and Ollie fought one another, and the moment Thea appeared to provide backup. It seems Ollie’s not the only one adept with a bow, but then she was trained by her father.

Diggle and Canary

Before I deal with the rather confusing ending to this episode, I’ll touch briefly on the flashbacks, because they are kind of important considering what’s coming. After Ollie inadvertently broke the vial of Alpha-Omega, and exposed people to the virus, the Yamashiros decided it was time to return to their son, Akio.

They managed to thwart a plot to unleash more of the virus, and when they get to Akio, they decided it was time to leave the city – using the chaos to slip away. All seemed well until Tatsu realised something was wrong with her son.

So, back to Ra’s. I was surprised when he spared Nyssa’s life; deciding it would be more fortuitous for his daughter to become the Demon Queen. Nyssa’s face at the prospect of marrying Ollie was hilarious – anyone would think it was a fate worse than death. One of the reasons for Ra’s change of heart could be that he recovered the object Nyssa stole from him when she left. It turned out to be a vial of Alpha-Omega, which Ra’s would like Ollie to unleash in Starling City.

nyssa

It was quite a curve ball, though clearly Ollie will find a way to break his conditioning and save the city – again. I’m just unclear about Ra’s motivations. I get his obsession with cleansing, and the whole symbolism thing, but would he really go to all that trouble just because Ollie beat the sword? I’m not sure.

What do you think? Will Diggle forgive his friend? Can Ollie find his way back? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 20 – The Fallen

BannerI know not all fans will agree, but I loved this episode. In fact, The Fallen is one of my favourites of Season 3 so far. The drama was maintained from beginning to end, and the emotional weight of the episode was a powerful thing. Plus John Barrowman got to show off his fine acting skills and I’ve missed his special brand of arrogance over the last few weeks.

The show started with Thea curled up next to the broken table Ra’s so viciously threw her into last week. That wasn’t the worse part though, no, that was running her through with his sword and leaving her to die. Thea had made a valiant attempt to reach the phone when Ollie walked into the apartment. I have to say, his reaction was priceless. He actually paused for a second, as though he couldn’t quite process the scene.

The emotional onslaught began with Ollie lifting his sister into his arms and rushing into the emergency department. His acting was superb this week. It’s not only the stark emotion in his face, it’s all the little things – the way his pain is reflected in his eyes, in his very posture. At one point he actually stumbled back in relief when Thea’s heart started beating again.

Then came Merlyn, and his own heartbreak. Say what you will about him. He genuinely loves his daughter. He might have a twisted way of showing it, but I don’t think he truly understood the depth of his feelings until he was faced with losing her.

When Diggle and Felicity arrived, Ollie was in the waiting room, trying to process the fact Thea was going to die. Not that the League gave him very long before sending up a smoke signal, demanding his attention. Diggle tried to talk Ollie out of confronting them until they had a plan, but Ollie was too angry to see reason. His failure to predict Ra’s actions, and to protect Thea weighed too heavily.

After confronting Maseo (leading with his fists first), Ollie was offered a way to save his sister – which we all knew was coming. Diggle and Felicity found him packing and would have tried to talk him out of it, I’m sure, if it hadn’t been for Merlyn’s intervention. Finally, the healing pool was referred to as the Lazarus Pit. Merlyn informed them, rather ominously, that the pit had allowed Ra’s to live for over a hundred years and could restore the dead back to life. The chill factor cranked up a little when he tried to tell Ollie that the Thea he got back would not be the same. That she would be fundamentally changed. It didn’t make a difference and, as always, Felicity was entrusted to lighten the mood. Her line about a magical hot tub was classic!

jetHaving decided to accompany Ollie on his crazy mission, the next obstacle was finding a way to Nanda Parbat – cue Ray. This time, instead of his helicopter, Felicity asked to borrow the jet. Even this scene tugged on the heart strings, and usually the pair provide a little light relief. Ray confronted her about her feelings for Oliver and even when she admitted she didn’t love Ray (or as good as), he sent her away with his jet and his good wishes. That had to hurt.

When they reached Nanda Parbat the League were waiting. As Ollie walked forward with an unconscious Thea in his arms, they all bowed to him. It was a gripping moment and I couldn’t help wondering how Ollie felt; if the full weight of his decision sank in, or if he was focused solely on Thea.

arriving in Nanda Parbat

As they prepared her for the ritual, Maseo showed Diggle to his ‘digs’ (sorry) – with a throwaway comment about hoping the room was to his liking. I enjoyed the way Diggle challenged Maseo on his betrayal, because that’s how he sees it. As a betrayal to Ollie and their friendship. He talked about the League being feared for their bravery and power, when all he saw were weak men running away from their lives. Maseo defended his actions, finally revealing the death of his son, which at least cooled Diggle’s jets a little.

Thea’s resurrection ceremony was probably the only thing I didn’t like about the episode. They added drama with the chanting and lowering her into the water bound at the feet and wrists. But when she sprang up from the pool like a rabid beast, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the transformation, or by her confusion. She recognised her father, but thought Ollie was still dead.

TheaOne of my favourite things was the confrontation between Felicity and Ra’s. I love that she challenged him, and that he humoured the outburst. He spoke of his past, of having a family, and losing those he loved when a man came to his door and offered him a horrible choice. For the first time since the story arc began, it finally made sense. His obsession that Ollie should take his place. I think he truly believes in the prophecy and that conviction is a powerful motivator. That Oliver said no, especially when he didn’t have the same luxury, made him all the more determined.

When Ra’s told Felicity to say her goodbyes, and to confess her love to Oliver, it was a pretty clear indication of what would happen next, especially given the recent teaser trailers. I wasn’t sure how the scene would play out. Felicity and Oliver undeniably have chemistry, but the timing felt a little off. I was totally wrong about the timing, and it actually made perfect sense. Ollie saw an opportunity to show Felicity how he really felt, and the scene was quite lovely. At least in my opinion.

ollie and felicityI liked the way the writers played it, especially when Felicity said ‘so that happened!’ After being intimate, and understanding she might lose him forever, it’s clear to me why she did something completely crazy – like drug him when there was little chance of getting him out.

It’s not surprising the plan failed, but it did allow us to see Maseo trying to fight his way back, when he helped them. It also gave Ollie a chance to ensure their safety, and to say goodbye. I was touched by his scene with Diggle. I almost teared up when Ollie told him he’d always be his brother.

MaseoWhat did surprise me was Ra’s acceptance of Maseo’s betrayal. He’s killed men for much less. I think there’s more to that story, and we’ll soon find out. There are only three episodes left. Those episodes will likely be focused on Ollie’s transition, as he is required to renounce his old life. According to Ra’s, Oliver Queen is dead. I’m not so sure about that!

Still, he’s been cleansed by fire and got himself a whole new set of threads! Who knows what’s going to happen. But it sure is going to be fun finding out.

What did you think of The Fallen? Do you have any predictions about the way things will pan out? I’d like to hear your thoughts.


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.