Season finales. A time to think big. A time to bring the tension, the action, the epic! It’s a time to really deliver, to wow your viewers, to make sure they’re absolutely coming back next season.
Arrow, unfortunately, didn’t seem to get the memo.
Season 1 finale. Sacrifice. Excellent. Really, really excellent. Rewatchable. It packed a real punch.
Season 2 finale. Unthinkable. Another cracker. The action was there. The final confrontation between Slade and Oliver, cutting between the present day and the flashbacks? It’s one of the best sequences I’ve seen on television.
Season 3 finale. My Name is Oliver Queen. *cricket noise*
A gif of someone giving a dismissive shrug of the shoulders, sporting both a pained and confused frown would pretty accurately handle my thoughts on this episode though, I’ll try and verbalise them…
The threat. In Sacrifice, Merlyn’s earthquake machine genuinely felt big. It felt a real threat. When Lance was listening to Felicity’s instructions as to how to disarm it, the tension was really there. Oliver’s final fight with Malcolm was brutal and he only just about managed to beat him. Again, the tension was there. In Unthinkable, the threat to the city arguably didn’t feel quite as large but just how Oliver could defeat Slade? That was another matter. The man had made himself seem pretty unbeatable, the final fight scene, as mentioned, was superb.
Here, however, the threat to the city felt minimal. The episode didn’t give you the tension, it didn’t leave you thinking – my gosh, how the hell are they going to stop this? Oliver’s final fight with Ra’s was okay but the bizarre, rapid switch of power at the end allowing Oliver to kill him? Eh? That just came across plain weird. Ra’s himself has been done a massive disservice this season, whether it’s been from propping up Olicity to appearing nothing short of an imbecile, he’s been poorly managed. Here, was no different. Oliver Queen is good enough to kill Ra’s al Ghul? Give me a break.
Oliver and Felicity? Their teen movie exit? Well, I’m going to take the high ground on this one. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. So with that, moving on…
Felicity herself, continues to be given some poor lines which continue to do a disservice to her character. Whether it was intended to be humorous I don’t know, but the line about Nyssa looking happy and whether they’re on their honeymoon? I rolled my eyes at that. Sure, be jealous of the lesbian forced into a marriage with Oliver. But what was worse, was her insisting that Ray go to save Oliver, rather than the city. It’s not the first time she’s come across poorly in that regard. The line about how they wouldn’t let Oliver join the league, even if it was to save Thea? That still doesn’t sit right with me.
I don’t hate Felicity, per say. I just think they’ve written her in a really poor way this season. In some ways, she typifies the rapid decline Arrow has embarked upon in its third outing. She’s gone from a character that was universally loved, to one that continues to garner a fair bit of flak nowadays. That’s quite some feat the writers have managed there. She’s been bumped up to lead female status, regardless of what the opening credits say. Yet, she hasn’t felt as if she’s had her own story. She hasn’t seemed to have all that much outside of her love interests, apart from her under-par origin episode. Challenging Oliver more and stepping out of her shell is fine. It’s a good idea for development. Yes, she was very good at the comic relief aspect but understandably, she should be more than that.
One way or another, that’s not happened this season. She’s regressed as a character, rather than developed. Oh, and her stepping into the ATOM suit with pure ease to swoop Oliver up? Excuse me while I visit the ophthalmologist for the amount of damage I did rolling my eyes.
A huge part of this season, or what felt at the time it should have been, feels even more pointless now. The death of Sara. Malcolm has now leapfrogged Nyssa to take control of the league. The new Ra’s. On top of this, he’d also murdered 503 people including his own son and turned Thea into a killer. But hell! Why face justice when you can chill in the hot tubs of Nanda Parbat? (For the record, I like Barrowman and Malcolm as a character but pfft. Honestly, I really can’t think of a more eloquent way to put it than pfft.)
Another aspect that is completely pointless is Nyssa being forced to marry Oliver. Really, what was the point of that? The only thing I can honestly think of is a cheap shock to the audience, or a cheap way to make Ra’s seem a bad guy.
What was good? Barry showing up. That was fun. By the end of the episode, it felt rather long ago though. Nonetheless, Grant Gustin is always good value, his hot tub comment and running rings around the League members was good fun. Hopefully he’ll be given a better finale.
Laurel’s chat with Lance was another decent aspect. Lance’s remark on how the city being under attack must mean it’s May raised a smile. Blackthorne and Cassidy always seem to be pretty good together.
Thea suiting up was also cool to see when looking at it on it’s own. In the context, however, Oliver took an age to come around to Laurel suiting up. His sister though? That’s completely fine. I’m running out of energy to snark now, though.
Diggle refusing to let up on his anger towards Oliver was also pleasing. It’s a plotline that must be kept going, it can’t be undone with a quick hug or whatever. He really has every justification in keeping that going. The bromance is certainly dead for now and there really can’t be a quick fix there.
Honestly after that, I’m struggling.
The flashbacks also were okay. Brutal, cold Oliver was good to see. Yet all in all, thank god the time in Hong Kong has come to an end. They were a real struggle for the most part.
I said I wouldn’t mention it but I can’t help myself. Oliver and Felicity driving away together. I could not take that scene seriously. Blimey, if you want to have them come together at the end then just show them going to dinner again or something. That would have been a little easier to take than, that cliché nonsense. Yep, I get that it was reflecting Oliver’s ramblings to her earlier in the episode but eugh.
If I do ever stumble up the tolerance to re-watch this, I’ll be skipping over that.
In some ways, if they didn’t return and we got a good base for stories on Diggle, Laurel and Thea then I really wouldn’t be too displeased by that. I’d probably welcome it right now.
So, that was Arrow season 3 done and dusted. A jumbled mess. An unsatisfying conclusion. And, it brought forth limited if any expectations for next season. Well done, Arrow. It’s been a good year.