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Arrow “My Name Is Oliver Queen” Review (3×23)

14 May

Arrow-323-29

“We won tonight because I wasn’t alone.”

One of the main questions this show has raised recently is: what is this series without the Arrow? This certainly ties into the idea of identity, of who you are when you put on a mask and when you take it off, of what you can become when you sever all ties to your past. The season as a whole has stumbled a bit when attempting to explore this theme and its ramifications, and although “My Name Is Oliver Queen” is certainly a very flawed finale, it’s still an enjoyable exploration of these characters and the bonds they share.

Let’s start with the flaws, though, which result from a fairly scattered set of storylines that don’t quite have the propulsive, intense nature of the first two finales. After an entire season of set-up, the conflict between Oliver and Ra’s al-Ghul comes to a head in a very exciting mid-air battle scene, but the whole dynamic fizzles out as the episode progresses. Matt Nable’s done a fantastic job with the character, but he hasn’t had as meaty of a role to chew on as Manu Bennett did with Slade Wilson; that’s evident in the finale, as it seems like the character takes a backseat to Team Arrow’s dynamics before returning to get killed off at the end. Whether or not you think the actual moment of death is effective, it’s still a bit disappointing to see how the character’s storyline ends here. In addition, the scattered nature of the episode is influenced by both the flashbacks and by the introduction of Damien Darhk, and it’s clear that the writers are trying to juggle a few too many balls at once.

In the end, though, it all comes back around to Team Arrow, to the idea that Oliver is willing to sacrifice himself in order to save the people he cares about. He doesn’t care if he’s left a hollow, dead man as long as his friends are safe, but as Felicity points out, the way to beat Ra’s al-Ghul is not to become that hollow warrior. “You’ve allowed yourself to feel something,” she says tearfully. “I know that you think it’s your weakness, but it’s not. That’s your key to beating Ra’s. Fight to live.” And so, when Ra’s and Oliver are having their final confrontation later on, Oliver emphatically states: “What you were offering wasn’t living!” Living involves not only protecting the people you care about, but also being with them and experiencing them.

The final sequence of scenes tie up the season nicely–I’m excited to see Malcolm Merlyn as Ra’s al Ghul–but then again, I’m still a bit iffy on Oliver and Felicity together at the end. I like seeing them happy, but at some point during the season, I started to realize just how one-note Felicity’s becoming, and that’s surely underscored here. I’m still looking forward to next year, though. Here’s to a great season four.

GRADE: B

SEASON GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Felt like a series finale.

-So, what happened with the whole bioweapon storyline? That sure does fizzle out at the end, huh. Seems like much of the episode is just doing what’s narratively convenient, and that knocks it down a few notches for me (I’m probably being generous with my grades).

-I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the flashbacks this year. Last year, they were sort of tolerable, but this year, they’ve become flat out annoying. Maseo can be cool, but I can’t bring myself to care about Tatsu or Shrieve or anyone involved in the Hong Kong plot. Still, though, there are some apt thematic points I have to touch on from there: the idea of being–as Maseo says–“a failure” and
“without a soul” is one that’s played out several times throughout the season, most recently with Oliver as Al Sah-him.

-I haven’t been watching The Flash, but nice to see Barry show up again.

– “The city’s under attack. Must be May.”

-Hopes/predictions for season four? I hear it’s going to be very different from the first three…hopefully in a good way.

Photo credit: SpoilerTV, Arrow, CW

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3 Responses to “Arrow “My Name Is Oliver Queen” Review (3×23)”

  1. Matthew Thompson May 14, 2015 at 12:40 am #

    This felt like a fittingly messy finale for what has been a pretty disappointing season for Arrow. If I was trying to look at the bright side, I guess I thought they did a pretty good job of turning Thea into a much better character this season. I really hope they can get things back on track next season. I’ve never loved this show, but Season 2 was a ton of fun. I hope they can recapture that in some form (even if it is in a new way).

    • polarbears16 May 14, 2015 at 12:43 am #

      Yeah, season two is definitely the high point of the series thus far. I think a lot of that is due to Manu Bennett’s work as Slade Wilson. Loved that guy in Spartacus, and he brought the fire to Arrow that it needed.

  2. Mark V. May 16, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

    Yet again, we see things the same way. This season has been all over the place, and the fourth season is said to be vastly different in approach compared to the other three. I really don’t know if it’ll fall further, as The Flash uses the corpse of this show as a ladder to go higher.

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