Arrow Season 3, Episode 23 “My Name Is Oliver Queen”
Written by Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg (story), Marc Guggenheim & Jake Coburn (teleplay)
Directed by John Behring
Season four airs this fall on The CW
Remember back in the beginning of season two, when Oliver discovered after Tommy’s death that he was still a vulnerable human being, and had to protect his city as an agent of good? Remember how the show went out of its way to show that Oliver still had a heart? Apparently Arrow did not, because the big revelation of “My Name Is Oliver Queen” is Oliver being reminded by Felicity that his heart is what makes him special – not only repurposing a story this show’s already told multiple times, but doing so in a way that seals the fate of what was once the show’s best character, ending the show’s tumultuous third season with a whimper.
Forget about the Ra’s showdown: Oliver takes him out in about twelve seconds, since now Ra’s is apparently ready to die, so that was a build up to absolutely nothing. Nobody meaningful in the world except Akeo gets infected with the Alpha/Omega in the present or the past, which renders the flashbacks pointless (Maseo leaves his wife, acts an asshole, dies; Tatsu… goes somewhere) and reveals what we’d feared all along: that after such a focused, awesome second season, Arrow had exhausted itself creatively. Is there any other interesting character work? Well, there’s Thea, I guess, if you can buy into her being an expert archer, Oliver being cool with her involved in what they’re doing – and if you believe that Thea is just around to wear a costume when men tell her to (thanks, Arsenal) and accept the names they’re given, even if they want to try something else out.
Just mentioning Thea fires me up about how awfully this show treated its female characters this season. Let’s examine: Thea is manipulated by every male in her life, Felicity’s entire story was reduced to what she was doing with which guy this week, and Nyssa was literally robbed of any agency in her own fucking story, a woman who is marked for death at first, then re-accepted, then married away, then demoted because Oliver made a deal with Merlyn rather than make a deal with Nyssa, A WOMAN HE COULD PROBABLY TRUST A LITTLE MORE RUNNING THE FUCKING LEAGUE OF ASSASSINS THAN MALCOLM FUCKING MERLYN.
*whew*… But it’s so obvious, isn’t it? Oliver could’ve enacted the same damn plan with Nyssa on board, offering her both the position as head of the demon, and her asshole father’s head on a stick. Instead, Oliver makes a deal with the man who killed Sara and mutated his sister into something violent and dangerous; he literally gives Malcolm the keys to a fucking assassin army, which I’m sure isn’t going to cause any conflicts down the road. In a season full of Arrow making dumb moves, this is by far the stupidest thing he’s done, possibly over the course of the entire series.
So what does “My Name Is Oliver Queen” have to offer? A brief, silly Flash cameo? Another repetitive “the people we never see of Starling City are in danger!”? Sure, we get those (and Arrow surviving multiple shots to the chest because of League armor, even though Diggle definitely killed men with guns last week), but we also get a nice dose of Olicity fan fiction, which stands as the one story that stood to grow Arrow the most this season, and instead held it back in the worst ways possible. By the time Felicity shows up in the physical shell of another hero (because everyone’s gotta wear a superhero suit at some point this season, even if it makes no sense!), she’s a literal shell of herself, reduced to the same plots that Nyssa is at the end of the season.
Cue a boom that sets up the Legends of Tomorrow crossover, ensuring that next season of Arrow and The Flash are 25% “crossovers” (which will ruin that allure quickly), and you’ve got a wildly disappointing end to a season that consistently underperformed its predecessor, even as it retold the same fucking stories with the same tone. Should I be excited that Oliver is throwing away the purpose he’s built in life for the last three years so he can drive a car he somehow can still afford, leaving behind the city we thought he cared about protecting? Not only will this show never be called The Not Arrows or Top Ge-arrow at any point in the near future, but it’s a lame way to resolve the character’s internal drama for the past eight months: let’s just take a vacation and have sex, letting the chips fall where they may. That sounds a lot like pre-island Oliver to me; which suggests I may have been wasting my time the last three years watching this cyclical journey run its course. I may not be done with Arrow after this awful half a season, but “My Name Is Oliver Queen” certainly does the show no favors with the monumental task of redemption it faces when its fourth season arrives in the fall.