I Am Oliver Queen for Now
Arrow’s “My Name Is Oliver Queen” showcases more heroes than a Justice League reunion and feels like a series finale rather than a season-ender. Writers sewed up a three-season arc in which Oliver Queen moved from vigilante to the Arrow to “someone else,” leaving the future open for the birth of Green Arrow. Oliver is not alone in his transformation. The episode overflows with references to rebirth and includes dual identities for nearly every character, even Diggle whose disappearance into a golden elevator foreshadows a new identity.
The episode kicks off with an appearance by the wonderful Barry Allen. He gleefully zips through Nanda Parbat as the Flash, marveling at hot tubs and dungeons before freeing Oliver’s team and a few hangers on from their chains. Oliver locked them in a dungeon and unleashed a supposed vial of the Alpha Omega virus at the end of last week’s episode in an effort to win Ra’s al Ghul’s trust. He left Malcolm Merlyn to conveniently, if implausibly, save Dig, Felicity, Laurel, and Ray from the virus through a fantastic scientific breakthrough called “cutaneous inoculation” and then demands a thank you that never comes. The crew returns to Starling City, their mode of transportation unclear, in time to meet up with Oliver and Nyssa. The newly married couple survives a plane crash that goes awry. Ra’s escapes with the virus, hell bent on destroying Starling City for reasons that remain sketchy.
Diggle and Felicity balk at Oliver’s confession that he planned a sacrificial death, the third in recent memory, via plane crash. Felicity quickly overcomes her anger and delivers Oliver coffee along with the best pep talk of the season – “don’t fight to die, fight to live” – while Diggle delivers a well-aimed and much-deserved punch to the jaw. Dig has not forgiven Oliver’s choice to put Lyla in danger and the tension between these two brothers-in-arms promises to resurface.
The action heats up when Oliver’s plan to trade Damien Darhk with Ra’s for the virus fails. Ra’s weaponizes the blood of his minions with the virus and releases them on the city. This threat launches Ray into action. Miraculously, the dashing genius devises a plan to neutralize the virus and inoculate thousands in a New York minute. Naturally, he benefits from Felicity’s tip to use his nano-technology to get the job done. Thea arrives in a pinch to save Dig, fully embracing her new identity as Red Arrow Speedy. The rebirths continue when Ray pushes the wrong button on his ATOM suit and sets off an explosion that will surely lead to an Arrow/Flash spin off. My only request is that said explosion does not harm a hair on his head or mar his charming vulnerability. Against all odds, Ray Palmer has won my heart and Legends of Tomorrow space on my DVR.
Oliver Queen, who won the heart of millions long ago, liberates himself from Ra’s al Ghul’s clutches by making a deal with the devil. He sheds his identity as Al-Sahim and passes the mantle to Malcolm Merlyn who quickly finds rebirth as Ra’s al Ghul. Such an easy transition hardly seems fair since Malcolm’s manipulations wins him this prize without having to endure all of the sword play Ra’s subjected Oliver to, not to mention the endless history lessons about league rules and codes of honor. No one, including Oliver and Thea, has forgiven Malcolm for instigating Sara’s death, but each of them, like the audience, is powerless in the face of John Barrowman’s charisma. I am ashamed to say that I don’t want Malcolm to leave Arrow anytime soon. His hostile and supremely gratifying interactions with Felicity alone are enough reason to keep him on the canvas. I am, however, happy to see the original Ra’s go. His endless prophesizing wore thin as did my patience for rephrasing to avoid turning “Ra’s” into a possessive. Let’s hope next year’s villain is Damien Darhk, a name easily made possessive, though I could do without that spelling.
Oliver and Felicity will soon have to start counting, Castle and Beckett style, the number of times they have saved one another literally and symbolically. This time Felicity gets in on the superhero action by borrowing Ray’s suit and flying across town to rescue her true love from the prospect of a watery grave. Perhaps the vision of Felicity carrying Oliver to safety balances out the less empowering choice to quit her job at a company she presumably now owns to ride into the sunset with Oliver. Hey, my Olicity heart has been satiated, so that’s the logic I’m going with.
One suspects that Felicity and Oliver will both roll back into town at the first sign of crisis or at the end of the summer hiatus, whichever comes first. Meanwhile, we can bask in the glow of a satisfying finale. Oliver chooses life and happiness. He will not die alone and unloved. Instead, he will glide down the coastline with his lady by his side and the promise of a new identity on the horizon.
It’s going to be a long summer.