If I can say one thing, the Arrow season four finale, “My Name is Oliver Queen,” left me speechless. Unfortunately, not in a good way. I eluded to the plotting tactic of what I call “short attention span theater” in last week’s review, but for this finale, it was worse. Short version of the review, this episode was a mess. Long version, let’s pick through all the pieces and see what the hell happened.
“My Name is Oliver Queen” did resolve this very long, all over the place League of Assassins arc, but in a way that ended up being more “WTF?” instead of “OMG!” We’re left with more questions than answers, but they’re not exactly the right questions. These are questions you really shouldn’t be asking in your season finale like, “How did that happen with that character?” “Who thought that any of this was a good idea?” and “Why was The Flash (the most awesome part of the episode) only around for a few minutes?” One thing for sure, the ending we were given didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Let’s start with one of the “big” reveals. Everything that Malcolm Merlyn did this season was so he could become Ra’s Al Ghul? Was that the master plan or a random thought that happened while he and Oliver spent their five minutes plotting their whole scheme? “Oh, I got it, let me be Ra’s! I can get in on a technicality!” Oliver thought that was a good idea? Usually when such reveals happen, there will be a collective “Oh, I see it!” yell from the viewers as all the pieces of the puzzle come together in one big picture. I so wish that Malcolm’s arc was that well plotted. He went from devoted father training Thea to be a warrior to programming her to kill Sara because he somehow knew that Nyssa would want vengeance and Oliver would have to fight Ra’s Al Ghul, almost die, come back from the mostly dead fulfilling a weird prophecy about succession and then be expected to become the next Ra’s while having his life ruined in the process? That is one flimsy plan that relied on a lot of far fetched events, assuming there was a plan.
And then AFTER all that, when Oliver finally kills Ra’s, Malcolm tells Oliver he’s like a son to him? Sure, now you say it, now that you got what you want. Why does Malcolm want to be Ra’s Al Ghul? Lots of reasons swirl in my head, but none are actually plausible. His blood debt was already paid, so he didn’t need the post to erase that. Does he just like the idea of commanding a bunch of trained assassins to do his bidding? Power rush? Now he can destroy The Glades another way? Why did Sara have to die? What am I missing? I can only assume that we still have a big TBC… on that one, either in this series or the new one. But I wouldn’t call this a cliffhanger as much as another senseless, random act.
This isn’t supposed to be about Malcolm though, is it? No, it’s all about Olicity! It’s funny, I didn’t mind that ship at all at the beginning of the season. The way it played out though, color me a ship sinker. When I heard about Felicity and Oliver coming together at Comic Con from Stephen Amell it sounded kind of exciting. But it didn’t come together, resulting in a lot of uneven behavior (aka pouting and tantrums) from Felicity. She dealt with her disappointment in Oliver (face it, she had him on a pedestal as high as the moon) by dating a far more emotionally stable and all around good guy, and then breaking it off because…well…yeah, why did she? I thought Oliver and Felicity coming together felt sudden and forced even though it had been hinted for a while. But hey, the ending that was the shipper’s dream scenario: A happy Felicity and Oliver driving off in the beautiful convertible, taking in the scenic drive on a sunny day, traveling to points unknown, together. Except one problem. THIS IS THE STORY OF THE GREEN ARROW! Remember, superhero stuff? I saw this ending on Dynasty once I think. Yes, what you heard on that night was the collective groan of fan boys everywhere.
But that’s been the problem all season, no one’s arc has really gotten enough attention and care where there has been a natural progression with the storyline. The closest they came was the progression for Laurel becoming the Black Canary, but even that was a bit rushed in spots and overshadowed by other events. Ditto for Ray, but the luxury of introducing a new character is there is already a back story that can easily be unfolded in one conversation over dinner (which is exactly what they did). It really doesn’t help the audience feel a character’s motivation mind you, but it works.
However, just when I thought they had Captain Lance’s character right, they went and unraveled that in the finale. Why was Captain Lance all of a sudden back in Oliver’s corner when trying to stop the threat on Starling City? He was so angry and vigilant last time Oliver was in town he used every resource in his power (which was a lot) to bring him to justice! So Oliver goes away from a few months and suddenly everything is cool? What happened to his mandate that the police be in charge of the safety of the city and vigilantes are bad? All Lance needed was a cooling off period? His speech to Oliver in the back of that police van in “Public Enemy” was so powerful, so emotionally potent, and this episode managed to erase that beautiful moment for no good reason. However, what they did to Lance wasn’t as bad as what played out on that dam after Lance made the call to Felicity.
I credit Carissa Pavilica in her review at TV Fanatic for first articulating exactly what I was thinking, wow were those sharks swimming around in the dam? Because Oliver and Felicity looked a lot like they were jumping them. The whole idea that Felicity was tipped off by Captain Lance to not only that was Ra’s and Oliver fighting at the dam, but that sharp shooters from the police force, the very one that he commands and could force to stand down at any second, were ready to take out the winner was rather harebrained. Oh, and Ray can’t rescue Oliver because he’s doing calculations to save Starling City from the bio attack. Only he can do that! No one else, including his trusted uber techie/vice president who can do no wrong technically, you know someone that has all that kind of knowledge too. Oh, better idea, how about a much smaller Felicity fit into the suit, learn how to fly it, and manage with pinpoint precision to catch Oliver mid fall into the harsh waters of the dam while flying them back to safety. Yeah, that works. The whole thing looked as ridiculous as it sounded. It was a very weak setup just to trigger an Olicity moment that wasn’t necessary. I feel used.
Then there were the things completely dropped from last week, like Oliver and Nyssa’s wedding! I’m pretty sure that should have come up this week. Granted I’m glad it didn’t because the whole thing was stupid, but still, it’s that continuity thing. Couldn’t we have at least gotten an awkward exchange and “let’s get a divorce”? There was also Ray getting Felicity to sign those papers that gave her control of Palmer Technologies. He was terminating her as an employee in the computer, so what happened to what she signed? Do these writers read each other’s stuff? Given the major “Boom” in Ray land at the end, maybe that won’t be relevant until next season – or not at all.
I’ve proposed this before, but I say let Oliver and Felicity go and we can find out how Team Arrow does with Diggle, Laurel, Thea, and Tatsu, once she gives up that whole living in solitude crappy idea – which was another lame character turn that was never fully explained. Maybe Malcolm will let Nyssa go so she can enjoy all the fun too. There was also mention of a new potential villain, but I’m not going there right now. I refuse to let these bastards make me lose focus.
So yeah, perhaps building The Flash universe stretched the Arrow staff a bit thin this season. I wouldn’t say the show is hopeless, but they’re really going to have to do better than this next season. All they need to do is focus the storylines and character arcs and stop throwing in random twists for the sake of having twists. I wouldn’t mind seeing Arrow get tangled up in some of the time travel dilemmas that will be plaguing Barry Allen next season on The Flash. You know, spice things up a bit. In the meantime Arrow writers, for the season three closer, you totally failed this city.