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Arrow Recap: My Name is Oliver Queen
May 16, 2015 By Trevor Richardson
These crossover episodes never disappoint with strong openers. Last time, Oliver appeared to have left his team to suffer the effects of the Alpha-Omega virus as he joined Ra’s in his plan to deliver the same fate to his home, Starling City. We were all speculating what was going on for real, who was planning what, and how they were going to get out of this. As the team wakes up to Ray Palmer’s charming, “Not that I’m complaining, but why aren’t we dead,” it becomes clear that they had all been inoculated against the virus by Malcolm Merlyn. Apparently, Oliver knew this, although how he knew it is not entirely clear.
After the last episode of the Flash, Oliver indicated that he needed a favor from Barry and here we see Barry coming through on that request. He makes short work of the League of Assassins at Nanda Parbat and promptly liberates Oliver’s friends from what he laughingly refers to as “like a real dungeon.” He has to say his goodbyes very quickly as he has an incarcerated Reverse-Flash back in Central City that is in need of a little conversation and, probably more importantly, someone to keep a very close eye on him in case of escape attempts. He leaves the team in the armory as they make ready to go take back the plane they arrived in. All of this, of course, is within the first five minutes. Of course, we don’t get to keep Tatsu Yamashiro around for long. She plans to return to her life of solitude and we flashback to the moment of her son’s death.
As they watched Aiko die, the recently captured General Shreve, the man responsible for the viral attack on Hong Kong who was taken in order to deliver the cure to the Yamashiro’s only son, turned the tables on them, letting Oliver know that they are surrounded and he led them straight to where he wanted to go. Things looked pretty dire in this storyline last week, but Oliver, clearly enraged, makes light work of the general and his men, finishing by putting an arrow into the man’s thigh.
Oliver and Ra’s are on a plane headed for Starling City when there is a sudden lurch and Ra’s indicates something is wrong. As an engine burns out and Ra’s appears to be in a panic, he blames Nyssa, who sits quietly nearby, for sabotaging their plane. Oliver stops him and says she had nothing to do with it. Nyssa remains silent, sword at her throat, as a desperate Ra’s tells Oliver, as if trying to remind him, that he was delivered by the prophecy, he wed his daughter, he is heir to his throne, and his name is Al Sah-Him. Oliver growls, there is no other word for it, he really growls, “My name is Oliver Queen.”
Not only is it the name of this episode, not only is it the first line heard in every episode, but it is a declaration of intent. He is not a slave to the League. He is his own master. More importantly, there was a time when he told Felicity that he could not be both the Arrow and Oliver Queen. As if recanting on those words, or somehow deciding that he would rather be himself than a crimefighter, or maybe even both, he shouts these words and it is one of the most satisfying moments in this show to date.
This is quickly followed up by another satisfying line as Ra’s says, “I handed you my Crusade, my holy mission.” and Oliver declares, “I already have one.”
After a fast-paced bout leading to the end of every assassin on the plane except Ra’s himself, Ra’s gets his hand on the canister of Alpha-Omega and leaps from the plane with the only parachute. Why there was only one parachute is up for debate, but it serves the story to have Nyssa and Oliver trapped on a crashing aircraft together, plummeting toward the city they hope to save. Of course, Oliver knows how to fly, or at least crash land a plane. I mean, he’s Oliver Queen. Why wouldn’t he learn something as potentially crucial as landing a plane, right? As they make it more or less safely to ground, there is another flashback to the outbreak in Hong Kong, now three days on, and the very distraught Yamashiros receiving the ashes of their son.
Aiko was placed in three small urns and the last is handed to Oliver. Oliver tries to refuse, as if he is undeserving, to which Tatsu replies, “He love you, you were his friend.” This is surprisingly heartwarming, mainly in the way it is said, but also because it calls to memory Oliver’s early days in the Yamashiro house with an angry Tatsu who hated Oliver and everything he stood for forbidding her son to speak to him. They came a long way together and now they are holding that boy’s ashes. It’s devastating and it begins to make a kind of sense about how and why the Yamashiro couple ends up so estranged. Everything that happened was a direct result of Maseo’s work, but Tatsu was the one who insisted that they stay and fight when Maseo wanted to flee. Both have the kind of blame they will never forgive themselves or each other for and so they wind up handling their grief in their own way: Tatsu goes into seclusion and Maseo joins the League of Assassins.
Oliver excuses himself and returns to Shreve, how sporting a few extra arrows in his body, and he tells Shreve about Amanda Waller. “She thought I had a special talent,” he says, “She taught me things. Let me show you.” Then he puts another arrow in the man, whether for vengeance or to get information, or some other darker reason, I don’t know.
Back at Palmer Industries, in the makeshift hideout, Oliver and Nyssa drop in on the team as they arrive and make plans for the next step. Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity have it out as the two friends express their pain and betrayal from having Oliver trust their sworn enemy, Malcolm Meryln, more than the people closest to him. This is where it gets really good because you realize that this plan has been in the works since the beginning and a lot of what seemed like chaos was well-orchestrated plotting, likely right down to finding a way to inoculate Team Arrow against the Alpha-Omega virus. Oliver had to learn Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan for destroying Starling City and to do that he had to be on the inside. The most dramatic and important part of this argument is that Oliver reveals his plan to stop Ra’s was to sabotage the plane and take out everyone and the virus in one move. It failed, of course, and Felicity realizes that Oliver had no concern for how his friends saw him or how these maneuvers affected their relationship because he planned to be dead. Now that he isn’t, he has a lot to make up for, but first he has to stop the virus once and for all.
There is a brief but pivotal flashback scene that follows all of this that I personally found very impressive. We see Oliver’s bloodied hands holding a claw hammer as he sits over the unconscious body of General Shreve. Tatsu and Maseo find him and in this moment everyone’s roles are crystallized. Oliver says his now infamous catch phrase for the first time in his life, “He failed this city.” Tatsu says this isn’t justice, it’s wrong, and is instantly alienated from the men in the room. Maseo, checking for a pulse, says he is still alive, just passed out from the pain, indicating that Oliver can inflict pain with enough precision and careful aim to do intense damage without committing murder, a lot like his work as the Arrow, and then Maseo, indicating his own hatred and anger that leads him to the League in the first place, pulls out his pistol and puts a bullet in Shreve’s head. Maseo becomes the assassin, Tatsu the solitary warrior, and Oliver the man who would bring punishment and justice to those who fail their city. It’s perfect.
With the team more or less back together, they search for Ra’s and come to an important discovery. Ra’s Al Ghul’s sworn enemy, a man we have not seen but only heard of in stories, Damien Dark, is in Starling City. He likely has been for some time which, as I indicated one or two reviews ago, means Ra’s didn’t just want Oliver to ascend for the reasons he claimed, he also wanted a reason and a method for going in and destroying Starling City. There was a clear hidden agenda in Ra’s Al Ghul’s actions and this is finally the revelation we were waiting for. Ra’s didn’t care about Oliver, he just cared about an excuse to destroy a city that fit within his moral code and tradition.
Oliver plans to get to Damien Dark before Ra’s and trade him for the virus. Merlyn, of course, says, “That is remarkably ruthless and cold-blooded. I approve,” and the team seems to have a new goal. Whoever this person is, they are going after him in order to save their city.
Of course, this plan lasts about as long as it takes for an arrow to fly and a phone call to come through a window. Oliver moves in on who he assumes is Damien Dark only to meet his representative who is promptly assassinated and, via the man’s cell phone, Ra’s tells Oliver that he intends to keep his word and destroy Starling City. Four vessels have been sent out to release the virus and Oliver and his team have only ten minutes to stop them. It is not enough time to check them all and clearly Ra’s means to see Oliver’s home destroyed no matter what.
There is a surprisingly funny moment that follows this up in which Captain Lance and Laurel have what has become their typical fight. Laurel tries to explain that there is a bioweapon in Starling and Lance replies, “This coming from your buddy Queen? The city’s in peril, it must be May!” That line borders on a Deadpool-esque breaking the fourth wall moment as a character indicates that since finales invariably mean a threat to Starling City, and they also happen at the end of the television season, it must be May. This really cracked me up.
Then, of course, we have a much-needed heart to heart between Oliver and Felicity in which she delivers her sage wisdom that has so often shaped the man she loves into a better hero. This scene, I believe, is the early foundation for what will lead Oliver to become the Green Arrow, a hero and a symbol that people can admire, someone that can help to assemble other heroes into one fighting force, and a force for good rather than fear. As Oliver says he can’t defeat Ra’s, Felicity says, “Oliver Queen couldn’t, the Arrow couldn’t, both those men tried and failed.” She reminds him that he told her once that he had become someone else, that he had to become something else, she says it is time to do that again. His plan to die was brave, but also a limitation. Felicity says, “Don’t fight to die, fight to live.” Then the phone rings and the next phase of the story begins. They have found four potential locations for the virus and get ready to go, but not before Oliver stops her and says thank you.
With the team split up in various points around town, with Captain Lance rallying the police after speaking with Felicity, and everyone scouring their locations for signs of the weapon, Oliver is approached by an emissary from the League with a message from Ra’s. He wishes to be with Oliver as the city is destroyed and knows Oliver will face him because he is troubled by the fact that he could not beat him in the past.
John spots the first bioweapon in a metal briefcase carried by a man working for the League. While pursuing him, the man gets the drop on him and holds John’s own gun to his head, but is quickly brought down by Thea in Roy Harper’s uniform. When last we saw Thea, she was reading a letter from Roy encouraging her to wear it and fight for good. Her timing is perfect and she is now the “Speedy” from comic lore that we all knew she could be.
The briefcase, unfortunately, is empty and John realizes that the men themselves are the vessels for dispersing the virus, their blood will spread it and the man pulls one of Thea’s arrows from his back and slashes his own throat.
Oliver faces off with Ra’s as the rest of the team attempts to stop the infected men without spilling their blood. Perhaps poetically, Oliver chooses the same sword that nearly killed him in his first bout with Ra’s, still stained in his blood. The two men fight it out on top of the Starling City Dam, sparks flying from their blades, as Oliver finally seems prepared to beat his most powerful enemy. Ra’s recognizes that something has changed in Oliver to which Oliver replies, “A man that would condemn his own daughter to death wouldn’t understand.” Oliver is fighting for the right reasons finally, fighting for the people he loves, to live for himself for a change, and despite looking like he’s on the ropes, we have to believe he will win this time.
Meanwhile, Captain Lance calls Felicity to let her know that there are police snipers nearby waiting to take out Oliver and Ra’s at the Chief of Police’s orders. Felicity tries to get Ray to go rescue Oliver, but he is busy trying to program his nano tech to disperse an inoculate to the virus and save thousands of lives, he asks, “What would Oliver do?” and the answer seems pretty clear.
With Oliver on his knees in front of an overconfident Ra’s Al Ghul, Ra’s says, “Unlike you, thousands of men will mourn my passing when it comes” and Oliver says, “No, they will kneel before the next Ra’s Al Ghul” and he reenacts, move for move, the exact way Ra’s nearly killed him before. He catches the blade with his hand, turns it on his enemy and finishes with the blade in the man’s chest. As Ra’s dies, he hands over the ring that indicates dominion over the entire League of Assassins and says, “I knew I chose well with you, boy.” Then, finally, he dies.
Of course, that triumph doesn’t last long as the police snipers put three bullets into Oliver and he tumbles off of the dam toward the water. The blue light of the ATOM armor soars in and catches him, delivering him safely to a dock far away and, surprise, surprise (not really) it’s Felicity in the armor who says if she knew how to get out of the thing she would be kissing him. Oliver, despite the bullets, is still standing of his own accord and will likely be fine, as he is even smiling warmly for a change.
The team in all the commotion had managed to stop the four assassins carrying the virus with minimal damage and things are, more or less, okay for now. A new report has it that Palmer Industries delivered the cure to the virus in the nick of time, keeping casualties low, and Nyssa is at their home base patching up Oliver. She says he killed her father and there is a brief moment of tension before she says she wanted to be the one and says the League armor he was wearing was responsible for saving his life. After a smile, she steps away and Felicity says she likes to think she deserves some credit too.
Oliver addresses his team by saying that he wanted to keep a lot of the people in that room as far away from his Crusade as possible because it is his instinct to go it alone. This serves as an explanation and an apology to John, who seemed the most hurt by Oliver’s choices, and he follows it up by saying that the only reason they won was because they worked together. He says he always believed his mission would end with his own death, but even if he had died he knows the fight would go on because of them. He even looks at Malcolm Merlyn, including him in the list of people to thank. He tells the group that he feels the city is safe without him as the Arrow and that he couldn’t return to that life even if he wanted to because of the actions of Ra’s Al Ghul. He wants to take the opportunity to be with Felicity, if she’ll have him, and plans to go somewhere far away, possibly Nanda Parbat under new leadership. Felicity seems happy, the others seem a little taken aback, but John Diggle is outwardly upset.
Oliver follows him to have a one on one discussion and, among other things, Oliver says, “You’re a hero. For three years you’ve been a rock, the city’s rock, my rock. For three years you have been the person I can count on and I’m still counting on you.” John agrees to think about staying in the fight and they part kindly, if not a little sadly. Just before the elevator closes on John, he is encouraged to find a way to conceal his identity if he keeps in the fight. Then we cut back to the story in Hong Kong.
It is a brief scene, but important. Tatsu plans to head to a monastery near her home in Japan and Oliver does not decide to return to Starling City. At least, not yet. He needs to be alone, to try to purge the darkness that had grown in him under Argus’ leadership. Oliver became a torturer, a killer, and does not want to poison his family with that side of him. He doesn’t appear to return to the island intentionally, but a nearby ship with a familiar name seems to imply that he books passage as a worker and ends up there anyway. I think it is worth pointing out that this darkness Ollie speaks of has been present in him since the show began and each new experience, each new relationship, has helped him to find a way to overcome that darkness and find a little more of the humanity he feels he has lost. The events of this season, particularly his relationship to Felicity, seem to have helped him make massive strides in that direction. This scene, however, shows us how and why that darkness is there, how he could have been so ruthless in the beginning and why he couldn’t simply show up as a hero like the Flash. Oliver is on a journey to become a superhero by overcoming the ruthless nature that was forced on him by bad people. It makes him a more interesting character than a lot of the more typical superheroes, but it also means his stories are more troubled and sometimes a little less than heroic or even gratifying to watch. What the next season holds for Oliver is a bit of a mystery right now, but it’s apparent that he is going to be taking some time to be a normal man in love.
As Oliver makes ready to leave, Malcolm Merlyn in tow, he has a nice goodbye with Thea that is everything I had hoped for. She tells him she was thinking of calling herself the Red Arrow, bringing us a little closer to the source material, and Oliver jokes, “I think I already told everyone to call you Speedy.” This is, of course, her childhood nickname, and also the name of Green Arrow’s original sidekick, so it works on a lot of levels and makes me smile to think about. They share a warm hug and Oliver leaves, but not before having a few words with Malcolm.
Oliver says, “As promised,” as he slides something to Malcolm in a handshake. It is, obviously, the ring he got from the dying Ra’s Al Ghul, indicating that Malcolm Merlyn is the new master of the League. Oliver says he will never forgive him for what he did to Sarah Lance, what he did to Thea, but they had a deal. This is the final transaction in the deal that they struck together to defeat Ra’s. Malcolm gets to be the next “Demon’s Head” and Oliver gets his life back. They are not enemies again, but they are also not friends, and the next time they meet will depend heavily on what Malcolm does with his newfound power.
Ray Palmer, back at Palmer Industries, inspired by his experimentation with the nano tech as an anti-viral agent, discovers a way to shrink the suit, which is the original ability of The Atom in the comics. In his initial experiment, we witness an explosion that takes out the entire floor of Palmer Industries which will very likely lead to him being somehow imbued with the power rather than using the suit to do it. We’ll see what actually happens, but I would be incredibly surprised if he were merely dead.
Yet another scene to wrap up the season has Malcolm Merlyn in full Ra’s regalia, rings and all, having a discussion about his ascent to the throne with Nyssa. He asserts that he, like Oliver, survived Ra’s sword when he was tortured three months prior, meaning he also fulfilled the prophecy that the man who survived the sword would become the next Ra’s. Nyssa says she plans to have revenge on him for killing Sarah, but she and the other assassins still obey when they are told to kneel before Ra’s Al Ghul.
Finally, the episode wraps on those infamous words: My name is Oliver Queen. He says it is time for him to become someone else, to become something else, after he has fought and sacrificed to save his city. Then, just as he once told Felicity he had seen in numerous dreams, the two of them ride off into the sunset together as he says, “Can I say something strange? I’m happy.” It felt like it could have been the end of the series, an ending very reminiscent of the ending to the Dark Knight, with Bruce and Selena together in a restaurant in France after leaving all the masks and pain behind. I have no idea what’s coming next and I don’t want to, this was a complete ending and I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.
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