Four Color Television - Arrow Season 3 Recap
His company is up for sale; the girl he was sleeping with has rejoined a creepy assassin guild; his best friend has a kid; his sidekick is fully trained and sporting a cool red outfit; his sister has been missing since May; some kid who showed up to help last year just stopped by to say that he woke up from a coma and now has superpowers; and he’s thinking it’s about time he asked the IT girl out on a date. It must mean it’s fall in Starling City and time for Oliver Queen to dust off The Arrow hood and go back out on Patrol.
Season Three Not Actually on Lian Yu Flashback Plot:
We were told that Oliver was on an island for five years, and since Hong Kong is an island, that is still technically true. Oliver has been taken from Lian Yu to Hong Kong by A.R.G.U.S. agent Amanda Waller and is being forced to train with an agent named Maseo to do Waller’s bidding. Unlike the Task Force X team she uses in the present (a.k.a The Suicide Squad) Oliver doesn’t have a bomb in his head, but Waller is threatening to kill Maseo’s family if Oliver doesn’t comply and act as a good little operative. Waller sets Ollie on a mission to gather intel from a target that will stop a bomb from blowing up in Hong Kong and the only way he can achieve that goal is through torture, and Oliver resisted as best he could. Oliver stayed with Maseo and his family and caused a whole lot of tension in their household and lots of spy hijinx and double crosses, but not before he, Maseo, and Maseo’s wife Tatsu discovered that some intel they uncovered pointed to a deadly virus. After months of back and forth and dead family members the virus is revealed to be The Alpha-Omega virus under the control of General Shrieve who intends to release the virus in Hong Kong. Shrieve is captured and convinces Oliver and Maseo to find the “cure,” but that ends up being a feint to buy time as there is no cure. Maseo kills Shrieve and delivers the virus to Nanda Parbat and the League of Assassins, Tatsu goes off to live a life of seclusion and Oliver gets on a boat bound for Coast City where he masquerades as a hooded vigilante – but it isn’t long before Amanda Waller finds him again.
Season Three Starling City Plot:
Queen Consolidated is bought by Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh,) who promptly hires Felicity to help him run the company. Diggle is rebuilding his relationship with his ex-wife/mother of his child/future wife Lyla, A.R.G.U.S. agent and subordinate to Amanda Waller. Thea has gone to the Corto Maltese with Malcolm Merlyn and has begun to learn the teachings of the League of Assassins from him. Sara returns to Starling, but she isn’t in town long before she is brutally murdered – and the League of Assassins assigns Team Arrow a ticking clock in which they must solve her murder. Of course it is never simple with The League of Assassins and Malcolm Merlyn involved: it turns out that Sara Lance’s killer is none other than Thea Queen: drugged and under the control of Malcolm. Oliver brings Thea home and decides that the only way to protect Thea’s life is confront the leader of The League of Assassins: Ra’s Al Ghul. Oliver travels to a mountaintop to face The Demon’s Head and is promptly murdered swiftly and tossed off of the mountain. Laurel takes on the mantle of The Black Canary to honor her dead sister, Nyssa Al Ghul trains her along with boxer/former vigilante Ted Grant – and with Oliver dead and gone the protection of Starling City falls to Laurel, Roy and Diggle.
It turns out Oliver isn’t actually dead, but severely wounded and is nursed back to health by Tatsu, he returns to Starling City to find the team carrying on without him and struggles to return to his former role. The Arrow is framed for murder, and Roy sets himself up for the crime to let The Arrow off the hook – Roy then skips town. Ray Palmer invents the Atom suit which gives him amazing powers and turns him into the superhero in the Arrowverse with the goofiest grin. Nyssa discovers OIiver is still alive and tells her father, who claims to already know and informs Nyssa that it was not Oliver who killed Sara. Nyssa takes a team to Starling and tries to kidnap Malcolm Merlyn but gets stopped by Oliver and Company, she eventually escapes and discovers that Malcolm has been freed by Ra’s as a favor to Oliver who has agreed to become the next Ra’s Al Ghul. Oliver is initiated into the League of Assassins and is brainwashed mildly, his friends are captured and held in Nanda Parbat and Thea is killed and resurrected in the Lazarus Pit. Oliver is tasked by Ra’s with unleashing the Alpha/Omega virus in Starling City. The Flash shows up to save Team Arrow and take them to the final showdown in Starling which leaves the city once again nearly destroyed in May; The Arrow supposedly dead along with Ra’s Al Ghul. Oliver decides to leave The Arrow buried and rides off into the sunset with Felicity.
What works in Season Three: Ra’s Al Ghul is handled incredibly well. Unlike the Batman Begins version, this is more or less the comics version of the character and taking the risk of having him dispatch Oliver mid-season and taking the character off the board for a few episodes was bold. The crossovers with The Flash are well done and make the world feel very large, even though it might soon feel too large for Oliver Queen. Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer is perhaps the most fun this show has had with a DC legacy character to date.
What doesn’t work in Season Three: We’re still coming back to Laurel Lance not being all that great of a character, the secret origin episode with Goth Felicity is also a low point. Ultimately though Season 3 was very strong, even if it isn’t quite as solid as Season Two.
Next Week: Time Travel, reincarnated Bird people, and The Rogues join The Legends.
In Two Weeks: Magic? Seriously? Oliver Queen vs. Magic?
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