Warning: Major spoilers from the Arrow season three finale, "My Name Is Oliver Queen." If you want to be surprised, don't go any further! If you just watched the episode, proceed.
When executive producer Marc Guggenheim hinted ahead of tonight's season three finale that it felt more like a series closer, we were intrigued. After watching the episode, titled "My Name Is Oliver Queen," it all made sense.
We picked up with Oliver (Stephen Amell), Ra's al Ghul (Matt Nable) and Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) on the carrier plane on their way to Starling City with Ra's' mission to decimate Starling City with the Alpha Omega bioweapon. But there was another plan in play: Oliver and Nyssa's plot would sabotage the plane, kill Ra's and crash the plane away from the city -- sparing thousands of innocent people -- only that wasn't what happened.
Oliver and Nyssa got so far as to battle Ra's on the plane and his minions -- they just didn't get to the killing Ra's part. (Instead, he straight up jumped out of the plane.) So Plan B was put into effect!
The Flash (Grant Gustin) made a special appearance to break the team out from their Nanda Parbat prison after they awoke from the virus (they were immunized from it), and Malcolm revealed his and Oliver's elaborate plan to topple Ra's once and for all. To say Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) weren't too happy Oliver trusted Malcolm over them with this pivotal information would be an understatement and it's clear just how fractured Oliver's relationships with them have become over the course of the last few episodes.
An angry Felicity poked holes in Oliver's original plan after he revealed everything to his former teammates. "You weren’t planning on having this conversation. You were planning on dying," an exasperated Felicity told him. Not a great way to reunite with your love. But with all things on Arrow, Ra's' goal to destroy Starling wasn't solely Oliver-connected after all! He wanted to take his nemesis Damien Darhk out (more on Damien later).
While the team frantically tried to save Starling from total destruction, Oliver and Ra's had their anticipated sword fight rematch on top of the Starling City Dam. (Tip for next time: Don't fight next to a hundred-foot drop!) It all seemed to be going Ra's' way again, but this time, Oliver was in it to win it -- thanks in part to a Felicity pep talk where she wisely said, "Don't fight to die. Fight to live." Just when we thought Ra's was about to be the victor, Oliver gutted him like a fish. Epic. But did he just become the new Ra's?
Seconds later, Oliver was shot by Starling City police and as a result fell into the dam -- except the Atom flew by just in the nick of time to save him from certain death. But it wasn't Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), it was ... Felicity in the suit!
It took three seasons, but Oliver finally accepted the fact that he succeeded because he had help with his fellow costumed friends (welcome to the team Thea!) and because of that, he no longer needed to be a hero himself. Identity had been the undercurrent of the season and Oliver made a choice about who he wanted to be, choosing to abandon his former Oliver Queen and Arrow identities to become "someone else."
The Arrow finale was so jam-packed that we couldn't fit everything in, so here are eight more key moments and developments that took place and what this could mean for season four!
1. Oliver chooses a life with Felicity
Olicity fans sure have a lot to be happy about! In a move that warmed our hearts, Oliver made the bold decision to leave his former self behind -- and that meant saying goodbye to life as the crime-fighting Arrow and as Oliver Queen. Instead, he chose to be with Felicity and he was dead set on his new future (and even excited about it). A recurring dream Oliver had was telling: He and Felicity were driving, just the two of them -- something that seemed unattainable for more reasons than one. The final scene brought everything full circle, with the happy couple driving off into the sunset to parts unknown and contemplating their future. "Can I say something strange?" a beaming Oliver asks Felicity as the sun set. "I'm happy." Where will season four find Oliver and Felicity?
2. The new Ra's al Ghul is crowned
After Oliver defeated Ra's in their ultimate rematch, Oliver became the new Ra's -- but only for a split second. Would Nyssa take her rightful place as the Demon? In a surprising turn, it wasn't Ra's' daughter who took up the mantle, but Malcolm Merlyn himself, the final part of the deal Oliver struck with him to help save his friends and city. What?! With Malcolm in power, we're intrigued by what the future holds for the League of Assasins (and Nyssa's involvement).
3. Diggle's future is up in the air
Oliver made his hopes known that the rest of the team would continue saving the city and while Laurel and Thea were clear about their intentions to continue, Diggle was less sure. Is this the end of Diggle as a crime fighter? Will he actually get an identity concealer/costume? Is H.I.V.E. (and the fate of Diggle's brother Andy) in play next season? At least Diggle and Oliver shook hands and sort of mended their issues.
4. The mystery of Damien Darhk
Damien Darhk was teased as Ra's al Ghul's nemesis in an earlier episode this season and the fact that his name resurfaced again in the finale leads us to believe that he'll play an integral role in season four. The fact that Damien's presence, or lack thereof, played such a key role in Ra's' mission to destroy Starling is revealing -- and what about his possible connection to Felicity? Could he be the big bad of the new season? Will he be the driving force that brings Oliver back to save the city?
5. The mystery of Oliver's Year 4 in exile
The flashbacks revealed that Oliver wasn't returning home after his stay in Hong Kong. Where exactly is his intended destination? Could it be Russia? Considering the fact that we're past the halfway point in Oliver's five-year journey away from Starling, where could he be going next?
6. What happened to Ray?
We've seen the Atom fly, but we haven't seen the Atom become the Atom. While the rest of the team was heading off to their new lives, Ray was in Palmer Technologies (didn't he sign it over to Felicity?) doing the first miniaturization test -- only he wasn't successful the first time. Or even the second time, which resulted in a literal explosion and left his fate unknown. With Ray off to new adventures in The CW spinoff series DC's Legends of Tomorrow, is this a good indicator of his state of being when that show kicks off?
7. Thea realizes her hero potential
There were hints of it all season, but it all came to fruition in the finale when Thea, in Roy's Arsenal suit, saved Diggle from near death.
8. The origin of "You have failed this city"
How did Oliver/Arrow's signature line come to be? During Oliver's time in Hong Kong, after he killed Shrieve with arrows in the chest, he made his first proclamation that a victim of his vengeance had "failed this city."
Here are the most memorable lines from the episode:
-- Felicity: "Nyssa looks happy. Are you on your honeymoon?"
-- Barry Allen: "Hey guys! Wow, this is like a real dungeon."
-- Felicity: "Double-double cross, or triple cross ... I'm losing count."
-- Felicity: "Don't fight to die. Fight to live."
-- Captain Lance: "The city is under attack. It must be May!"
-- Diggle: "Sorry won't cut it this time Oliver. Not this time."
-- Oliver: "Most of the time we escape. We're just driving. All of this seems ... it seems so far away because, it's just the two of us."
What did you think of the Arrow season finale? Tell us your thoughts by tweeting Philiana Ng at @insidethetube on Twitter! Check back next week for a special treat.
Arrow returns this fall on The CW.