'Arrow' Season Finale Recap: A... Happy Ending?

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Warning: This recap contains storyline and character spoilers for this week’s season finale of Arrow.

Well, that was unexpected. Usually, there’s some sort of mild cliffhanger to whet our appetites for next season. But this episode tied things up so neatly — ending with Olicity driving off into the sunset, for crying out loud — that executive producer Marc Guggenheim had to do a tag basically explaining that the series wasn’t actually over.

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But then, we deserve it, don’t we? This season has been filled with acrimony and distrust, and it even ends with a mildly reluctant handshake between Oliver and Diggle instead of the bromance-fueled hug that should have been. A happy ending feels right.

The Plot

Oliver finally comes clean that he’s been playing Ra’s all this time. He and Nyssa fight with the League on the plane to Starling City, but Ra’s parachutes away with the virus. Back in Nanda Parbat, Malcolm secretly inoculated everyone from the virus, and the Flash comes to bail everybody out of the dungeon.

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Part of Ra’s’s plan involves using the virus not only to take out the city, but his archenemy Damien Darhk, who is also in the city. The team tries to leverage Darhk, but he’s already fled the city, so they track down the four locations where the Alpha Omega will be released. Instead of vials, infected humans are being used, and some of the virus gets out.

Ray uses his nanotech to create an airborne vaccine while Oliver and Ra’s duel on top of the dam. Ra’s is killed, but police snipers then shoot Oliver, who falls off the dam and is saved by The Atom — or, rather, Felicity in the Atom suit. Instead of becoming the new Ra’s, Oliver gives Malcolm the Demon’s Head ring. Ray has a tiny (read: huge) lab incident (read: explosion) while experimenting with miniaturization. And as they drive off, Oliver tells Felicity something strange: “I’m happy.”

Related: ‘Arrow’/’Flash’ Spinoff Among 3 Dramas Ordered at The CW

The Flashback

Oliver, Maseo, and Tatsu take down General Shrieve’s men. Then, as payback for setting loose the virus, Oliver tortures him, forcing Maseo to put a mercy bullet into him. After collecting Akio’s ashes, the trio disperses: Tatsu to a monastery, Oliver on a boat to get some time to himself, and Maseo to Nanda Parbat.

“You Never Expected to Have This Conversation”

One of the most interesting things we’ll get to see next season is Oliver without a death wish. Most every plan of his involves him sacrificing himself for his city, but — as was revealed on The Flash — he’s going to live to be 86. Was it because of what he saw in Felicity’s eyes when she figured it out? That was one of this season’s, and possibly this show’s, most powerful moments.

Sad to See Him Go

Everybody say goodbye to the flashback version of Oliver Queen when he was the lead singer of a Seattle grunge band in the '90s. Your scraggly hair underneath that silly knit beanie will not soon be forgotten.

Inside Comics Moment

When the series began, it seemed like kind of a throwaway to give Thea the nickname “Speedy,” since it was the first nickname of Oliver Queen’s sidekick in the comics. As has been proven again and again, Arrow’s producers are playing a long game, so it make sense that not only would she eventually take up a bow and fight crime, but that she would also be called Red Arrow, now that Roy’s gone (Roy has taken the names Speedy, Red Arrow, and Arsenal in his 70-plus year-long career).

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Next Season

Do you think we’ll see Malcolm back as the new Ra’s next season? We definitely won’t see much of Ray Palmer, as he and his (presumably now miniaturized) suit are headed over to that new spinoff. Also, there have been multiple mentions this season about Diggle gettting a mask. Since he’s isn’t based on an existing comic book character, do you think they’ll make him something new, or use an unclaimed name?

And last but certainly not least: It looks like the Triton’s Daughter is headed to Coast City. Along with a passing mention of a test pilot who disappeared on The Flash… that pretty much means we’ll be seeing Green Lantern in Season 4’s flashbacks, right?

Arrow returns for Season 4 this fall on The CW.