NOC Recaps Arrow: City’s Under Attack, Must be May

Before getting into it, I just wanted to thank all of you readers for joining me in my recaps this season. I’ve been having so much fun writing these (even when I take a week to do it) and the community that I’ve developed here at The Nerds of Color is one that I truly cherish. Can’t wait for more superhero TV adventures this fall (SUPERGIRLLLLL!!).

On to the episode! Since you’ve probably read a recap or two by now (or want to banish the episode and the last half of the season from your minds), let’s just discuss a few aspects of the episode, then the things I hope season four tackles.

The Survival

Okay, so first: the cast survives! Big surprise there! As I’ve said before, a lot of the “shocks” in this season have been portrayed as a major move, but the outcome is something the audience always sees coming. We knew Team Arrow wasn’t going to die. What I didn’t like was Malcolm claiming he inoculated them somehow. There’s storytelling that hides from the audience and storytelling that lies to the audience. I haven’t re-watched “This is Your Sword” but a reveal like that needs a flashback at least (in the way that the “Do you understand?” scene required a viewing). Without it, it feels like they killed them off and didn’t figure out exactly how they’d survive until the next episode. I get that there isn’t a lot of time, but I’m sure something could have been cut or reworked to make that happen. It felt very deus ex machina…

Um, You Guys Forgot to Talk About Something


I’m sure it wasn’t consummated, so that probably nulls the legality in League terms all by itself, but if the wedding had no standing towards the rest of the season, then WHAT WAS THE POINT?! Maybe they will find a way to make it relevant later on down the road, but like… what was even the point within the story? If Oliver and Nyssa haven’t consummated the marriage (which I presume is of importance to Ra’s because otherwise, why? And heirs. And aren’t most weddings only considered final once they’re consummated?), then why did Ra’s make them get married NOW? And then make them run off to destroy Starling immediately?

I suppose the answer to that last question was because Damian was in town, but they couldn’t have waited until morning? Shaking my head at ridiculous stunt writing that doesn’t even pretend to have a bearing on what immediately follows. One of the principle questions of screenwriting (and most dramatic writing) is “why now?” Here, we get no answer.

First Comes Thunder, Then Comes Lightning

Love you, Barry! I mean, The Flash! Dangit!

So Team Arrow survives and Barry comes thundering in to get them out. HOW DID BARRY EVEN KNOW TO COME? In The Flash from that week, Oliver comes to help Barry without us ever knowing how he knew Barry needed help. The sequence of events is off — or shady at the very least. Because if the episodes are synced, then Lyla helped Barry without knowing that Diggle was trapped in the cell, and who exactly sent word to Oliver that Barry needed assistance? The other questions, I’ll leave to Christelle over in The Flash recaps.

But here, we can’t exactly be sure how Barry knew to come other than Oliver’s “I might need a favor” at the end of Tuesday’s The Flash. But letting that go for now, Barry is amazing and lightens the show up for all of the five seconds he’s there. He mimics Felicity’s hot tub line because they are twins. I loved the little twirl/slide he does.

Things from the A-Plot

Arrow co-creator Marc Guggenheim said once that the difference between Oliver and Batman was that Batman made the right choices. This is made painfully clear here. (Is that the show? An exploration of Batman if Batman wasn’t as genius as Batman is supposed to be? Hmm.)

Oliver’s plan was to sabotage the plane and kill everyone on it, himself, Nyssa, and Ra’s included. (Way to remove Nyssa’s agency once again.) Sooo, you didn’t think about what might happen if Ra’s found out? There was no back up plan? THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN A BACKUP PLAN! Batman would have had a back up plan (10 backup plans). Please, having Diggle and Felicity in your pocket would have given you alternative plans than this DUMB ONE.

I have to say, I enjoyed the “MY NAME IS OLIVER QUEEN” line a lot, though I think the game was up too quickly. For all the length this arc took, the way it dragged on and fell into a mess of story that most of the audience disliked, I wish in the final episode that this line had come later, that Oliver’s firm declaration of his identity was saved for the final battle between himself and Ra’s.

Before Oliver regroups with Team Arrow, Malcolm tries to call the shots. The team isn’t having it, even though Oliver gives the same instructions. I really hope they figure out the Malcolm dynamic to play next season because having him come in, the team doesn’t want to listen, then he says something else and somehow his is the only correct plan is getting very repetitive. Oliver tries to defend Malcolm’s plan, because “he knows the League,” but he’s also a vile betrayer, Oliver!

Vile Betrayer al Ghul?

And Nyssa knows the League even more so! I wish she’d been better utilized.

“You trusted Malcolm Merlyn more than the two people closest to you!” PREACH IT DIGGLE! Towards the end, Oliver says he’ll never forgive Malcolm for what he did to Sara and Thea, BUT WHAT ABOUT TOMMY AND THE 300+ PEOPLE WHO DIED IN THE UNDERTAKING? Why are we forgetting about the Undertaking?

Ra’s intends to destroy the city anyway, he keeps name dropping ex-pal Damian Darhk (we get it, he’s our new Big Bad — and probably Felicity’s dad!) who happens to be in town. Team Arrow realizes Ra’s wants to kill Darhk, so they… Go after Darhk to head Ra’s off at the pass.

“Ra’s wants Damian, so we give him Damian.” “That is remarkably ruthless and cold blooded. I approve.” MEANING YOU SHOULD RUN FAR FAR AWAY FROM THIS PLAN!

Darhk’s snarky employee (who was left to take the hit from the League) was a tad bit Felicity in his cadence and word choices, which almost made me think he was lying about not being Darhk — super easy to SAY you’re your own assistant — until they killed him, but maybe he’s just started to sound like his employer, who probably also sounds a lot like Felicity… Anyway.

Oliver and Felicity have a nice chat. I enjoyed this moment between them and hope that they continue to strike the balance of their relationship more on this end and less on the end of the sexy times episode. Their relationship scenes work better when it’s also about the work and Oliver becoming a better hero. Also, it didn’t feature Felicity crying, so that’s a plus.

Felicity recites part of the voice over, making two in-show references to it!

Felicity convinces Oliver that feeling isn’t a weakness, but a strength. “It’s your key to beating Ra’s. Don’t fight to die, fight to live.” Only took three seasons for Oliver to learn this lesson.

Oliver vs Ra’s

Oliver heads off to fight Ra’s at Starling City Dam (reminded me of The Narrows from Batman Begins. As if we needed more Batman references), while the rest of Team Arrow takes care of the human disease bombs. Oliver and Ra’s end up mimicking their fight from the midseason finale. Ra’s thinks he has the upper hand, but Oliver has the Power of Heart now!

“Something has changed within you boy.”

Oliver gains the advantage and kills Ra’s in the same manner that he was killed before. (I’d be suspicious though. If Oliver can survive that wound, can’t Ra’s?) Oliver even recites the Arabic prayer Ra’s said over him. He remembered that as he was being murdered? Or was that in a textbook Ra’s gave him to study? Oliver really has a talent with languages. He should do something with that…

Felicity the Hero

Two things on this:

  1. WHY DID THEY WRITE FELICITY WHINING TO RAY ABOUT SAVING OLIVER? She knows Oliver would never, EVER want that! She knows better, is better, and wouldn’t have said anything like that before. He’s a hero! He may be fighting to live, but you can’t stop saving everyone else in order to go get him!

  1. But she ends up going herself, which is great and lovely, but uhm, kind of takes away from Ray as a hero if even tiny Felicity can make a heroic save in his suit. LOL

Hong Kong and the Adventures Beyond

Oliver leaves the grieving and separated Maseo and Tatsu to get on a boat and go to COAST CITY!! I was expecting Russia, but I think we’ll be pleased if season four is Coast City flashbacks (and potentially present day, if that’s where Olicity drove off to). Maybe we’ll find out why a certain test pilot went missing, as Barry told us in last week’s The Flash.

Sidenote: I hope Oliver kept his third of Akio. Otherwise, that’s really rude, man.

Where the Pieces Lay( Lie?)


Oliver and Felicity run off into the sunset. With all the Coast City references, could they be heading there? As much as I ship Olicity, Oliver just took the most important part of Team Arrow, leaving Thea and Laurel without any tech support. Oops?

Having the “My name is Oliver Queen” voice over at the end, ending with: “And I did. I became a hero who helped people” was cool.

On the Arrow front, Stephen Amell and the producers have been saying silly things liked Oliver will no longer suit up as the Arrow. I believe this to be true. Whatever circumstances bring Oliver and Felicity back to Starling (and we know they’ll be back), when Oliver suits up again, it will be as The Green Arrow, or something closer to that than the Arrow was.


Ray blew up Palmer Tech and most assuredly can shrink now! Hope the new owner likes the building one floor shorter…


I hope Diggle comes back with a suit. That’s all.


Hey, even though they still DESPERATELY need training (and without team tech support and heart, Felicity), notice how Starling City was left in the hands of two ladies! If I thought the show would do something interesting with this, I’d be even more excited.

But their reign as lady badasses will come to a halt when whatever draws Oliver back to the hood terrorizes the city. But I am SO HERE for Black Canary and Red Hood/Speedy heroic take over! I hope the Arrow Season 3.5 comics (should they even do those), feature these two awesome ladies in the lead.


As much as I wanted Nyssa to become leader of the League, I hope them giving the position to Malcolm means that it will be Nyssa’s end goal to reclaim the mantle.

While they’ve continually robbed Nyssa of her agency all season, if they turn it around and have her take her life and her League back, then I will support that. This show has always been about journeys, no one starts where they’re meant to be, so hopefully Ra’s al Ghul is Nyssa’s destiny in the way that becoming the Green Arrow is Oliver’s.

Things I want for Season Four

  • Oliver no longer making unilateral decisions. Bad things happen when you don’t listen to your team and consult them on big decisions
  • Stable Olicity with better relationship balance
  • More Green Lantern references
  • Diggle in a suit
  • Thea and Laurel awkwardly beating down criminals with the scrap of skills they have between them

  • An awesome Damian Darhk, H.I.V.E. plot
  • Felicity backstory (see above?)
  • Andy Diggle
  • Less Ray Palmer (I’m still hype for Legends of Tomorroooowwww)
  • The most epic three show crossover I’ve ever seen. I predict the episode eight Flarrow crossover will be the Legends crossover/intro. Isn’t LoT supposed to gap the hiatus time? Perfect time for the crossovers.
  • Better writing for poor Captain Lance. They needed better evidence of the return of his drinking (especially after he and Laurel had a chat about it outside of Sara’s grave). And now suddenly he’s stopped again? I know it’s a constant battle with addiction, but they didn’t give us enough time with him falling off then back on the wagon. I don’t know. We’ll see where Lance is when we return.


  • I get the sense that the handling of Olicity hasn’t been widely well received this season, but the scene at Palmer Tech between them was a nice balance I think. I enjoyed it more than the night together episode.
  • So we never got any return on the Transfer of Ownership papers Felicity signed last week. Was something cut or did they just throw that in super early? Without any follow up in this week’s episode, I say that scene could have been cut short. We’ll clearly find out what happens to Palmer Tech when we get back next season.
  • “The hotel is going to bill me for that window.”

  • “You killed my father… I wanted to be the one.” ALL OF US WANTED YOU TO BE THE ONE NYSSA.


With the show three years in, we’ve now hit the midway point of Oliver’s journey. This season was a mess and weird and off-balance, but it’s a turning point. Hopefully what follows is the rise of an arc (like a parabola or something mathical like that. Yes. Mathical). It was definitely a low point for Oliver himself, meaning that he can’t really go much further down. He went from morally ambiguous, to good but still tormented, to evil. Now he will continue to get better until he is finally The Green Arrow. I’m still excited for this show, this journey and what season four and beyond might bring.

Thanks for joining me this season! What else didn’t I talk about? Let’s discuss in the comments!

I wasn’t happy with this arc, but I’d be happy to drive off into the sunset with you.

11 thoughts on “NOC Recaps Arrow: City’s Under Attack, Must be May

  1. ” If I thought the show would do something interesting with this, I’d be even more excited.”

    OH SHIT. Can you imagine my shock if they handled it well, and it wasn’t referenced for just a minute in the S4 Premiere before Ollie returned?

    Also…. is Ollie the little brown boy from Captain Planet now? I wish someone would meme his face onto him.

  2. So many dittos from me and you made some points that I hadn’t really reflected on (like Felicity urging Ray to save Oliver at a terrible cost, it didn’t strike me til later but when it did I was like “That doesn’t sound like Felicity”). The bioweapon plot bugged me no end but onward and upward from here I hope. I always look forward to your recaps and thank you for the Captain Planet reference. I was thinking much the same thing and I often do whenever heroes “realize their reason for fighting etc”

    I am hoping that even numbered seasons of this show are much like Star Trek movies: far stronger than the odd numbered ones. Please, please, please give me a strong HIVE plot and I really want all of Oliver’s relationships that got sorely tested and messed with this season (DIGGLE, Captain Lance, Felicity) to reach some sort of mature growth and stability cause this season was painful. I kinda hope the series truly FEELS different next season and we see a growth in Oliver that actually sticks.

    1. Mm yes growth that sticks! Typically, for me, shows that I like have a strong beginning to season three, then it ends weirdly (the two examples that triggered this realization was season three of Angel and Charmed. I enjoy the beg of s3, the somewhere it turns in me. I’m choosing to remain hopeful about S4. I think a difference in town could help the show, or at least distance it from daredevil and the flash, they’ve got strong competition so hopefully that challenges them to do better.

  3. Just discovered your reviews and they are very well done. So agree about Nyssa and the Olicity stuff. I like the constructive criticism instead of the ‘I hated it’ approach that I’ve seen so many places. I’m new to Arrow this year and did not find S3 as problematic as some, I think my biggest issue was pacing. I like that the plot moves quickly but sometimes it is at the expense of character moments. Either way, excited to see what S4 brings!

    1. Hi! Thanks for commenting! Glad you like my recaps! Yeah, I think mostly it was a pacing problem, there were def a lot of episodes where the could have slowed down in terms of letting the characters breathe and connect. I love the show so I def don’t hate it or everything they did this season like I think a lot of people did, so I wanted to try to at least understand why they made some of the choices they did, esp the ones that didn’t resonate. If we’d gotten more time to breathe about that League wedding, maybe have Nyssa and Oliver chat for a second about it, it might have not been as random and seemingly unnecessary. Sigh. Hopefully they’ve seen the more reasoned criticism and will adjust for the next season. Thanks again for your thoughts!

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