*Yes, this contains spoilers. Don't read the article until after you've watched the latest episode!*
Arrow'smidseason finale had quite a *ahem* cliffhanger. Ra's al Ghul obliterated Oliver Queen. The villain delivered a lethal stab and then kicked the hero over the edge of a cliff. The emerald archer is dead (or at death's door) and it's no surprise the Lazarus Pit -- or something with similar properties -- will be used to eventually bring the vigilante back to life. After all, Ra's looks like he's in his 40s and he said the last time someone challenged him was 67 years ago. Throw in the fact his first appearance was sitting in a tub and it's safe to say there's something keeping this dude alive and healthy. But how Oliver eventually returns isn't what makes this development so exciting. Instead, let's take some time to think about what the death of Arrow means for everyone else back in Starling City.
Before we move on, let's address the above caption -- something that's obviously a joke but deserves a bit of discussion. Could Ollie have called Barry Allen to get some extra assistance? Yes, he certainly had time to do so (and enough time to buy some gloves for mountain climbing, but whatever). However, let's not forget Arrow still views Flash as a bit of a novice. The scarlet speedster is powerful, but the kid still has a lot to learn. Making even one mistake against what is possibly the planet's most dangerous organization, the League of Assassins, would be fatal. So yes, we can assume Ollie could get Flash's assistance, but it was made clear Oliver thinks he could beat Ra's on his own (something we all laughed at, but the dude does have a solid track record in his own world) and he may think this is well above what Flash is ready for right now. It's also a kill or be killed situation, something Flash wouldn't support. It also connects back to the theme that one man's agony isn't worth the lives of an entire city. Having Arrow call Flash for some help seems logical, but it lessens the drama by a significant amount and goes against Oliver's mentality.
Now, let's talk about just how much Oliver's absence will impact Starling City. First and foremost, there's three people who know Thea killed Sara: Roy, Felicity and Diggle. Only this trio knows Malcolm Merlyn manipulated Oliver's sister with a mind altering plant and had her fire three arrows into Sara's stomach. Out of the people in this group, this discovery should impact Roy the most. Even though they're no longer together, the guy obviously still has strong feelings for Thea and the bond between them will remain significant. Even if they choose not to be together, they both care about one another and knowing what Thea's been through should be huge for him. Not only will he want to help her, but he can relate to not being in control and taking a life. In one week, Roy will have lost his mentor and realized the person he loves (or loved?) is in the middle of some serious trouble. Roy wasn't playing much of a role in the beginning of Season 3, but given these developments, that really should change as the show progresses. If that DJ character is brought back, let's all hope he's someone hired by Malcolm to keep an eye on his daughter and not just some random guy who's here because... you know, romance drama and a plot device to make Roy jealous.
We've now seen Ray Palmer's costume (well, a hologram of it) and Felicity is finally aware of what he's really up to. With the Arrow no longer present in Starling City, I'm guessing crime is going to be an issue; there's nothing for the criminals to be afraid of anymore. Seeing as the very awesome Brick is set to appear in the upcoming episodes, it seems like someone will need to rise up and take on this hopefully dangerous crime lord. Roy, Felicity and Diggle can be effective on their own, but now that Felicity knows Ray has bigger aspirations ("Why does this keep happening to me?"), who else is thinking Felicity will introduce him to the rest of the team? If so, it's looking like team Arrow could temporarily be called team Atom.
Here's the biggest question: Will team Arrow tell Laurel who killed her sister? And, when she does eventually find out, how will she react? Since Laurel is now on the path to becoming Black Canary (and the chat with her mom set her on the fast track), it seems safe to assume she won't know right away. This is a very complex situation, so they can't just come out and tell Laurel, "Hey, Oliver's sister killed your sister. But don't worry, she wasn't in control and it was Malcolm Merlyn -- the crazy dangerous villain we can't even handle -- who made her do it." They know Laurel wants justice, so they have to be aware she'd want to take action upon learning the truth. If not against Thea -- who she may be able to eventually forgive, but it won't be easy -- it'll be against Merlyn, a man who is far too dangerous for her to handle, even if Wildcat is by her side. There's a lot of ways this could play out. One is they just tell her the truth (which doesn't seem likely since this show enjoys holding off big reveals) and they work with her to get Malcolm. Another is she simply does her own thing with Wildcat and they eventually find the truth (or it finds them). That seems like the most probable option since it would build major conflicts between characters. No matter how it all plays out, this is probably going to be an emotional and rough road for Laurel as she becomes Black Canary and quite literally attempts to take matters into her own hands. Seeing as Thea's now a solid fighter, who else is thinking we may see new Black Canary vs. Thea 2.0 at some point?
Thea's obviously going to be key here. Finally, she thinks she's found her father and believes he just wants to take care of her. Except it turns out he essentially used her. Deep down, could he really love her? It's possible, but the need to protect himself has forced him to do some dark and twisted things. But who will break the news to Thea and how hard will Malcolm work to stop team Arrow from telling Thea the truth? There's a ton of potential here, not only for action but also for more compelling conversations and altering character dynamics. Just like her brother, we know she can be stubborn and, unless she's given some hard evidence (like, you know, that video), she's going to deny and deny and stay by her father's side, even after someone (hopefully Roy) expresses concern about her dad. In the end, we're guessing she'll eventually realize her dad is primarily looking after himself and she'll have an uneasy relationship with Laurel once the conflict is resolved. More importantly, it's looking like the second half of this season will finally bring Thea in on the secret that so many people already know: Oliver Queen is the Arrow. Maybe -- just maybe -- when he returns, they can start calling him the Green Arrow? Pretty please?
Felicity's been placed in an interesting spot. And by "interesting" we mean all kinds of complicated, just like her relationship with Ollie. Just as she gets closer to Ray, Oliver goes ahead and says, "I love you" and then dies. To top it off, kissing her was the last thing he saw in his head before he was kicked off the cliff. Imagine how torn she must be on the inside? A relationship with Ray has so much promise, but you just can't help who you love. Unfortunately for her, she fell in love with Oliver -- a guy who won't let the relationship happen and is now dead. After the club scene between Felicity and Ray, it was looking like this new relationship would actually happen, but couples just can't be happy and drama-free in a CW show, can they? As much as many of us want to see Felicity be happy with Ray, to begin a relationship with him right now -- immediately after Oliver's death -- wouldn't be right. Hopefully, this is something the writers are well aware of and realize she needs time to deal with the loss before moving on. Oh, and who else is guessing Felicity and Ray will become a happy couple just in time for Oliver's eventual return? As of right now, Diggle's the only one in a good relationship. Let's hope they don't ruin that, because it's pretty much the one bit of happiness the show currently has.
So, who approached Oliver's body? It's probably going to be Maseo Yamashiro or a character we can't suspect just yet (e.g. Katana). Maseo says he's changed, but as the show moves forward, it'll more than likely expand upon the bond these two developed in the past. Maseo claims he's different and he may have threatened Ollie with a blade, but he also bluntly said, "I have no desire to watch you die." He also gave Oliver a small bit of advice before the fight. If anyone's going to have a change of heart and bring Oliver's body to a Lazarus Pit (or whatever they'll call it), all signs seem to be pointing to him. Now, it could be Katana (who, based on the conversation between Maseo and Oliver, will allegedly be killed in the past), but if it is her, we don't have enough material to work with just yet. Perhaps her death was faked and she's been following Maseo, hoping to turn him back into the man he once was? As for Nyssa, there's a slight chance it could be her. There's no solid evidence to support her being aware of the fact Oliver knows who killed Sara, though. From her perspective, it could seem Oliver challenged the demon's head just to save innocent lives in Starling City. That said, she shouldn't be sold short and she may have a hunch about what Ollie knows and why he challenged Ra's. That could be enough to bring Ollie back just so she can get some answers.
The death of Oliver Queen has a huge amount of potential. Not only will his eventual resurrection show us a whole different side of the CW-verse as it explores the League of Assassins, but his absence is going to have a huge impact on the cast back in Starling City as well. Throw in the fact that Roy, Felicity and Diggle know about what Thea and Malcolm did and this is sure to be a very, very interesting second half of the season. Assuming it's handled well, this means filler episodes can mostly be avoided as the show focuses on giving each of these characters critical and game changing arcs. Oliver's had more than enough time in the spotlight, so this is their opportunity to give the other characters plenty of attention. Now we just have to wait and see if they capitalize on all of this character-driven potential!