By Rich Epstein
After a little vacation, Arrow picks up right where it left off. Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) has made Oliver Queen (Steven Amell) an offer he can’t refuse…take his place, and become the next Ra’s. Boy, Nyssa (Katrina Law) is not going to be happy about this. For now, Ra’s gives Oliver a tour of Nanda Parbat and then it’s time for a meal. It takes more than a fancy table to impress Oliver Queen. Ra’s tells Oliver that some people see the Arrow as a killer, but Ra’s can see the struggle in his eyes as Oliver tries to live a double life. Ra’s tells Oliver that his city will turn on him, his closest allies will hunt him, he will be killed, alone. Not the cheeriest sales pitch I have heard, but hey.
Back in Starling City, Nyssa and Thea Queen (Willa Holland) continue their friendly chat. Nyssa doesn’t believe that Thea killed Sara, she thinks that Thea is protecting her father. Something tells me Thea is done protecting Merlyn (John Barrowman). Thea finally convinces her, and begs Nyssa to kill her, but Nyssa tells her that the blood debt ends with Malcolm. As Nyssa is refusing to kill Thea, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) come in. Seeing Nyssa out of her cell, they immediately attack. Hey, this episode made it five minutes before I could say that Laurel ruins everything. Nyssa beats the crap out of the kid vigilantes, but Roy manages to hit her with a tranquilizer dart. Thea lies and says that Nyssa escaped. Brat.
LAZARUS PIT ALERT! Ra’s shows the pit to Oliver, who is less than impressed. Ok, I understand that Oliver has seen some crazy things, but we are talking about near-immortality. Isn’t that a little bit impressive? Or tempting? Apparently the waters are not working quite as well on Ra’s anymore, hence his need for a successor. Oliver tells Ra’s that he won’t become an instrument of death, but Ra’s points out that the League fights for justice. Oliver could become the vigilante not just of a city, but of the entire world. He tells Oliver that he could control resources that he cannot fathom, numbers greater and more loyal than any army. Huh? There are that many of them? I always assumed it was a small group of elite assassins, numbers in the hundreds. Ra’s tells Oliver that he would be the absolute leader, he could forbid the League from killing, which Oliver doubts, seeing as how it’s called the League of Assassins and all. Oliver asks what happens if he says no. Ra’s has John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Malcolm brought in, and tells Oliver that he and his companions can leave as a gesture of good will, all debts forgiven. So, Oliver does just that. Something else tells me that this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Ra’s al Ghul. He doesn’t seem like a man who forgives and forgets so easily.
Oliver is back home, time to talk to Thea. She’s happy that he’s still alive, but is much less happy to see Malcolm Merlyn lying on her couch. She really wanted Ra’s to kill Merlyn. I just want to see Oliver do something with Merlyn. How many times does the guy have to try to ruin your life? He’s a mass murderer who got Oliver killed once and could have gotten Thea killed. Why is he on your couch? So, you don’t want Thea to become a murderer. Fine, she’s off the hook. At least put him in some kind of a prison. Like the one on the Island. Hey, put him in a cell with Slade. Then charge ten bucks a stream, and you’ve got your fortune back. Instead, Oliver wants to let Merlyn heal and leaves him alone with Thea.
Flashback Oliver is still with Akio in the streets of Hong Kong when the boy runs away thinking he saw his father. He finds Oliver again, and figures that now would be a good time to mention that his parents said to meet at the botanical gardens if they ever become separated. No reason to bring that up right away I guess.
Back at the Arrowcave, everyone is happy to see Oliver, but not so happy to hear that Malcolm came with him. He tells Nyssa that she is free to go. She wants to know what happened, but he just tells her to go home. He won’t tell anyone what actually happened at Nanda Parbat, but asks them to find some crime they can fight. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) finds a robbery in progress, and they head out.
Cut to our villains of the week robbing some kind of shipment. Seems like one of them has his lips sewn together, I’m going to go ahead and guess that’s Murmur. Arrow and the gang show up to stop them, with Roy nicely putting a hole in the crate that they were carrying. Lucky for him it wasn’t explosives or anything. He is just about to get shot when Laurel saves him, only to need saving herself from Oliver as the bad guys drive off in their van. He tells Laurel she still needs training. I’m thinking Roy does as well.
Oliver asks Captain Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) for help, only to find out that Lance knows that Sara is dead and has turned his back on the Arrow. Uh oh, looks like Ra’s’ prophecy is starting to come true.
Felicity helps Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) with his ATOM suit, which mostly consists of standing up at her keyboard and putting a bunch of computer-related words together. “I just connected the virtual pcp to the open-source sensor.” What? I think the writers overheard the IT guys talking one day and just picked a bunch of random words to throw in here. Anyway, the two of them are increasingly flirty, which I guess happens when you sleep together. Oliver shows up and asks to speak with Felicity, which I guess is kind of awkward for her. He asks her for help finding Murmur. He tells her about Lance, but won’t tell her what else is going on.
Laurel stops by to talk to Thea. Laurel tells her that Oliver was right, it would be hard for Thea to live with killing her father. Malcolm wakes up and Laurel leaves. He tells Thea that she learned her lessons well. He taught her to be strong, to not be hurt again. She tells him that he’s wrong, that she wanted to die the night before and has hurt more than any other time in her life. He tells her to kill him, that he loves her and wants to do what’s best for her. He can play her like a fiddle.
Nyssa seeks an audience with her father, she wants to know why Merlyn is still alive. Is Starling City like 10 minutes from Nanda Parbat? It seems like no big deal to travel from one to the other. He tells her that he selected Queen to be his heir. Nyssa thinks it’s payback for Sara, that Ra’s never approved of their relationship. Ra’s tells her that her devotion to Sara clouds her judgment. She strikes at him, but he catches the sword in his hand. She tells him she will not stand by and leaves, while he sticks his hand in the Lazarus Pit to heal it.
Back in Starling, we get a quick introduction to Murmur’s backstory. He was jailed for a crime that he didn’t commit after the police beat a confession out of him. So, he sewed his mouth shut to make sure it never got him into trouble again. Yeah, seems like a bit of overkill, but what do I know. They figure out that the crate Murmur took was filled with near-worthless industrial diamonds, while leaving behind a bunch of more valuable jewels. With Felicity preoccupied, Roy offers to talk to some fences he knows.
That leaves Diggle and Oliver, and Diggle wants answers. Surprisingly, Oliver tells him about the offer. It seems that Oliver is considering it. “John, tell me honestly, what have we accomplished? All the people we put away, John, they got out. The city is not better off. The Arrow is not making a difference.” Wow. A really interesting thing for the writers of a show that has been on the air for nearly three years to have the hero say. And kind of true. If you think about it, he didn’t stop the undertaking, and the only reason the city was attacked by Deathstroke last year was because of Oliver. He’s saved a lot of people, but a lot of people are also dead that may not have been if he was alive. Has the city been any better off? Probably, but probably not merely as much as he would have liked.
Oliver heads home to Thea, who is drinking alone. She’s trying to remember the person she was a year ago. She was someone who wouldn’t even think of killing someone and now that is nearly all she thinks of. She thinks there’s something broken in her, just like in her father. Malcolm hears all this, and as she leaves, he confronts Oliver. Malcolm is not surprised that Ra’s offered to name Oliver heir. He knows of a prophecy “The man who does not perish at the blade of Ra’s al Ghul will become Ra’s al Ghul.” Merlyn tells Oliver that he doesn’t really have a choice, that Ra’s already made the decision, before Oliver leaves to chase a lead from Roy.
Flashback Oliver brings Akio to the botanical garden, only it’s a trap.
At the Arrowcave, Felicity tells Oliver that, despite anything between her and Ray, she is still a member of the team. She confronts him about the offer (Diggle is not very good at keeping a secret), tells him that he’s already on the right path. He asks her what he’s really accomplished. “It’s been over two years and you tell me, what have I really accomplished? My mother’s dead, Tommy, Sara. Crime is not down and my sister is in ten kinds of pain right now.” Felicity tells him that if he leaves, it will all be for nothing. Oliver doesn’t know why he’s even doing this anymore. Felicity tells him that she can’t answer that. “When we thought you were dead, each one of us had to figure out why we were doing all this. Seems like it’s your turn.”
Diggle and Roy show up with news. The diamonds Murmur took are useful for making diamond-tipped bullets to pierce body armor, like the kind the police wear. They try to warn Lance, but he hangs up on Felicity. I feel like this whole diamond-tipped bullet thing would be a lot cooler if not for the fact that armor-piercing bullets already exist.
Laurel shows up at the precinct to talk to Quentin, who says he may never forgive her. Of course, that is the exact moment that Murmur shows up and starts shooting cops. And of course, the fact that the bad guys can shoot through body armor, somehow prevents them from getting shot as well. Either that or the cops are just god awful shots. Quentin tells Laurel to run, and she does (surprisingly), right into one of the bad guys who is about to shoot her when he gets an arrow in the back. Welcome back to Starling City Nyssa (seriously, how long did it take her to make it back?). That was kind of surprising. Meanwhile, Quentin manages to take out one of the gunmen, when he is grabbed from behind by Murmur. Arrow and Roy arrive just in time to save the day and fight alongside Laurel and Nyssa. Murmur, with an arrow in his shoulder, makes it outside when he is jumped by Oliver. Lance steps out, and asks Oliver if he is waiting for a thank you. Oliver says that isn’t why he does it and flies off. Literally. Like shoots an arrow into the air, and swings away. What is the arrow attached to? Anyway, looks like he figured things out for himself.
At the Arrowcave, Oliver thanks Felicity. He never stopped to think about why he does what he does, “but tonight, at the precinct, all I could think about was those police officers and how their families were counting on me and Roy and Diggle to get them home safe.” Except, you know, for the ones who were already dead by the time he got there. Maybe try not to look so happy after a massacre? Oliver won’t be taking Ra’s up on his offer after all. Felicity tells Oliver how happy she is to have him in his life, before stepping away to take a call from Ray. Ouch.
Final flashback, Oliver is trying to get Akio to safety when he runs into…Shadow?!? This has to be like a twin sister thing, right?
Laurel leaves the precinct and finds Nyssa waiting for her. She wants to talk about problems with their fathers and remember Sara. Nyssa offers to become Laurel’s trainer.
Maseo is in Starling City, and tells Oliver that Ra’s has already chosen. If Oliver does not accept, there will be consequences.
Roy gets a knock on the door, and is instantly suspicious. He goes to the door, knife in hand, and it’s Thea. She is lost (I think metaphorically, but she could just not know where she is), and asks to stay with Roy before kissing him.
Murmur’s crew is laughing about how they still have the diamond-tipped bullets, when the Arrow shows up. He kills three of them, before telling the last to tell everyone what he saw. Only this Arrow isn’t Oliver, it’s Ra’s al Ghul, turning the city against Oliver.
Yeah, the ending was a little telegraphed, but still good. I’m a little surprised Ra’s is doing his own dirty work, seeing as how he has this group larger than any army at his disposal and all. And, maybe, just maybe, killing a bunch of people that just shot up a police station is not the best way to start turning the city against Oliver. I have the feeling it will end up working though, as we know that Lance and Palmer will end up hunting him.
It looks like we finally have the setup for the rest of the season. The police and city are going to be chasing Oliver, kind of like in the first season. Meanwhile, he will have to dodge Ra’s’ assassins, and I am sure there will be some huge fight at the end with lots of heroes and bad guys. I wonder if Waller will make it back into the present before the end, or if she will be set up as the big bad for season 4.
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.