This week’s Arrow is probably one of the most focused and single-tracked episodes they’ve ever done, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. While the last few episodes juggled the various subplots involving the now quite-hefty cast of characters, “The Magician” brings many of them together into the same A story, leaves a couple out for various reasons, and makes the whole affair much more about character tension than action. There’s really only one fight sequence, but it’s a doozy.
We pick up immediately from where last week’s ended, with Nyssa (Katrina Law) showing up at the Foundry and aiming her bow at Oliver, demanding to know where Sara is. Well, obviously, Sara is not alive anymore, and Oliver tells her so. He also tells the Daughter of the Demon that they’ve buried her in the grave that was meant for her all those years ago. Nyssa is devastated; she puts down her weapon and leaves. Oliver tells Roy to go follow her and report back. Because Oliver trusts no one, except, we’ll find out later, very usually untrustworthy people.
Ollie then heads to a sibling date with Thea, which he’s late to, and she mentions that she’s not gonna be broke for long. Seems investors and people miss the Verdant club and want to help her get it back up and running. They’re even going to buy the Foundry from Queen Consolidated, presumably so that Oliver and company (not the Disney movie) can still use it as their hideout. For narrative purposes. She tells her big brother that she’s doing all right, and Oliver wants to know what happened to her while she was away. OH IF ONLY YOU KNEW, OLIVER!
Nyssa heads to Sara’s grave and finds Laurel there already. It’s a weird and tense conversation, which of course consists of Laurel being pissed off at Nyssa for “awakening the darkness” in Sara and putting her in the position to get shot full of arrows and fall of a roof. Nyssa replies that the darkness was already inside Sara to begin with and that when she found her, the poor thing was basically a beaten dog. Nyssa leaves after telling Laurel, who is wearing Sara’s jacket again, that it was a present from Nyssa and that Laurel is unfit to wear such a garment. So, we’re getting real catty here. Roy has watched the whole thing and reports back.
Oliver decides to go where he thinks Nyssa might be, which is a League of Assassins safehouse. Of course, Nyssa is there, but she says that it was Sara who was staying there. Oliver looks through her stuff and finds that Sara was following up on a lead. The lead, Nyssa tells Oliver, is that Malcolm Merlyn is alive and had apparently returned to Starling City. There were pictures Sara had taken and everything. Oliver, needless to say, is most displeased. They both return to the Foundry and Roy reveals that Sara had a blank piece of paper on her when she died, but it wasn’t blank at all. She’d written notes in ghost ink and they reveal themselves when put over flame. Two things worth checking out: “Jensen?” and “Dad help?”
Laurel goes to her dad to hopefully obtain the same information he gave Sara regarding the name Jensen. Det. Lance is worried Laurel’s getting wrapped up in things, but she insists she’s just helping Sara. He gives her the address, but as they’re walking out, Laurel sees Nyssa in the police station. They have yet another confrontation, during which Nyssa scolds Laurel for not telling her father about Sara’s death. He deserves vengeance as well. This will certainly blow up in Laurel’s face, I fear. Thankfully, for the moment, Nyssa doesn’t drop the dime and Laurel gives her the address.
Nyssa, Oliver, Roy, and Diggle make their way to Jensen’s address. Jensen has a large Japanese-style estate, him having been a sensei. Nyssa makes her way to where she thinks Jensen is meditating, however Diggle and Roy find Jensen’s grave. So that’s clearly not him; who is it? Welp, you guessed it, it’s Malcolm Merlyn, codename within the League of Assassins “The Magician.” Nyssa is sure Merlyn killed her lover and attempts to kill him, but he’s too slippery and makes his way toward escape. Oliver takes a shot at him as he flees and nicks his arm.
At the Foundry, everybody’s mad because Oliver could have killed Merlyn but didn’t. He DID however shoot him with nanites so now they can track him. Laurel, believing as Nyssa does that Merlyn killed Sara, is incensed. Oliver should totally just throw his vow out the window and kill this guy. Laurel tells Nyssa later to do what she has to do to (meaning kill Merlyn). Elsewhere, for two minutes of a completely different show, Roy goes to Verdant and offers to help Thea set things up. Totally as friends of course.
Oliver has tracked Merlyn to an old warehouse but finds it completely empty. He then gets a phone call from Merlyn asking to meet in a super busy and foot-trafficked area. No weapons, no costumes, just talking. Oliver goes and the two chat amid a seemingly endless sea of people walking around them. (Where are all these people going and why is it so constant?!?) Merlyn tells Oliver he didn’t kill Sara. After all, Ra’s al Ghul has placed a blood bounty on his head, so why would he try to get it lifted by killing the love of his daughter’s life? It’s ILLOGICAL! He says he came back for Thea, lies and says he’s kept his distance, but says that he’s there to protect her because Oliver is too distracted to do so. Ouch. He swears on Thea’s life he did not kill Sara.
Oliver’s convinced. But he’s undoubtedly concerned. He goes to see Thea for coffee (in the same set used as Jitters for The Flash. They redressed it, kind of. It’s very noticeable.) and breaks the news to her that Malcolm Merlyn is still alive and might be looking for her. He swears she will be safe, and Thea does a great job of pretending like she didn’t know any of this.
But, I’ll tell you who’s real mad — Nyssa. She is 100% not convinced Merlyn is innocent of this crime and swears vengeance by any means necessary. Oliver reveals that his sister is Merlyn’s daughter and Nyssa now has a plan. Diggle stops Oliver from chasing her and lays it out that even if Oliver has sworn not to kill, Nyssa hasn’t, and maybe it’s better that Malcolm Merlyn isn’t around anymore. Pretty much, Oliver’s the only one who doesn’t want Merlyn dead, and that’s mainly due to Thea.
While leaving Verdant, Thea and Roy are met by Nyssa. Roy jumps into action to protect her but gets a tranq dart in the neck. So he’s out for the count and doesn’t see Thea stand up to the assassin. But, ultimately, Thea is taken by Nyssa and used as bait for Merlyn. When Roy recovers, he tells Oliver what happened, and tells Laurel that Merlyn is Thea’s father. Oh joy. Laurel feels bad for having basically told Nyssa to kidnap Thea, but Oliver doesn’t have time to be mad as he and Diggle race out. Diggle has to be on the perimeter so Thea doesn’t see him.
Nyssa has Thea hung upside down and the young lass swears she’s going to kill the masked assassin. Arrow shows up and frees Thea in one very quick motion and tells her to run, which she does. Oliver and Nyssa begin to fight, and are joined by Merlyn who says he needs to clear the air. After a really awesome three-way ninja fight, Oliver pins Nyssa to a wall with Arrows and has his sights trained on Merlyn, who once again professes his innocence in this matter. He says it was likely Ra’s al Ghul who had Sara killed for her being not a true member of the League, and probably for making his daughter fall in love with a woman. He tells Oliver that the only true way to ensure safety is to kill him, but Oliver cannot.
Back at the Foundry, Nyssa punches Oliver in the face and vows to kill The Magician any way she can. Oliver says as long as Malcolm Merlyn is in Starling City, he will be protected and is off-limits. This is obviously not the kind of thing Nyssa wants to hear and swears that Oliver has made a powerful enemy this night. As Nyssa storms out, Felicity returns from being on The Flash on Tuesday and has no idea what’s going on.
Nyssa, on her way out of town, stops by Ted Grant’s gym and sees Laurel punching a punching bag. They say their goodbyes and Nyssa says Sara would be proud of her big sister. Elsewhere, Det. Lance calls Sara’s phone and leaves a message, saying he needs to hear her voice. Sad. Roy goes back to Verdant to help Thea, purely platonically of course, and Thea makes him assistant manager. So that’s nice. Secretly, she’s impressed at his skills and his work with the Arrow seems to be paying off. Then she gets a call from her “designer” but it’s really Malcolm. She thanks him for taking care of her.
THEN YOU GUYS. We cut to a temple way off in the desert somewhere. Nyssa has returned home to say to her father that Malcolm Merlyn is still alive and she believes he killed Sara. Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) tells her that Merlyn will face justice, but for his crimes against the League, and not for Sara’s death since she was never truly one of them. She tells him that Oliver Queen has sworn to protect Merlyn, and The Demon’s Head says he is courting war with the League.
FLASHBACK TO HONG KONG
Oliver has to take out an old man in Hong Kong, under protest of course. He does so and steals a USB drive the man was carrying. He doesn’t like the idea of being Amanda Waller’s stooge and tells his keeper Maseo so. Oliver tricks Maseo’s son into letting him use the computer, getting the information from the USB. It involves a Ferris Air flight that went down. Oliver demands a meeting with Waller. When he reveals what he knows, The Wall tells him that it’s his fault. The man he killed today was Fyers’ handler and the airplane was meant to be destroyed to kill a single target.
I don’t really care about these flashbacks, but what I DO care about is Ra’s al Ghul! Holy cow, we finally, after a whole season of wondering, have seen the man, the myth, the legend, and he looks… kind of like just a dude. Not Liam Neesony at all, and certainly not like he does in the comics. BUT, it’s still Ra’s al Ghul and we now know who the big bad, or one of the big bads, this season is. I couldn’t be more excited.
Next week, it’s “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” so it looks like we’re getting a big make-up for her not being in this week’s episode hardly at all. Should be a good one; Felicity gets the flashbacks next time.