Just because everything seems okay doesn’t mean it is, and a lot of times it gets worse when you try to do the right thing. Boy, if that sentiment doesn’t describe Arrow and its deeply (DEEEEEEPLY) flawed heroes and their moral codes, then I don’t know what does. For the last episode before an inexplicable month-long break (which is happening to all of the CW’s shows), “Nanda Parbat” certainly raises more questions than it answers, and further sets up the twisted family drama that will continue into the back 9 or whatever of the season. Oh, and the Atom’s around now, too.
The theme of this episode, and maybe even the theme of the series proper, is that doing what’s right isn’t always what’s smart, and that doing the “right” thing is often just to assuage your own guilt or protect your own pride. The Queen family acts frustratingly black-and-white for the entire episode, and Oliver specifically is just aggravatingly single-minded, even more so than he has been recently. He’s going to save his sister/face the man who beat him or he’s going to die trying, like a real dumb idiot. He’s really lucky he has friends like John Diggle to help him out, even if it doesn’t end up like they hoped.
The main thrust of this episode is Oliver and Thea still training with Malcolm Merlyn for the inevitable fight with Ra’s al Ghul. This fight is going to come even sooner because Nyssa thinks Oliver needs to die either way, even though Ra’s knows it wasn’t he who killed Sara. Thea is having a hard time dealing with the knowledge that she’s essentially the gun used to kill Sara, especially with Laurel acting really nice to her. That never helps anything. Oliver’s convinced that Merlyn is the only way they’re going to beat Ra’s, and seeing as Thea and Oliver can’t even best Merlyn together, they’re going to need all the help they can get.
Roy and Thea talk and he reveals that he knows about what she’s done. While she’s initially peeved, he tells her of his murdering that police officer under the influence of Mirakuru. He says the guilt is eating him alive, so none of them wanted that for Thea. And then she does something completely nutso – she just walks up and tells Laurel the truth, and, much like when Oliver told Thea his secret, Laurel doesn’t blame Thea at all. She blames Merlyn, because it was his fault, after all. But Laurel can’t understand, then, why Thea would still want to work with Merlyn. Thea thinks there’s no other choice, but there totally is, so she somehow (and I truly don’t know how) gets a message to the League of Assassins, and Nyssa specifically, to come pick up Malcolm. More on that in a second.
Laurel, meanwhile, goes to Ollie and sets him up to lie, which he does perfectly, about finding Sara’s killer. He knows EXACTLY who did it but hasn’t told her. She yells at him something fierce and he keeps trying to say that Merlyn is currently a necessary evil. Then Laurel says maybe the meanest thing anyone’s ever said which is that she can’t remember why she was ever in love with him. HOLY SHIT. The stinging…the stinging! This of course makes Oliver real mad at Thea, but she’s all “suck it, bro, I called the League on Merlyn and they’re coming to get him.” Elsewhere, Malcolm is walking in the middle of the night somewhere for no reason when he’s attacked by Laurel in Black Canary mode. He pretty easily Jeet-Kune-Do’s her, but the League shows up and kidnaps him. Nyssa tells Laurel her sister has justice, which is of little condolence.
Then Oliver really goes overboard; he tries to rescue Merlyn before the League can take him away. Oliver only succeeds in restraining Nyssa, who he then takes back and locks up. Literally everyone else is baffled as to why he’d care if the League kills Merlyn, especially since it’ll give Thea and he an out. But Oliver says if they kill him, Thea will have to live with the guilt of having basically killed her own father. Since it was sort of his fault both his parents died, he can’t allow that for her. I mean, I GUESS that makes sense, but it’s definitely more complicated than that, and Merlyn doesn’t deserve to live, really. He’s not a good person. Like, at all.
Oliver decides he needs to go to Nanda Parbat to face Ra’s and try to rescue Merlyn. This is surely a suicide mission, and everybody tells him so, but since he’s Oliver Queen he does whatever the hell he wants. Luckily, and weirdly, Lila tells Diggle to go with him as back-up, which he does; Diggle doesn’t want to lose his brother-in-arms again if he can help it. Oliver merely asks Nyssa where Nanda Parbat is, and she tells him happily because she wants her father to kill him. They somehow get to Nanda Parbat, probably because it’s like a 6 hour plane ride, and try to sneak into the compound, but they’ve been expected. Even if Oliver does cool things like pick up flaming arrows and fire them back at people, it doesn’t stop them from being captured. It was a trap all along.
While in chains, Diggle asks Oliver that if they come back, he’d be the best man at his wedding. Oliver, of course, agrees. Oliver then admits that he wanted to come face Ra’s, yes to save Thea, but also because he couldn’t stand that he lost in their first duel. He’s then brought before Ra’s al Ghul…
…but before we get to the cliffhanger, here’s some other shit going on:
Ray Palmer has been hard at work trying to perfect the Atom suit. So hard, in fact, that he hasn’t been seen in a week. Felicity goes to him and tells him he needs to take care of himself. She puts a firewall or whatever up on the computer so that he can’t work and tells him it’ll take 6 hours for the computer to work again, so he should eat, shower, and sleep. She forgot to list BONE in there, because that’s exactly what Ray and Felicity do post food and shower, pre-nap time. And the Smoak sex seems to have stirred his brain because he wakes up like a Pop Tart and puts the finishing touches on the suit, then goes flying around Starling City while Felicity sleeps. Atom in the house, guys! And he’s even got his own theme music.
Also, Roy takes Thea to where he goes when he’s feeling guilty, which is the family of the cop he killed. He anonymously gives them money or toys for the kid or whatever. Thea takes this to mean she should get rid of her own guilt… by telling Nyssa it was her that did the Sara-slaying, opening the cage, and handing the master assassin a sword. She’s just going to let herself get killed.
The dumb flashbacks this time were of Oliver finishing his debrief with General Shrieve and the General is very pleased and says he’s relieved Waller from any of the activities. Oliver can go with Maseo and his family back to Japan and then go wherever he wants to go from there. But, on their way to the boat, they’re attacked by people who work for Waller because she’s a horrible shrew of a person. Oliver takes the son while Maseo and Tatsu make a run for it.
Which brings us back to Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver pleads for Diggle’s life but is willing to accept his own death. Ra’s al Ghul commends Oliver for his bravery and his honor, but says he doesn’t want to kill him… he is an old man (hundreds of years, at least) and he knows he won’t last forever. He wants Oliver to take his place and become the next Ra’s al Ghul. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUN!
So, it looks like Arrow is going the full Batman with Oliver and Ra’s. He wants a successor, and Oliver’s the best one for the job. But that, of course, would mean Oliver would have to kill people again, which he clearly doesn’t want to do. Maybe they’ll surprise all of us.
Also, have you noticed all the characters IN the League of Assassins, including Ra’s al Ghul himself, pronounce it “Raysh” al Ghul, while everybody else, including Merlyn, says it the wrong way “Roz” al Ghul? Maybe if Oliver takes over, he can standardize the pronunciation.
This was a really good character episode and is really bringing the storyline to a head. I was so sick of Deathstroke last year by this point in the season, so it’s very nice that I’m not sick of Ra’s al Ghul. I AM, however, getting really tired of Oliver being unwaveringly anti-death and everybody else just putting up with it. I get he’s a moral man now, but he also lacks all reason. Thea is really standing out as a great character and I’m excited to see the resolution to this whole thing.
We’ll have to wait until March 18th to discover what Oliver does with “The Offer” he’s been given. A month! AHHHHHH!!!