This is a review of Arrow 3×9 so advanced warning there are spoilers. I think I expressed my feelings last week quite well, needless to say I needed some time to let the television events of the last few weeks sink in before I could emotionally deal with writing this review.
This was my far the most heart wrenching, emotional roller coaster of an episode of the series to date. It has taken me days to think through how I would write a review on it. So I guess I’ll just start at the beginning of the episode & go from there.
So the episode starts with Oliver climbing the side of a mountain then quickly goes to 48 hours later with the Arrow delivering a wanted man to Quentin Lance outside the police department during their christmas party. Once Lance is inside Oliver gets attacked by a dark archer he assumes is Malcolm Merlyn then a group comes out, they go at Ollie from all directions and their leader appears and knocks him out. Turns out it was the league of assassins and not Merlyn. Nyssa al Ghul threatens Oliver on behalf of her father, find Sara’s killer or the league will start killing civilians of Starling city. We all know Oliver won’t stand for that, protecting Starling is what he does. There is also an interesting twist when one of the members of the League of Assassins in Oliver’s old ally Maseo, from his days in Hong Kong. I love how the show has developed the character of Nyssa as a strong female role. Her loyalty is not questionable, she sets out to do something and will stop at nothing to get it done. In this specific case she had strong feelings for Sara, the show discussed how Nyssa was there for Sara but never really got into the other side of the relationship but I guess that is because Nyssa’s love for Sara was quite evident. Given their relationship I don’t think she will stop until she knows for certain who killed Sara and makes them pay.
Back at the “arrow cave” as dubbed in the crossover by Cisco, Oliver tells Felicity, Roy & Diggle about the deadline given my Nyssa. Felicity informs them that Caitlin got the DNA off of the arrows that killed Sara but they are taking longer than usual to run. Oliver is obviously worried since he has no back up plan if they cannot find Sara’s killer.
Felicity runs the DNA through the police database and instantly gets a hit. Oliver. Of course Oliver’s first thought is that Malcolm Merlyn is setting him up. Felicity tracks flights that Merlyn could have taken back to Starling. Roy & Oliver have a “talk” with a pilot at a private airstrip and “convince” him to hand over security footage from the night before Sara was murdered. Oliver is correct in assuming that Merlyn was in town when Sara was killed but is caught off guard when he sees Thea with him. Diggle suggests that it could be Thea’s DNA on the arrows, Oliver refuses to believe that she is capable, Felicity and Roy both agree that it is a possibility but Oliver shoots it down, refusing to believe that his sister would do it and sticks to his theory that it is HIS DNA and that Malcolm is setting him up. Oliver goes to visit Thea, obviously hurt about Thea lying to him. Oliver asked her straight up about whether or not she flew to Starling with Malcolm a couple of months prior and she denies it. The look on Ollie’s face is heart breaking, he knows the truth from the video and she lies right to his face.
This is a side of Oliver we don’t often see, he seems so vulnerable when it comes to his sister. Felicity suggests he speak to her as the arrow. That doesn’t go as expected when she attacks the arrow in defence of her father followed by a jump off the balcony. That’s not the end of it though, as Oliver sits at Verdant he gets a visitor. Merlyn shows up saying that Thea called to tell him she was attacked by the arrow. Oliver snaps and gets Merlyn pinned by the throat, rethinking his no kill policy. But tricky ol’ Malcolm’s got a trick up his sleeve. Oliver then gets a video message of Thea killing Sara, he explains that he drugged her with a drug that makes it’s victims susceptible to suggestion while also erasing their memory of what ever they are told to do. He says he did this to motivate Ollie to take the rap and challenge Ra’s to a trial by combat. If he wins and Ra’s dies then all blood debts are erased including his own and Thea’s. Now here is where I get conflicted. This could have been Malcolm’s plan and he could be straight forward in what he is saying but here is my concern. The man is smart, he knows Ra’s al Ghul and he should know that there is no way that Oliver will be able to win. Oliver is currently the only one keeping him alive in Starling, since he vowed to protect him, so why do this? What are his real motives? because obviously there is some thing. I love Ollie don’t get me wrong, but he is going up against Ra’s al Frickin Ghul there is NO WAY he could kill him.
In the next scene Ollie is talking to his team, he seems simply broken. He is blaming himself for letting Merlyn turn Thea into a killer, he can’t accept that something like this was beyond his control. Roy then points out the obvious that if he goes head to head with Ra’s al Ghul he will die. Oliver says he won’t because he now has something to fight for which is something he hasn’t had up to this point. He will be fighting for Thea. Now the sentimentalist in me was a bit convinced the first time I watched it because I wanted to believe his love for his sister would be enough to sustain him and would give him enough strength to take down Ra’s. That plus the show is called Arrow, what are they going to do, Kill off Oliver Queen.
Oliver then goes to see Ra’s al Ghul, he tells him that he killed Sara.Nobody really believes him but Ra’s accepts the challenge, saying he hasn’t been challenged in 67 years. By the look of him he’s not that old which suggests that he has access to the Lazarus pit. Oliver and Maseo talk alone, Maseo telling him that he knows Oliver didn’t kill Sara and that when he goes up against Ra’s and dies that it is his duty to bear witness, almost pleading with Oliver not to go through with it as he does not want to see him die. He gives him a paper with the location and tells him he has 12 hours to get his affairs in order and must be there on the 13th if he can survive the climb, the climb which was shown through out the episode.
He returns to say his goodbyes “just in case” he first goes to see Thea. He tries to convince her that Merlyn doesn’t love her, that he incapable of such emotion but accepts that she is not going to turn on her father. They have a lovely brother-sister moment and he is back to home base to say goodbye to team arrow. This scene is probably my favourite in the episode.
Oliver is getting ready to leave when Diggle & Roy show up. Oliver tells them that they can’t change his mind, they accept this but Diggle wants to go with him to have his back, Oliver convinces him otherwise. He tells Roy to take care of Thea and they have a beautiful bromance hug, he shares a hearty handshake with John and then the scene that made me tear up. Felicity shows up. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that the chemistry between these two is AWESOME!I know there are people out there who are saying he needs to end up with Laurel because of the comics or that Felicity should be with Ray but really there is no denying the greatness that is Olicity. If you have to have an example of a time when a show went a different route then the comics when it came to relationships look at Smallville, in Smallville Oliver ends up with Chloe not Canary so it is not necessary that he ends up with Laurel in Arrow.. The felicity & Oliver scene is great so I have to rant about it a little bit. So it starts with John telling Roy that they should give Oliver and Felicity a moment, (He’s such a Olicity shipper). Felicity tells Oliver she wishes he wouldn’t go but knows that she can’t convince him so she’s not going to try but she’s going to ask him to do something he’s not going to want to do. Oliver melted my heart when he said ” If it’s you asking, I’ll do it” This is when Felicity asks him to kill Ra’s al Ghul, that she knows he can beat him but she is worried he won’t break his vow to not kill even though it is his only means of survival. Okay so this next little part of dialogue kinda made me cry… like a lot… every time I watched it. ” I honestly don’t know if I’m a killer anymore but I know two things. The first is that whoever I am, I am someone who will do whatever WHATEVER it takes to save my sister. He then leans in and gives her the longest most sincere forehead kiss I have seen on TV in a long time and starts to walk away. Then Felicity asks him what the other thing is .. the first time I watched this I was yelling at my TV “That he loves you” around the same time Ollie says ” I love you” and then he is gone.
So he gets to the top of the mountain and faces of with Ra’s. I’m literally sitting at the end of the bed watching it at this point, trying to figure out how he is going to survive this, is he going to actually kill Ra’s al Ghul because I can’t see that, is someone going to come to his rescue, is he going to explain what is actually going on and the two of them team up to take down Merlyn, will his former buddy step in and save his ass but I NEVER predicted the actual ending…which I had to rewind like 5 times before I actually believed what my eyes were telling me. Ra’s stabs his sword through Ollie’s chest. Oliver’s life flashes on screen, random flashes from the show to date including the kiss with felicity and Thea running down the stairs to him when he came home. At this point I’m screaming, someone apply pressure do something. Then Ra’s kicks him off the cliff. Even if he miraculously survived the stab wound there is no way he could have survived that drop.
So I know I did a semi-review during that recap but I have to get more into it since this was BY FAR may favourite mid-season finale of the year. Now I’m actually not a big fan of the flashbacks because a lot of the time they aren’t able to completely link them in such an amazing way to the storyline. These one’s however did just that explaining the mind-altering substance that Oliver learned about 5 years ago to how Thea was able to become manipulated by daddy dearest’s mind control. This part of the storyline was necessary to make viewers believe that Thea would kill Sara. The whole storyline of the episode was one which was able to break down the character of Oliver Queen to the point where he was vulnerable and heartbroken and needed to go the extra mile in order to protect the only living family he has left, ultimately giving his life (or so it appears). One thing is for certain, when a show is able to put a sword through it’s main character and throw him off a cliff they reached new heights. I am so excited to see how Ollie comes back & what kind of person he is when he does.
There are also a few other things going on during this episode but the ending kind of makes you forget they even happened so because of that I will also recap and review the other story arches that would have stood out during a regular episode yet seem to fall to the back of your memory given the shock value of the ending.
One of the side stories in this episode was of the Lance family. At the beginning of the episode Laurel is at Sara’s grave talking to her when Thea shows up. Laurel opens up to her and tells her about Sara’s murder but makes her promise not to tell Oliver. I’m hoping to see more character development for Laurel in the second half of the season, I think I could like her I just don’t yet. As far as Thea, I am amazed at the development since the first season, her character has grown so much and has so much more potential for growth. Laurel’s mother Dinah returns for Chrismas. While Laurel and her mother are out for coffee Dinah asks about Sara again, she knows that there is something wrong with Sara, she can feel Sara’s absence and knows that she is dead. Laurel tells her that nobody can know that Sara is dead until they figure out who killed her. Laurel & Dinah go visit Sara’s grave and Laurel gets a full blessing from her mother to make whoever did this suffer. Although it doesn’t seem like her character is developing much I think allowing her to open up to what has happened will help lead into her transformation into the black canary which is set to happen sometime in the second half of this season.
The second side story is of Ray Palmer. He first appears in the episode talking to Felicity about the kiss in the last episode. Felicity is obviously avoiding the discussion since the awkward walking away on behalf of Ray he tells her he can explain his abrupt exit but she gets called away to “work” before he gets a chance to. The look on his face when he said “you’re at work” was hilarious, I wonder how long it will be before he learns about Felicity’s other job. While Felicity is busy with team arrow working on stopping 50 random people from getting slaughtered within a couple days, Ray shows up at Verdant after pinging her phone. She goes upstairs to talk to him and learns that the reason he walked away was because he felt guilty for kissing her because he was engaged and his fiance was killed in front of him by one of the men during Slade Wilson’s seige on Starling last season. He tried to stop it but he couldn’t since they broke his leg so he couldn’t do anything but watch them break her neck. This isn’t the last we see of those two together, Felicity also shows up later on and asks Ray point blank why he bought Queen consolidated. He finally opens up and explains everything to Felicity about the A.T.O.M. suit. I like that they are developing this aspect of his character slowly similarly to that of Firestorm in The Flash, it allows viewers to see a bit of what is to come while continuing on the shows main storylines not letting everything seem too rushed. I am very excited to see how Ray as a hero develops and continues as the show progresses.
Overall this episode was amazing, it literally has taken me two days to write this post because I just couldn’t gather the words to explain what I was feeling, I think I summed it up for the most part. I’d definitely give it a A+.
Tune in on January 21st for the mid-season premiere titled “Left Behind”