Are you ready to talk about what happened on Arrow last month? Midway into our winter hiatus for the show, here is my review! Don’t forget to watch Arrow when it comes back on the air on Wednesday, January 21st!
Plot Summary: The episode begins with a bang! Nyssa returns to Starling City to corner Oliver, and she is not a happy camper. She demands that he deliver Sara’s killer, Malcolm Merlyn, to the League within 48 hours or they will start harming innocent residents in Starling City. At Verdant, Felicity comes to the… unlikely conclusion that the DNA markers from the arrows that killed Sara point to Oliver as her killer. Then, incriminating evidence is found suggesting that Thea flew into Starling City the night before Sara was murdered, and the DNA markers may actually belong to her because they are incomplete and Oliver and Thea share some DNA.
An angry Arrow storms Thea’s (and…his?) apartment and interrogates Thea, but she knows nothing. Oliver then confronts her as a brother and she confesses to knowing Malcolm is still alive and that she wants to continue her relationship with him, but strongly denies going anywhere near Starling while she was living in Corto Maltese. Oliver pays Malcolm a visit in full Arrow gear, where Malcolm shows him a video on his phone of Thea shooting Sara full of arrows.
Malcolm reveals that he manipulated Thea with mind-altering drugs and hypnotic suggestion, flew her to Starling, and had her kill Sara. He filmed the whole thing to show to Oliver. Then, he suggests that Oliver attempt to protect his sister by turning himself in to the League as Sara’s killer and demanding trial by combat in a fight against Ra’s al Ghul to the death. Oliver would then kill Ra’s to keep his sister safe, which would also release Malcolm from his blood debt to the League.
Predictably, Oliver does exactly that; turns himself into the League and demands trial by combat. The League members, including his Hong Kong “buddy” Maseo, are shocked at his confession, but Ra’s accepts his request for trial by combat. The next day, Oliver traverses snowy mountains on foot and finally arrives at the site of the duel. Oliver puts up a fight, but is no match for the hundreds of years of combat training that Ra’s has. Ra’s stabs Oliver in the chest and kicks him over the edge of a cliff. At the end of the episode, Ray Palmer reveals to Felicity that he’s been working on a secret technology project; an “A.T.O.M. suit” that would grant him special abilities, and asks Felicity to work with him.
In Hong Kong flashbacks, stuff happens and China White stole a bio-engineered super-virus. China also breaks into Maseo’s house and kidnaps Tatsu.
Episode Review: Well, well. So the murder mystery is finally resolved and Malcolm Merlyn is up to his old tricks again. You can hardly blame me for not being surprised, I (and you too, probably) saw this coming from MILES away. We know that Malcolm is completely untrustworthy and honestly, for all of Oliver’s worldly experience I’m surprised he believed a single word this guy has said all season. And if you think about this for even two seconds, you realize that Malcolm wins regardless of whether or not Oliver wins his fight. If Ollie dies, then Malcolm is rid of the Arrow! If Ra’s dies, Malcolm is rid of the League! AND either way, Sara is out of his hair! Having your enemies fight each other is pretty smart. He might just be the smartest person on this show.
Having Thea kill Sara feels so…contrived, though. It’s almost like the writers had planned Malcolm to do it all along, and then someone proofread the earlier episode scripts and said “So Malcolm killed Sara, right?” and then the writers said “…nuh-uh!” and changed it as much as they could. Hypnotic suggestion, really?!
We are halfway through the season and I still do not care one iota about what is happening in Hong Kong. Not even a little. The island flashbacks were not nearly this boring and were very relevant to the plot. Why. Are. They. So. Boring.
So…the end of the episode was interesting because Ollie is looking fairly dead, and then flung off a cliff. But he’ll find some way to get out of it. Because Oliver Queen just does not die, especially when we are only halfway through the season! And when fighting an immortal dude with Lazarus Pits! What’s next, is the Flash going to run back in time and save him? Or is Ray Palmer going to take his fancy
Iron Man ATOM suit out for a spin?!
Overall Rating: C+! I enjoyed the thrill at the beginning of the episode, but the main plot got kinda gimmicky and Oliver vs Ra’s was a bit underwhelming.
How has Arrow been overall this season? Echoing my remarks above, I find Arrow to be underwhelming this season. The writing has been rather inconsistent, in my opinion. It seems like one week we’re going through some important development on a character, and then we don’t see or hear from them for a couple of weeks, like the episodes were poorly planned out.
Also, I can fully appreciate the sentiment of wanting to put your characters into new situations and see how they react (such as in the case of the death of someone close to them), but this season hasn’t been working for me on that front. Laurel has turned into a complete bitch, Oliver hasn’t changed at all and is still in flux over whether to protect his loved ones or let them go like always, Diggle’s appearances have been really inconsistent so I’m not sure what’s going on with him, I liked most of Felicity’s development although her backstory was completely unnecessary and felt a little forced, and I have mixed feelings about Thea given the revelations presented in the finale. Let’s not forget that Moira, Oliver and Thea’s own mother, died (and in a very shocking way, I might add) at the end of Season 2. It’s amusing that this has barely been mentioned all season, when all we seem to do is talk about Sara’s death.
Overall, this is honestly the weakest season yet, I think. Furthermore, I’m a little uncertain about what’s going to happen with the rest of the season. Rumor has it that Stephen Amell (the actor who plays Oliver Queen) has had a considerable amount of time off from filming recently, which may indicate that Oliver actually does take a hiatus from the show and is left for dead. (For a while? Is that possible?) Maybe this will give Ray Palmer and Laurel an opportunity to develop their superhero roles. Who can say for sure? All I know is…I will be your guide every week through the world of Arrow and the bad hairstyles, silly lines, and shirtless superheroes that it brings us.