This episode picks up where the last one left off- with Nyssa al Ghul barging into the Verdant basement, demanding to know where Sara is. Unsurprisingly, she is outraged and distraught to find that Sara is dead. She then explains to Oliver & Co. that Sara was tracking an important lead on a prime enemy of the League of Assassins: Malcolm Merlyn. To top it off, she has evidence that Malcolm is alive and well AND in Starling City, making him a suspect in Sara’s murder. He has motive- revenge on Oliver, enemy of the League, and we know he wouldn’t hesitate to kill in self-defense if he thought someone was on to him- and it’s also pretty suspicious that Malcolm uses arrows just like the ones Sara was shot with.
Oliver, Nyssa, and Laurel quarrel over the best way to take down Merlyn. After Oliver decides to plant a GPS tracker on Malcolm instead of killing him when the opportunity arose, Laurel sides with Nyssa and they swear to do whatever it takes to kill Malcolm. Oliver’s tracking device plan backfires and he winds up face-to-face with Malcolm himself, who convincingly says that he is only in Starling City to protect Thea and that he actually did not kill Sara.
When Nyssa discovers that Thea is Malcolm’s daughter, she decides to use Thea as bait to lure Malcolm out of hiding. This backfires when the Arrow shows up to rescue Thea, and Malcolm arrives just after to set the record straight with both of them on his innocence in Sara’s murder and plants the suggestion that Nyssa’s father, Ra’s al Ghul might have cause to want Sara out of the picture. The episode ends with Nyssa and Laurel both furious over Oliver’s decision to protect Malcolm, our first glimpse at Ra’s al Ghul as he implies he’s not all that broken up about Sara’s death, and a heartbreaking scene where Detective Lance leaves Sara a voicemail.
This episode was pretty mediocre, in my opinion. I just don’t care about a lot of the plot points. I don’t care that Thea is back and reopening the night club, I’ve lost interest in the whodunit game with Sara’s death, I really don’t care about Oliver working for Amanda in Hong Kong, and Nyssa storming around Starling City is really nothing more than a mild annoyance as far as I’m concerned.
There were a few other minor things going on, like Detective Lance starting to wonder where Sara is (when is someone going to throw this guy a bone and tell him that his daughter is dead again?), seeing that Laurel is training with Wildcat, and the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul, which was nice but not fleshed out enough to talk about at this point. Yawn.
The one high point of the episode, for me anyway, is that Malcolm Merlyn is back in the limelight. While I was annoyed that they decided to kill him off in Season 1 and then somehow have him not be dead, I like his character. Merlyn is not a purely evil guy, but tends to use morally corrupt means to further his questionable agenda. Obviously we are left wondering this season if he has any objectives aside from “protecting Thea” (he almost certainly does) and what those might be.
John Barrowman is an excellent actor with great range. I first saw him in Doctor Who when he guest starred as his Torchwood character, Captain Jack Harkness. I honestly didn’t think much of him at the time- Captain Jack is a fun character, sure- but his easy-going nature didn’t seem like anything difficult to portray. It took me a few episodes of Arrow to actually realize that it was the same actor, because the roles are as different as night and day. I think it will be fun having him around again.
Ra’s al Ghul
Ra’s al Ghul is quite a prolific character in the DC Universe. You’ll recall that Liam Neeson portrayed Ra’s in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Ra’s al Ghul is hundreds of years old and is able to maintain this immortality through Lazarus pits, which cure injuries or ailments that would otherwise result in permanent death, but as a side effect cause the user to lose their mind. Ra’s al Ghul is the leader of the League of Assassins and is sometimes referred to as “the head of the demon”.
We only caught a quick glimpse of him this episode, but I am sure we’ll see more of him in coming weeks.
We actually met Amanda Waller a few times in Season 2, and she’s been talked about several times in Season 3. Amanda Waller is the leader of an organization called ARGUS. In Arrow, ARGUS stands for Advanced Research Group United Support (this varies slightly from the comics), and we learned in Season 2 that they go after the really awful criminals such as Harley Quinn and Deadshot. In the Season 2 finale, Slade Wilson was locked up in the ARGUS prison in Lian Yu.
But back to Amanda herself. She doesn’t have any special talents or abilities aside from being super scary and well-connected. She’s the leader of the Suicide Squad and is always sharply dressed. Here in the Hong Kong flashbacks, she shows her mettle and barely bats an eyelash at Oliver’s threats.
Cheesiest moment of the episode: This week, we do not have a worst line of the episode. Instead, we have a crazy moment where Thea and Roy are just hanging out, and then suddenly Nyssa shoots a dart at Thea and Roy does this crazy Power Rangers-style backflip to intercept the dart. Are you on drugs, Roy?! It may have been more productive to, you know, grab Thea or push her out of the way, or help her run away. Doing a flip and then getting hit by a tranquilizer dart helps no one, especially since Nyssa still ended up taking Thea hostage.
Overall Episode Rating: C-
P.S. If you’re not already watching The Flash, do yourself a big favor and check out this past episode that aired on Tuesday. It’s a fun show and it had a Felicity Smoak crossover this time!