FULL SPOILERS FOR EPISODE AHEAD
Dang, there goes my theory that Tommy killed Sara...
Dang, there goes the potential for Katana to be a part of the TV JLA
Dang, there goes...Oliver down the mountainside...
So yeah, uh, Oliver died. And so, Roy, we kinda need you to do this thing. It's pretty simple. All you have to do is just menacingly aim your bow at someone, get a silly voice changer, and say the words, "You have failed this city." A couple arguments with Diggle and some serious fanboys shipping you with people later and I think you're golden. Though we may need to change your name to "Red Arrow" to keep the show's name afloat. "Arsenal" sounds kinda "eh" to be honest.
But in all seriousness, he's coming back. Are you kidding me? There can't be people who think Oliver isn't coming back. It has been established that Ra's al Ghul has lived for centuries now. That means there are Lazarus Pits, and that means that Oliver is going to find his way to one as well. Let's not forget: Oliver has died in the comics before, and came back to life. That was a complicated affair, so I think this time around will be much less complicated.
I'm giving it a good four or five episodes until we see Oliver back. Maybe not as the Arrow, and maybe not with his friends. But considering how episode fourteen is called "The Return," I doubt Oliver is actually going to stay dead long. This isn't Game of Thrones, it's a freaking super-hero show. Arrow might be dark but it's not going to kill its main character.
Within the realms of the show, besides the fact that if Stephen Amell left viewership would plummet, it would have been a complete disservice for Oliver to beat Ra's al Ghul on only the villain's second time on the show. I have no doubt that Oliver Queen has the ability to defeat Ra's al Ghul. But after climbing a giant mountain, you're going to be out of breath and tired. On level ground, I do believe that Oliver will put up a much better fight, if not pull out a victory. If it were Arrow versus the Demon, then yes, my money would be on the Arrow. I know I might get people mad by saying this, but I'm happy with the direction they chose to go here. Ra's al Ghul clearly had the upper-hand and the writers didn't make up some silly Deus Ex Machina, like Maseo stepping in to stop the fight, to save Oliver's life. It was a battle to the death and they treated it as such.
Now then, with all of that out of the way, let's talk about that episode.
It was the best of the season, probably one of the best of the show. I mean, any episode with Katrina Law in it is going to be awesome. But the entire episode, including the flashbacks and scenes without Oliver's League dilemma, were very well-done.
The lightest subplot of the weak was one regarding Felicity and Ray, which resulted in Ray telling Felicity about how Slade's Mirakurus killed his wife. Here we were finally given the reason why Ray Palmer not only bought out Queen Consolidated, but also the reason he will become a super-hero. He wants to be able to stop super-beings, and to do that, he has created the A.T.O.M. suit. Interestingly enough, though, it is serving now as both the Atom suit and as an O.M.A.C. Something tells me that, down the line, we may have a separation in which Omacs start rampaging the city and Ray creates his suit to combat them. The Atom suit, as of right now, looks like armor, similar to what Batman wears in "The Dark Knight Returns" in his battle against Superman. I liked that Ray showed Felicity the suit and I liked how forward he was with it. It now pretty much confirms Ray as another member of the future TV JLA roster.
Another potential member, Black Canary, dealt with her own little problems. Not only did Thea stop by to talk to Laurel (which, as we find out, would be ironic that Thea talked to Laurel about Sara's killer), but Dinah, Laurel's mom, also showed up. Through her "motherly intuition" (aka plot convenience), she was able to determine that something was not right, and that Sara was actually dead. When Laurel tells her that she will avenge Sara, her mother gets surprisingly aggressive about how Laurel should indeed be the one to take down the killer, and make them suffer. It was pretty intimidating seeing her mother get so furious, and is only going to further the fire within Laurel. I suppose now that Oliver is kinda sorta dead that she has something of a free-pass to join Team Arrow as a masked vigilante, which would explain why we saw her in action in the Black Canary suit. It'll be interesting to see how she works within Team Arrow without Oliver there, who is kind of the connecting piece for everyone.
But finally, let's talk about the main part of the episode. Yes, to all the people who I claimed crazy, you were right. Thea killed Sara. Sort of. It was in a very Malcolm Merlyn-y way. He apparently made her take a drug that basically brainwashed her and forced her to be the one that killed Sara. And filmed it.
This episode did a good job of answering a lot of questions. Why did Sara ask "What are you doing here?" to the stranger. Because it was Malcolm she was talking to, and then Thea fired the arrows. Why will Ray Palmer become the Atom? Because his wife was killed by a bunch of psychos. Will Tatsu/ Maseo live in the present? One will, yes.
Also, quick side-note: loved the reveal that Maseo is alive. Came as a very quick plot twist that added a whole lot of emphasis on the flashbacks. I look forward to what he brings to the table, as I feel he'll now be something of a Slade Wilson to Oliver, though more friendly. They fought together, but are now something of enemies, as Maseo admitted he didn't want to see Oliver die. It sounds like they go off on decent terms in the flashbacks, as Maseo probably just flees maybe when Oliver escapes back to Lian Yu, or whatever happens after Hong Kong.
Willa Holland in this episode as Thea (the acting on the whole in the episode was phenomenal, but Willa in particular) killed it. Everything she said and did was great. You can tell she's still a bit shaky in the fight scenes, but watching Thea throw down was like a sweet relief. Mia Dearden indeed. But her dramatic scenes were very well done too. I know this was supposed to definitely be an Oliver episode but I feel that without the great opposite performance this episode would not be nearly as good as it was.
Sadly we didn't see much of Malcolm Merlyn but he was up to his normal trickster ways. We got a heck of a lot of Ra's to set his tone, but sadly not as much with Nyssa. She's still awesome though, can't wait to see more as the season progresses.
Watching Oliver prance around looking for a way to stop all this was very similar to the way he acted when Slade was in town. Of course this time things didn't go so well. Still, I liked seeing it. It kept the suspense up the entire time, and you were able to feel this impending doom.
The entire episode, too, there is the constant struggle Oliver faces of "the climb," obviously meant to show the struggles he faced when making the final decision to take Ra's on in Mortal Kombat...I mean mortal combat. Same thing sometimes, whatever.
The final battle was pretty darn sweet, showing the fact that Oliver is an adept swordsman. Not quite as skilled as Ra's but at least the show addressed that little snippet that's been missing. And because it show Oliver as such a good fighter, we also got to see how amazing Ra's is as a fighter, simply toying with Oliver as it seemed. I want to compare this final scene to both Dragon Ball Z and "The Two Towers" at the same time...so I will.
Compared to DBZ, Ra's basically took on Oliver the same way Frieza took on Goku: using only one hand until he was forced to use the second. It showed that Goku/ Oliver was the first legit threat to Ra's/ Frieza in centuries. Literally, both to Ra's and Frieza in centuries.
To compare it to "The Two Towers": Oliver fought a demon and then fell down a mountain. That's pretty much it.
BUT NOW HE COMES BACK AS THE WHITE LANTERN ARROW AAAAAAHHHH!
Just kidding. I don't know how he's coming back. I just know that we've finally got our first big TV JLA death. Next is probably Barry, the there's going to be time-travel Speed Force mumbo-jumbo to reverse (ha, pun) that.
The flashbacks were definitely the best of the season, no competition. It was the culmination of everything Oliver had done thus far in Hong Kong, all wrapped in one. He and Maseo are now working more together, which is great given what we know happens five years later. Even better is how we see him becoming the Hood (since the Arrow isn't a killer and...whatever), where he mercilessly tortures their finder and goes on a stealth mission with Maseo. The battle between Tatsu and China White, and it's great to see her again, is great and thankfully Tatsu uses a sword (not sure if it's a katana but I'm assuming it is, sorry for not being sword-smart) to fight her, giving some great imagery and false-hope for believers like me who want to see her alive. Then again, the "it" Oliver mentioned could be Akio, their son, dying instead, forcing Tatsu to stay with A.R.G.U.S. as a highly trained member. The flashbacks certainly hold great promise for the season, just as much as last season's, and maybe more. We shall see.
All in all, though, this was one of the best episodes of Arrow thus far, but I can't say for certain if it was better than last year's "Three Ghosts." Whereas this one played on the suspense and consequences of what Oliver had done, last year we got to see not only great emotional scenes between Oliver's three ghosts, but also the creation of the Flash and the HUMONGOUS reveal that Slade Wilson was alive and very angry. This one doesn't pack as much of a punch because Oliver is going to come back in some way, but with Slade on the scene there was one thing in mind:
And hey...he's still alive. Will he be called upon to defeat Ra's al Ghul? Will Oliver return as himself or as some shell of a man? Will Roy Harper don the name "Red Arrow" as tribute to his fallen ally? And will we ever really see Connor Hawke on Arrow? Tune in Wednesday January 21st, 2015 to find out! Same Arrow-channel, same Arrow-time!