Okay, inevitably I have to discuss stuff from Episode 9 of [Arrow](series:720988) ("The Climb') in this article. There were, of course, some enormous developments, and hugely spoilery ones at that. I was kind of emotionally destroyed and all over the place, so I saved this article until now to save you from an error riddled mess. Now, again, spoiler alert. Allow me just to generate some text wall for the people coming here who don't, even after clicking the article, want it spoiled.
Did you hear that the Arrow/Flash universe is for now the longest running current superhero universe? That's pretty exciting, right? There are rankings of all the other ones here in this article which I'll shamelessly self promote here (all in the name of spoiler avoidance, a noble cause, of course).
Did you know that despite initial fan criticism, Matt Nable is being hailed and acclaimed as an amazing Ra's al Ghul, from stealing the show to as good as Liam Neeson? Undeniably, the man holds a lot of gravitas, he's an excellent actor, and his run as the Demon's Head will go down as one of the best.
Without any spoilers, did you see the Reverse Flash being absolutely amazing last night in The Flash? Here's a GIF for you if not .
Okay, we can get down to business now.
Let's get it all out of the way so you know what I'm talking about quite clearly.
Tonight, Ra's al Ghul killed Oliver Queen.
Arrow's titular, main character, in what was perhaps the single greatest cliffhanger that has graced superhero TV thus far. And that's saying a lot.
So, how are they going to deal with this? Stephen Amell isn't leaving the show, so you can all take a deep breath - we will certainly see more Oliver. That's guaranteed in flashbacks, at least, and the promo for next time 100% suggests that Oliver's body will be retrieved.
There were some interesting developments in this episode, though, which - for fans of the comics - despite being, you know, kicked off a cliff, solidifies the odds of his survival. Namely:
The Lazarus Pit(s) almost certainly exist
Ever since Malcolm Merlyn returned, speculation has abounded that he used a Lazarus Pit to have himself resurrected. We saw Ra's bathing in something way back in his first episode, which some speculated was the Lazarus Pit. This episode, though, practically confirmed it.
"It's been 67 years since a man challenged me. Have you covered death that much?" Ra's al Ghul's dialogue was epic this episode, never letting down. But this particular one instantly captivated comic fans. Then, later, Ra's reveals, he was 11 years old when he killed his first man (in what was such a brilliant monologue I have to attach it here):
"I was 11 years old when I killed my first man. I remember the look on his face when the light went out behind his eyes- such a subtle change. Almost imperceptible. Between life...and death. And I felt shame. I'd stolen from that man the most precious gift of all: life.
But I also felt something else. Pride. Because I had taken up arms against someone who sought to do ill against my family. I realised what I had done was necessary. You see- I had replaced evil...with death.
And that, is what the League exists to do. And I have killed several thousand more men since then. And the world is better off for it."
That essentially sums up Ra's perfectly. Anyway, to the point- Ra's two statements together ensure that he's at least 77 years old. One would assume his first challenge for trial by combat came when he escalated to the leader of the League of Assassins, so in all likelihood, he's well over 100.
Now, unless the Arrow writers are going to try and convince us that 42-year-old Matt Nable is just a senior in good shape, we can be certain something is rejuvenating him. That something, for anyone who knows Ra's al Ghul, is the Lazarus Pit: the rejuvenator and restorer of life, which has allowed him to live for hundreds of years, his youth restoring on every use.
On top of that fairly solid confirmation, Marc Guggenheim, Arrow's executive producer, seemed to confirm something very similar in an interview with comicbookresources.com:
Question: What kind of discussions has there been about the Lazarus Pits, which is an important part of Ra's al Ghul's mythology?
Guggenheim: I think the best answer to that question is to direct you to the end of episode 4, and the very first time we saw Ra's. That's the best way I can answer without spoiling things.
Which, of course, as aforementioned, is when we see Ra's in this rather large bath - or should we say pit? What we are looking at in the picture above is nearly certainly our first look at one of many Lazarus Pits.
Which, of course, can be used to bring Oliver back
But who could do it? Above is the tiny promo trailer I mentioned earlier, featuring Oliver's corpse, and someone very clearly approaching it. Interestingly, Barrowman/Merlyn seems to do the voiceover, meaning he knows.
In quick speculation, there are not many people who would want Oliver back selfishly. Felicity, Diggle, Roy, Thea, Laurel and more will be devastated at his loss - I'd say undoubtedly this will be what tips Laurel over the edge to become Black Canary - but Merlyn is the one who - for his own purposes - wants him alive (to combat Ra's, who he pitted against Oliver in hopes of stopping him). That also, coincidentally, makes him the only one who wants Oliver alive AND knows the existence of the Lazarus Pits (indeed, he may even have used one).
I reported earlier this week on Guggenheim's comments, where he stated that Merlyn would have a big, key role this season, and this seems to only further add up here.
In other news:
So what repercussions does that spawn? Especially now there's not necessarily a "Black Canary trilogy."
Despite it being a near certainty we'll see Laurel suit up in episode 10 in the New Year, or at least in the first three episodes, Guggenheim also shot down the rumors there would be a "Black Canary trilogy." The other characters are very much involved, it just does some heavy character building for Laurel:
"The one thing I want to clarify -- and I don't know how this happened -- it got out there in the ether that we were doing a Black Canary arc. That's not really the case. In episodes 10, 11 and 12, there's some pretty huge growth for Laurel and big steps taken on the road to becoming the Black Canary. That said, it's not the Black Canary show. I'd say episode 10 is all about Team Arrow and dealing with the ramifications and the aftershocks of 309.
Roy, Felicity and Diggs really come to the fore in 10, 11 and 12, for reasons I think will be pretty clear by the time you see episode 9."
What piqued my interest were the photos of Roy/Laurel which surfaced on Instagram, posted by Emily Bett Rickards in full costume not long ago. In Oliver's absence, it may be possible we see these guys, plus Felicity and Diggle, start looking after the city themselves.
This photo, to be precise. I might have posted it a while back; if not, it certainly seems to hint at a Roy and Laurel scene/team up. What's most interesting about it now is Guggenheim's comments that:
"Roy, Felicity and Diggs very much come to the foreground,"
As well as, of course, the confirmation Laurel will be heavily focused on, even if it won't be exclusively about her. When this photo was taken actually matches with the kind of time we would be seeing episode ten or eleven filmed, so we can assume this is from their solo adventures. Certainly a lot to look forward to here.
On top of that is we know Danny Brickwell- "Brick" will be a rather large villain in the second half of season three, in Episodes 10, 11 and 12. A villain from the comics, this Brick's name will be derived from the plentiful bullet wounds he's sustained and recovered from. He'll be played by Vinnie Jones- quite a big name actor, indeed, one who you'll remember as Juggernaut from The Last Stand.
Someone's returning in episode 14 - but who?
Five episodes from now, just confirmed today, we'll be seeing an episode called The Return. ('Following Left Behind,' 'Midnight City,' 'Uprising' and 'Canaries' - great names, hey?) It's filming as I type.
So, who returns? An obvious answer is Oliver. A more likely answer, though, is Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke, because (as I reported a while back) Manu Bennett has signed up for this episode. So that's excellent!
EDIT: As it happens, everyone seems to be mistaken. Marc Guggenheim tweets:
So, speculate away. Tommy Merlyn? Sara Lance? Count Vertigo?
All that said, I'll add now that Stephen Amell and Matt Nable have my absolute respect. If you follow Stephen on Facebook you'll know that scene was tough to shoot, but actually having seen it, how cold it must have been, and how much effort- not just physically, but in acting such an enormous scene- it would have taken. Katrina Law (Nyssa) posted this on Instagram this morning and it really solidified what a tough scene it must have been, and they all gave top performances, Stephen and Matt particularly.
And, sadly, that's about as far as the Arrow news goes for now. We clearly have a lot to look forward to, but I'll certainly be missing my Arrow and Flash, which won't return until January. Until then, rewatch the two midseason finales - which are incredible feats of TV - as many times as you like, and be sure to let me know your thoughts below.