FULL EPISODE SPOILERS
Sheesh, as if they weren't pulling from Batman lore before...
Now it's so obvious it kinda hurts me.
This week's episode of the CW's Arrow was another League-centric one, which meant one thing: MORE NYSSA! *throws confetti* While she wasn't in more action scenes, she did serve a pretty interesting piece in her scenes with Laurel and Thea, and was also one of the two major cliffhangers of the episode, the other coming off a little more forced than before.
This episode, like last week, was as much Thea's as it was Oliver's, as both struggled with the League and how to go about it. Oliver, as it turns out, isn't as focused as he is on Thea, instead having a warrior-like attitude of "I was defeated...so I have to keep fighting." I can hardly blame him for having this attitude about it, either. Every time he's been in a fight, he's pretty much won. Against Malcolm and Slade he always found a second wind some time and was able to come back, so you could argue that he was just trying to do that again here against Ra's.
Also, it is bugging me more and more that they are saying his name "Rass" not "Raish" but that's just a personal thing, if you like the former, more power to you. I just like the Arabic names and pronunciations, it gives it its unique aura. Also why I tend to call Laurel/ Sara/ Black Canary Ta-er al Sahfer because it just rolls off the tongue really nice. Another side-note: Love that the League also refers to Oliver as "The Arrow." Everyone has a fun codename. What a great place to work!
As the episode progressed, there was tons more tension up to a crazy amount we haven't seen in quite a while. Oliver and Diggle's attack on Nanda Parbat (which I think I used to call Nandu Parbat like an idiot) was very well done and very tense, combined nicely with the ambush going on in the flashbacks. Oh yeah, those were cool, too.
Relatively speaking, the weaker parts of the episode were the Ray-Felicity scenes, but that's only because there was hardly any dramatic tension and action going on in an episode where there was so much on the line. Were they bad moments? No, not at all. In fact, I liked where they were placed, giving us just enough breathing room before diving into another scene with Oliver or Thea. Like most scenes involving Ray Palmer, they were light-hearted and fun. I also decided to jump aboard the Ray-Felicity ship this episode because I find Felicity to be a better character around Ray than I do around Oliver. Plus, that scene where Oliver and Diggle were in chains in Narda Parbat, where Diggle called Oliver his brother, told me all Oliver needs is Diggle as a best friend and he's got it made.
Or they're just going to set up that Laurel and Oliver are together, seeing as how Laurel also brought up that she used to love him and reminded the audience that was a thing back in Season 1. Oh yeah, forgot about that subplot, didn't you?
The Atom, or A.T.O.M. suit didn't bug me in pictures, but seeing it now, well, I mean...
He looks like Robocop! It's not a bad thing, it just makes the design feel completely unoriginal. I like the light-colored suit that Ray has in the comics, I like the mix of the blue and red and the overall not-robotic feel of it. This is technically the first run of it, so I'll excuse it in that department. But when you add the visor in place of the mask it seriously makes it look like Ray is just a robot. Also, it looks almost impossible to move around in that thing. His strength is going to be increased dramatically, yes, but, if you can't punch someone you can't punch someone, plain and simple. Though at first I didn't like the jetpack, it does give it that goofy comic book edge to it. I hope the suit grows on me and becomes lighter in color, to match his personality as well. I did enjoy that the plaid shirt he was wearing much of the episode was the Atom colors, nice touch there.
Laurel wasn't doing much this episode besides antagonizing Oliver, but her scene where she sat down with Nyssa was a very effective one, probably one of the better ones in the episode. Even when Sara was alive they never got the chance to really sit down and talk. It's been a long time coming and I'm glad they're talking as acquaintances rather than enemies, as they both have profound feelings for Sara, and outside of Lance or Oliver, I think Nyssa is the best person to talk with about Sara, particularly because of how Nyssa nurtured Sara back to life and saved her life on multiple occassions. Seeing them talk about her was well-done and very well acted on both Katrina Law and Katie Cassidy's parts.
I think, though, the shining Nyssa moment was a very subtle one, and it was probably one of the best performances Katrina Law has put on. It was a very simple one, but it really hit me to the core. It's when Thea (who is just a bundle of joy with keeping secrets apparently) decides to tell Nyssa that she was under Malcolm's influence to kill Sara, and was the one who fired the arrows. It's just that moment where we see Nyssa's reaction, and you really don't notice it unless you look at her eyes. Katrina Law plays it well, where you can see something of an inferno of pure anger and hatred over both being tricked into killing the wrong person--in her mind's eye--as well as finally coming face to face with the killer of the woman she loved. It kills me that the episode ends with Thea handing Nyssa sword, challenging her to finish the job.
Thea grew a little more as a character this episode as she realized that she might just be a killer after all, despite being under the influence of a hypnotic drug, since she was trained to become one eventually. While in previous episodes I saw her developing more into Oliver's sidekick, here I saw her possibly developing into an anti-hero of sorts, fleeing from under her brother's wing. I feel that she will eventually come back into the fold, not because of Oliver but because of what seems to be her only remaining lifeline: Roy. True, he doesn't have nearly as bad a situation, but he is the only one actively trying to save her. Oliver is trying to save her but has reasons of his own, while Roy is trying to show her, "Hey, you messed up, and it wasn't your fault, so you can't dwell in the past." Roy was told that he was a killer, went rogue, but came back and has been stronger for it sense. I get the feeling Thea will go down a similar path with Roy that will ultimately lead to her making the decision of if she wants to use her abilities or not.
Obviously the bulk of the episode was focused on Oliver, and Diggle (yay!), rushing to Nanda Parbat to save Malcolm from certain death. They failed, kinda expected, but highlighted what a deadly duo the two are, making moves that seemed almost telepathic. It really hearkens back to the early days, and shows how far they've come--from taking on petty street criminals to the most dangerous group of men and women in the world. The way that they pretty much walked into Nanda Parbat shows their abilities alone. Super-heroes indeed!
The big reveal, the twist that the producers brought up, came at the end of the episode, where Ra's said that he doesn't want to kill Oliver...rather, he seeks him as his replacement.
Just like he wants Batman to replace him one day as the head of the League. It hurts me to think about it like that, but, it once again just replaces Batman with Oliver, something that has constantly plagued the character of Green Arrow. Ultimately, this move makes sense for a theory I'm about to point out (it's a stretch but if they really don't use a "Lazarus Pit" I think it works out), but it still once again just makes it seem like they're pulling right out of Batman lore for the sake of its popularity.
The less cynical side of me really likes this move, though. I wonder if Ra's has known of Oliver since he met Sara and has maybe been keeping on eye on him all this time. I mean, think about all he's done since Sara's rescue by Nyssa: he's saved the world from the Alpha-Omega serum, saved a good chunk of the city from utter destruction, fought off the League countless times, took charge of a squadron of League members--including Nyssa--during the battle against Slade, posed a decent threat against Ra's in battle, and had the gall as well as the ability to storm into Nanda Parbat, the personification of Hell itself for many people, and try to rescue a man sentenced for death. And again: much like Ra's, Oliver escapes death like he avoids getting sick.
Personally, this makes me think that Ra's missed the kill stroke on Oliver. That he wounded him hoping for Oliver to survive. When Nyssa tells him that it wasn't Oliver who did it, Ra's doesn't flip out or anything. He just calmly puts it aside, and doesn't say anything about it. There's a clear level of respect he has, and it's probably in that moment that he decides he wants Oliver to serve as the next head of the League of Assassins. Whatever he said to Oliver at the end of Episode 9 might have been some sort of chant of approval or praise or something, indicating Ra's wants Oliver to show his strength, find his way back to life, and eventually return to the League to prove his great strength.
I should also note that Ra's does not say, "I want you to replace me as the next head of the League." No, he says, "I want you...to become the next Ra's al Ghul." Implying that there has been more than one.
With the existence of Lazarus Pits in the Arrow-verse, as confirmed by Stephen Amell himself, one has to guess what it means for Oliver to succeed Ra's, and I've got a feeling that it means Ra's isn't a name. It's a title.
We learn that Ra's once met a man in 1854, a magician. That's not important, what's important is the date. We also know that 63 years prior was the only time he's been really challenged. What this could mean is that there are spiritual successors who carry on as the Demon's Head. It could mean that this man, the current Ra's al Ghul, is not the same man who met that magician. Through possibly some sort of magical or mystical force, their memories are transferred from one to the next, allowing them to access these memories throughout history. Thus, when Matt Nable, the actor playing Ra's, says he is immortal, it could mean that the title is immortal. That there will always be a Ra's al Ghul, but that the man himself is not the same. He even says that all things, much like himself, must come to an end, meaning that will eventually die. The Lazarus Pit, thus, might be more of a healing factor than a way of regenerating youth.
Or, I'm completely wrong and this Ra's has been around forever and something has gone wrong with the Lazarus Pits and he feels Oliver is the only living man in a while who has the power and respect to become the next Demon's Head. Either one. But I like to think of it in the other way. It makes it like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and if you're doing things inspired by that show, chances are it's gonna be great.
Overall, I really did enjoy this episode of Arrow. There were several great emotional moments that were interspersed with both great light-hearted scenes as well as awesome action sequences as well. There were to very big cliffhangers, and much like The Flash, I really do not want to have to wait until mid-March to see where this goes.
I mean, COME ON guys! I can't wait a month to see Nyssa again. The heck!
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