*Yes, there's some spoilers in here. Don't fail yourself by reading this before you watch the episode.*
"John might of told me about your employment offer from evil incorporated."
The last time Arrow aired, it left us with a pretty polarizing twist. Now, it's back to explain why it dropped that bombshell and what it means for everyone back in Starling City. When they hit us with that cliffhanger, I was one of the people with a very negative knee-jerk reaction. I mean, it even inspired me to write an editorial about it. I have no problem eating my words and thankfully, I do believe they do somewhat justify the offer. I don't think anyone believes even for a second that Oliver will accept, but they make the offer easier to swallow and the move does bring the rest of the season in a new direction. As the spoiler-filled sizzle reel revealed, it sure looks like there's a lot of excitement ahead of us. Whether it delivers is something we've yet to see, but we're here to talk about tonight's episode, right? So, let's get to it.
Matt Nable has won me over and then some. Every time he's on the screen, the scene becomes way more engaging. He's able to offer just the right presence as the Demon's Head. He's wise and respectable, but he also can strike fear into others when it's needed. And that moment he showed off his reflexes? Yeah, you know the moment I'm talking about! That was easily the most badass and jaw-dropping sequence in the episode. That said, I do want to start calling him "Ra's al Foreshadowing" after his early talk with Oliver. I'd rather call him Ra's al Awesome though, because Nable is awesome as the villain.
Let's talk about Oliver's offer. I can understand why he'd consider it and I'm glad there's a reason that goes beyond just "Ra's sees potential in him." Considering Ra's claimed Oliver could make his followers go non-lethal, it's understandable why he'd seriously debate the offer. However, it is frustrating he once again held back from telling his allies the truth. I know we can justify it by saying he wouldn't want to hear their criticisms right away, but let's be honest here, he held back to save the more personal drama and individual opinions for later.
Murmur felt like he was included just to create a few action scenes and give Oliver an epiphany that one of his teammates could have given him in a better way. I mean, watching Nyssa slice fools was fun and Roy had one sweet kick, but aside from that, it wasn't exactly one of the more memorable action scenes the show has created. This villain had potential, but his role never really turned into anything all that exciting and the dude was effortlessly taken out. I get why he was included, but having a character on Oliver's side make him realize the obvious ("hey man, you're saving lives every time you go out there") would have more potential and allowed the supporting cast to shine. But yeah, at least watching Nyssa slice goons was a fair amount of fun.
For me, some of the show's best scenes came from the sequences between fathers and daughters. The dynamic is totally different in the three families (Lance, al Ghul, Merlyn) and, for the two Starling City families, this season's dramatic experiences have made the daughters infinitely more interesting. I love seeing a levelheaded and rational Laurel -- one season ago she'd be going through the motions she explain to her father and would probably lash out, too -- and Thea should be incredibly conflicted after all she's endured. I imagine very few of us can imagine what her situation is like. It's been a very twisted experience for her, so to have her struggle with what's right and what isn't feels natural and it leaves me very curious to see where this path will take her. Plus, all three fathers are great actors. And yes, I think Quentin has every right to be acting the way he is. It's a shame the sizzle reel spoiled a big moment for him, but I'm still curious to see how he gets there.
Oliver's a pretty stubborn dude, isn't he? No one's perfect, but I'm surprised no one from team Arrow was able to remind him of the countless things he's done to help the city. Sure, Deathstroke is on him, but what about taking down Malcolm Merlyn back in Season 1? Yes, people have died, but how many lives have their actions saved? A lot, I'm guessing. I'm kind of surprised none of his closest allies could point this out to him. If they did, it went over my head, because I sure don't remember any of them making a compelling case. It was also surprising that Diggle -- a guy who's often the voice of reason -- didn't step up to help his friend about this dilemma when he really, really needed it. I really wish Diggle was there to say, "Quentin hating you is on you because of your lying, not because of you being Arrow. Also, remember all those lives we saved? And Felicity isn't with you because you pushed her away first, man." Did anyone catch that oh-so-brief moment when Oliver popped a smile, though? I know this show aims for heavier and darker material, but seeing him smirk, even just for a second, was so refreshing.
Unfortunately, the back story didn't seem to bring much weight to the episode either. I really feel like they're just building up our connection to this kid just to kill him off and hope it hits us even harder. It seems like a line in one of the previous episodes telegraphed this kid's death. Show of hands: who thinks that's really Shado? I don't, but at least it ended on an interesting enough note!
Despite the kind of flak CW often receives about its handled of romance, I usually don't mind most of the relationship drama in this show. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case in this one. There was I point when I looked at my fiance and said," They better not kiss because that would be way too predictable." Sure enough, that happened almost immediately after I finished the sentence. I get it, someone's vulnerable and wants comfort and affection from someone they trust, but there's so many more subtle ways to show it. The same happened right when a certain someone called during a more passionate moment.
Minor criticisms: What was Oliver's grappling line attached to? The building way in front of him was like two stories tall. Is it just me or is Nyssa handling this development very well? I mean, I'm happy to see she's connecting with someone, but man, I guess she had a lot of time to clear her head as she went to Starling City. Good for her, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who expected more anger and frustration from her. So, it's official that Oliver healed because of his willpower (in addition to the basic medical attention, obviously). I'm sorry, it's just tough for me to get over that, especially after Sara was killed so easily. (Also, Thea once again said she shot Sara in the chest but I remember it being in the stomach. But hey, she wasn't in control of her own mind when it happened.) Is it just me or did Laurel and Roy totally fail in that warehouse scene? Roy had an embarrassing showing (it doesn't help that he warned his enemies first) and Laurel had so much time to react to that car. But at least Roy got a bit of revenge for that time Nyssa hit him in the neck with a dart! Really though, I feel like Roy was the one in need of that "you need more training" line.
The following is a joke, so for the love of all that's holy, don't take it seriously. Oliver wants to be Batman, Ra's wants Oliver to be him, and Ra's ends up being Oliver. Next week, Roy becomes Black Canary!
Despite some promising character arcs and a few strong performances, I just wasn't all that enthusiastic about tonight's episode. It wasn't bad, but a lot of minor criticism began to add up and the villain wasn't needed at all. Seriously, I would have loved to see that time dedicated to the characters we already care about instead a seemingly throwaway villain-of-the-week. He's there to open Oliver's eyes, but one of the people close to him could have accomplished that in a more emotional and meaningful way. Or at least I believe so. Anyway, I'm sure we can all see where the cliffhanger is taking us, but hopefully it'll all play out in a great way.