Yes, we know, we’re late. Sorry. Mordechai was too busy taking screenshot after screenshot of this week’s episode. Why?
Corrina: Since I usually complain about what Arrow did wrong, I wanted to start with what Arrow did right this week.
It’s hard not to have a girl crush on Nyssa when she seems to be one of the few characters whose story isn’t dependent on her relationship with Ollie. Add to that her grief over Sara’s death, her forgiving of Thea for her unwitting part in it, and her staggering father issues, and I adore her. It helps that Katrina Law was great in Spartacus but what helps more is that Law’s expressive face perfectly conveys all of Nyssa’s complicated emotions. She does more with less, and most of it without dialogue, the hallmark of a great actor. If rumors are true and there is a Birds of Prey/Brave and the Bold-style spin-off, Nyssa should be the heart of it.
Mordechai: Agreed. There was not a single scene in this episode with Nyssa that was not solid gold. From fight scenes to the ones you cite above, they were just great.
The spin-off is officially being pitched, and Caity Lotz, aka Sarah Lance is in the cast. For those wondering how, this episode gives a hint, with Ra’s introducing the Lazarus Pit (which he uses to mend a pretty simple wound- kind of a waste).
The idea of Sarah and Nyssa on a spin-off, an active couple, makes me squee.
Corrina: It’s Nyssa who helps even Laurel shine this week, as their scenes together give Laurel more sparkle than any scene she ever had with Oliver or even Ted Grant.
And now to the plot. Which isn’t so good.
Let’s put aside the ability of criminals to just wander in and start shooting at police officers. Let’s put aside that Oliver once again is causing major damage, if not outright killing with arrows. Let’s put aside why Malcolm Merlyn is lounging on Oliver’s couch. (No, wait, we’ll get into that later.)
Let’s talk overriding plot arc for Arrow this season. Season 1 benefited from Malcolm being a clear villain who put the entire plot in motion. He caused the shipwreck that killed Robert Queen. He menaced Moira continually. He bombed the Glades. It’s classic conflict: a protagonist (Oliver) and an antagonist (Merlyn) locked into action and reaction.
Season 2 didn’t have quite the same tight fit as the Oliver/Merlyn battle but when it settled on Slade as the overall antagonist, it worked well.
Season 3 has, supposedly, Ra’s Al Ghul as the overall villain. Except that’s muddied by the fact it’s Merlyn who’s the antagonist once again and sets all the plot pieces in motion by having Thea kill Sara. Abruptly, we’ve switched now to Ra’s as the overall antagonist, tempting Oliver with immortality. It makes this season less tight, less compelling, and forces the writers to move their chess pieces/characters sometimes into pretzels.
That brings me back to Malcolm Merlyn. There’s all this talk about not letting Thea kill her father. But Robert Queen was her father who raised her and loved her. And Malcolm killed Robert Queen. So why is Malcolm sitting on the couch again? Why isn’t he dead or under arrest for the destruction of the Glades? Other than John Barrowman being popular with fans, I have no idea
Mordechai: It gets worse. Forget that he’s not the person who raised her. Forget that he’s a mass murderer. Forget that he set free the man who killed their mother so he could try to kill them. How about the basic, simple fact that he violated Thea. Oliver is not only stripping his sister of agency by saving Merlyn from what is actually justice, but asking- no, telling – his sister that the man who turned her into a weapon to get at him is going to recover on her couch.
This isn’t “like” telling someone to care for an abusive family member; it is. I can almost buy why they don’t turn Malcolm over to the authorities – their obsession with secrets and all. But there are other options, in particular Argus. If they can hold Slade, the can hold him. Oliver just keeps making terrible, terrible decisions for both himself and everyone else.
Corrina: So, what happens this episode? Oliver and Felicity reconcile somewhat, though she seems determined to keep him at arm’s length emotionally, which is a smart idea. Laurel apologies to her Dad again and he won’t accept it. I suspected he’d die to add angst once this shooting started but, no, Captain Lance lives.
Mordechai: I don’t blame Captain Lance for his attitude towards Laurel (especially as he specifically said he’d always love her, but that’s not the point) or towards the Arrow. Honestly, the whole “let’s forget about the people he killed the first season” was a stretch for me in the first place.
Corrina: A new bad guy with his mouth sewn shut is our bad guy. He must drink a lot of protein shakes. He’s defeated in the attack on police headquarters. Windows break in that place more than all the windows broken in Hill Street Blues. Perhaps the Starling City cops have been taking security lessons from Central City PD.
Mordechai: Also, Murmur’s real name, Michael Ammar, may be the most silver age thing ever. Seriously?
And how about Roy on Murmur’s justification. “If someone beat a false confession out of me…”? Hold on – no one said false. Just that the cops beat him so he was released. You know, the thing you and Oliver do almost every damn week.
Corrina: Ra’s Al Ghul becomes convinced that Oliver is the answer to a prophecy and should take over the League of Assassins. That actually makes more sense that Ra’s being impressed with Oliver’s various skills. But it also makes me think of an Ed Brubaker Daredevil plot in which Daredevil takes over the running of the Hand, the Marvel equivalent to the League.
Mordechai: Like the shirtless sword fight, it’s basically a lift from classic Batman comics. The major exception is Nyssa’s reaction, which is far better than Talia’s was. It’s a well done, subtle homage. Down to how Ra’s plans on forcing Ollie’s hand.
And let’s not forget the flashbacks. They’ve dragged all season. even this one did right until the end. Shado, Slade’s motivation (because it’s always a dead woman), is alive.
I smell the a connection to the Lazarus pit introduced early in the episode, or possibly a tie to The Creature Commandos, the leader of which we already met.
And am I the only one who thought the “prophecy” sounded more like a “rule”. “If you can’t kill him, he becomes the Dread Pirate Ra’s” kind of thing?
Corrina: At the end, Nyssa and Laurel bond and Ra’s shows up impersonating the Arrow to wreck his reputation, thus forcing Oliver into accepting the offer to take over the League.
Mordechai: This may be yet another Batman lift, as it brings to mind a great comic where Ra’s convinces everyone, including Bruce Wayne, that Batman is a murderer. it also reminds us of the fact that they did this exact plot with Merlyn in the first season. The difference is, now The Arrow is considered a hero – back then he wasn’t.
I think this episode still had issues, and you went into them better than I ever could, but for the first time this season, I’m looking forward to next week. Hopefully there will be a chance to gush about Ray at some point.