Episode Title: Nanda Parbat
Original Airdate: 2-25-15
Consistently in “Arrow,” a little past the midway part of each season, the show feels less like your standard TV series and more these elaborately small scale movies. This week’s episode was the meaty middle act that finds our heroes at a crossroads as the burden of lies and guilt proves overwhelming for some leading to some unpredictable occurrences, the rise of a hero and a potential fall of another.
Proving Oliver correct in his apprehension in telling Thea the truth behind Sara’s killer, the weight of the revelation is proving too much for Thea and she tells Laurel that Merlyn drugged her and manipulated her into it. Laurel is surprisingly calm and understanding, but wants Oliver and Thea to stop training with Merlyn immediately. Oliver still thinks he needs Merlyn’s help in beating Ra’s al Ghul and doesn’t care about Laurel’s concerns. I’m a bit sketchy as to why Oliver considers the need to fight Ra’s and his League of Assassins fairly when he’s got at least Roy, Diggle, Black Canary, Thea and Merlyn to join him.
Thea takes Laurel’s message to heart and tips the League off to Merlyn’s whereabouts, but first he’s got to answer the cry of the Canary. I liked how mercilessly Merlyn taunted her as he proved she’s not at his level and how quickly his confidence faded when Nyssa and the League arrived. After a brief fight, Nyssa defeats him and prepares to bring him back home to face Ra’s.
The best fighter hierarchy on the show is a bit muddled. I was a bit surprised Merlyn went down to Nyssa so easily. He’s supposed to be teaching Oliver and Thea how to defeat Ra’s, but can’t defeat Nyssa? It becomes even more confusing when Oliver tracks down Nyssa and defeats her as Merlyn is taken by the League.
Oliver doesn’t want Thea to be responsible for the death of her father and goes off to Nanda Parbat with Diggle. I didn’t like Oliver rushing back to face Ra’s so early as it felt more of a second to last episode of the season move, but there was a surprising payoff to that, which made for an interesting twist.
Felicity meanwhile has had it with Oliver’s stubbornness and checks in on Ray, who’s nearly completed his Atom armor. Apparently his eagerness to help the city and declaration that he needs Felicity was all she needed to hear as they start making out and sleep together. I’m OK with this as it’s much better than Felicity pining for Oliver and Ray has never hidden his feelings for her. Refreshed, Ray figures out the final piece and is ready to hit the skies as The Atom. While shrinking probably would never be in the cards, the show needs to figure out a way to distinguish Atom from Iron Man, the first name in pop culture when it comes to guys in armored suits.
At Nanda Parbat, Merlyn has been brought before Ra’s and pleads for mercy. Ra’s hasn’t done anything so bada$$, not even “killing” Oliver, thus far then making the show’s resident smug bastard turn into a whimpering toady before him. Oliver and Diggle discover Merlyn, but it was just a trap.
The show had a number of welcome quiet moments. Roy and Thea discussed their history of killing someone while under the influence and Roy revealed he provides money and gifts anonymously to the family of the officer he killed. Thea decides to give an offering of her own and tells the captive Nyssa that she was the one who killed Sara as she lets her out of the cell. Uh-oh.
Oliver tells Diggle he’s been haunted by visions of Ra’s and the fall from the mountain and he needed to know he could defeat him. Diggle has his own revelation — he wants Oliver to be his best man. We don’t get nearly enough Diggle and Oliver interactions anymore so it was nice to see the founding fathers of Team Arrow have a moment.
It may be for naught though as Ra’s summons Oliver — not for execution, but a job offer — as his successor. Well, this could be interesting. Oliver as the head of the League of Assassins? Starling City definitely would be the safest place in the TV DC universe, but will Oliver make the deal with The Demon’s Head?