Dark Arrow comes to Starling City and it’s up to Team Arrow to stop him.
Better than most episodes since ‘Uprising,’ with Oliver’s initial return from the brink of death, tonight’s show had a sense of purpose beyond Team Arrow grieving their absent leader — a crutch the writers have leaned on far too heavily since ‘The Climb.’ Yes there was some of that here as well, but it worked better in the context of this episode leading to one of the more promising in the second half of the season.
Ra’s al Ghul doesn’t just want an heir to his throne, he needs a completely obedient successor willing to discard all ties to his former life. To that end, Oliver undergoes a three-week long brainwashing/drugging regiment that Ra’s is satisfied has fully taken hold when Oliver kills a captive his warped mind saw as Diggle. Credit Stephen Amell for reflecting Oliver’s change with a darker, sterner inflection with his voice.
Ra’s explains his ascension to the title of Ra’s al Ghul and his failure to kill Damien Dark, the other would-be Demon’s Head, who has since had a hand in numerous events Oliver has encountered. To avoid the same mistake, Ra’s sends Oliver to kill the other heir to Ra’s title — his daughter, Nyssa.
Nyssa is helping Laurel with her vigilante training. I remain impressed that Laurel is having such a steep learning curve in becoming a hero and frequently gets beaten down as often as she’s dishing out the tail-kickings. BTW, has anyone seen Ted Grant or mentioned when was his funeral? Seems so odd his character was so important early and we’ve yet to explain his fate.
To be honest the Nyssa/Laurel scenes have had me a bit concerned as I’ve worried that the writers would revisit that icky let us never speak of it again subplot where Diggle was dating his dead brother’s ex-wife. Thankfully thus far, the show has established its first platonic relationship with two women that doesn’t revolve around a guy — something that still doesn’t happen enough on comic book shows.
Laurel finally drops that little tidbit that Oliver has accepted Ra’s offer to be his heir, which immediately sends Nyssa preparing for battle as she knows her father’s game plan.
Diggle and Layla have Thea and Felicity over for dinner when Felicity suggests Diggle needs a costume/identity concealer. Seriously, he’s only been a part of Team Arrow since Season 1. Nyssa breaks the news to Diggle and Felicity that Oliver is not in his right mind, which they refuse to believe, but agree to help Nyssa after a guilt trip from Laurel.
Dark Arrow has arrived in Starling with the League of Assassins. Nyssa is ready for the confrontation, but as has been the case with all their encounters, Oliver gets the better of her and prepares her Nyssa for Ra’s when Diggle and Black Canary arrive.
Laurel unleashes her tech upgrade from Cisco — the Canary Cry — in a perfect translation of a comic book power in a show that’s still
mostly somewhat based in reality. Dark Arrow and his minions retreat, but Team Arrow knows they’ve got a major problem.
As Team Arrow considers their next option, Roy’s absence felt especially ill-timed. Roy was just kind of a bystander for the first half of the season, but once Oliver was killed, Roy grew into his role as his mentor’s successor. A Dark Arrow vs. Arsenal battle seemed like a natural storyline and it makes Roy’s removal from the show right when it needed him most all the more puzzling.
Rather than going back and forth with his old allies, Oliver kidnaps Lyla, correctly assuming that will splinter their tenuous alliance with Nyssa. Diggle’s perfectly fine trading Nyssa in to get his wife back, but Laurel appeals to his sense of honor and he agrees to help.
Diggle, Laurel, Nyssa and Felicity meet Dark Arrow, Maseo and the LOA for the exchange, but Team Arrow tries to pull a fast one with some concealed weapons on Felicity. Retaining fighter skill priority, Team Arrow is no match for Dark Arrow and company. Oliver goes for the killing blow on Diggle when Thea, clad in her own hooded costume, shoots an arrow through his arm threatening to put the next one through his eye if he doesn’t back off. Dark Speedy?
In the Hong Kong flashback, Oliver, Maseo and Tatsu are seeing the firsthand results of the Alpha Omega bioweapon, which is killing people in the streets. The trio take down more of Shrieve’s men who are administering the virus under the guise of a cure and finally reunite with Akio, who starts exhibiting the signs of exposure. ‘Arrow’ adapts so many Batman storylines, I’m a bit bummed the Hong Kong flashbacks have taken so long to get to this spin on Contagin [read here: Batman: Contagion], which could have made for an excellent half-season story arc in the present day.
Oliver returns with Nyssa and is fully prepared to kill her when Ra’s proposes another solution — one that will unite their houses: Oliver must marry Nyssa. Trying to figure out the best Batman ward/son name if Oliver knocks her up… Jason Queen? Tim Queen? Damian Queen? Dick Queen! Make it happen!
Lamenting the loss of their fearless leader again, Team Arrow tries to make sense of things on their own and Felicity reveals to Thea that Roy is still alive!
I love, love, love this premise, but oh how much better would this arc have been if it played out earlier in the season? Everything is coming together (finally) with the flashbacks and current day events, but with only two episodes left in the season, hopefully the writers don’t rush through all this excellent material.