I know a few weeks have passed since this epic cliff-hanger, and the shock has probably worn off a little, but whenever I think about the episode I’m thrown back to the moment Oliver was run through with Ra’s al Ghul’s sword and my brain pulling a major ‘Champ’ on me (‘Wake up, Ollie. Wake up!’). Clearly he isn’t really dead, but still, as a season finale it was pretty phenomenal.
Since then, and with speculation abound as to how Ollie might return (Lazarus Pit anyone?), I’ve had time to digest what actually happened. So let’s break it down and look at the events leading up to the deadly showdown. I won’t be discussing each scene in sequence, rather pulling things together so they are easier to discuss.
The opening with Oliver and Detective Lance summed up the pair’s evolving relationship for me. Interrupted during what was evidently a Christmas party at the precinct, Lance ducked out of the back door to find a villain neatly wrapped and ready to go – along with a ‘Merry Christmas’ from Ollie, in case he didn’t get it the first time. Throw in a quip about Oliver being the closest thing to a partner Lance’s got and I was grinning like a goof at the underlying respect for each another. They both get the job done in their own way. The scene may have been window dressing, set-up so Ra’s al Gul’s assassins could jump Oliver in the ally, but it was the brief interaction, more than the fight scene, which drew me in.
At least until Nyssa dropped the bombshell (one we should have seen coming) and Oliver was given 48 hours to bring Sara’s killer before her father, or Starling City would pay in blood. As far as incentives go, slaughtering hundreds of people to weed out the culprit, is a lot more effective than a group detention!
The presence of Maseo Yamashiro was a shock (the assassin Sarab). I’ve pondered for a while about the purpose of Ollie’s flashbacks to Hong Kong, so was a least hopeful a resolution was coming – if only in part. As we’re on the subject, I’m going to tackle this episodes flashbacks out of sequence. They began with Ollie’s torment about his more persuasive interrogation tactics, revealing the existence of OMEGA (a virus cloaked in the guise of an antibiotic). The following scenes reveal the existence of a drug called Vertura, which tied together nicely with the revelations about Sara’s killer. But we were talking about OMEGA – as Oliver and Maseo uncovered China White’s plan to create the bio weapon, they became a real threat and predictably this led to a fight scene between China White and Tatsu Yamashiro. The flashbacks culminated in China taking Maseo’s wife (clearly it didn’t turn out so well if he is now serving the Demon’s Head.)
There are so many secrets woven through the storyline that it’s hard to keep up. Pretty early on in the episode there was a scene with Laurel and Thea at Sara’s gravestone, which seemed to indicate a new layer to the web of lies. Now I know what Thea’s secret is (the sister killing secret, not the kick ass and take no prisoners part), I’m excited about how this arc will develop.
Laurel’s other scenes involved her mother, who came to town for a surprise visit. I was surprised by her controlled reaction to the news of Sara’s death. It all fell a little short for me, considering her earlier passion, but their final scene made up for it, and Dinah Lance telling her daughter to make the killer pay – to make them suffer.
I love scenes with Felicity Smoak, the producers really knew what they were doing by bringing her on board – in a lot of ways she’s the heart of the team. They made another great move when they introduced Ray Palmer (aka The Atom) to the series. He’s currently Felicity’s new boss, and their screen time often makes me smile (even if it’s a grimace). The writers are keeping us guessing about his superpower though, and I’m not particularly patient by nature. At the moment he’s playing it cool, though he does seem to be developing an obsession with Miss Smoak (bordering on stalker material). I really like his character, though I can’t stop thinking of Superman (I know he only made one film), and that scrambles my brains a little!
In the previous episode Ray and Felicity kissed, so they had to deal with the fact Ray had a major freak out and left. The best part, for me, was Felicity’s exit from the conversation, as she mumbled about having to go to work – which made me laugh even before Ray piped up ‘But you’re at work!’
Ray later shows up at Verdant (see what I mean about those tendencies), and Felicity had no choice but to listen to his apology (not when she knew what they were sitting on!). It turns out his fiancée was killed during the reign of terror instigated by Slade Wilson and his army of Mirakuru imbued warriors. This culminates in Ray showing her his creation – a machine to protect the city, and A.T.O.M. is born. Felicity’s quip ‘Why does this keep happening to me!’ seems apt, especially as she is drawn to yet another hero, hell-bent on saving the world. I’m sure you can guess I’m really looking forward to Ray’s development as a character.
Some of my favourite scenes of this episode involved Team Arrow. They began with disappointing news about a degraded DNA sample from the arrows which killed Sara. Of course, since they have powerful friends, this was dealt with by reference to Caitlin at STAR Labs and the use of their convenient toys. When the DNA results came back it should have been a surprise to see Ollie’s face appear on the screen, but it wasn’t. The writers are really good at planting clues, so I’d already guessed at the direction they might take.
Once they fit the pieces together, all roads led to Thea. Of course Ollie refused to believe his sister was capable of murder. He decided to bring out the big guns and confront Thea in the suit, hoping to find some answers. Imagine his surprise when she kicked ass and hightailed it over the balcony. It was priceless! The perfect way to reveal her little secret.
Still, it took a showdown with Malcolm Merlyn to bring it all home. Incidentally, John Barrowman was superb in this scene. He owned it! The fact he used his own daughter as a puppet (with the help of Vertura) to serve his own agenda was not as powerful as the moment he told Ollie to challenge Ra’s al Ghul to a trial by combat.
Throw in a few snapshots of Ollie climbing a brutal, snow-peaked mountain throughout the episode, and it all comes down to this. Oliver must throw himself on his sword to save his sister. When he is presented before Ra’s, the Demon’s Head responds, ‘You’re just a boy!’ which showed a side to him we haven’t seen before and hinted at his age (and we’re back to the Lazarus Pit). Since Ollie proclaimed he was the killer, and made the challenge to trial, things went downhill from there. The best part was Ra’s admitting it had been sixty-seven years since he’d last been challenged. The words ‘I accept’ were spine tingling!
Ollie was then given twelve hours to get his affairs in order. The scene with Thea was gut-wrenching, despite the fact she had no idea he was about to sacrifice himself to protect her. There were also a few tearful goodbyes among Team Arrow (I swear I saw a tear in Roy’s eye!). Okay, so I’m teasing with you a little. I’m sure fans of Oliver and Felicity (Olicity) were in their element when he uttered the words ‘I love you’ – it was actually an extremely moving scene and Stephen Amell handled it with aplomb.
So, that brings us to the battle, which took place on consecrated ground for the League. The tension was unbelievable; the stoic hero making the ultimate sacrifice. Ra’s al Ghul’s skills were terrifying. He fought with one (and sometimes two) hand behind his back and as far as sword fighting goes, he whipped Ollie’s ass. Still, I had faith in Ollie because, come on, he’s the Green Arrow (‘Wake up, Ollie. Wake up!’.) Even when Ra’s whispered ‘Don’t be afraid, my son. Death comes for us all.’ I still didn’t believe it.
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