The midseason finale of Arrow took us on an interesting ride, one that’s been set in motion since the start of the season. We get some resolutions, many revelations, and although not all of it was exceptionally done, the majority of it was done with good enough taste. And it ends on one of the series’ best cliffhangers yet. Or cliff-fallers rather…
Nyssa and her posse of League of Assassin fellows have returned to Starling City, clearly upset that Team Arrow have been lax in their pursuit of Sara’s true killer. They vow that if Oliver and crew don’t determine the murderers identity, they’ll start killing 40 innocents a night. This is unabashedly a forced attempt to straighten the story in the right direction. No segue, no smooth transitions. But hey, we all wanted to know who killed Sara, so this is okay.
Since Thea’s come back from Corto Maltese her story’s been spotty, only showing up here or there, in small scenes. Which is a shame because her escapades with her birth father, Malcolm Merlyn, finally made her an interesting POV character. With the Climb, the story’s contracted back a ton to allow her in. This is shoehorned by the reentry of Nyssa, sure, but it’s a welcome return. She still seems to love her new midriff city look, and I’m all for it. She’s knowingly keeping secrets from Oliver. But more important to this episode perhaps is the fact that she doesn’t know the whole truth herself – or so we’re meant to believe. A twist I really appreciated.
Throughout the season it’s been a bit of a game of guess whodunnit when it came to Sara’s killer. And after a bit it became really annoying, particularly when it came to Roy’s iteration of the obvious red herring. But in this episode we get a bit of stirring up when it becomes clear the DNA matches that of Oliver Queen’s. It would’ve really been an odd twist if that were really the case. Regardless, I think we all kinda enjoyed that what-the-heck moment as the DNA results were read to him. His face was hilariously confused. But soon thereafter we learn it was truly Thea, under the “spell” of a strange herb that makes one extremely and forgettably suggestible to just about anything – in this case it’s the fact that she was Sara’s killer. We even get some camera footage of the event. Convenient.
To save Thea from both the knowledge of the League’s intent AND the fact that she was the true killer, Oliver essentially offers himself up as tribute to Ra’s Al Ghul, whom he attempts to duel to the death. Throughout the episode we get flash-forwards to him climbing a steep stone face. Along with the flashbacks this actually got a little annoying honestly. But the showdown at the end with Ra’s was truly, truly worthwhile. One of the best choreographed swordfights in a while. The way the battle was so clearly one-sided, and still Oliver seemed to try his hardest. I loved every second of it. And then he gets thrown off a cliff after getting stabbed through the chest. Only way he can survive now, as I see it, is if his Japanese friend, Maseo, throws him in a Lazarus Pit.
Just because the episode revolved around Sara’s death did not make it okay for them to bring in Alex Kingston. It was so contrived it actually hurt to watch. The entire “mother’s intuition” speech. Ugh. Why? I’d rather watch her play River Song again than return to Arrow, unless they actually have decent need of her. I don’t even think Laurel’s inclusion was entirely justifiable.
On another hand, we finally get some backstory to Ray Palmer. We learn he’s got a depressing past that spurs him forward. He wants to make the world a better place than how his fiancée left it, after her brutal death. And then he shows Felicity his supersuit design for the A.T.O.M. – or Atom, as his superhero name will surely take shape. I can’t wait for him to get thrown into the mix with Flash and Arrow. It’ll be some epic stuff. Until then.