By Josh Axelrod
And the plot thickens. It was only a matter of time before a clear and present danger loomed for Oliver Queen and company, and it came this week in the form of a feud between The Arrow and The League of Assassins. We also had the return of Malcolm Meryln and got some new direction for the Hong Kong flashbacks. It was a busy week for the protectors of Starling City.
Last week’s episode ended with the return of Nyssa al Ghul, who was also looking for Sara. She was understandably distraught when Oliver told her about her ex-lover’s death. While Nyssa went to grieve for Sara, Oliver and Roy decided to kill a little time by trying to figure out what was so different about Thea upon her return to Starling City.
Nyssa visited Sara’s grave, where she ran into an equally upset Laurel. Laurel wasn’t happy to see Nyssa, a living reminder of the people who trained Sara and led her down the path that culminated in three arrows in her chest. To her credit, Nyssa took Laurel’s berating in stride and promised her that she would find and destroy Sara’s killer.
In the meantime, Oliver learned that Thea planned to reopen Verdant. Apparently the young clubgoers of Starling City missed their favorite watering hole, and she’s set to open in three weeks. Ignoring how ridiculously fast that is, Oliver noticed that Thea seems more confident and detached. It’s a little frustrating that the two are theoretically operating under a no secrets policy, yet they’re both withholding huge secrets from each other.
Anyway, Oliver eventually confronted Nyssa for any information she might have on Sara’s death. She told Oliver that she believes it was none other than Malcolm Merlyn, who is back in Starling City as well. A quick reconnaissance mission gave Oliver visual evidence that Malcolm was still alive and well. It was still never explained how he survived their rooftop fight in Season 1, so hopefully that gets brought up in the near future.
Nyssa wasn’t happy when she learned that Oliver had a clean shot on Malcolm and chose to tag rather than kill him. Both Nyssa and Laurel urged Oliver to break his vow not to kill anymore because not only did Malcolm possibly murder Sara, but he also killed 502 residents of the city in that earthquake that leveled the Glades.
Oliver’s reluctance to kill Malcolm confused me because he seemed to have no problem putting an arrow in Vertigo in the season premiere. He also dispatched some Corto Maltese thugs last week in a manner that looked like it probably ended their lives. So now that he finally has a solid lead on the identity of Sara’s killer, Oliver has a problem with killing again? I must be missing something here.
Nyssa seemed to agree, because she decided to force Malcolm out of the shadows by kidnapping Thea, who for some reason decided not to break out her new self-defense skills. Maybe it was because Roy was there during Nyssa’s attack on them, but he had been hit with a tranquilizer dart and was vaguely conscious. A lot of the major problems in this episode revealed some inconsistencies in what we have seen from these characters this season.
Oliver tracked Nyssa down and had a visually awesome fight with her and Malcolm Merlyn, who of course showed up to protect Thea. And to the show’s credit, the three archers’ costumes were just different enough this time that I could tell them all apart. Small victories!
The fight ended with Nyssa pinned to a wall and Malcolm Merlyn helpless in Oliver’s sights. As usual, he talked his way out of it, convincing Oliver that he didn’t kill Sara. And frankly, I believe him. Why antagonize The League of Assassins more, who already want him dead from the stunt he pulled in Season 1?
Nyssa, on the other hand, remained unconvinced. Oliver, being the boy scout he is, told Nyssa that Malcolm Merlyn was now under his protection and that if the League had a problem with that, so be it. It seemed like a bold but silly proclamation, unless Oliver really believes that Malcolm is only in Starling City to protect Thea. Whatever the case, his words angered both Nyssa and Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable, finally getting screen time), who will now be doing everything in power to take down The Arrow. Smart move Ollie.
Our Hong Kong flashbacks this week showed Oliver doing more of Amanda Waller’s dirty work, killing someone who had information that could expose a morally ambiguous A.R.G.U.S operation. Oliver confronted Waller about this and learned that A.R.G.U.S knew all about Edward Fyers’ Season 1 plan to destabilize the Chinese economy by shooting down that plane.
Waller also wanted that plane in the water because on it was…China White? The white-haired triad thug who Oliver spent a large portion of the last two seasons constantly defeating? That’s the big reveal here, that she’s in Hong Kong and Waller wants to know why? Ugh.
God this episode was frustrating. It introduced some interesting conflicts in both the present and the past, but bogged them all down with anticlimactic twists and character inconsistencies. And even though anyone who watches “The Flash” knows Felicity spent this week in Central City with Barry Allen, her comic relief was missed. Come on “Arrow,” you’re better than this.