Arrow: Heir to the Demon

"You lied because that's what you do."

This was an awesome episode, but so much happened that I can't really put much in this teaser space so...

Sara's back in the present, and she's free from the League of Assassins.

Nyssa was really interesting. She felt like a lethal dark princess who was both entitled and passionate. Yet her defining characteristic seemed to be centered around loyalty. She felt betrayed by Sara, and it took most of this episode for Nyssa to come to terms with how much Sara needed to be free of the assassin way of life, that she was willing to die rather than to go back. Unfortunately, Nyssa's rage over Sara's choice showed how dark she can be. When she was going after the Lances, I almost expected Dinah or Sara to die. I'm glad neither of them did. though. Oh, and I totally didn't see that kiss coming. Well, at least the first one.

Sara and Oliver feel like a good match, and they have more chemistry than Oliver and Laurel, so on that front I like them a lot. I also think that it's good to get away from the romantic tension between Oliver and Felicity with a real relationship for Oliver. I think it'll either work to bring them closer together later on, or it could push them apart enough so that Felicity can move onto someone else. In the end I want Felicity to be happy, whoever she ends up with, because she deserves it.

Speaking of Felicity, she hasn't gotten a lot to do this season. Even though her presence has been pretty heavy, she has been more of a supporting player. Here she did quite a bit. Specifically, she figured out Thea's relation to Malcolm Merlyn. I thought it was a good character choice that Felicity gave Moira the opportunity to tell Oliver herself. It was clear that Moira's threat almost worked, but I'm really glad she told him. Whether it was the right thing to tell that secret or not, it's out there finally.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) the news forced Oliver to finally recognize how shady Moira is. I didn't see him giving up on her like that. If it had been last season I would've been happy about it, but now I'm not so sure. Moira has grown on me quite a bit recently, even though she is borderline evil. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the rest of the season, and series for that matter.

The other set of family dynamics focused around the Lance family and Sara's official return to Starling City. I came away from all that back story and character building liking Sara and hating Laurel even more. Laurel's reaction to Sara's return was destructive and disappointing. There was a chance to redeem her character right there. I don't know what plan they have for Laurel, but at this point I truly don't care. Of course, I do remember saying something similar about Quentin last season, and he's now one of my favorites. Maybe they can turn Laurel around. I'm not counting on it, though.

Quentin got quite a bit to do again, and it was pretty thankless stuff. He had the heavy lifting emotional supporting role, and probably had more screen time than he's had in any other episode of the series. But the gold acting stars go to Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity) and Stephen Amell (Oliver). To Felicity for the wonderful way she handled the situation with Moira, and to Oliver for that marvelous moment as he processed the news about Thea while trying to deliver an introduction to his mother's mayoral campaign announcement.

It was cool to see the Lance family interact before Sara and Oliver got lost on Lian Yu. It was also really fun to see their reactions to both reveals, the ship going down and Sara's presence on the boat. Laurel seemed so human in those scenes, but at the same time little things she said and did gave me the impression that she was always a bit of a bitch. I'd always assumed that Sara was just Oliver's way of escaping commitment, intentional sabotage of his relationship with Laurel. What if it wasn't? What if he had, maybe on a subconscious level, chosen Sara over Laurel, but didn't want to admit it to himself?

Comic Book Bits:

Nyssa Raatko (Al Ghul) is the eldest daughter of Ras Al Ghul and a half sister to Talia. She is also a fairly recent addition to DC Comics canon (added in 2003). Much like the rest of her family (Ra's and Talia) she is immortal due to the gifts from the Lazarus pit. Also like her sister she doesn't agree with Ra's more zealot-like ambitions to cleanse the world, though through some complicated plotting Ra's managed to get both of them back on board and against Batman. I think the history might prove to be important. Nyssa in the comics went against her father, and even went so far as to try and assassinate him. Which kind of makes me wonder if maybe we'll see her involved in the Arrowverse in a much larger capacity later on.

Bits:

No Roy this week, and I wonder how he would react to the Thea news. He clearly loves her, but would her connection to the man he hates force a wedge between them, even though Thea hates Malcolm too? It is strange that he wasn't in this episode though, since he was featured so heavily in the last one. Although I imagine that fight between Arrow and Nyssa would've gone very differently with Roy involved.

Blood and Slade seem to have an agenda that requires them to win the Mayor's seat. I'm starting to get curious now about what they have planned.

We got a peek into Felicity's back-story. I bet we're going to hear more about it later on in the season. It sounds like her mother is a problem, or at the very least complicated. I bet they're casting her mother right now.

No Island Flashbacks. It isn't the first time the show has done flashbacks outside the island setting, but it is the first time Oliver wasn't in them at all.

I wonder if Alex Kingston is gonna be in more episodes now that the Lance family is together again?

The fight between Nyssa and Arrow was pretty spectacular, but even when he beat her I kept thinking that he shouldn't turn his back on an assassin even to save Sara's life.

Loved Nyssa's league outfit. The red made it stand out, but still fit with the overall style of others we've seen.

So Malcolm was released from service to the League. The first one to ever have that honor. Now Sara has as well. That's kind of dubious company.

Where is Summer Glau?

More salmon ladder, this time with Sara.

I didn't like the way Moira moved in on Felicity, invading her personal space. She felt evil, like the Borg Queen. Yes, I know she played the Borg Queen.

I really liked Quentin's reaction to Nyssa and Sara, unlike Laurel and her tantrum.

Quotes:

Quentin: "That is not the kind of lawyer you're gonna be, young lady, because you, you're gonna be a judge or you're gonna be a professor. Just like your mother."
Dinah: "Yeah, come over to academia. The fun never ends."

Nyssa: "Now come home."
Sara: "I can't. Look, I can't go back, Nyssa. I don't have much of a soul left in me, but what there is, it can't take the killing any more."

Felicity: "Luckily for us, Tibetan pit viper venom is surprisingly difficult to transport. It starts losing its potency the moment it leaves the fangs. Yet another sentence I never thought I'd actually say out loud."

Blood: "Look, I know you have pull your support from my campaign. Blood is thicker than politics. And it should be."

Lance: "You know, you never did tell me how you joined up with the Arrow in the first place. Where did you two even meet?"
Sara: "Vigilante Club."

Lance: "What's the matter? Didn't they teach you about right crosses in assassin school?"

Oliver: "You've been crying."
Sara: "I was happy to know I still could."

I really loved this one, and I thought it did a lot to broaden the already rich world of Arrow.

4 out of 4 Secrets and Lies
---
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

14 comments:

Rishabh Sawhney said...

Is it just me or is the Dialogue getting cheesier and cheesier?

Billie Doux said...

I thought this was a terrific episode. I was starting to think they were going to kill off Sara in order to build up Laurel as a character, and instead they moved ahead with her and now she's with Oliver. And how Oliver handled that revelation about his mother was exceptional. I thought the flashbacks that culminated in the ship going down were really good, too.

Rishabh Sawhney -- The dialogue doesn't sound cheesy to me. There's always a certain amount of cliche-ish dialogue to be had in a series centered around comic book characters, but Arrow isn't anywhere near as comicbooky with the dialogue as Smallville was. IMO.

Freeman said...

Wow man, Laurel is seriously a, pardon me, douche. They're not even trying to make her likeable now. Even in the flashbacks, I dunno if it was intentional but she also kept turning off the TV or lowering the volume so they would focus on her. Man I dunno how she's gonna come back from this. Maybe she's gonna become a villain that Slade brainwashes or something.

Speaking of evil, Moira definitely looked like she was one step away from smacking a bottle over Felicity's head and tossing her out the window. That lady plays sinister well. Sad to see Ollie have to face the truth about his mother. Now Thea's in the middle of all this.

Katrina Law was awesome as Nyssa and she had some great fight scenes in this and her get-up was stylish. Way better than the usual villains that pop up in this show. Probably the result of her work on Spartacus. Speaking of Spartacus, I couldn't help but laugh when she kissed Sarah because the music that started playing when it happened was totally like the music that starts up before a sex scene in Spartacus.

Bonus points to Nyssa for using the pronunciation of Ra's from The Batman Animated Series.

I was also wondering where Summer Glau was. She's been a significant non-presence for a while now. You'd think Isabel would have something to say about Moira running for office.

ChrisB said...

This was, hands down, my favorite episode of the series to date. I usually watch this show while I do something else, but this time I got so caught up in what was happening of the screen that my multi-tasking took a hit.

I like the idea of Sara and Oliver together, but I'm still an Olicity shipper. Their scene at Moria's press conference was wonderfully done and, no matter who they are with in the meantime, I want them to end up together.

Agree with you all that Laurel appears to be beyond redemption, although I am interested to see where they are going to take her character -- especially when she finds out that her sister and her ex are back together.

Michal Dvorak said...

I had a big problem with the end of the episode. Specifically: could Oliver be a bigger hypocrite? His whole speech to Moira was essentially this: "You lied to Thea all this time, therefore you're evil. I will now do the exact same thing, except my lying will be heroic somehow." What am I missing?

In fact, at several points in the episode it seemed to me like things were happening without any reason (except that the writers needed them to happen). For example Dinah's kidnapping: so Nyssa is driving Dinah away in a van, Ollie and Sara try to intervene on a motorcycle, the first attempt is not successful and then they just stop? Nyssa drives away, Sara screams in despair? Hello, guys, you still have the motorcycle. Did it occur to you to continue the pursuit?

I don't even know what they're trying to do with Laurel any more. I still think that they're planning on making her a hero eventually, only they felt the need to make her a complete bitch first so that they can do the redemption thing later. But it seems like they might be going too far. We'll see.

Anyway, I still enjoy Arrow greatly and I even liked a lot in this episode. Nyssa was great and her relationship with Sara was interesting. But the writing seemed lazier than usual.

Freeman said...

Ollie's reaction to his mother was more the build up of lies she's told the family and the truth about Thea was kinda the straw that broke the camel's back. Sure she was lying to save them some heartache but that doesn't change the fact that Moira is basically just a liar in general. She has been and probably always will be.

And I'm fairly certain they gave up the chase in the van sequence because Sara froze up and lost it from seeing her mother, and wasn't in the best condition to continue the pursuit. Granted Ollie probably could've just left her and kept going but I think he was concerned.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Freeman, thanks for answering Michael's comments so well. I don't think I could've put better myself. I thought Katrina Law was awesome too, I wish I knew her a bit better. I stopped watching Spartacus after season 1 because it was a bit difficult to get access to the episodes. Then after the lead died in real life, I didn't have the heart to go back.

I totally agree that Sara froze up there, and that's why the chase basically ended. Oliver should've kept going though. But I think Sara means way more to him than he lets on, because he's reacted emotionally to her on more than one occasion.

I thought she was using the Batman Animated Series pronunciation, but I wasn't sure. I definitely prefer it.

As for Moira, it is totally the culmination of things, and this one big lie that's been told for a very long time is really the straw that broke the camel's back. It is yet another connection to Merlyn that she didn't reveal. How much more did she hide? Oliver can never be sure. For all he knows now, she had direct involvement in the earthquake machine, and then chickened out at the last moment.

Chris, I too am an Olicity shipper, but I'm not a fan of the writers forcing it to happen. I hope they end up together in the end, but I think Sara is good for Oliver right now. Actually, I think the together is good for both of them.

I don't usually watch this show twice before a review, this time I did. I really got involved in the story for once. So I know what you mean Chris.

Michael, the whole redemptive angle for Laurel does feel like what they are doing. Although I'm starting to like the idea that she's going to become a villain later on. I'm sorry the episode didn't click for you, and you're the second person to mention the writing. Personally, I think the writing is improving. Sure there are some short cuts made, and I won't forgive the wound continuity. Mostly though, that stuff doesn't matter to me as much if the rest of the show is excellent. And right now, the rest of the show is excellent. Perhaps during a re-watch those details will jump out at me more.

Thank you all for your lovely, well thought out comments. Until next week!

Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...

Did we know that Dinah was a professor before this? Very nice hat tip to Professor River Song.

Kelly said...

Not that I'm a big Laurel fan at this point, but I thought her harsh reaction to Sara being alive was spot on. She was happy to see Sara when she thought she was a hallucination because seeing family who you know are dead (whether thru a dream or hallucination, whatever) can bring the kind of comfort Laurel obviously felt early in the episode.

But Laurel learned Sara horribly betrayed her in the same breath that she learned her sister was dead. What you can overlook or maybe forgive when someone is gone forever (the grief and desire to have your sister alive and back overwhelms the feelings of betrayal), obviously crystallized in that moment when it sank in that Sara was actually alive this whole time (and somewhere in that knowledge, is also the realization of another betrayal: Sara never told them she was alive for six whole years).

Given Laurel's currently volatile emotional state, I'm not surprised at all that she lashed out at Sara. It's one more thing piled onto her recent struggles, and she has legitimate reasons to be angry with her sister. She couldn't deal with it, so she pushed her away.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Katie, I'm honestly not sure if we knew about Dinah being a professor. But it was a nice tip of the hat to River Song. I also love in the flashback she had River's hair too.

Kelly, while I totally get your point, and to a degree I agree that her reaction was both warranted and understandable given her current emotional state. I'm frustrated with it for a couple of reasons. First, it further diminishes a character already teetering on the edge of being written off. Second, and most important, she doesn't have a freaking clue what her sister has been through. Assuming that she's the same person after being lost for six years is ignorant and naive. Sure, she's angry and she has good right to be to some extent. Only, the reasons she's angry with Sara are emotional ground Laurel's already crossed with Oliver. To be so harsh, is basically saying that she has a double standard when it comes to her sister. That Sara to her is deserving of less respect, not more respect than her flighty ex-boyfriend.

That reaction puts her entire character into question. That after such a remarkable reunion, the only thing she can do is lash out. It speaks to how broken, and how selfish Laurel is. And I guess I have some pretty strong feelings on the subject.

Thanks for the comments!

Kelly said...

JD, I agree Laurel is totally being selfish. Not showing at least some relief or happiness that Sara is alive, or even attempting to hear out her sister is all very harsh. At the least she should take some time to ask questions so she could have the proper context for the situation. But it's all very easy for us to rationalize what she should do, but she obviously isn't acting from a rational place right now. Maybe next episode she'll snap out of it enough to start asking these questions.

And yes, it's very bad timing for Laurel to act like this about Sara when it's already reached a point where most viewers dislike her or are indifferent to her. This whole downward spiral thing this season isn't doing her character any favors. At the same time though, I wouldn't want the writers to cut corners or not be true to the characters just because it's behavior the audience will not like. I approve of them taking chances.

You bring up a good point about a possible double standard in Laurel dealing with Oliver and Sara's betrayals. However, I think it's too early to tell if overall she'll be harsher with Sara than she was with Oliver. We haven't seen Laurel's response yet past the initial shock of learning Sara is alive. I can HOPE that the slut-shaming isn't pushed hard... we'll see.

And wow, so much talk of Laurel! Meanwhile there's so much better stuff going on in the show. Amell was amazing in that scene where he learned about Thea's paternity and then had to introduce his mother. And Felicity continues to be awesome, this time having enough faith in her relationship with Oliver to tell him the truth, or believing that she has to tell him, despite any damage it does to their friendship.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Kelly, some really good points there about Laurel, and you're right why are we talking so much about her when so many other good things happened in this episode. I mentioned it briefly in my review, but Emily Bett Rickards is really doing an incredible job as Felicity. She's now adding emotional depth to her insanely likable and witty character.

Stephen Amell continues to deliver, which is always a good thing for a lead. It took me a while to warm up to him, but he has become the core of the show and brings depth to the role that is very much needed for such a complex character.

If it was just those two, I'd probably still be watching. What makes this show even better is the rest of the cast who are all rather amazing. Even poor Katie Cassidy who has really gotten the bum part.

Patrick said...

I've been re-watching Season 2 of Arrow as a refresher before the new season starts soon(and well, just because it's such an awesome show), and I'm still struck by just what an incredible hour of television this was. They packed more in than a lot of shows put in their season finales. Katrina Law was such wonderful casting for the role of Nyssa. I really hope we see her again in Season 3, and based on what they've been teasing, I'd be surprised if we don't. Everyone brought their A-game in this episode, even Katie Cassidy. The material she was getting during this part of the season may not have made Laurel all that likable, but Katie certainly played it all well, making the conclusion to her character's arc that much more satisfying.