This was an interesting episode because it explored Oliver's journey as a man who has changed his path completely.
If this kind of moral dilemma was attempted even last season it wouldn't have worked. Oliver's transition into a man who no longer kills has been a well paced one, hinging on Tommy's death. In fact if he had killed Malcolm, or let Nyssa kill him, that would've betrayed that vow in the greatest way. It was Malcolm that through action killed Tommy, and Oliver would be the ultimate hypocrite if he gave into that baser need for revenge.
Of course an assassin isn't beholden to that same level of moral conviction, quite the opposite. It was kind of telling that Oliver didn't really try to stop Nyssa at first. Diggle had a point, it is Oliver's vow, but the world would be a better place without Malcolm in it. Hell, if Oliver knew how much Malcolm had been influencing his sister, he might not have been as inclined to keep Merlyn alive.
Still, when you weigh that question against Oliver's vow, is the right thing to simply stand by? In the end Oliver chose to make a powerful enemy and protect someone as awful as Merlyn. That's a pretty massive character moment. The Arrow truly has become a hero, complete with ethics and a moral ground to stand upon. What a reversal from that first episode. Which of course ties into the flashback almost completely (more on that below).
Speaking of costumes, Laurel is now wearing Sara's jacket. Nyssa brought it up twice. First to admonish Laurel, saying that she wasn't worthy to wear it. The fact that Nyssa gave it to Sara as a gift was an interesting reveal. Nyssa's feelings for Sara are clearly a point of strength and contention in her life. So the total turn around at the end of the episode, with almost a flirtatious smile from Nyssa towards Laurel, was kind of intriguing.
Laurel once again went all blood thirsty, and that's not a good sign. Actually it was almost an exact parallel to Oliver's journey. She's at the beginning of her journey and she's angry and funneling that anger into training and a need for revenge. Considering how addictive a personality she is, that might not be a good thing at all. She's still a good person at her core, so it's likely that she'll eventually end up as a hero. Still, in the short term it's only a matter of time before she kills someone.
Roy on the other hand has really changed. Not just recovered from his Mirakuru arc, but as a person he seems to have matured. He isn't pushing at Thea to get back together. He's trying to repair that gap between them by just being her friend. Sure, he probably hopes that eventually he might win her back, but I do believe he is being honest in his overtures. Unfortunately that's pretty much the opposite of Thea.
Thea's new path seems to be as a liar. Her secret is a pretty big one, and the natural way she hid that from Oliver was very telling. She threw off a cover without so much as a flinch. Oliver might suspect something is off with his sister, but he really has no way of knowing how much she's changed. She's calling Malcolm 'Dad'. That's a massive change from the end of last season. I guess her secret will come out soon, but that fallout probably won't be pretty.
Most of the time, the flashback serves the main story with a parallel plot. It showed Oliver at a point in time when he was capable of killing, but it hasn't lowered him into the coldblooded vigilante he was at the beginning of season one. It was kind of cool to finally find out why Fyres wanted to bring down that plane, but the fact that he was a minion of Waller is more than a little creepy. That confirms that she was the woman that he called in that one tease all those episodes ago. Also the target was apparently China White. Is that why Oliver has never really tried to kill her?
The way Oliver just killed his mark so abruptly was kind of shocking. No hesitation, no real remorse on his face. Sure, he hemmed and hawed before the act, but when it came time to pull it off, he just did it. I loved the way he bribed the kid to use his computer too. But not to try and contact home, he did it to blackmail Waller. Even Oliver from five years ago was crafty.
Oliver doesn't stand out in Hong Kong at all, being blond and standing a foot taller than everyone else.
No real Felicity, but she did have a line wearing the same outfit she was wearing in that ending train scene in the last episode of The Flash. She must've come directly from the station.
I'm torn about the Quentin stuff. On one hand, telling him might literally kill him, but at the same time he really needs to know so he can mourn her properly. Hmmm.
Malcolm Merlyn's League of Assassins name means 'The Magician'.
Ras Al Ghul was revealed, and he has all but declared war on team Arrow.
Quentin: "The fastest way to a cop's heart is through his liver."
Oliver: "The tracer arrow program?"
Diggle: "You have Felicity monitoring remotely from Central City?"
Oliver: "No, she told me an idiot could run it."
Diggle: "I will try very hard not to take that personally."
Good episode with a lot of fun character interplay.
3 1/2 out of 4 Archers in multicolored hoods
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.