Arrow: The Climb

Inigo Montoya: "I'm going to duel him left-handed."
Vizzini: "You know what a hurry we're in!"
Inigo Montoya: "Well, is only way I can be satisfied. If I use my right... over too quickly."

In all seriousness, that was heavy.

The build up to that final scene has been a long time coming. From the first hints of Nanda Parbat, to the full reveal of Ra's Al Ghul, the confrontation between Oliver and Ra's was inevitable. I just didn't expect it to be so freaking one-sided. Ra's Al Ghul literally beat Oliver with one hand behind his back, talk about toying with your prey. Did Oliver really think he had a chance, or was he simply trying to be optimistic?

Either way, the result was the same, a big giant cliffhanger that wasn't so much suspenseful as it was frustrating. Oliver being skewered then sent tumbling off a mountain had a feeling of finality to it, but the lead isn't going to die. Unless they are taking the show in a radically new direction. That means only one thing, Oliver is going to be healed/resurrected. The two questions that remain are how, and who?

My bet is on Maseo, since he seems slightly more sympathetic than Nyssa. The how, well there are really only two options, and with Ra's Al Ghul causally throwing out a number like 67 years, the more farfetched one is all but confirmed. The Lazarus Pits. My guess is that it will probably play a big role in the future of the series. The thing about it is, there are consequences to the pits' rejuvenation properties. It might bring Oliver back, and possibly even mend all of those scars scattered across his body. But it also kinda drives the person insane (temporarily), or in some cases, changes them fundamentally.

The only other option I can think of is that Oliver isn't mortally wounded and he has to spend a few months/years recovering. Of course wounds like those would render his superhero days effectively over, so I don't think that's the route they are going for. Plus, I seriously doubt Ra's didn't go for a fatal wound. Unless Ra's didn't actually want Oliver to die, and just made it look like he killed him. Somehow that doesn't seem likely.

As for Oliver sacrificing himself for his sister? Honestly, the whole 'Thea killed Sara' plot feels very off to me. But at the same time I think Malcolm using Thea like that might be a means to a very specific end. Not only did Oliver die for his sister, her 'father' used her to murder someone to protect himself. What makes it worse is the personal relationship between the Queens and the Lances. Thea would absolutely disown Malcolm the second she finds out the truth about what he made her do.

Along with her new skills, things are looking more and more likely that Thea is going to be taking up the mantle of Speedy before the season is over. Roy is already using the name Arsenal, which is the name his comic book version took after he left Oliver's tutelage and became a full fledged hero on his own. It also doesn't help that Thea is pretty much the only character now (except for Quentin and Ray) who doesn't know Oliver's secret. So where does that leave the series? Well, Ra's Al Ghul has now been established as a serious and very deadly threat, and Malcolm is back in the game as a true villain. (Who does that to their own daughter?)

As for the rest of the plots: Laurel is still struggling with Sara's death. I really liked how she just told Thea, and even gave in and fessed up to her mother. She does have a somewhat valid reason for withholding the news from Quentin, but I think everyone else kind of needs to be in the loop.  That being said, I do think Quentin shouldn't be left in the dark.  Now that Laurel has gone down the road of alcoholism she might be a much stronger shoulder for her father if he slips off the wagon from the news that his daughter is truly dead.

The other plot movement involved Ray apologizing to Felicity about the kiss, and revealing two details about himself. First, he is a bit squirrelly and strange because he just lost his wife during the Mirakuru solider invasion. Second, he brought her in on his A.T.O.M. project. I guess he really is a good guy after all. That sounds like a lot of work for poor Felicity.  I think this does explain Ray's personality a bit, and why he's been all weird around Felicity.  It still doesn't quite negate the mild creepiness to his actions.

Flashback:

The flashback was an interesting one. We got a lot of movement in not a lot of scenes. Oliver successfully tortured someone that led them to a biotech facility where they were producing something called the Omega Virus. The Oliver/Maseo mission was a dead end, but gave China White the opportunity to attack Maseo's family. Specifically she took Tatsu. This leads to all kinds of questions about what they are doing with these characters. I've been under the impression Tatsu would eventually follow in her comic-book footsteps and become Katana. Now I'm not so sure.

Bits:

I think the term 'cliffhanger' was applied a bit too literally here, Oliver was hanging off a ledge on the side of a cliff at the end of the episode.

The entire episode was interspersed with scenes of Oliver climbing a rough and very cold looking mountain. I wonder how fair it is to have him fight right then? He must've been chilled to the bone and utterly exhausted, but hey, Ra's has to look powerful, right?

I didn't like how Oliver was incapacitated by the League goon with just one punch.

Maseo now goes by his League name, Sarab.

Crossover alert: A newspaper article with the headline "Mysterious yellow blur attacks S.T.A.R. Labs" references the events from the previous Flash episode. We also got call between Felicity and Caitlin, although we didn't hear Caitlin's voice.

I didn't get the scene where Ra's duels a bunch of guys and kills them. Were they bad, had they all challenged him? If so why did he say he hadn't been challenged in a long time? So if that was practice, he just kills his minions? Nyssa didn't seem upset by it, so maybe they have ways of healing sword wounds. Cool scene, but it definitely stood out as strange.

Votura is a plant that can create a poison that induces a trancelike state, making the user extremely susceptible to suggestion. It grows on Corto Maltese.

I thought we'd get to see more of the Tatsu vs. China White duel. But we got that epic sword fight at the end, so I guess there wasn't room.

I noticed the birth date on Sara's tombstone this time. She was only 27 years old.

The A.T.O.M. suit acronym stands for Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism.

Against the gray of the sky, Oliver's scars really stand out. This was a nice visual way of illustrating how damaged Oliver is, both mentally and physically.

Quotes:

Maseo: "One man's agony is not worth the lives of an entire city."

Nyssa: "I am envious of you. You will see her before I do."

Felicity: "What are you going to use it for?"
Ray: "To protect the people of this city. And I want you to help."
Felicity: "Why does this keep happening to me?"

Ra's Al Ghul: "Death comes for us all. We can only evade it so long."

Ray: "I can't imagine there's a man on the planet that would ever regret kissing you."
Felicity: "I can think of one."

Despite the slightly predictable ending, this was a fabulous episode.

4 out of 4 Literal and figurative cliffhangers
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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.

9 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I thought it was a fantastic episode. How wonderfully unexpected that Ras whatever his name is just played with Oliver until he took him down. And I vote for Oliver coming back without scars! Seriously, there are so many that it almost makes him unattractive. I said 'almost'.

Do you think Ollie will be absent for an episode or two, during which they'll focus on Ray? That would make sense and create suspense.

(Loved the Princess Bride quote. I was thinking of the duel atop the Cliffs of Insanity, too. :)

Billie Doux said...

To quote Stephen Amell's Twitter feed,

"It was a good run."

:)

https://twitter.com/amellywood

Patryk said...

Would be fun if they focused on Atom saving the city for a while and even changed the intro for the first episode. :) I'm optimistic after seeing the flash/arrow intros for the crossover.

JRS said...

Incredible episode but I'm NOT happy with the level of this cliffhanger!

Every scene with Felicity just bloody worked in this, didn't they? That moment with Ray going golly gee, look, I'm a superhero, and you can see in her eyes: this is number four! WHY DO I KEEP GETTING INVOLVED WITH MEN WHO WANT TO SAVE THE WORLD????!?

Anonymous said...

I think Laurel not telling her dad Sarah is dead is about his heart condition and not his drinking. She is afraid it will literally kill him. Which is valid.
Ras only injured most of the men he was training with. It is obnoxious that no one training with swords on tv uses a bokken.
I agree about Palmer being pretty creepy. If I hadn't known he was going to be ATOM I would have thought he was a villian from the vibes he gives off. His backstory reminds me of Routh's arc on Chuck.

J.D. Balthazar said...

Anonymous;

I totally agree that it is about his condition (whatever it is exactly). But it also has to do with how he handled her death the first time. If he doesn't outright have a heart attack, then it is likely he will fall of the wagon again.

Ra's might have just injured those guys, but most of them weren't moving afterwards. Also, you have a great point why aren't they using Bokken?

I wonder how viewers who aren't in the loop about Ray's comic book origins feel about the character? He had been giving off slightly shady vibes, and I bet that's so that most people will be expecting him to become a villain.

CH said...

I recently re-watched this episode and was curious about one thing. Are we supposed to know why Ra's al Ghul killed one of his disciples during a training session midway through the episode?

Is that a teaser for the Lazarus Pits? That he kills his disciples when they fail but he also teaches them not to fear death that way?

J.D. Balthazar said...

I had a similar thought about that scene CH, I'm pretty sure the pits will come into play in the next couple episodes.

Marianna said...

This episode was very artful, making the mountain climbing seem like a flashback when it wasn't, but I found the plot shaky at best.

1) I thought in the previous episode Ra's Al Ghul said that he didn't care about who killed Sara because she was never really part of the League of Assassins. Now he's setting a time limit for finding her killer?

2) Oliver took Merlyn (who is clearly a liar in general) at his word about how Ra's would react. I think if Oliver had said Merlyn masterminded Sara's death by forcing someone else whom he would refuse to name to kill her, there's a good chance Ra's would have been satisfied killing Merlyn for it seeing as he wanted to kill him anyway.

3) Even if Oliver didn't want to take that risk (which would be understandable), Felicity hacked into Argus' satellites. Wouldn't it be a piece of cake for her to hack into Merlyn's phone, computer, etc. and delete and possibly incriminating videos of Thea?

4) Why did Oliver think he would win? Fencing isn't exactly his forte and Ra's has been doing this for a very long time. It's not like he's Batman or anything. =)

By the way, I didn't consider it a cliffhanger because there is absolutely no way he could survive that. If he didn't die, it might be the biggest cop-out in television history.