This Arrow review contains spoilers.
“A tale to be told begins thus…”
“The Offer” nicely continues a string of recent Arrow episodes that have surpassed my expectations. Season three, I’ll confess, has been tough to get a bead on at times, but now it’s settled into a groove. With only a handful of episodes to go before the season finale, it’s tough to imagine the show stumbling in any profound way right now. That’s how much faith I have in what’s going on.
Occasionally, during the early part of season three, I feared that Arrow was slipping back into that kinda “early CW” vibe that so heavily informed season one. Not only has that stuff gone back out the window recently, I can safely say that the first ten minutes or so of “The Offer” played as far away from that vibe as you could possibly get. Just like The Flash did with “Out of Time” this week, Arrow succeeded on its own terms, as a TV show, and not just a superhero adaptation.
The “offer” that the title references is, of course, Ra’s al Ghul’s proclamation that Oliver should replace him as the new (demon’s) head of the League of Assassins. This episode also marks the most time, by far, we’ve spent with Matt Nable’s Ra’s al Ghul. He comes off quite well, but we didn’t have much to go on before.
Anyway, Ollie has been making enough poor personal decisions and losing friends at just the appropriate rate that you could almost see him saying, “yeah, screw it. I’ll take the gig.” He’s been just enough of a dick lately to pull it off, too. That being said his “Let’s go home,” to his guys after he gets the talk from Ra’s was quietly badass.
And that’s why the words of Ra’s al Ghul end up hitting home for him. We’ve seen it before, but especially this year, that Oliver is “destined to be alone.” I mean, I don’t necessarily believe that, but you can see why this makes sense. The episode goes out of its way to hammer this home a little more later on, but honestly, it doesn’t beat you over the head with it, and all the heavy lifting has already been done. It’s good stuff.
As for the actual moment when that sounds like a prophecy, it probably comes with Green Arrow and Captain Lance. To be fair, the good Captain took the news of his daughter’s death better than I thought he would. I mean, it’s not great or anything, but I just figured he would drop dead or something. I suppose, if I was feeling cranky, I could complain that this is a bit of a reset button on their relationship, but I think it’s understandable given all that’s gone on. Hell, they even manage to make what was definitely a reset button (the release of all the criminals back into the Glades) seem reasonable this time, so I should probably keep my mouth shut.
Willa Holland is great again this week, but I’m getting a little confused about who this character is. She’s sometimes a frighteningly competent rage-monster, and others, well, a young woman with some Daddy issues. Both are valid, but sometimes the swing seems a little abrupt. It’s one of the things that makes me still feel like she’s being manipulated in other ways. Some of this might just be from all the time off we’ve had between episodes, though.
Oh, and can I just make one more little note about Ra’s? Ra’s al Ghul may be the head of a terrifying cabal of assassins, responsible for countless deaths, but he isn’t a sexist homophobe! He’s not angry at his daughter about her sexual preferences, but only because he felt the romance made her weak. Combine that with this week’s Flash when Joe West insisted that Captain Singh’s (male) fiancee should be allowed to see him in the hospital because “he is family,” and we have two superhero shows setting good examples for the future.
So, is Nyssa’s offer to help train Laurel an honest one? Or is she doing this to get closer to the man she feel is usurping her rightful position as the next Demon’s Head? I love the idea of Nyssa joining Team Arrow full time, but I do wonder where this is going.
You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned Murmur. That’s because there’s really nothing to talk about. His presence this week feels strictly obligatory, but this story isn’t over yet. I suppose he’s creepy enough, but I do long for the day when Arrow decides to just totally throw its formulaic obligations out the window and embrace cable-style, character-driven storytelling. In all fairness, though, “The Offer” is about as close as we’re going to come to that. Once again, I’m stunned by how much this show has matured.
Meanwhile…On an Island
Other than the Shado reveal (?) are we finally all on the same page that these sequences have become essentially useless? We’e sixteen episodes in. By this time in season two, I was genuinely looking forward to the flashbacks. I’m starting to think they’re going to have to reexamine the format of the show for next year, because this is some tedious stuff.
DC Universe Watchtower
Fair warning! I am “on vacation” (yet somehow still cranking out thousands of words a day), so I didn’t watch this week’s episode under ideal conditions. There may or may not have been a mild hangover involved. Anyway, it’s likely I missed something, so help me out.
– That was a Lazarus Pit healing Ra’s. Call it whatever you want, but that’s what it was. There’s a few things at work here: for one thing, it gives the impression that Ra’s isn’t immortal. Ah, but there’s a curveball here. Technically, he’s not immortal, but there is a Lazarus Pit. We even get to see it work. We didn’t get that in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, that’s for sure!
This is plenty significant. It’s the most purely supernatural thing I think we’ve ever seen at work on Arrow. Sure, there have been extranormal/metahuman types here and there, but a Lazarus Pit is basically just flat out magic. That’s a big step.
So, since we’re dealing in magic, and Ra’s lives in Nanda Parbat, what are the odds we get to meet Boston Brand in some form? If ever there was a character screaming for a back door pilot, it’s Deadman! Alright, maybe not screaming, but at least having his agent make polite inquiries or something.
– Felicity’s crack about “needing a microscope” to find the food (thank god she wasn’t talking about something else) was a cute nod to Ray Palmer’s usual shrinking abilities. I do have to wonder if, whether it’s here or on the Atom-led spinoff show, if we’ll ever get to see that as part of his power set.