WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS!
This was a pretty major episode in terms of story development, primarily featuring The League of Assassins as it saw Ra’s Al Ghul make his first appearance when Nyssa, his daughter, returned to investigate Sara’s death. The most likely culprit is then revealed to be Malcolm Merlyn, who audiences have known survived his supposed death for quite some time now, but this was the episode where Oliver finally discovered the truth. So needless to say, it should come as no surprise to anyone that this episode, Arrow’s 50th, was yet another epic installment of Arrow, culminating in an awesome three-way duel between Nyssa, Malcolm and Oliver.
There is a lot of stuff that happens in this episode and everything is well balanced and pretty good. Whilst it wasn’t quite as entertaining as The Flash’s fourth episode, it offered a darker tone and one that continued to touch on the Mystery of Sara Lance’s death, with finally someone who might have actually killed her, Nyssa’s father, Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s gets his first appearance in the series played by Matt Noble and even though it was a brief cameo, it was great to see that he’s showing up sooner than later. The fact that it puts an interesting dilemma on Nyssa’s character as well suggested what could be her character arc for the rest of the series, as she attempts to work out who really killed her father when Malcolm Merlyn may not be responsible, at least in the eyes of Oliver.
Speaking of Oliver, the Arrow ended up this episode by not killing Malcolm when he easily could have, multiple times, which as one would have expected, angered a lot of people. Although Laurel seems to have swung round to Ollie’s side eventually (after being furious when she initially learned that he got away) there’s still Ra’s who wants Malcolm dead, and he’s even gone so far as to declare the possibility of war between him and Oliver Queen.
This was a big week for John Barrowman as he continued to impress in the role of Malcolm Merlyn. He injects a lot of energy into his character and it’s great to have Barrowman back, but with the fact that we’ve had Deathstroke and now Ra’s Al Ghul since his appearance, it feels a bit diluted. Whilst he may not be just another villain, his impact doesn’t quite have the same effect. However, that’s only one minor problem in an otherwise excellent episode.
This episode has also showed just how well the show can improve characters, and it was a definite turnaround for Thea, who was one of the weaker players in the first two seasons. It’s great to see her playing a more active and confident role than just a spoiled rich teenager, and with Willia Holland involved in the thick of things at last, it was great to see that one of the best moments of the episode came from her spitting threats at Nyssa, who had taken her captive to lure Malcolm into play.
We also got some important revelations in the flashback sequences of this episode, where it turns out that Fyers (remember him?) was operating under orders of Amanda Waller. This was an interesting twist even if it wasn’t exactly surprising, because it was fairly predictable. The missile launch was in fact, not about causing major disruption but actually taking out a single target, China White, who you’ll probably remember from the early episodes of Season 1 as well. With the news that she’s now in Hong Kong, it means that we may be seeing more of her soon as the flashbacks start to take shape.
This was another excellent episode of Arrow that aside from a few flaws, did not disappoint, featuring a spectacular fight between Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa Al’Ghul and Oliver Queen as Thea’s character continued to improve. With this series being very strong indeed, next episode can’t come quickly enough.