Arrow Season 3 Episode 9 – TV Review
Ra’s is now fully revealed.
And he’s a buff, older Australian man.
At least he hasn’t got Slade’s stupid mask.
TL;DR Ra’s hassles Oliver to bring Sara’s killer to justice; Malcolm reveals he drugged Thea and made her kill Sara; Oliver takes the fall for it to protect her; Ray brings Felicity in on his ATOM project; Kelly Hu gets the upper hand on Oliver and Japanese guy in the flashbacks.
And Japanese guy is also one of Ra’s’ present-day henchmen. Dude gets around.
So we’re back to typical, gritty Arrow business after last week’s pointless diversion. Ra’s echoes everyone’s thoughts by getting fed up with how long Sara’s murder investigation is taking, and gives Oliver forty-eight hours to produce the killer, or he’ll start slaughtering Starling City citizens as incentive. The DNA analysis from Caitlin from The Flash comes back and reveals a likely match for Oliver’s DNA was on the killer’s arrows. Oliver assumes that Malcolm must be framing him somehow, and this turns out to be partly correct: Malcolm actually used a drug to make Thea commit the murder (for which Malcolm has video footage). He holds this over Oliver so that Oliver will confess to the murder, thus triggering a League of Assassins trial by combat, which Malcolm hopes Oliver wins, as Ra’s’ death will clear Malcolm’s blood debt to the League. Pretty simple stuff, you know. Oliver, wanting to protect Thea, does just that. But he doesn’t win the fight, and instead gets impaled and chucked off a mountain. Oops. Meanwhile, Ray tells Felicity about his plan to be a superhero with his ATOM exosuit. Meanwhile, Laurel breaks the news of Sara’s death to Mama Lance. And the Hong Kong flashbacks show Kelly Hu attacking Japanese guy’s family, and kidnapping his wife, which would explain why he’s a present-day League lackey, and totally dark and moody.
He still cares about Oliver, though. So that ship is still salvageable.
Really, this episode is commendable simply for its pace.
After spending eight episodes wringning their hands over Sara’s murder investigation, Ra’s just shows up and is like “Nuh, over it. Two days or you’re out, dudes.”
Thank goodness for that.
Why I hate this episode:
Oliver’s defeat is hardly surprising, given Ra’s’ reputation, but the brutality of it is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it was fucking visceral and shocking. But moreso disappointing, because Oliver is the main character of this show and there’s no way he’s going to get killed off in the ninth episode of the season. And let’s not forget this is comic book territory, so death is no inconvenience to these people.
Basically, you know he’s going to survive. Which erodes the value of the violent defeat.
I’m questioning exactly the kind of resources Amanda Waller has at her disposal in the flashbacks. Why would she let one agent and one rookie, playboy rich kid be the sole investigators for Kelly Hu? Kelly is clearly no slouch, which is evident when she comes to Japanese guy’s house and fucks up his family. You’d think Amanda would have something in place to prevent that. Unless this is just another test.
Laurel’s subplot is so bland and so irrelevant. How did we go from training her to be the new Black Canary to having her babysit her melodramatic bore of a mother?
Oh, and Ra’s has a scene where he spars with his assassins. And by “spars,” I mean “he kills them all.” Wasteful.
But it’s not all bad:
Ra’s is a badass, fit, Australian man. I’ll allow it.
His duel with Oliver involves them both getting shirtless. I’ll allow it.
The fight scenes are the star of the show this episode. Ra’s and Oliver’s duel is the centrepiece of the episode, but I’ll give special mention to Kelly Hu’s girl-on-girl swordfight with Japanese guy’s wife. Wife must have lost, because she ends up being kidnapped. But those two make a good match for each other.
And Kelly’s wig is divine. Natch.
Oliver’s devotion to protecting Thea is admirable. Personally, despite the drugging, I’d still be a little pissed that she murdered Sara. But Oliver displays his good big brother skills by choosing trial by combat with Ra’s Al Ghul to save her. What a sweetie.
Malcolm is a filthy weasel, but you can’t fault his plan’s success.
Laurel pledges to her mum that she will make Sara’s killer pay. I can only hope that means she’ll try to destroy Thea.
Best line of the episode goes to Felicity after Ray asks for her help in becoming a vigilante superhero: “Why does this keep happening to me?” Felicity is billionaire bait.
Ray clarifies his kiss-and-run from a couple episodes ago with the revelation of a fiancé who died during the siege of Starling City last year. Ah, the dead true love. The ultimate get ouf of jail free card.
When the Super Friends suggest that the DNA might be Thea’s, Oliver defiantly refuses to believe she could kill Sara. But Felicity and Diggle are like “eh, maybe, though?” I loved it.
Present-day Japanese guy doesn’t believe Oliver’s confession of killing Sara (supposedly at her request, to escape the League once and for all). So he’s not totally lost to the darkness of whatever horrible thing happened in the past.
Oh, and Oliver looks good getting impaled. Oliver looks good anytime.