Arrow: 3.16 The Offer
“John might have told me about your employment offer from Evil Incorporated.”
Ra's al Ghul's offer to Oliver last week provided the focus for this week's Arrow, as the titular hero, John Diggle and a still-alive Malcolm Merlyn returned to Starling City. It was an episode that reflected on just how far Oliver Queen has come and just as the rest of his team pondered their place in this world a few weeks ago, it was his turn to sum up his actions and motivations.
I never really brought into the idea that he would choose to become the next head of the League Of Assassins, though I did by into his internal struggles, wondering if his role as the Arrow really amounted to anything. One of the best things about this show is that the good guys and the bad guys have shades of grey; we're not talking about clean cut superheroes here but people trying to make a difference and often using dubious methods to achieve that. In the first season Oliver was clearly a murder, now he chooses not to kill his enemies where he has a choice, though the choice of bow and arrow means there is a certain amount of violence to his actions.
I was also glad to see that he chose wisely in the end, especially after Ra's words rang true; an angry, bitter Captain Lance turned against the Arrow after the lies over Sara's death; season three has seen these heroes become accepted in society but there is clearly not the public support at the moment. Oliver also saw Felicity slipping away from him, despite her assertions that she needed him in her life. Felicity and Ray are a couple and he doesn't even know that she is helping to become a hero too. We didn't see a suited Atom this week after last episode's tease but there is surely a explosive confrontation between him and Arrow coming in the weeks ahead.
But it wasn't all about Oliver this week as everyone got some great stuff to play with. Thea was forced to tend to a recovering Malcolm and refused to kill him when he gave her the option. I loved the line "To go buy my evil dad some soup.". She also returned to Roy's arms again after they have grown close in recent weeks. As for her connection to Laurel and Nyssa - I am liking the bond developing with the former while the latter saw the wisdom in not killing her.
Talking of Nyssa, this was the episode where the daughter of Ra's al Ghul really came into her own. From her cool reasoning that there would be no justice in killing Thea to her rage against her father. Interestingly she returned to Starling City not to take down her rival for her father's throne - Oliver - but to help fighting the criminals attacking the police precinct and offer to train Laurel. She sees Laurel as a way to connect with Sara and may be the one person to help the second Black Canary develop her skills in battle. Oliver made the comment that Laurel needed more training - now she has her trainer!
Talking of the assault on the precinct, the villains this week were decidedly D class in the big bad stakes. Murmur - the main with his mouth sewn shut - was obviously lifted from the comics but he didn't make much of an impact. Diamond-tipped bullets might have been deadly but Starling City has faced far worse. Though, intriguingly, that plot line diverged into the main story line with Ra's al Ghul playing the Arrow as he made a surprise appearance at the end. Just what he is up to remains to be seen - destroying the Arrow's reputation or aiding him? Maseo and Malcolm both alluded to the fact that Oliver taking over from Ra's was an order, not an offer.
Finally, as with each week, the flashbacks. Oliver and Akio on the run from Amanda Waller's men, continued to drag out this story line to the point I decided that they should just dump Oliver back on the island and drop then. Seconds later, Oliver ran into a still-alive Shado and I was hooked. This story still needs to go somewhere fast but I am willing, for now, to see what happens next.
Overall, a strong episode for each of the principal characters and Nyssa becoming a more prominent presence in the show. The villains were a bit naff and the flashbacks drawn out but even the weaker episodes of Arrow are good these days. Between this, The Flash and now Agents Of SHIELD returning to UK television this week, superhero shows are largely becoming must see television.