Arrow: 8.03 Leap of Faith
We're now firmly back on Earth 1 for the second episode in a row and I can't help but be a little disappointed that Oliver's multiple Earth-hoping adventures teased in the season opener aren't actually going to happen. At the same time, Arrow's 'greatest seasons' theme continues with the welcome return of previous faces and locations as we return to that other significant season three location; Nanda Parbat. It was an episode packed with plenty of surprises - not quite up there with Starling City, but ultimately not far behind it.
Leap of Faith got straight down to business by reuniting Oliver with Thea and it was a delight to have Willa Holland back on the show. Two years on from her departure from Star City, she's a lot tougher and wiser and it was great to see her in action, proving that she could not only handle herself against a returning Athena and her new league of assassins but besting Talks Al Ghul herself. Oliver's former mentor turned enemy was another memorable return, with Lexa Doig once again bringing a formidable presence to the role. While the battle in the catacombs was pure Indiana Jones - complete with death traps and vertical flames - the most memorable set piece of the episode had to be Oliver and Thea's chat on the side of the cliff, which he plummeted off during his duel with Ra's Al Ghul in season three's still memorable mid-seaaon cliffhanger.
While Nyssa was missed (perhaps Katrina Law us scheduled to pop up later this season), the combination of Thea, Oliver and Talia was a lot of fun and there was enough back stabbing and treachery between the fights with assassins and treasure hunts to keep the momentum going. Admittedly, it felt like a bjt of a convoluted side-step from his mission to prepare for Crisis On Infinite Earths, but it wrapped up nicely with more hints that the Monitor might not be quite who he seems.
Lyla and John Diggle's sexy spy side mission didn't really have a lot of bearing on the overall plot, aside from setting up their connection to a younger Connor but there were more hints about Lyla's hidden agendas here that teased something tragic to come before the season's end. And it's always fun to see these two in action. In what feels like largely an indulgent final season, I'm a little more forgiving of these kind of storylines.
The future storyline really upped the ante with the showdown with JJ and his deathstroke resulting in some majorly tragic consequences. It certainly helps explain the lack of mention of a certain character in the planned Canaries spin-off. But then we had that almighty cliff-hanger and suddenly any question over the future storyline's inclusion in season eight was quickly laid to rest. By literally transporting multiple sets of characters into the modern-day Arrow cave, the stage is set for some very fun encounter next week. Once the fate of one character is dealt with, that is.
While not as strong as the season eight opener, Leap of Faith proved to be another winning episode with some fond reunions, nice callsbacks to earlier seasons and a brilliantly OTT cliffhanger that could only have worked in Arrow's final season. I can't wait to see how it all unfolds next week.