With Thea (Willa Holland) on death’s door, Oliver (Stephen Amell) has no choice but to return to Nanda Parbat and accept an offer he can’t refuse.
Let’s bitch it out…
It’s taken me nearly twenty episodes, but I’ve finally come around to Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). What I’ve come to realize is that Ra’s is not the S3 Big Bad. For the longest time I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that a so-called integral villain was basically off-screen 80% of the time. Following the events of ‘The Fallen’, it’s clear that Ra’s was never actually the villain; he’s more of a catalyst for Arrow to dramatically reboot its central premise.
At its heart, the show has been about a grief-stricken man seeking to better himself by taking on the mantle of protector of the city. It’s a fairly classic hero trope (that description applies not just to Arrow‘s DC brethren, Batman, but also Marvel characters such as Spiderman). The premise has mutated this season, however; suddenly it’s much more about who has the right to lead and who has the capacity to fight. With the introduction of new-to-the-fight characters such as Thea, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Ray (Brandon Routh), the show has become top heavy with individuals who can step in to help save the city, as evident by the three part arc (I II III) when Oliver recovered from his first battle with Ra’s. With recent events involving Lance (an unseen Paul Blackthorne) outing Oliver as the Arrow, there is no longer a place for Oliver’s alter ego in Starling City.
Although it has been a bumpy, uneven season, there has clearly been a plan to slowly chip away at Oliver’s crime fighting identity in order to mentally prepare him to accept Ra’s offer now. Certainly Thea’s life-threatening injuries play a contributing factor, but if you take a big picture look at where Oliver is at, there has never been a better time for him to walk away from his self-imposed vigilante role. And so, with some hesitation, he does.
Of course, we know as soon as Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) accompanies Oliver to Nanda Parbat that she will refuse to let him stay. It’s a mildly predictable development, but a necessary one, especially after Ray breaks up with her and she sleeps with Oliver (#Olicity for the win!). The long awaited sex scene between the two is suitably hot and surprisingly lengthy – it not only pays off their seasons-long simmering attraction, there’s a suggestion that we should enjoy the lovemaking because we won’t be seeing these two get intimate for quite some time.
With that said, I love that Felicity’s escape plan is simply to sneak out of the fortress undiscovered. It is such a terrible, simplistic plan, concocted on the spot with no strategic insight, it confirms how desperate Felicty and Diggle (David Ramsey) are to hang on to Oliver (Felicity seemingly forgets that they were welcomed to Nanda Parbat by hundreds of ninja assassins and the headquarters of the League is in the middle of nowhere). It’s a testament to the bond that these characters have formed in their time as a team that they would willingly risk overwhelming odds to stay together. With several episodes remaining in the season, this is by no means the end of the line for Team Arrow, but ‘The Fallen’ clearly suggests that Arrow is transitioning into something different and new. Let’s hope that the S3 growing pains pay off when the dust settles.
For now, the Arrow is basically dead and gone. RIP Arrow. All hail Ah Sah-Him, the heir to the Demon’s Head.
- One of the most striking elements of ‘The Fallen’ is the shift in geography. We spend nearly the entire episode outside of Starling City and inside the fantastic walls of the fortress. The change of scenery lends the series a mythological feel – more akin to sci-fi series that take place on other worlds or times (think Defiance and Hercules). In particular, the Lazarus Pit sequence feels like a completely different show: part Hammer horror, part Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom. It’s silly and over the top and simultaneously great, which is everything Arrow should be.
- The CW promo editors clearly went a little overboard when they cut the preview for this episode. Thea’s post-Lazarus Pit attack on Oliver is brief and inconsequential. Despite this, I doubt we’ve seen the last of the side effects. Hopefully it won’t involve fugue states and arrows…
- It goes without saying that Bett Rickards and Amell deserve major kudos for their dramatic work in this episode. Their relationship has become Arrow‘s emotional cornerstone and their conversation aboard the jet and pre/post sex elevate the episode to the status of high drama. It would have been easily to make this a hysterical, overwrought episode, but the grounded approach both actors adopt keeps things serious and heartfelt. They manage to make this goodbye hurt, which is key for ‘The Fallen’ to work on an emotional level.
- Side Bar: I did feel like Felicity should have been more careful about the way she broke the news to Laurel. Appearing in the doorway crying and talking about Oliver being “gone” after the events of the Uprising? It’s a wonder that Laurel didn’t automatically assume Oliver was dead (again)!
- It’s one thing to renounce your former life and quite another to suffer through a thirty second branding. Man that would hurt! And to then strap into a heavy leather outfit? No way.
- While I appreciate Malcolm’s (John Barrowman) sentiment about staying in Starling City to take care of Thea, his word choice is incredibly narcissistic and self-centred (as expected). He basically says “your brother just ruined his life, but now I’m totally out of danger and instead of running off, I’m being a great dad and staying here with you.” It’s kinda awesome how big of a douche Malcolm is. If anyone else were playing this role, Malcolm would be such an unlikeable dick.
- I get what Diggle is trying to do by calling Maseo (Karl Yune) out about hiding from his life, but it comes off a little too self-righteous. I seriously doubt that their two minutes would have been enough to prompt Maseo to betray years of indoctrination in the League to help them escape. This piece didn’t quite work for me.
- I’m just thankful that Maseo’s help during the initial escape doesn’t result in his swift death. While I don’t particularly care for the way that Maseo has been developed in the present day scenes, I like Yune as an actor enough that I would hate for him to be relegated solely to increasingly irrelevant flashbacks.
- Speaking of the flashbacks: they’ve taken on an anti-climatic feel now that we have confirmation that Maseo and Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) fail to save their son. At least when Oliver battles the chef to regain the Alpha/Omega virus, the vial is actually dropped and breaks. Too often fight scenes involve delicate, breakable objects that somehow manage to survive a flurry of punches and kicks.
- Felicity (when Oliver talks about never seeing Thea again): “And you’ll see her again…again”
- Felicity (post sex): “So that happened.”
- Felicity (to Malcolm): “I have seen enough films over the years to know that the scary fortress always has a secret entrance.”
Your turn: was this one of Arrow‘s most emotional episodes? Are you happy that Felicity finally acted on her feelings for Oliver? Was her escape plan laughably bad? What other side effects will Thea suffer? Is Malcolm tolerable because of Barrowman’s portrayal? And how did you feel about spending the hour outside of Starling City? Sound off below.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW. Next week Oliver can’t stay away from the old crew, so he decides to wage war against Nyssa and Diggle. Good times!