Welp, we all saw this coming, didn’t we? I mean, it’s the 20th episode of the third season of Arrow and the writers have been teeing up the inevitability of what happened therein since they introduced Ra’s al Ghul’s intention to have Oliver take his place as Demon’s Head. While last week’s episode, “Broken Arrow” was unpredictable to an almost silly degree and had Oliver stuck, unable to do anything lest he be captured by the police, this one had Oliver fully in control and doing exactly what he thinks he must. Oh, and some stuff goes down that is sure to make the Olicity fans go crazy.
After last week’s cliffhanger, in which Thea is skewered by Ra’s al Ghul as the final move in his chess match against Oliver. And it works. Oliver returns to Thea’s flat and rushes her to the hospital where the doctors are able to stabilize her, but she’s lost a lot of blood and I guess her internal organs are kaput. Malcolm arrives and effectively says goodbye to his daughter. But Oliver isn’t prepared to say goodbye. He’s going to take her to Nanda Parbat and accept Ra’s al Ghul’s offer in exchange for putting her in the Lazarus Pit. Naturally, because those are the words they say, Diggle and Felicity are like “Oliver, no, you can’t do this, etc. etc. etc.” But it’s to no avail. Naturally, everybody decides to go with him, including Malcolm, but to get there, they’re going to need transport.
And here’s where another inevitable piece happens; after the events of last week’s episode, which was a pretty Ray Palmer-heavy affair, he saw that Felicity still very much is in love with Oliver. This week, he allows her and the others to take his private jet to Nanda Parbat. Poor Ray. But, we don’t need to worry about him, for several reasons. 1) He’s still a billionaire. 2) He’s still a super handsome, buff, and charming guy. 3) He’s still going to have his own show, basically, once the Flarrow spinoff show becomes a thing. So, he’ll come out on top.
They finally arrive at Nanda Parbat (good thing it’s so close or Thea might have died in transit) and Oliver pledges his loyalty to the League of Assassins. Malcolm warns Oliver that putting Thea in the Lazarus Pit will change her, make her all weird and nutso. Which it does. She turns into a crazed monster person but then they drug her real fast and she doesn’t do any damage. Unfortunately, her memories are all batty when she wakes up, and she doesn’t remember Oliver, thinks her brother is dead, and is all “Hi Daddy” with Malcolm. Clearly not up to her normal mental prowess, let’s just say.
Oliver has resigned himself to be true to his word, which Felicity cannot and will not abide. She goes to give Ra’s al Ghul a piece of her mind, and boy howdy mister, she’s going to give the Demon’s Head such a talking to, buster brown. It’s a brave gesture, but it’s pretty useless. “We’re gonna come back with an army to destroy you,” is one of the emptier threats anyone’s ever uttered. Or maybe the threat wasn’t empty, but the ability to follow through on it sure was. In one of the episode’s few surprises, instead of Ra’s intimidating or threatening or otherwise scaring Felicity, he tells her a story of when he was called upon by the League. He’d had a wife and two children and he loved them with all his heart, but the League arrived and told him he either needed to come with them, quietly, without saying goodbye, in the middle of the night, or watch them suffer and die through torture. He never got to say goodbye to his family. He urges Felicity to tell Oliver how she feels while she still has the chance, and then say goodbye properly. Wow, that’s actually some heartfelt stuff from Mr. of the Demon.
And then the thing that’s basically been 2 and a half years in the making occurs. Felicity goes into Oliver’s room, tells her how she feels, and the two get it on like… I was going to say “like Donkey Kong” but that somehow feels wrong in this instance. Cuz, guys, they actually allow this sex scene to go on for a bit, as PG-13 as any on the CW, and yes they cut away eventually, but they let stuff happen. That’s fairly surprising, but I suppose there’ve been Olicity lovers for a really long time and they need their gratification, too.
But then, post-coitus, Felicity does something stupid. StupidER, I mean. She drugs Oliver with some “hey we just boned” alcohol and brings Diggle and Malcolm into the room. She didn’t think this through at all, but she knows they’d have to get him out somehow, and I guess, what? Fly away and never come back? Diggle convinces Malcolm to take them through the catacombs. They grab Thea, who’s still woozy, and head for the main temple. They’r every nearly caught, but Maseo arrives and saves them.
Sidebar: I forgot a bit earlier where Diggle has a talk with Maseo, who’s League name is something dumb I’ve never bothered to learn. Diggle gives him the old “How could you do this?” schtick and Maseo replies that Diggle knows nothing of pain since he hasn’t had to hold his dying child in his arms. But Diggle asks what his son would think of his father now. Huge burn. So when he arrives to save them, he says he’s doing it for his son, essentially.
Back to the catacombs. League members find the escapees, pretty easily, and Malcolm grabs a sword and fights off several of them, but I then legitimately guffawed when Diggle, carrying Oliver over his shoulder, just shoots a couple dudes no problem. Diggle is the MAN. It’s still not looking good for them, but suddenly Oliver wakes up and tells the remaining Leaguers to get out of here, because he’s Al Sah-him, the Heir to the Demon. They go away, and Oliver tells Felicity he loves her all the more for attempting to free him. But it’s all over bar the shouting. He’s going to be the new Ra’s al Ghul.
Oliver says a tearful goodbye to his friends and family (Thea’s still like “wait, what’s going on?”) and Felicity most of all, but he returns to the Temple to stand before Ra’s al Ghul, who’s pretty mad Oliver just allowed his friends to leave after League blood had been spilled. He demands to know who helped them and Maseo steps forward, offering his life to Ra’s as penance. But Ra’s says it was simply a twinge of his old life coming back through and that being willing to lay down his life means that his loyalty has returned, and that Oliver is going to need him. They brand Oliver with the arrow symbol that’s been the show’s logo pretty much all year and Ra’s says that he will no longer be Oliver Queen and he’s not yet Ra’s al Ghul, so for now he’s just Al Sah-him. Oliver then wears a cool Dark Archer outfit.
Back in Starling, Thea wakes up and remembers everything up to and including Ra’s stabbing her. Merlyn is there to try to explain and she doesn’t want him there. But he’s like “listen, daughter, I’ve done some bad shit in my day, and I don’t deserve forgiveness, but I’m free of the League and can go anywhere I want but I’m CHOOSING to stay here with you. So, like, give your old man some cred.” Is Malcolm going to legit be a good guy now? I’m not sure how into that idea I am. Not that he’s a bad presence in the show, just not sure him being actual loving father will fit him. We’ll see.
Aaaaaaaand I guess I need to talk about the dumb flashbacks. Oliver, Maseo, and Tatsu find where General Shrieve is making the horrible toxin using Alpha and Omega. The drug gets put on a truck, they give chase in a car, they find it isn’t there, they torture a guy and find out it’s in a food cart in the middle of the square, they go there, Maseo’s not big on this plan and wants to leave but says he’s staying to give their son a positive view of his parents, Oliver fights a guy and then the toxin container shatters. OH NO!
Look, we all know what’s going to happen; we already know that Tatsu and Maseo’s son is going to die and that’s what drives a wedge between them. When you know the aftermath of a thing, it isn’t really necessary to show the actual event. We have two episodes left and they’re going to do one of two things. 1) Show us the kid dying and it’ll be sad but we knew it was coming or 2) we’ll see the kid dying and he won’t end up being actually dead because happy endings and redemption and stuff. Either way, we get it.
We’re down to the final three episodes, and it looks like next week it’s going to be everybody against the man who was once Oliver Queen. And it looks like the League shaved his head. Good, because his hairstyle had been way too hippyish recently. Fittingly, next week is called “Al Sah-him.”