Felicity’s nowhere to be seen on tonight’s episode of Arrow, but that’s because she’s taking a much-needed vacation excursion to Central City to visit The Flash. Can Team Arrow survive without her? Yeah, of course they can, but to help out in her absence, Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) lends her bow in the effort to track down this season’s mysterious murderer. That case is an enjoyable slow burn in an otherwise fast-paced and action-filled season thus far, but now a new enemy has appeared on the horizon and Team Arrow may have to forge some undesirable alliances to get out of this mess alive.
Hit the jump for our Arrow recap.
Nyssa’s arm strength is impressive as she’s been holding that arrow knocked and pointed in Oliver’s direction since this time last week. Oliver breaks the news to her that Sara died at the hands of an archer, then tasks Roy with following Nyssa to find out what she knows. Nyssa visits Sara’s grave where Laurel is grieving in the middle of the night. Laurel blames the assassin for bringing the darkness out of her sister, but Nyssa says that it already existed within Sara, and that she loved her with all her heart despite it. Some interesting dynamics going on between Sara’s former lover and her lifelong sister, especially the challenge from Nyssa that Laurel isn’t fit to wear the Canary’s jacket. Time will tell!
Meanwhile, Ollie meets up with Thea at a pricey restaurant. She’s got investors lined up to buy Verdant from the company in order to start it back up (though that’s not the most progressive plot point for her to have). Before Ollie can delve too deeply into Thea’s new relationships, Roy sends him Nyssa’s location so he can talk to her. Here, Nyssa drops the bombshell (to Ollie, at least) that Malcolm Merlyn is indeed alive. She follows through by revealing that he was released from her father’s service as long as he stayed true to the League’s principles … which he certainly has not. Sara was apparently tracking Merlyn to Starling City and paid the price for it; the bad news for Merlyn is that Team Arrow is now hot on his trail.
Laurel continues to lie to her father about Sara’s death, but uses him as an asset to track down her killer. Quentin tells her that Sara was looking for someone named Jansen, and gives her (and Nyssa, who drops in) the address. Team Arrow pays a visit to the Buddhist monk who has financial ties to Merlyn. They get to play on a pretty cool set as the Buddhist temple looks like it was plucked right out of China. While Nyssa thinks she’s gotten the drop on Jansen, Roy and Diggle discover that the man is long dead; Malcolm Merlyn stands before them instead, and he gives the team all they can handle before making a daring (and dazzling) escape.
They return empty handed and fill Laurel in on their ill-fated escapade. Turns out that Oliver’s grazing arrow was meant only to wound since it marked Malcolm with a compound that can be tracked. Laurel’s pretty upset with Oliver’s weakness and decision to spare Malcolm’s life; a good character trait for her eventual turn. Nyssa happens to agree with Laurel, who tasks the assassin with taking out Merlyn no matter what.
Roy pays Thea a visit at Verdant in part to check in on her, and in part to keep an eye out for Merlyn. Diggle’s busy tracking the Dark Archer and leading Arrow to him in an abandoned air-conditioning factory, but Merlyn’s a step ahead of them. He meets Oliver in a very public place (without the help of Team Arrow) to tell him that Ra’s al Ghul has a blood bounty on his head, so it would make no sense to kill his daughter’s lover; he also fills Oliver in on his efforts to save Thea during Slade’s siege of the city. He swears he’s not Sara’s killer, and … you know what? He makes a pretty good case. It seems that Thea has inherited Malcolm’s powers of deception since she convinces Ollie that she had no idea what Malcolm’s intentions were, or even that he was still alive.
Nyssa seems genuinely interested in finding out who Merlyn’s daughter is, but Oliver is all too willing to give up that information. While that certainly puts Thea in more danger now, hopefully the logic convinces Nyssa that Merlyn is innocent of Sara’s death. Nope! Nyssa goes after Thea, and though Roy tries his best to intervene, the assassin takes the assassin-in-training away.
Meanwhile, on Starling City’s rooftops, Nyssa has set up a good old fashioned smoke signal to contact Merlyn. Team Arrow (sans Roy and Laurel) go to rescue Thea, who’s currently strung up in, you guessed it, an abandoned factory. (Starling City really needs to turn their old factories into condos or something.) Oliver rescues Thea with a quick bit of arrow trickery and Parkour skills before engaging Nyssa hand to hand to bow and arrow, but it’s not long before Malcolm joins the fray and things get pretty intense. Malcolm nets Nyssa, but Oliver gets the better of Malcolm, leaving his life balancing on an arrowhead’s edge. He’s not doing much in the way of trying to save his own life, since he reveals knowledge of both Oliver’s secret prison and repeatedly dares him to put an arrow through his heart. In the end, Oliver concedes and Merlyn flees. Again. Nyssa does what the audience wants to do and slugs Oliver for his decision. He doubles down and claims that Merlyn is under his protection from the League as long as he remains in his city.
We get closing scenes between Laurel (who’s training at the boxing gym) and Nyssa, who bond over Sara’s memory and Oliver’s refusal to take out Merlyn; Quentin calling Sara just to hear her voice; Oliver and Roy checking on Thea after her (umpteenth) kidnapping; and Malcolm calling Thea, you know, just to catch up.
The final scene drops us in a temple hidden away in a canyon, in which Nyssa kneels in front of her father (who’s bathing in Lazarus water, perhaps?) to tell him that Malcolm is in Starling City, that she thinks he’s responsible for Sara’s death, and that Oliver Queen is defending him, which is cause for war with the League.
Now let’s take a look into Ollie’s flashbacked past:
In Hong Kong, Oliver is following his target through a market. He’s not a big fan of his new position under Waller, but what’s he gonna do about it? Apparently he’s gonna stab the old man in cold blood and take his keys. (It’s no wonder that present-day Oliver is so anxious to put his murderous days behind him.)
After a hard day of killing, Yamashiro lets Oliver know that neither he nor his wife is a fan of having him in their house, which is not exactly how you manage conflict. Yamashiro’s son, however, makes a pretty sweet deal with Ollie that trades access to his computer for a few pieces of candy. Ollie makes quick work of his limited time online and manages to force Yamashiro into setting up a meeting with Waller by using his mark’s USB drive and its intel.
She’s none too happy at Oliver’s summoning, but reveals that she knows all about his exploits on the island. Oliver uses the gathered intel from his target (who actually worked for Waller) as blackmail against her. She tells Oliver that the passenger flight he managed to save while on the island was actually carrying an incredibly dangerous target, one who’s now free and roaming Hong Kong.
Obviously the death of Sara and the mystery of her murderer is the central plot arc to at least the first half of this season, and they’re doing quite well with the pacing, writing, and folding in of supporting characters. While it feels a bit like they’re holding back on bringing in other heroes and villains from DC lore, that’s certainly forgivable considering that the show is building up to a showdown between Team Arrow and the League of Assassins. The big question is just which side Oliver will ultimately end up on when it comes to the fate of Malcolm Merlyn, and even more interestingly, that of his own sister.
- Nyssa: “That jacket … I gave it to Sara as a gift … and you are not fit to wear it.”
- Roy: “Why would Sara be carrying a blank piece of paper?” Nyssa: “… do you have a flame?” Of course we have a flame, what is this, prehistoric Earth? (Ghost Ink is pretty cool though.)
- In the comics, Master Jansen was apparently once a companion of Green Arrow (spoiler: though the one embodied by Oliver Queen’s son, Connor Hawke).
- Malcolm Merlyn’s beaming smile stunned Oliver, preventing him from firing another arrow, obviously.
- Diggle: “Either way, the world is a better place without Malcolm Merlyn in it. You made a vow not to kill; Nyssa didn’t.”
- Oliver: “I need a meet with Waller. Ferris Air, Flight 637. She’ll know what I mean.”
- Okay, so at what point will Merlyn’s machinations finally be considered so heinous that Ollie will be forced to renege on his no-kill policy?
- Nyssa: “You have made an enemy tonight, one with a long memory.”
- Felicity: “What’d I miss?”
- Nyssa: “The strongest metal is forged in the hottest fire.”
- Nyssa: “Don’t forget to turn your hips. It’s where the power comes from.” Indeed.
- What do we think of our first real introduction to Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable)? Let us know in the comments!