Arrow: The Climb (3×09)
Synopsis: The League of Assassins give Oliver 48 hours to find Sara’s killer, or Starling City citizens will die. Oliver then has an epic confrontation with Ra’s al Ghul.
Ah it seems like a few days ago that I was freaking out that Sara was dead. Now, it seems so small, so inconsequential.
While finding Sara’s killer was always important, this episode kicked it into high gear when Oliver is ambushed by assassins and Nyssa with an ultimatum from Ra’s that he must find the Sara’s killer within three days or else the league will kill 50 people a day in Starling City. Or more specifically, Sarab will kill the 50 people a day. Who is Sarab you might ask? He’s none other than our old friend Maseo Yamashiro, ex-ARGUS agent and loving father and husband from Oliver’s Hong Kong past.
That’s right; that slow-burn of Oliver’s past is starting to be put together into recognizable pieces. We learn this episode that Maseo and past!Oliver are trying to find the source of a bioweapon called the Omega virus. It leads them to BTHK Biotech and one of China White’s associates, an inside man at BTHK. After some intense torturing from the newly minted torturer Oliver Queen, Maseo suggests that the man might be under the influence of the votura plant, which makes a person highly impressionable without them knowing it.
After the capture of this inside man, Maseo suspects that China White now knows that they are on her trail and have showed their hand. He returns back to his home to find it destroyed and his wife Tatsu gone. Although her status is unknown, I’m pretty sure Tatsu is alive and might now be under the influence of voltura herself, since China White clearly knows how to use it. Regardless, after this event (assumedly) Maseo joins the League and meets Sara and becomes Sarab. No word on where his son Akio is staying these days, fingers crossed he isn’t dead.
Forced to expedite their research on Sara’s killer, Felicity gets the data back from S.T.A.R. Labs and finds out that the DNA on the arrows that killed Sara match up with Oliver’s after referring to the SCPD list of criminals from anyone who’s committed a felony in the last 3 years. Assuming Malcolm is framing him, they track Merlyn’s movements and find out that he used some evasive measures to hide from them but did, in fact, land in Starling City the day before Sara’s death. What’s more is that a video proves that Thea was on the flight with him.
While everyone is now under the impression that Thea killed Sara, Oliver is sure she didn’t. Not even a visit to Thea as the Arrow can convince him, in which he realizes she’s not only been training in combat but somehow can survive throwing herself off a building in MC Hammer pants? It takes some damning video evidence from Merlyn to prove to him that she did the deed. Not only that but Merlyn most likely drugged her with that same voltura plant to get her to do it. Merlyn forces Oliver to face Ra’s and confess as the murderer of Sara in order to save Thea. God damn it, Barrowman.
Speaking of Thea, she and Dinah can not be added to the list of people who know about Sara’s death. And while I wasn’t really sure why we needed Thea to know, after that video and the voltura and Merlyn it’s making a lot more sense that she not only had any idea that she was the one to kill Sara but she might not have had any idea that she was in Starling City the night before her death. Dinah seemed to know right off the bat, and instead of discouraging her to take revenge, she not only encouraged Laurel to go after the killer but to make them suffer.
On a totally different note, Ray opened up this week to Felicity after breaking off the kiss they shared two weeks ago. He tracked Felicity to Verdant and told her about his fiancée, Anna, who was killed by one of the mirakuru soldiers right in front of him. He later shows Felicity his pet project that he’s been working on. After finding something called an OMAC suit created by Queen Consolidated, he repurposed it for himself, calling it ATOM: Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism. And, of course, he’s going to use the suit to protect the people of the city and needs Felicity’s help.
Ray did you not get the memo? We have a protector. Felicity is busy helping him out.
Or… maybe she won’t be. Since Oliver is going to go into a trial by combat with Ra’s al Ghul. Forced into a corner by Merlyn, Oliver agrees to a trial by combat. He’s given twelve hours to settle his affairs and must arrive at the top of a mountain by the thirteenth hour (I’d like to petition some travel time added into those twelve hours, League, since it clearly seemed to have taken Oliver half a day to get up there). He says his goodbyes to an unwitting Thea, Roy, and Diggle. When he goes to bid Felicity farewell, she asks him to kill Ra’s, because she is afraid that Oliver no longer has the ability to kill someone because of his humanity and that Ra’s will use that against him. Oliver assures her that he’ll do anything to protect his family, and then confesses his love for her before leaving for the duel.
(Yes. He confessed his love for her. I could cry.)
When he finally makes it onto the top of the mountain and faces Ra’s it’s instantly clear that they are unevenly matched. They fight shirtless in the snow, and Ra’s begins the match without a single weapon in his hand. We got the closest thing to a confirmation of the Lazarus Pits when Ra’s referenced his last duel 67 years ago and when he revealed how unmarred his skin was. The battle between the two was definitely an homage to Neal Adams’ version of the shirtless showdown in the desert between Ra’s and Batman, but came to a bitter end when Ra’s stabbed Oliver in the side and threw him off the cliff.
It’s hard to emphasize how much I was not expecting Ra’s to actually stab Oliver and leave him for dead. I was expecting some kind of injury, for sure, but not death! Obviously Oliver is coming back, but it seems like we’ll be getting more focus on the side characters in the coming episodes while Oliver is recuperating. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Oliver on the side of that mountain, but my guess is that Merlyn rescues him. John Barrowman hinted at it in this interview that he was filming in a very cold place, this could mean anything, but I don’t trust that Merlyn thought Oliver could beat Ra’s. He’s been a member of the League, he knows how dangerous Ra’s is.
Regardless, we now have almost two months to think of theories before the Arrow returns January 21st, 2015!