Return of the League
After dropping off his latest criminal to Captain Lance, Oliver is jumped by the League of Assassins. When he comes to, Nyssa demands to know the identity of Sara’s killer but Oliver tells her he still doesn’t know. Nyssa then issues an ultimatum to Oliver to find the killer within the next 48 hours or she will send her henchman Sarab to kill 50 people a day in Starling City until the killer is found. Sarab takes off his mask to reveal that he is none other than Maseo, Oliver’s old A.R.G.U.S. handler.
When Oliver fills the rest of Team Arrow in on Nyssa’s ultimatum, Felicity decides to push Caitlin to put a rush on the killer’s DNA sample. Diggle tells Oliver that if they can’t find the killer in time that they need a backup plan but Oliver is forced to admit he doesn’t have one. The results from the DNA come back from S.T.A.R. Labs and the results are a highly probable match for Oliver.
It doesn’t take the team long to conclude Oliver is being set up my Malcolm Merlyn and Felicity immediately goes to work to tear apart his alibi of being in Corto Maltese. She is able to trace Merlyn’s whereabouts around the time of Sara’s murder and Oliver and Roy go to shake down a pilot for more information. The pilot admits to flying Merlyn to Starling City and offers to give our heroes some security footage of Merlyn’s landing. When the team watches the footage they find Merlyn who is followed close behind by Thea.
Seeing Thea in league with Merlyn obviously throws Oliver for a loop but Diggle throws salt into the wound by suggesting that maybe Thea was the one who killed Sara since she would share DNA with Oliver. Oliver refuses to believe this but Felicity and Roy both admit that Diggle might be on to something. Oliver tries to confront Thea about her relationship with Merlyn and while she admits to seeing him in Corto Maltese she tries to play it off like it’s not a big deal (yeah Ollie take a chill pill, all she did was hang out with a mass murderer).
Oliver returns to team HQ and insists to Diggle and Felicity that Thea is not the killer but they are quick to point out that Oliver has a major blind spot when it comes to Thea and that the best way to get the truth out of her is to question her as the Arrow. The Arrow goes to question Thea and this causes a brief fight scene between the two (much to the understandable surprise of Oliver) before Thea tells the Arrow to stay away from her and Merlyn and jumps out of her apartment window (when did Thea learn to do that?).
The next day, Merlyn shows up at the club to confront Oliver about his interrogation of Thea. Oliver is all but ready to kill Merlyn on the spot until he receives a video from him on his phone. The video shows that Thea is indeed Sara’s killer thanks to some mind control from Merlyn. He says that if Oliver kills him, the video will be sent to The League of Assassins who will waste no time killing Thea. Merlyn says the only way Oliver can save Thea is if Oliver confesses to killing Sara and exercises his right to trial by combat against Ra’s. If Ra’s dies in the duel then his death will erase all the blood debts from his reign including Merlyn’s and Thea’s. While I’m not the least bit surprised that Merlyn would use his daughter as a human shield to save his own ass, I fail to see how this plan would solve his problems. Even if by some miracle Oliver defeats Ra’s, that still leaves him to deal with a very pissed off Oliver who would then have twice the incentive to kill him. At best he’s just trading one problem for another except slightly smaller.
Palmer comes into Felicity’s office to try to clear the air with her after the kiss they shared a couple of weeks ago. He tries to explain himself but Felicity thinks that they’re better off just pretending it didn’t happen. Later that day, Palmer tracks Felicity down at the nightclub by using GPS on her phone (okay dude that’s just creepy) and says that they need to talk. He confides in her that the reason he acted so weird after the kiss was because he’s still struggling to move on from the death of his fiance. He says that during the siege from Slade Wilson, they were both attacked by some of Slade’s mirakuru goons. He tried to fight them off but got a broken leg for his trouble and was forced to watch while they broke his girlfriend’s neck.
Felicity goes to Palmer’s office and demands to know the real reason he bought Queen Consolidated. Palmer finally shows her the schematics of the A.T.O.M. suit. He says that wants to use it to protect the city and he wants Felicity to help him do it.
Laurel’s mother, Dinah, comes to visit Laurel and Captain Lance for the holidays but she’s curious to know where Sara is. Laurel tries saying that Sara is backpacking through the Andes but Dinah is highly suspicious. Laurel and her mother have some dinner together but Laurel apparently has a very lousy poker face because Dinah can tell that something is seriously wrong with Sara. Laurel admits that Sara is dead but that Captain Lance still doesn’t know and they need to keep it that way. The two make a visit to Sara’s grave and Laurel vows to make Sara’s killer pay and Dinah adds to it by telling her to “make them suffer.”
Oliver comes back to Maseo’s apartment with blood all over him from the interrogation for Amanda Waller. Oliver is still squeamish over it but Maseo assures him that he did the right thing especially after Oliver reveals that he got the suspect to talk. He says that China White is looking for something called the Omega virus stored at a local biotech company.
Oliver and Maseo break into the biotech building to retrieve the virus only to find that China White has already beaten them to the punch. Maseo goes over the security camera footage and finds that China White had someone on the inside to get the virus for her. They interrogate China White’s inside man but he claims to not to know what they’re talking about. After some extensive interrogation, Maseo begins to have doubts about the guy’s guilt and comes to the conclusion that China White used the same method of mind control that Merlyn used on Thea.
Meanwhile at back Maseo’s apartment, China White attacks Tatsu and they have a pretty intense sword fight. Oliver and Maseo come back to find the place trashed and Tatsu nowhere to be found.
Oliver makes the confession to Ra’s saying that Sara begged him to kill her to escape The League. Neither Ra’s or Maseo actually believe him but nevertheless Ra’s accepts Oliver’s challenge of trial by combat. He gives Oliver twelve hours to get his affairs in order and Oliver gives his very possible final goodbyes.
Oliver makes one last visit to Thea to try to warn her not to trust Merlyn but Thea begs him not to make her choose between them (man she is really drinking the Merlyn kool-aid). He then goes to the HQ to say goodbye to the team. Felicity tells Oliver that if he has the opportunity, he needs to kill Ra’s out of fear that he might not have the stomach to kill him. He tells Felicity he loves her and departs.
Oliver makes a grueling climb up a mountain to the duel site (see that’s why it’s called “The Climb’ get it?). After Ra’s tells Oliver the story of the first time he killed someone at the age of 11, the duel begins. Oliver manages to get a couple of decent hits in but unsurprisingly he still gets his ass handed to him. Ra’s commends him for lasting longer than most of his opponents before stabbing him through the chest and pushing him off the cliff.
At first I found this mid-season finale to be a bit of a letdown but that’s mostly because it was forced to follow the awesome ‘Brave and the Bold’ episode. The more I thought it about it though, I really enjoyed this episode. It provides some firm set up for some major plot points in the second half of the season for Laurel, Ray Palmer and most importantly Ra’s al Ghul.
The duel with Ra’s shows viewers unfamiliar with the character just how dangerous he is and makes it very clear that Team Arrow will have their work cut out for them this season. The cliffhanger with Oliver falling to his apparent death was also a very effective way to close out the episode and while we all know he isn’t actually dead I admit to having absolutely no idea how he’s supposed to survive this. The show will be making it’s return on January 21st. See you then.