The Lazarus Pits
We open this week with Thea barely alive after her encounter with Ra’s al Ghul. Lucky for her, Oliver shows up just in time to take her to the hospital. The doctors are able keep her alive for the time being but they’re not optimistic about Thea’s chances of regaining consciousness much less making a recovery. Adding salt to the wound for a grieving Oliver is the arrival of Merlyn who is equally devastated to find Thea near death. Felicity and Diggle arrive at the hospital shortly afterward to console Oliver though the visit is cut short when Oliver notices some purple smoke outside indicating that the League wants to meet with him. Oliver goes to see Maseo and after Oliver gives his old friend a not entirely undeserved punch to the face, Maseo gives Oliver another offer from Ra’s. If Oliver finally consents to becoming the next Ra’s al Ghul, the League will save Thea.
Oliver informs the Diggle, Felicity and Merlyn of the new offer and about the Lazarus Pits. While Diggle and Felicity are understandably skeptical, Merlyn confirms that the Lazarus Pits do in fact exist. Merlyn also warns Oliver however, that while the Lazarus Pits will bring Thea back to life that she probably won’t come back the same as before. Despite Merlyn’s warning though, Oliver doesn’t really have any other options at this point and decides to accept the offer and prepares to leave for Nanda Parbat. The rest of the team isn’t thrilled with Oliver’s decision but they decide to go with him anyway both to show their support and to make sure Thea gets home safely after it’s over.
Felicity stops by Palmer Technologies to ask Ray if Team Arrow can borrow his private jet (seems like it would’ve been easier to ask Merlyn for help with that but hey what do I know?). Ray is less than thrilled with this request and uses this opportunity to have a serious talk with Felicity. He’s finally realized that Felicity is still in love with Oliver and with a heavy heart decides break to things off with her. Regardless of all this, he lets Team Arrow borrow the jet anyway (further proving himself to be one of the season’s better characters).
While on the jet to Nanda Parbat, Oliver finally decides to tell Felicity a little more about the five years he was gone. He admits to her there was a very brief period where he came back to Starling City and ended up killing a drug dealer who had been selling to Thea to really hammer the point home that he’ll do anything to protect his sister. When the team finally makes it to Nanda Parbat, they are surprised to find the entire League of Assassins waiting there for them and are personally greeted by Ra’s who says to Oliver “Welcome home, Al Sah-him.”
While the League prepares the ritual to revive Thea, Diggle decides to have a stern talking to with Maseo. He accuses Maseo (and really the League in general) of being a coward for following Ra’s and running away from his life. Maseo defends himself by revealing that he had to watch his son Akio die and says that Diggle has no idea what that kind of pain feels like. Diggle reasonably counters by asking him how Akio would feel if he could see his dad right now.
The ritual begins shortly afterward and Thea is dipped into the Pits. It doesn’t take long for the waters to revive Thea who immediately jumps out to attack Oliver and oddly enough growling like a rabid dog while doing so. Thankfully, the League is able to sedate her before she can cause too much damage. The bad news is now that the Pits have done their job, Ra’s now expects Oliver to hold up on his end of the bargain.
Thea wakes up soon after and begins to experience some more of the Pits side effects. She doesn’t recognize Oliver, believing him to be dead and on the flip side has no trouble referring to Merlyn as her dad. She also seems to believe her mother is still alive. This causes Merlyn to scold Oliver for putting Thea through this (says the man who used her as a tool to make Oliver do his dirty work just a few months ago) and an equally angry Felicity storms out to confront Ra’s.
Felicity tells Ra’s that what he’s doing to Oliver is wrong and she’s not going to let the League take Oliver away from them. I know I should probably be applauding her for standing up to Ra’s al Ghul of all people but I can’t help but be distracted by what a mind-numbingly stupid move this is on her part. Thankfully, Ra’s isn’t phased by this (considering how little is generally accomplished by Felicity’s tirades I can’t say I blame him) and tells her a little bit about his own life before he became Ra’s al Ghul. As it turns out, he once had a wife and two kids whom he had been forced to abandon without so much as a goodbye to prevent them from being killed. He then tells Felicity that she has one last chance to tell Oliver she loves him before she loses him to the League forever.
Felicity goes to Oliver, where the two end up declaring their love for each other (yet again) and they finally end up having sex. Once that’s over Felicity drugs Oliver in a desperate attempt to help him escape the League. The rest of the team go along with the plan (though not before Diggle and Merlyn rightfully point out what a bad idea this is), though even with some help from Maseo, this plan goes about as well as you might expect. However, just when it looks like Team Arrow is going to be killed, Oliver regains consciousness and uses his new found power as the next Ra’s al Ghul to order the League to stand down. Oliver takes the opportunity to say goodbye to the rest of the team which for some reason leaves a little more impact on me than Roy’s goodbye scene did last week.
Back in Starling City, the rest of the team begin to try to adjust to life without Oliver. Thea wakes up with no memory of her time at Nanda Parbat and Merlyn tells her that Oliver finally gave in to Ra’s offer in order to save her. Thea is understandably crushed to hear this but Merlyn promises to be a better father to her this time (hard to imagine he could be much worse), which he is in a better position to do now that the League’s bounty on his head has been called off. Felicity also stops by Laurel’s office to tell her about Oliver’s decision to join the League (personally I find it hilarious that Laurel was kept in the dark on all of this until just now).
Meanwhile, in Nanda Parbat, Ra’s is more than a little angry about Felicity’s escape attempt, especially considering that several League members died in the process. He demands to know who helped them try to escape and while Oliver tries saying he doesn’t know, Maseo makes an immediate confession. Surprisingly, Ra’s forgives Maseo for his brief betrayal and writes it off as a momentary lapse in judgment. With that out of the way, Oliver begins the ceremony to become officially inducted into the League of Assassins. Oliver is branded with an arrow on his back and suits up into his new League uniform (which I have to admit does look pretty bad-ass).
Oliver, Maseo and Tatsu do some recon on General Shrieve, whom they witness arming the virus and loading it into a truck. They all decide to follow the truck in a car stolen by Oliver (though I’m not exactly sure how and when Oliver learned to steal a car) in a last ditch effort to stop Shrieve.
The trio manage to catch up to the truck and take out Shrieve’s goons but are surprised to discover the virus is nowhere to be found. They get one of Shrieve’s men to admit that the virus is hidden in a food cart at a nearby marketplace. They find the food cart and a fight scene immediately ensues. Despite Oliver’s best efforts however, the vial containing the virus shatters on the ground (personally my guess is the vial was a decoy but I guess we’ll find out for sure next week).
All in all, I found this to be one of the strongest episodes this season and easily the best one we’ve had since ‘Nanda Parbat’ (and possibly beyond). Oliver has made many sacrifices throughout the series but this one might very well be the biggest and the writers treat the moment accordingly. Oliver has never hesitated to risk his own life in order to protect a teammate or family member but the stakes are much bigger here since this time he has more or less sacrificed his very soul.
Even Felicity’s escape attempt didn’t bother as much as it normally would. While I still believe the plan wasn’t very well thought out, it’s still pretty consistent with Team Arrow’s willingness to look out for one another (as also demonstrated by Roy claiming to be the Arrow in Oliver’s place last week) as well as their commitment to Oliver’s cause. I will be very interested to see how the team tries to move on yet again without their fearless leader.
One major problem I have though is with the flashback. My main reason for me guessing the vial was fake is because if it turns out to be real, I really don’t see how they fill three more episodes worth of story into this plot line or how the number of deaths this would cause goes unmentioned by anyone in the series until now. Also, while Akio’s death has been hinted at for some time, hearing Maseo outright telling Diggle about it is a pretty big spoiler that kills much of the flashback story’s tension.
Next week, Team Arrow is forced to square off against Oliver when Nyssa becomes targeted by the League. Tune in next time for ‘Al Sah-him.’