TV SHOW: Arrow
SEASON/EPISODE: 3.09 ‘The Climb’
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Jake Coburn, Keto Shimizu/Thor Freudenthal
The League of Assassins give Oliver 48 hours to find Sara’s killer, but when the Arrow discovers the Killer’s identity. He has only one option left to him and that is to face the leader of the League……Ra’s al Ghul.
And so we arrive at the mid point of Arrow’s third season, a point where the show usually gives us a Cliff-hanger episode to tie us over to the festive period and into the new year (Happy New Year) until the series comes back on at the end of January. Well this series has certainly given us one hell of an episode to think about until January 21 (the gap feels a little too long at this point, which goes to show how strong of a impression this episode has left with me) when we will see what happens next.
So this episode begins with a first for this series as it starts by showing us a fast-forward to reveal Oliver climbing up a snowy mountain during a blizzard (hence the episode’s title as well as giving us another homage to Batman Begins), before taking us back to the present where he drops off another criminal to Captain Lance. But no sooner has that happened that we are then given a sweet if short fight scene between the Arrow and a group of the League’s Assassins (which shows just how outmatched Oliver is by them despite his skills). It is then that he is taken to Nyssa, who then gives the ultimatum of finding Sara’s killer in only 48 hours or the League will start killing the innocents of Starling City.
This brought back Sara’s murder to the forefront of the story once more, though it didn’t surprise me to see that it was Thea who did it (though explaining that her actions were not her own due to a brainwashing plant was a little convenient). But it certainly upped the drama as Oliver defended his only family to the hilt, not believing for a second that she could have killed Sara. Which only made the scene where he confronted her as his vigilante-alter ego all the more shocking for him, as his little sister gave him a good fight (Thea has always been more interesting when she is kicking ass this season).
It was then that we saw the real mastermind of this whole ordeal as Malcolm Merlyn reappears and tells Oliver that the League would kill Thea for what she did (despite not having any say in what happened), and that the only way for the Archer to spare her would be to accept responsibility himself for Sara’s Death and face Ra’s in a trial by combat (saying that by killing the Head of the Demon, all blood debts from his reign would be made void). It was great to see that the Dark Archer had not softened at all (he may actually be the big-bad of the season), and I am intrigued with what he has planned next.
It’s then that Oliver gets to meet Ra’s himself (and Matt Nable is very good as Ra’s in this episode and helped to quell my fears that he would not be as good in the role…as say Liam Neeson was in Batman Begins) as well as the bigger surprise being that Maseo has joined them (which makes the flashbacks to Hong Kong more interesting in what could have happened to have him make that choice). The League’s Leader then makes the statement that the Emerald Archer is a child (which when you compare him to the Demon’s head, that is pretty much true). Neither Nyssa or Maseo actually believe the young Queen when he takes responsibility for Sara’s death, but Ra’s tells him to meet them at the peak of a mountain (which is a nice contrast to the comics where Ra’s challenged Batman to a fight in the middle of a desert).
This leads to one of the most emotional moments of the series so far as Oliver bids farewell to his friends, as it was crystal clear that he may not be coming back (despite his saying otherwise) and his goodbye to Felicity was especially touching.
We then finally catch up to the moment that Oliver makes it to the peak of the mountain where Ra’s Nyssa and Maseo wait for him, this leads to what was a very tense and dramatic scene as we can kind of guess what would happen to our hero at the hands of Ra’s (we even got a taste of what kind of warrior he was, when he faced a group of his own Assassins) and it’s great to see the show really embracing it’s comic-book roots (and a little less of it’s Nolan inspired roots, though there is still a few hints of that) like Ra’s hinting that he might be immortal with his line about having no real challenger in over sixty years. And the fight itself was severally one-sided, showing how outmatched Oliver was to the Demon’s Head (I loved how Ra’s started the fight without any weapons and then went on to show his opponent up). And just when it looked like we were about to see the young Queen lose, we get a nice little moment where he looks like he finally has the upper hand, only for Ra’s to then run him through with his sword and kick him off the mountain (which was a real shock to watch, despite knowing that Oliver will not stay dead). It was one of the most memorable moments in the series so far, really feeling like it had been taken straight out of the comics.
Now elsewhere in the episode, the flashbacks were sort of linked to the happenings in the present (especially once Maseo was seen, as well as the link with the mind controlling plant). I have a bad feeling that we aren’t going to see Tatsu again after her encounter with China-White (looks like she may not be this series version of Katana, but I may be wrong). We also so how torturing was slowly effecting the younger Oliver at this point.
And the scenes between Laurel and her Parents were not really that engaging this week, especially when Dina said that her ‘Mother’s intuition’ led to her knowing that Sara was now dead (felt like a rather weak attempt to get Laurel to confess about her sister’s murder, as did her earlier meeting with Thea at Sara’s grave).