Arrow Review – “Nanda Parbat” S3E15

This week was a very emotional one on Arrow, and I don’t mean that in a nice way. Half the episode is spent bawling over Sara’s death in the most annoying way possible: constant blame and poor decision-making. There were some legit action scenes and the portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul’s character was spot on for what DC fans expect. Even the flashbacks leave eyebrows raised as we dive deeper into the history of Shrieve and A.R.G.U.S.

Pros:

Three seasons of sexual frustration let out: Let’s admit it, Felicity and Ray Palmer are a better couple than she and Ollie ever would have been. Unlike Ollie, Ray is just as wrapped up in her as he is his work. And they are both tech geniuses, something Oliver never could get a grasp of. Now that A.T.O.M. is a go, I wonder if he will fall into the same trail of thought that Oliver did. I can do without her stumbling over double entendres, getting flustered every time a billionaire shows off his man boobs, but Palmer has been extremely likable thus far, so the pairing is welcome for now.

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Pre-bitch ass Meryln: Laurel was pretty dumb to attack Meryln head-on, but it resulted in one of his best scenes in the series. Telling Laurel that she had “delusions of grandeur” was a pretty fancy way of tell her that all this stupid vengeance talk isn’t going to actually amount to a victory. Merlyn continues to whoop her ass with his hands behind his back in the most insulting way possible. In his “training” session in the Quiver/Arrow cave, he also teaches Thea and Oliver about working in unison, scolding Oliver that he brought a bow and arrow to a sword fight. He may be a condescending jerk, but he will actually make them better… if that’s the direction the show is going in anymore.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Do NOT piss Nyssa off: Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Nyssa, is fireworks in a bottle. This girl kicks major ass. I love the “vengeance is justice” angle and hope they continue to have her as a bigger part of the story. It was satisfying to see her kick Merlyn’s butt (chin) all over town, too. She is clearly not the bad guy here, so it’s easy to get attached to Nyssa as she is the most badass female in the show not named Tatsu.

I Dig the Bromance: There isn’t a better tag team on television right now than John Diggle and Oliver Queen. Diggle knows Oliver very well, and can sense when something has gotten under his skin, or when he has an ulterior motive. Diggle is not afraid to call him on his bullshit, either, and can de-escalate a situation before it ever gets out of hand between Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow. More importantly, Oliver never has to worry about carrying him in a fight. Something in my bones tells me he’s almost TOO valuable to keep on Team Arrow forever, though. I mean, the man finally put security locks. Who else could have thought of that?

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Cons:

Sara is still in the refrigerator: The cliché has been used in comic books forever, but they are reeeally drawing out the affects of Sara’s death in the hope it will make Laurel a stronger character. Instead, it’s getting a bit repetitive. I’m still unsure that they won’t bring her back permanently, but it seems like the only reason Laurel is around is to talk about Sara – same with Quentin Lance. Can Sara be more than a beacon of hope or

And Laurel isn’t doing herself any favors: While she’s been annoyingly tagging along like Oliver’s kid sister, there’s a point when it’s not cute anymore. Laurel isn’t Sara – we’ve visited that point – but she also doesn’t have the same charisma as her sister, either. Her reaction to Thea’s confession was baffling and not believable. Nor was her reaction to Oliver, or her “burn” to them ever being in love. I will be so disappointed if this couple ever gets together. There are talks about Caity Lotz coming back for a spin-off show with ATOM – could this mean that the Lazarus Pit might be used soon? She is sooooo C-Dub.

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Oliver is such a know-it-all: Not only does Oliver have to make all the important decisions for the group, but he is constantly “doing what’s best” for each person. It gets a little old, frankly. Oliver has been through some tough times, and done some pretty unforgivable things, but he got over it. There is a team – a family – now with his back, so why does he feel the need to pull the strings? If it weren’t for Diggle, I think Oliver would piss everybody away. Roy and Thea seem to accept that he constantly lies and hides things from them, but Felicity and Laurel are ready to walk away. Stop being a dick, Oliver.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Traaaaap: John Barrowman, you are better than this. I don’t know hat happened, but Merlyn turned into a gigantic wuss as soon as Ra’s captured him. I know that the Demon Head is formidable, but Malcolm Meryln turns into a total coward, and it’s pretty off-putting. I know Ra’s is scary, and I know that it’s meant to show just how much stronger Oliver’s resolve is than Merlyn’s, but  it just comes off as really lame – especially when they find Merlyn and he is barely able to whisper the word “trap.” Come on, really guys? It reminds me of that episode in Chappelle’s Show when his bodyguard is moments away from revealing one of life’s truths to Dave. So cheesy…

 

Easter Eggs:

Lazarus Pit or just Nanda SPArbat?: Maybe Ra’s just likes his bubble baths, but the way he talked about talking with illusionists in the 1800’s sure makes it seem like this guy is actually old as fuck.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

More Toys!!: The newest bit of tech we see Oliver blessed with is a collapsible bow. This guy shows up to Nanda Parbat on his George Jetson. With just one spasm of his hands, his suitcase this unfolds into a beautiful compound bow. I don’t know where he’s getting all this tech (Cisco?), but I hope it keeps coming. Comic book Green Arrow has a trick arrow for every occasion.

Can’t Ra’s hell forever: Ra’s is really quite true to his source material; meanwhile, Arrow is staying true to 70’s Batman lore (screw you, Bruce Wayne), with Oliver taking the place of the traditional Bruce Wayne. Ra’s respects Oliver, and wants him to take over his position as the Demon Head. This is a big deal. Obviously, there’s a conflict of interest here, but with the lines of death not as black and white as they are for The Dark Knight, this could prove an interesting opportunity for Ollie.

Daddy issues: Ra’s isn’t just ashamed of Nyssa because she’s a lesbian; it’s deeper than that. WIth the Demon Head looking for a replacement, he’s looking for an heir – somebody to keep the family bloodline strong, and so the responsibility falls to Nyssa (we haven’t met any other of his children) to breed the ultimate warrior, similar to Damian Wayne in the Batman comic books. I don’t see Nyssa and Oliver doing the do anytime soon, but it’s always a possibility.

 

 


 

Hush Comics gives “Nanda Parbat” a B- for centering the entire episode around Thea’s revelation that she killed Sara, and the ripple effect it causes between the team. There were signs of a crazy story to come, both in the flashbacks and in Nanda Parbat, but it was marred by the incessant grieving of the show’s weakest character. When Oliver was gone, the show really started relying on the wrong characters. I want: more Roy Harper, more John Diggle, and a more dynamic Felicity Smoak. If Arrow can learn how to get out of its own way, we can forgive these recent missteps.

 

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Cate Cameron, Diyah Pera, and Dean Buscher.

Arrow Review – “The Return” S3E14

Pros:

Flash(back) Dance: “The Return” is chock-full of the past, to the point where it dictated the flow of the episode. I especially enjoy that the episode explores a time that has been often talked about, but not really ever shown – how things in Starling City went while Oliver was gone. Returning from the dead are: Tommy Merlyn, Robert Queen, Quentin Lance’s hair, and John Diggle’s brother, Andy. I want them to explore more of this time.

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Sibling love: Thea and Oliver actually make one badass team when they’re not fighting each other. By Oliver learning from Thea, it makes the partnership that much stronger. It’s also pretty alarming what Oliver is willing to do to protect Thea from drug dealers. As a big brother myself, I can’t say I would have approached the situation differently, but you don’t escape the scene by throwing the body off the balcony. C’mon, Ollie!

Sir Lance a lot: One of my favorite characters who has been handed a diminutive role recently is Quentin Lance. Good for us that this episode features him quite a lot, specifically when showing us how he dealt with Sara’s death – both before Oliver’s return and currently. Paul Blackthorne (you’re right, it does sound like a pirate name), who plays Lance, pours a lot of emotion into this role and we all benefit from it.

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Cons:

Maybe a little too much flashback: Arrow has really excelled at keeping a good balance between their flashbacks and their current happenings, but “The Return” was a slip in the wrong direction, with over half the episode occurring in the past. While it wasn’t an uncalled for amount of time, it really slowed the momentum of the show as Team Arrow inches closer to a showdown with the League of Assassins.

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Too convenient: I’m sorry, but Slade Wilson almost destroyed the city. He kicked Moira Queen and took over Queen Consolidated from the inside. He’s a bad man, and for Oliver (who had just been impaled by one of his own booby-traps) and Thea (who just had her shoulder dislocated) to whoop his ass in a few minutes seemed really convenient, and a major disservice to Manu Bennett’s return. Also, why did Oliver feel like they had to break Thea’s arm? I know she’s a trooper and all, but couldn’t they have used a boot or something to hit the button? What a crappily-designed prison by A.R.G.U.S.

Merlyn works his magic: We all know at this point that Malcolm Merlyn is a giant dick finger, but he really takes it to a whole new level with this week’s episode. Thea finds out the truth behind Sara’s death, and it stings, but what really killed the moment for me was Merlyn’s incessant pleas that he loves Thea and did it to protect her. It’s laughable, and really, really annoying. I love having John Barrowman on the show, but it’d be so much nicer to see him on Team Arrow than the awful excuse for a father figure he’s been so far.

Easter Eggs:

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Star City Rockets: Here we have a really interesting reference. The Star City Rockets’ logo can be found on Oliver’s baseball cap as he tries to go around the city incognito. In the comic books, the Rockets are a baseball team owner by Robert Queen. They play at Papp Stadium, named for Green Arrow co-creator George Papp.

White roses: This may be a stretch, but the white roses that Thea leaves at Oliver & Robert’s gravesite may have some subtle significance. White roses are often associated with innocence and purity. By leaving them at the graves, it could be symbolism for Thea losing her innocence – a theory backed up by the drugs she buys while visiting the memorial to her dad family.

Matthew Shrieve: Turns out Amanda Waller actually has a bossman, and it’s General Shrieve, played by the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer. In comic books, he is leader of the Creature Commandos, a group of monsters/soldiers, but look for him to stick around on Arrow as Waller’s superior.

The Blacker the Canary: In a grieving rage, Quentin Lance spits out that he knows the masked vigilante out there is Laurel, and calls her the Black Canary, perhaps a jab that she is a darker and more evil perversion of what her sister did.

The other guy: When Oliver checks on the “other prisoner” in the Lian Yu prison, he’s looking for Captain Boomerang, who he and the Flash took down together.

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Hush Comics gives “The Return” a C- for its poor management of time and overall lack of progression. There were still some decent parts in the episode, but it relied too much on flashbacks to carry the story and sacrificed quality in the battle with Slade to make a point with Thea. It’s still better than Gotham, though.

 

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Dean Buscher and Diyah Pera.