ARROW Is All About Beating Yourself Up

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Episode 315 “Nanda Parbat”

[Photos: Diyah Pera & Cate Cameron/The CW]

This week, we get self-flagellation 101: Oliver beats himself up. Diggle beats himself up. Laurel beats herself up. Ray beats himself up. Thea beats herself up.

And the beat goes on…

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The theme of the week is guilt. Let’s start with Oliver.

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Oliver feels guilty because he’s responsible for the deaths of his parents. And that guilt, along with the feeling of humiliation at being beaten by Ra’s Al Ghul, is what drives Ollie to train with Malcolm, to be better than he was before. Better. Stronger. Faster.

And he might even have the six million dollars.

Of course, the rest of Team Arrow thinks he’s crazy, completely out of his mind. And they might not be that far off. Certainly, Oliver is driven, and that obsessive focus can blind a man to greater priorities. Oliver still doesn’t seem to have come to terms with the new dynamic of the team. He can’t just say “frog” and they jump anymore.

That guilt leads him to head out to Nanda Parbat to rescue Malcolm, who’s been given up to the League by Thea. And while she’s full of righteous fury at the moment, Oliver is dead certain that she’s going to regret her decision.

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Malcolm, meantime, is proving himself to be the coward we all knew he was — offering his “newfound loyalty” to Ra’s, in essence begging for his life. This is consistent with everything we’ve seen in Malcolm, from his manipulation of the Undertaking, his manipulation of Moira, his use of Thea to kill Sara, his use of Oliver to challenge Ra’s … all done from a standpoint of cowardice. Malcolm has always put his own needs and desires first, and his selfishness has finally caught up with him.

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And of course, he’s bait for a trap into which Oliver and Diggle walk. Now, Diggle is only in Nanda Parbat with Oliver because Lyla encouraged him to go. Because last time he let Oliver face Ra’s alone, Oliver ended up dead. And Diggle’s feeling a little broken up and guilty about that.

Like I said, this episode is all about self-flagellation.

The big twist of the episode comes at the end, when Ra’s offers Oliver his job as head of the League. Rather than kill Oliver, Ra’s admires his skill and determination, and feels he’s found a worth successor. This parallels a similar story in Batman: The Animated Adventures when Ra’s made the same offer to Bruce Wayne.

And wait. Is that the Lazarus Pit or not? Implications are getting stronger every time we see it.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed to learn that it was just Oliver’s ego getting the better of him in his quest for vengeance against Ra’s. Juxtaposing the rescue with an ambush in the China Flashbacks, I was all set to assume that Oliver was responsible for the death of the Yamashiros’ child, since he’s not been seen in present day and Tatsu is estranged from Maseo. But alas, so far it’s only an ego-driven revenge plot.

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Thea’s bid for revenge against Malcolm does have the predicted effect of guilt, but not because she turned Malcolm in to the League. Her guilt is exacerbated by the notion that she waited so long to do it. Even when Roy tries to console her by letting her in on his secret — that he’s been quietly helping the family of the police officer he killed — it’s not enough to assuage Thea’s feelings of remorse over killing Sara. Despite knowing she was under the influence of a drug, and even having Laurel’s forgiveness, it’s not enough for Thea.

So, she goes to Nyssa and confesses. With a sword. Which she hands over to Nyssa. That may not end well, although we know (reasonably certain, anyway) that Thea’s not going to die. Because she’s Speedy. The yet-to-be-masked sidekick.

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Speaking of sidekicks, Ray Palmer has one that looks like she’s going to stay with him for a while. Felicity Smoak is Team Atom now? And in a big way, too, since she took Ray to bed. And judging from the things she says to Ray, she’s giving up on any chance of happiness or sanity with Oliver. Perhaps she can help Ray avoid the same fate by reversing her process and being the girlfriend first and then the sidekick.

And how about that Iron Man Atom suit? Yes, it’s bothersome that the suit is so much like Tony Stark’s. And since when has Atom been able to fly? Hopefully this becomes a story point, as we’ve already seen hints that Felicity is the one who gives Ray the idea of shrinking.

But admit it, you were ready for Ray to break out the Led Zeppelin, weren’t you?

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “The Return”]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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