Episode 316 “The Offer”
[Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW]
Making its return after a month off, Team Arrow works out a few kinks in the team dynamic. And while Oliver contemplates a little career change, family squabbles heat up for the Lances, the al Ghuls, and the Merlyns.
Well. You get the idea.
Oliver has a decision to make, and he spends a lot of the time weighing whether to remain semi-effective as the Arrow in Starling City, or take the entire League of Assassins and spread justice around the world.
See, in this story universe, “Ra’s Al Ghul” is a title, handed down from man to man. The current Ra’s has lived past his prime. Ra’s explains how the League works, and in his mind, the deal’s already done: Oliver will be the next Ra’s Al Ghul. He predicts that the Arrow will soon face enemies everywhere — the Starling City police, Team Arrow, and the citizens of the city. Once Captain Lance decides to stop cooperating with the Arrow over the fact that no one said anything about Sara’s death, Ra’s’ prediction appears to bear fruit.
Arrow isn’t the only one Lance has issues with, as he and Laurel still face an uphill battle. Laurel does, anyway. The good captain thinks they’ll never get past her betrayal of his trust.
That’s just as the villain of the week, Murmur, blasts through the police station using bullets tipped with industrial-grade diamonds that can penetrate kevlar. So, lots of police bodies drop this week. Frankly, Murmur is underutilized in this hour. Hopefully, we’ll see him again, doing something other than performing a basic “A to B to C” function for the story.
Laurel and Nyssa bond over nearly getting killed in the attack on the police station, followed by mutual misery caused by Daddy issues. Nyssa has been turned out by Ra’s over her relationship with Sara, which caused Ra’s to look to an outsider as his successor. Laurel has been turned away by Captain Lance over her hiding Sara’s death, and Lance is shutting out everyone associated with the vigilantism that got Sara killed.
But part of that bonding looks like it’s going to involve Nyssa training Laurel for a while. So…yay?
The bulk of the episode is spent with Oliver going through more of his “who am I?” identity crisis of the season, which has begun to wear thin. This season of Arrow has felt a little off-balance and perfunctory, especially with Oliver’s quick return from death and now this decision to stay in Starling City rather than become the next Demon’s Head. Resolutions come too fast on some issues, and not fast enough on others.
Felicity, for example, has started to act too out of character. It was nice to see some sense of the former Oliver-Felicity vibe in this hour; she helps give him a little focus as he snaps back to reality and gains some perspective on why he continues to fight the good fight. And while the dialogue may have been “after-school special” clunky, Amell sold it. So Oliver has made up his mind, and all is right in his little corner of the world for about five seconds.
Maseo, being the League’s go-to go-fer, tells Oliver that he has no choice but to replace Ra’s. Oliver will be ostracized when Ra’s disguises himself as the Arrow and kills criminals in Starling City, just to force Oliver’s hand. Given the hints Stephen Amell shared with me at Planet Comicon, Oliver is going to take the deal and turn the League of Assassins into the League of Shadows. This will give us both names for the group that have appeared in the pages of the comic and in the movies.
When Oliver takes over the League, he’ll be the villain and at odds with Team Arrow. What does Oliver have to lose? He’s lost the trust of the police. He’s lost Felicity to Ray. His mother is dead. His sister is losing her mind. Criminals are still running loose. The Arrow isn’t making much of a difference, and he’s still struggling to figure out how to balance the dual identity thing.
To be honest, Oliver’s identity crisis has been both a strength and a weakness this season. I get that Oliver is struggling with the fact that his time as the Arrow is going to prevent him from having a normal life as Oliver Queen, but there’s no good reason for him to even consider doing away with the Oliver Queen identity completely. And now we toss in the option of choosing a brand new identity that has nothing to do with either the Arrow or Oliver Queen. And it just starts to get convoluted in a CW soap opera way.
Will we see Oliver Queen as Ra’s Al Ghul at the end of the season? Probably. But like every other thing, it’ll only last one or two episodes before reverting.