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Episode 304 “The Magician”
[photos: Diyah Pera/The CW]
Nyssa Al Ghul is not happy. Malcolm Merlyn is not guilty (he says). And Felicity Smoak is not around.
First, let’s get dear Felicity out of the way, because that’s where she is for most of the episode — out of the way visiting Barry Allen over in Central City (see our recap of that adventure here).
Now, the main part of the episode: Nyssa and her task of finding Sara and getting the information Sara was sent to obtain. Turns out Sara had been sent to Starling City by the League of Assassins because of this wild crazy rumor that Malcolm Merlyn was actually alive. Can you believe that? Well, if true, there are some people in Nanda Parbat who would like to have a word or two with Merlyn. Mainly, those words would be, “You’re dead.” Nyssa is there to complete Sara’s task.
Of course, the obvious conclusion to which Nyssa elegantly and gracefully leaps is that Malcolm killed Sara to keep her from reporting back to Ra’s Al Ghul. In the safe house Sara was using, Oliver and Nyssa find Sara’s camera and several photos of Malcolm, very much alive. Nyssa, of course, wants to track him down and kill him. Oliver wants proof that Malcolm killed Sara, in addition to the whole “swearing off killing” thing he’s got going now.
Nyssa tracks Malcolm to a Buddhist monastery that used to belong to a man Malcolm helped out of a jam, and rather than take the kill shot, Oliver sends over a trick arrow to tag Malcolm with nanotech in order to track him. Malcolm being as smart as he is, however, it doesn’t quite go as easily as Oliver planned. Meeting Ollie in a very public place, Malcolm swears on the life of his daughter that he didn’t kill Sara. Given the history of the character, it’s a good bet that he’s telling the truth.
Nyssa thinks he’s lying, but Oliver believes him. Thea has come home to Starling City a changed person, and while Oliver doesn’t know Malcolm’s a part of it, he also doesn’t believe that Malcolm would do her harm.
Thea, in the meantime, has managed to find some “investors” to give her money to buy the foundry and re-open Verdant. Roy spends quite a bit of time this ep hovering near her to a) make sure she’s OK, and b) try to make up with her and at least get to the point where they can be friends again. Of course, this all gets interrupted a bit when Nyssa shows up and kidnaps Thea.
Now, truth be told, I think the three-way arrow-sword-kung fu fight between Oliver, Nyssa, and Malcolm was the best scene of the hour. Kudos to the fight choreographer on this one! And it’s clear that Nyssa’s rage and grief have her blindly following the notion that Malcolm’s guilty, even though it’s possible he’s not.
Diggle and Roy don’t have much to do this week, but Laurel gets some decent scene-chewing done as she pushes for Oliver to kill Malcolm. Still dealing with Sara’s death, almost but not quite ready to tell her father about it, and getting insulted by Nyssa are where she starts this episode, and then to find out Malcolm is still alive — tips her over to full-blown rage. It simmers under the surface, because she knows she can’t be the one to do anything about it.
The rebuilding of Laurel into a fighting machine takes another step forward this week, and it’s good to see that the writers are taking their time with this. Given the popularity of Sara Lance’s Canary, Laurel is going to have to earn that jacket. Nyssa even acts as an audience proxy at one point, telling Laurel she doesn’t deserve to wear it, almost as if she were channeling all of the Laurel haters out there. But it also acknowledges that Laurel’s journey is just at its starting point, and even Nyssa comes around slightly, giving Laurel some advice as she takes her leave.
After both women have hit Oliver with the “he’s better off dead” line about Malcolm, they reach somewhat of an understanding by the end of things, and Nyssa is grudgingly going to give Laurel a little respect to go along with Sara’s jacket.
So, the question of Sara’s killer is still out there, but Nyssa is convinced it’s Malcolm. When she reports back to Ra’s Al Ghul (whom we see for the first time), he declares that Oliver Queen has called down war.
Flashbacks to Hong Kong have Oliver on the streets following a suspected terrorist because Amanda Waller said so. Oliver, see, still has a conscience. And he’s hesitant to kill this guy without knowing more. With some prompting by his handler, which essentially is comprised of “She’ll kill my family”, Oliver kills the man and takes his keys, finding an USB memory stick on the key ring. The data on the thumb drive leads Oliver to confront Waller, and it turns out Fyers was one of hers, with orders to shoot down Ferris Air flight 637 in order to kill China White, who was on the plane.
The reveal that Fyers and his handler were both working for Waller, coupled with the blueprints we saw in Ray Palmer’s possession, lead further down the path of “Waller As Villain” — and I suspect we’re in for a reveal that Robert Queen may have had some connection to A.R.G.U.S. at some point. This is going to be a slow burn, as we’ll have to get Ra’s Al Ghul out of the way first. I think that thread will have some resolution by the mid-season, with Waller and A.R.G.U.S. (and maybe HIVE?) moving to the fore in time to blow up the city again in the season finale.