The first four episodes of Arrow season three have been relentless in moving several plot lines forward. Ever since Canary’s shocking demise in the final minutes of the premiere, Team Arrow has been rocked to the core and even last week’s brief diversion to Corto Maltese definitely felt the presence of the dearly departed Sara Lance.
So when Nyssa Al Ghul showed up, bow drawn, in the Arrowcave at the end of last week’s episode, and since “The Magician” was also Arrow’s 50th episode, you knew the other shoe was about to drop.
You might recall that Nyssa — daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul and a member of the League of Assassins — was responsible for recruiting and training Sara, making her into the badass vigilante we saw throughout season two. Oh, and they were also lovers. So you knew that Nyssa was in Starling with one thing on her mind: vengeance.
Now that Thea is back in Starling and, presumably done with kendo practice, she’s reverting back to previous seasons’ characterization, with a twist. Because though all the Thea scenes are still about secrets & lies, the tables are slightly turned now that Ollie is the one coming clean and Thea has the skeletons to hide. The writers are also insistent on making the idea of an underage teenager running a nightclub by herself — with “investors,” natch — a thing. I kind of preferred the idea of Verdant being abandoned because I just don’t buy the Arrowcave being a fully functioning superhero lair if there are folks getting crunk upstairs. Can’t they find something more interesting for Thea to do? I mean, really.
In the meantime, Nyssa finds Laurel mourning at Sara’s headstone — in an interesting reveal, we find out Sara’s buried in the grave that was dug for her the first time she “died” seven years ago. Both Laurel and Nyssa are consumed with vengeance and driven to remove Merlyn from the picture since they are both convinced he is responsible for the arrows in Sara’s chest. However, Nyssa accuses Laurel of lacking the ability to do what is necessary and says she is unfit to wear Sara’s Canary jacket.
After tracking Nyssa to Sara’s old safe house, Ollie learns the real reason why Canary was back in Starling. Apparently, she was on League business tracking Malcolm Merlyn, and Nyssa is convinced he murdered Sara. This comes as a shock to Ollie since he — and the rest of the world — thought Merlyn was a dead man. Meanwhile, Laurel — still refusing to tell her father about Sara’s fate — finds out that Captain Lance had been in contact with her sister. Lance is able to share some information about Sara’s investigation.
The trail leads Ollie and Nyssa to a Buddhist monastery, where they are accompanied by Roy and Diggle. And I just have to say, isn’t it time to give Diggle a mask and/or code name? It’s just weird to see Ollie, Roy, and Nyssa all decked out in superhero regalia while Dig’s just wearing a leather jacket and a scowl. Eventually, someone’s gonna see Ollie’s bodyguard hanging out with the Arrows (both Green and Red) and put two and two together. Anyway, I digress.
At the monastery, Nyssa comes face to face with Merlyn, whom she is convinced is guilty of killing Sara. He dodges Nyssa’s arrows — like a boss — and tells her he had nothing to do with Sara’s assassination. Merlyn finally flees, but not before Ollie hits Malcolm with a tracking arrow and lets him get away.
Because Merlyn is always two steps ahead of Ollie, he throws off the tracker and has Ollie meet him in a public square in the middle of the city. Merlyn successfully convinces Ollie that he had no involvement in Sara’s murder, intimating that R’as himself has more motive to off Nyssa’s lover
Back at Arrow HQ, Nyssa is furious that Ollie has spared Merlyn’s life. Ollie explains that he believes Malcolm was telling the truth about not knowing about Sara because he swore on his daughter’s life. Nyssa deduces that Thea is Malcolm’s daughter and accuses Ollie of being too close to Malcolm. She goes off to take matters into her own hands. Ollie tries to stop her but Diggle reminds him that she doesn’t have the same no-killing vow.
Instead of killing Malcolm, however, Nyssa goes after Thea. Roy tries to intervene — by doing a ridiculous and completely unnecessary parkour move off the hood of a car — but gets put down by Nyssa pretty easily. Because she’s a ninja. Thea is strung up as bait to lure Merlyn, but Ollie shows up instead. The two come to blows before Merlyn also shows up for some neat three-way fight choreo.
Ollie eventually gets the upper hand but is ultimately unable to pull the bowstring despite Malcolm egging him on to kill him. Instead, Ollie let’s Malcolm go and says that he will be under the Arrow’s protection so long as the League has a bounty on his head. Nyssa is none too happy about this development and decks Oliver.
During the resolution, Nyssa and Laurel have one more bonding sesh (this time in Wildcat’s gym where Laurel is currently training!). Elsewhere, Captain Lance leaves a message on Sara’s phone still unaware that she’s no longer with us. At Club Verdant, Thea and Roy rekindle their relationship platonically, and in a neat bit of continuity, Felicity returns from Central City in the same outfit we last saw her wearing during her guest appearance the night before on The Flash.
But we’re not done! Smash cut to a mysterious temple in the desert and Nyssa is kneeling and addressing a mysterious figure who looks to be taking a bath. It’s her father, R’as Al Ghul — so maybe the bath was really a Lazarus pit?! — unfortunately, he’s played by a white dude (again) and speaks with a weird Australian accent.
Nyssa tells her father about How Merlyn is now under the protection of the Arrow, something that R’as considers a declaration of war against the League of Assassins! So it looks like Season Three is just heating up!
As for the flashbacks, Ollie is still in Hong Kong… yadda yadda yadda… Amanda Waller… yadda yadda yadda… China White.