NOC Recaps Arrow: A Battle He Was Always Going to Lose


There are definitely some parallels to previous mid-season finales: Malcolm Merlyn, a tense battle, a moment of death for Oliver are all running themes in these fall finale episodes. I can’t say it was my favorite though, for a few reasons: I think I knew too much going in. Everyone knows Oliver can’t take Ra’s Al Ghul! And I think Stephen teased at some point (I’ve watched a lot of Stephen Amell Q&As okay?) that the episode might end over a cliff. Also, the other two major focuses of this episode were Laurel and Ray and if you didn’t know my feelings on them before, you’ll find out now, so that also dulled by excitement. BUT overall I am happy with what this episode means for the journey the rest of the season will take.

I have a lot to say about the end and the journey it will lead to, so I’m going to try keep the actual recap portion as short as I can. This episode is merely transition and shirtless ab fights than anything anyway.

Oliver sings Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb” (literally all I think of when I see the episode title, I don’t even know the words to the song, just the title) as he climbs up a snowy mountain. They keep flashing forward to this during the episode — notice: it mirrors The Flash’s flashforward in that mid-season finale. But this episode is unique in that is has flashbacks, the present, and flashforwards! You’d think only The Flash, with it’s extreme time traveling potential would get all wibbly wobbly like that, but Alex Kingston is in this episode and strange things happen when River Song is around.

In the present, Oliver delivers Lance some criminals wrapped neatly in a bow (Merry Christmas!) before getting attacked by the League of Assassins. Turns out, our flashback friend Maseo (now known as Sarab), is in the League! He and Nyssa tell Oliver he has 48 hours to learn who killed Sara or people of Starling City will die.

Thea and Laurel meet at the cemetery — interacting for the first time since before Roy arrived in season 1, I wanna say?! Thea learns that Sara is dead, she seems genuinely shocked. It’s hard to remember that they would have grown up together-ish, since Laurel and Ollie were dating and Sara was his on-again off-again chick on the side.

Felicity, meanwhile, is throwing buckets and buckets of shade towards Ray, because he sort of dipped after the kiss, and she’s sick and TIRED of men treating her this way. It’s a wonder that Oliver doesn’t get this cold shoulder! She heads back to the Arrow Cave and learns of their deadline and gets right to work. Caitlin sent the DNA sample over and… who killed Canary? OLIVER! Well, we know that’s not true and we know who has motive and means to make it so: Malcolm Merlyn. Felicity tracks Malcolm’s movements: turns out a plane dropped Malcolm back in Starling the night before Sara’s murder. And he brought a guest: THEA MERLYN/QUEEN. Thea thinks she was in Corto Maltese the entire time, but she returned to Starling and what if THEA murdered Sara–!

Oliver refuses to hear it, even though Roy, Diggle, and Felicity point out the connections to him. The DNA match is close enough that it could be Thea’s DNA rather than Oliver’s and she has been lying about her relationship with Malcolm. Oliver tries to get the truth out of her, first as himself, but he’s clouded by his love for her, so he goes as the Arrow. And he gets some shocking truth: Thea learned a few tricks during her time away!

Including leaping off balconies? Where was she going? How did she land properly? What did she land on? So many questions. But Oliver’s face was PRICELESS!

Oliver realizes that she’s been holding back from him, but it’s confirmed when Malcolm pays him a visit that induces much rage. “I figured, when I spared the man who murdered my mother, that I would never kill again. I was wrong.” Merlyn sends Oliver a text vid (cuz why not?), of THEA KILLING SARA! Merlyn used Thea to kill Sara to get Oliver to kill Ra’s (phew!) to wipe out all blood payment owed to the League, which would erase Malcolm’s crimes too (phew!). If Oliver doesn’t confront Ra’s, they will come after Thea. Thea wasn’t herself, however, she was under the influence of Vortura, a drug which makes someone easy to suggestion with no memory of their actions.

Roy says the obvious: “If you fight Ra’s al Ghul, he’ll kill you.” Oliver doesn’t think so, because now he has Thea as proper motivation. Oliver meets with Ra’s, Nyssa, and Maseo and takes the blame for Sara’s death. No one really believes him, but Ra’s accepts the challenge and Oliver has 12 hours to settle his affairs. (Besides saying goodbye to his team, what else is there? More on pondering the human side of Oliver later1.)

“It’s been 67 years since someone’s challenged me.”

  • Lazarus pit?!
  • Who challenged you, Ra’s? Might this be an important character someday or was it just the length of time that was important?
  • 1947… hmmm.

Oliver goes on a farewell tour: He says goodbye to Thea (who lies to him some more about her skills and about the reason the window is shattered in front of the Christmas tree…) and hints to her that he’s doing all this for her (worst Christmas for her, no? She kept talking about how she’s got no one and he’s leaving her, with Merlyn of all people). He says goodbye to Roy and Diggle. “I would rather die than let you go it alone.” JOHN DIGGLE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! And Roy gets a hug! <3 And then we get our Olicity scene.

Oliver tries to put on a cool front with faint smiles and rosy cheeks, but Felicity isn’t buying it. She has a favor.

“If it’s you asking, I’ll do it.”

She knows he’s stopped killing (and we know she loves him for it), but she knows that if Oliver doesn’t kill Ra’s al Ghul, he’ll die. So she pleads with him to do so.

“I don’t doubt that you can beat him (though you should, Felicity, you really should). I’m terrified you won’t kill him.”

If anyone could ask Oliver to kill again and have him even consider it, it’s Felicity. We saw that with the Count in season 2. He offered to do whatever she wanted before she even asked (and when she said she wasn’t going to ask him to stay and he said he appreciated it? It’s because he would have seriously considered staying.) Oliver keeps his front up, stating he knows two things:

“I’m someone that will do whatever it takes to save my sister.” He then gives Felicity the longest forehead kiss (and most beautiful last, loving look) before he tells her the second thing he knows: “I love you.” He said it. Without pretense, without maybes or backwards declarations. He said it and then he left…!

Poor girl has a complex about this now (as we saw with her cold shoulder to Ray), Oliver CANNOT keep doing this to her. But in this moment, it was about Oliver needing to tell her one last time, because while he says he can beat R’as, he’s mostly trying to convince himself. He doesn’t think he’s returning.

The battle goes as expected (“Take off your shirt. It’s tradition.” The loosest explanation that no one asked for concerning shirtless Stephen Amell. Not one person needed an explanation. LOL2), with Ra’s DOMINATING Oliver.

It was actually interesting to think about, it’s been a while since someone has caught Ollie of guard like that. If I remember correctly, Oliver didn’t fight Slade in the present properly until he’d been given the anti-mirakuru? And even if that’s not true, their last stand off was more evenly matched than this fight. Oliver really didn’t stand a chance. As Ra’s says a prayer? over Oliver, Ollie flashes back to the people he loves: his father, his mother, Thea, and Felicity.

“Forgive and have mercy upon him. excuse him and pardon him. Make honorable his reception. Protect him from the punishment of the grave. And the torment of the Fire.”

Ra’s not only throat punches Oliver and slices him in the side, but he stabs him in the stomach and drops him off a cliff–!!!!!!!!!!

I’d already caught that Ra’s words were very Jesus on the cross: “Forgive and have mercy upon him” (as Jesus says regarding his executors: “Forgive them for they know not what they do”) but the sword to the side is also very Christ on the Cross. And since we know Oliver will be returning, probably as a new man, it’s a different, subtler take on the usual Christ symbolism and for that I truly appreciate the Arrow Writers.

All in all, it was a battle Oliver was always going to lose.

And that’s okay.

There is a point in most TV series (especially action/adventure shows like this one), where everything seems to burn to the ground. It’s the awful part where you get to it in your rewatches of even your favorite TV shows and you wonder if you can stomach those episodes again. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re painful for the characters. They reach a low point that it seems they can’t get out of, a fire they must endure to come out the better for it. At some point, Buffy dies, Angel gets buried at the bottom of the ocean — my fellow NOCs can probably give a Smallville example — I’m sure your favorite long running action/adventure show (any drama really) has had a moment like this one.

[Ed. note: Did someone ask for a Smallville example? –KC]

This episode was Oliver’s fire. He’s been struggling as a character this season. He ended season 2 on a high that made him feel invincible. Even Sara’s death hasn’t shaken that from him. Starling is safe under his watch, he has his sister back, he has Merlyn in the palm of his hands (or so he thought), he has two loyal friends to watch his back, and he has Felicity by his side (though he’s denying himself that last bit of happiness). But he’s still struggling inside. Internally, he can’t reconcile Oliver and the Arrow.

He’s been “trading away pieces” of himself since before he returned home. He’s never really figured out Oliver Queen. Everything since he’s been back was a front for the Arrow: buying the club, owning QC — and both things relate to his old self. The club represented party!Ollie, the person he was trying to make people think he still was. Becoming CEO of QC was who he was supposed to be had he not been a screw up and hadn’t gotten on that boat. But neither is who Oliver is now. He hasn’t figured out how to use what he has learned in the last eight years to better himself as Oliver in the present.

And now he’s dead.

Well, not dead — his name’s on the title card (though his name was on the side of Queen Consolidated too and look how that turned out), and Stephen Amell still posts pictures from the set, and as much as we yell at Oliver, the show can’t live without him (or his abs). So we know he’ll survive this moment, but it’s important. The little teaser moment after the episode had Merlyn saying mysteriously “Oliver Queen is dead.” And certainly this will probably appear true for our characters when we return, but it isn’t Oliver who died. Oliver’s been dead since the island. It’s the Arrow — as he is now — who died.

The producers and cast have been going on and on about how this season is about identity. And the first run of episodes have been about Oliver as the Arrow: swift justice, superhero friends, pushing away his human feelings and desires. I believe the middle portion of the season will focus on Oliver as Oliver. When he returns, things will be different. Diggle will be with Lyla and Baby Sara, Roy will be left to save the city (with Laurel as Black Canary if instagram photos and teasers have anything to say), Felicity will be sidekick to a new superhero (and Roy/BC I’d assume she wouldn’t just leave them), he’s even learned that Thea can protect herself.

And with Ray/Roy/Laurel (as much as I think she’ll screw it up at first) protecting the city, Oliver won’t need to be the Arrow 24/7 anymore. He can figure out who he is as Oliver. Barry told him that he could still be an inspiration as Oliver Queen (because the Arrow’s a douche).

So even if he suits up when he returns (and trains to go after Ra’s again), I think he will start thinking more about who he is as a man, as the son his parents don’t get to know now, as the brother he’s trying to be by going on this crusade in the first place, and as the lover he wishes he could be. Will he go after Felicity (who will presumably be kissing on Ray — even though he’s an awful stalker and I hate that)? His “I love you” and their kiss being his last thoughts as he fell off that cliff tell me that he still isn’t shying away from his affection for her — he just thinks he can’t be with her but she’s literally his last thought before death. With a new lease on life (kinda literally), he may find that he was wrong about his ability to be with her.

Will he find a job that this Oliver wants to do? The world is open to him. So the middle third will be an exploration of Oliver as a man. And we all know the threats won’t end and that while there are plenty of other vigilantes around to put away the criminals of Starling, but none of them can do it like The Arrow can. So he’ll still be crime fighting, and the last third of the season will see him finally melding into himself as the Arrow and Oliver — something he’s glimpsed from Barry is possible.

So Oliver needed this smackdown. He needed this death. He’s died once before (well, once in a major way, his awakening on Hong Kong wasn’t really a true moment of death in the way that I am talking about) and that was mostly on paper. He’s been to the brink of death before, but his death on the boat wasn’t as final as this, his life didn’t appear before his eyes (not even just in a production, let’s show them kind of way. Those other moments don’t seem to have been moment where Oliver’s life would have flashed before him). And from that experience, rose a hero. But now, the man must rise — this is getting very movie trailer, I’ll try to stop now — we hopefully will finally learn who Oliver Queen is. And this I am ready for.

As much as I enjoy where this is taking us, there were things I didn’t love:

Ray. Just… Ray. I think the writers aren’t realizing that stalking isn’t romantic. It’s creepy. [Ed. note: If you’ve ever watched Superman Returns, it’s kind of his go-to move though. –KC] It’s making me more uncomfortable than a serial killer stalker in a Lifetime movie. Because he thinks it’s normal and okay. In a Lifetime movie, the stalker knows it’s wrong on some level and doesn’t care or their obsession outweighs morality, but here, Ray is just so matter of fact. “I pinged yourself phone. Again.” Not okay! Especially when Felicity is literally doing secret superhero work — she needs to put a reign on that before he finds out everything (well, for awhile she doesn’t need to worry about it I guess).

But his behavior makes me more and more upset, partially because he’s not being called out on it and it’s getting more and more personal. Okay, you stalked her at her old job, or while at work in the building you own, but going to her house? Going to find her, presumably at a club where she’s trying to unwind after you left her hanging (but where she’s secretly at her real home fighting crime), is a bit much. And with no recognition that his actions are creepy, it’s hard to see that it will get called out and stopped anytime soon. So that’s a sigher.

ALSO, if you’ve ever watched Chuck, you’ll recognize Ray’s plot is the same as Routh’s character Daniel Shaw: his love (wife/fiancee) was murdered and his somewhat shady actions and intrusion on the OTP are all due to his grief and efforts to rectify the death. Maybe this is a comic origin storyline, but I’ve been there done that with this actor, so — yeah.

LAUREL. Literally everyone knows that Sara is dead EXCEPT HER FATHER. It’s painful and it’s getting more and more out of hand. Unlike the Ray thing, this isn’t necessarily a writing issue, but a character one. Laurel needs to tell her father or STOP telling everyone BUT him. She’s terrible at lying (gonna be really bad for when she’s trying to be a superhero) and it’s written all over her face. And at some point Lance is going to get suspicious and wonder why Sara really isn’t popping in or calling. And it will break his heart worse to know she kept it from him. I think the Laurel portion of the story slowed the episode down because, while we got to see Alex Kingston’s wonderful face, it didn’t really add much except that Thea doesn’t think she killed Sara and that Dinah wants Laurel to get revenge. That could have been two scenes rather than however many it was. So that was also a bit frustrating.

I think Laurel has potential. I dislike her right now, as most of us do, but I am certainly open to giving her a chance. As I said on Hard NOC Life, this is her island, these years are her dark years where she’s broken, a constant open wound that keeps getting salt kicked in, just like island!Oliver. So it’s hard watching her now, but imagine if we were watching Island!Oliver straight through from the beginning; it might be equally as frustrating (not that he can’t be frustrating now LOL). So I’m open to her growth but she’s at a really unlikeable stage in her journey and it’s going to take time for her to climb (oh see what I did there?) out of it.

I also said in the NOC Flarrow podcast, that the flashbacks have been the weakest this season than any other — there’s been nothing to look forward to. I think they kicked it up just a tiny notch in this episode, with Katana going missing and the knowledge that something, presumably with his family, drives Maseo to the League, but it’s still not a strong enough draw for me. Even the Katana vs. China White fight seemed a bit out of place or for mere fanservice than storytelling.

Perhaps the story will be clearer when we return from hiatus.

As I said earlier, I think episode is mostly transition. I am okay with that. I’ve already seen mixed thoughts on the episode as a whole, but I think it served its purpose in getting us to phase 2 of season 3, which I believe will be the Oliver Queen portion. This is exciting. It could mean more Olicity, more smiling, more happy bonding with Roy and Diggle. He could finally meet Ray Palmer! He could tell Laurel to get over her selfishness and tell her father what he deserves to hear. He could be a whole new person! He’s died to be brought back to life for a second time.

Briefer thoughts:
  • In the flashbacks, Oliver and Maseo must find a bioweapon named Omega, but it’s already been stolen by China White, who then comes to attack Katana and her son at their home. Then Katana goes missing… Is this what drives Maseo to the League? Oliver’s pretty vague on their last meeting, but it seems like Katana and her son don’t survive the season.
  • So. There was that training scene where Ra’s kills one of his own. I think this scene serves a purpose that most of us viewers didn’t need. I don’t even read the comics but I know that Ra’s al Ghul is the baddest of the bad. But this scene was for the casual viewer, for the non-comic reader who doesn’t learn backstories from Twitter and Wikipedia who somehow don’t know what Ra’s can do. So I appreciate it for it’s practical purpose, but the majority of us already know how ruthless he can be. So it felt a bit out of place, a bit like action for action’s sake.
  • I saw a comment online that said that this was something you do at a season finale, not a mid-season finale. I don’t agree. Simply because of the overwhelming fact that we know he survives somehow. Saving it til a season finale just makes us wait longer for the first five minutes to undo the death — and I all about the journey and the aftermath of moments like this, but dragging it out over a summer hiatus isn’t the move, this was much better because it’s so temporary, just like this mini-hiatus. So I prefer they have it here at mid-season than a season finale. It may feel weird on a binge watch, but network television isn’t written for binging just yet, not outwardly anyway.
  • Ray shows Felicity the ATOM exosuit and she gets recruited by yet ANOTHER hero to be on their team. Felicity is BAE. But it looks like she’s going to have some free time from Arrow adventures, so she’ll probably be in the ATOM… tower?… for the length of hiatus. “Why does this keep happening to me?” Because you’re awesome and everyone would be lost without you.

I could say more (THEA’S IDENTITY JOURNEY, now that Oliver lost — for now), what does that mean for Thea as Sara’s killer, with Laurel and Malcolm’s roles in that? How will Thea react to killing Sara? Will she head back to Roy, who has similar problems with not remembering killing someone? Will the middle of the season be about Oliver Queen, or am I wrong and it’s all about The Arrow beefing up to take his revenge on Ra’s!? Will Maseo or Nyssa go after Oliver to either save him or give him a proper burial?), but then it’d be 4,000+ words and it’d take you until January 21 to finish reading it. But let’s chat in the comments. What did you think of the mid-season finale?! What didn’t I hit here that you desperately want to talk about? Feel free to leave a 3,000 word essay in the comments, I deserve (and WANT) it.

  1. Oliver’s trial by combat is a bit less epic than Tyrion’s on Game of Thrones, but has a similar outcome… 
  2. Have we ever seen Oliver’s scars so clearly since the pilot? Even then, the lighting wasn’t as good as the white snow. Now that we’ve seen Oliver’s old scars so clearly, we can look forward to the next time he’s shirtless to look for this new ones! 

17 thoughts on “NOC Recaps Arrow: A Battle He Was Always Going to Lose

  1. Um, the Arabic verses Ra’s Al Ghul recites (and mispronounces terribly) are from the Islamic Janaza prayer. This is the second time this show has demonized Islamic prayers. Muslims read this prayer at funerals for their loved ones. It’s horribly offensive that the writers on “Arrow” continue to take sacred Muslim prayers and demonize them by putting them in the mouths of murderers.

    1. Hmm, that’s saddening to learn. Thanks for the insight! I certainly see the many and various ways in which the show doesn’t get their representations of other cultures right. The Arabic here, the treatment of Latinos in the Ted Grant episode, and I haven’t heard much, but it doesn’t feel like the Chinese of the flashbacks is very well handled either in terms of diverse representation. They definitely adhere to stereotypes more often than not. It makes me wonder, if this prayer is for loved ones, why they chose it for R’as to speak to Oliver. Aside from the cultural meaning you’ve imparted, the words themselves are clearly not ones a murderer would speak to his victim. Is it tied into Oliver’s survival somehow? But thank you for the knowledge. The show definitely needs to work on accurate representation, they’ve been failing there most of all.

    2. Wow, that’s a really important critique.
      I suppose that Ra’s Al Ghul wouldn’t consider himself a murderer and horrible people use sacred words all the time to justify their actions. Like Connie I wonder what made the writers choose it. However, I can really see how that would be deeply offensive. So often television shows can use deeply held beliefs and practices in such a cavalier way.
      Thank you for that.

      1. I actually stopped watching this show a while ago because of its stereotypical representations of people of color. Yeah, it’s not surprising when we see the same race fail and tropes over and over again about black, Asian, and Middle Eastern characters, but it’s still upsetting. The one episode where the assassin recites the Shahadah (Muslim declaration of faith) and commits suicide is what did it for me. There was even a critique written about it and a petition that requested for an apology.

        I also don’t think casting an Arab man to play Ra’s Al Ghul will solve the problem. Like The Mandarin from Iron Man, he is a racist caricature to begin with. When I hear prayers that me and my family recite come out of the mouths of villains like Ra’s Al Ghul, I don’t find anything progressive or encouraging about that. Seeing an Arab man play Ra’s would unfortunately do nothing but perpetuate the vilification of Muslims and Arabs. Western audiences are already conditioned to vilify Islam, the language of Arabic, and Muslims in general. You can read more of my thoughts on this on my blog:

  2. Connie! I feel like I wanna take notes when I read your thoughts. (Don’t tempt me about the 3,000 word reply 🙂 I did take notes during my re-watch of the episode. I know, it’s sad. So many thoughts. And you’ve mentioned some of them so I will try to keep this short.
    Overall, I enjoyed the episode and found it very moving. I was fairly sure Oliver would be dead or presumed dead by the end of this episode but I think they led up to it well and if the writing is good knowing a bit about the ending doesn’t ruin it for me. It’s why I reread my favourite books. They still take me on a journey.
    I like your theories about where this episode could take the characters. I would prefer not to see an Oliver who takes loads of steps back into a dark and closed off place. After the team he has around him and the things he has learned over the last two years, I would like to see a move forward as you describe especially considering the clarity I thought this episode gave him. It was the most honest and open we’ve seen Oliver. I mostly don’t want to see the writers treading over old ground.
    Laurel- I’m fairly neutral about her. Not a fan but not a hater either. I think she as a character has been the most inconsistent and I am waiting to see what the writers will do with her for the rest of the season. But she could quickly become irrelevant for me. And somebody tell that man his kid is dead! I love Quentin and he is getting royally screwed.
    R’as – I think it was clear he completely knew that Oliver did not kill Sara but was intrigued by the opportunity to duel him and take his measure. And I think he was impressed a bit. He said at the beginning that Oliver was just a boy but at the end he called him ‘my son’. I wonder how they will place those two in relation to each other in the future.
    Malcolm- This episode cemented a feeling that I’ve had about him since season 1. He is certainly interesting, great to have on screen and Barrowman does a great job, and I don’t like him at all. He strikes me as deeply selfish, a person who will put himself before others all the time. His grief at his wife’s death was more important than anyone else and tragedy has sent him down a path where he has become really screwed up and I wouldn’t put it past him to use Thea as a shield/pawn at any time. Nyssa told Thea he was the devil and Oliver told her that he wasn’t capable of love and I think they are not wrong.
    Thea- I am intrigued to see how she will react to learning of her role in Sara’s death and I wonder how she will respond to learning more about Malcolm’s part in that. Being so completely used by him has got to betray her more than all the lies that she was told last year. And this whole gambit of Malcolm’s does not erase the issues that the League has with him… right?
    Diggle and Roy- From what Guggenheim and others have said I really looking forward to those two flexing their acting and muscles in the next few eps. Can’t have too much John Diggle. Really looking forward to a Suicide Squad or ARGUS and/or HIVE storyline.
    Ray- Yup, he’s coming off as creepy. And I really don’t think that is intended and I want to like Ray. I think it’s a good thing for Felicity to have these options in her life (she is not some pining sideliner and she totally deserves the awesome job that makes full use of her brain and skills). But his behaviour has been…uncomfortable. Is this just symptomatic of our culture’s increasing disregard for privacy and appropriate boundaries? Because YES No one calls him on it (maybe Felicity a little when he showed up at her door early in the morning.) Or is it because stalker behaviour is too close to romantic comedy tropes and people are just used to it? (I think those are lazy tropes) And it’s making me not see him as a viable option (and I do feel the Chuck replay there too! Although that backstory is largely in line with the comics.) I am hoping this can be remedied and in my ideal world the fact that his fiancee died 7 months ago and that the Felicity/Oliver stuff is so compelling would lead to them being good friends and coworkers (both at day and nighttime work). And the writers would have to convince me that there was more if they really want to push it.
    Felicity- I think think the conversation between her and Oliver at the end was a very interesting flip to the conversation they had in the clocktower in last season’s finale. The “I know two things” lines made such powerful mirroring there. And I could go into that scene more but I am going to cut this off because it is getting long and I need to give my kid a bath. (It’s bedtime here in the UK)

    Awesome write up as usual. – Becca

    1. “I would prefer not to see an Oliver who takes loads of steps back into a dark and closed off place.” Yeah, especially with the identity theme, it would be foolish for him to go backwards/closer to island Oliver, especially as we see island Oliver head more and more into that dark place as well.

      “R’as – I think it was clear he completely knew that Oliver did not kill Sara but was intrigued by the opportunity to duel him and take his measure. And I think he was impressed a bit. He said at the beginning that Oliver was just a boy but at the end he called him ‘my son’. I wonder how they will place those two in relation to each other in the future.” Yeah, as a previous commenter noted, the prayer R’as is a real Arabic prayer spoken to loved ones at a funeral. Why choose those words to speak to him as he kills him? Something in what you said about R’as coming to see Oliver with respect seems important and there’s also the whole resurrection aspect to it. Perhaps we’ll get more insight into R’as when we return.

      “I wonder how she will respond to learning more about Malcolm’s part in that. Being so completely used by him has got to betray her more than all the lies that she was told last year.” Yeah, her whole thing was to prevent herself from being lied to and hurt and she allied herself with the person who does this more than anyone. Oliver and her mother kept secrets and she’s angry about it, fine, but they WERE looking in her best interests, not just their own, while Malcolm is solely concerned about his own. I also wonder how his betrayal will make her feel and if it will push her closer to whoever Oliver is when he returns.

      “(and I do feel the Chuck replay there too! Although that backstory is largely in line with the comics.)” hmm ok, I wasn’t sure. I figured though, because the parallels are so close that it seems they’d shy away from it (I’m sure ONE of the writers watched Chuck and Brandon could have called it out himself if he remembered lol) if it weren’t canon. Interesting the ways in which Brandon is type cast lol.

      “I think think the conversation between her and Oliver at the end was a very interesting flip to the conversation they had in the clocktower in last season’s finale.” Oh yes, I caught some of this as she was speaking but didn’t explicitly think about how much of a parallel this was to her plea for him NOT to kill Slade but to in fact, kill R’as. I doubt they’ll come back to that, but I wonder what Felicity is thinking there and why this was so different from the last time? Perhaps because he was going at it alone, while with Slade, he didn’t need to kill because they were all there to help? I wonder what the writers intended when they made her choose this reversal. I’d love a scene explaining that, but I feel like it might not come. =/

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I look forward to more replies and theorizing! We have over a month to supply ourselves with rampant speculation!

  3. You are right. All we have is speculation and discussion to keep us going.
    ” I wonder what Felicity is thinking there and why this was so different from the last time? Perhaps because he was going at it alone, while with Slade, he didn’t need to kill because they were all there to help? I wonder what the writers intended when they made her choose this reversal. I’d love a scene explaining that, but I feel like it might not come.”
    I know there will be loads of speculation about her thoughts here. And a lot of it will be putting our own thoughts in her head. Her words are our only evidence and she used the words ‘terrified’ and ‘I’m afraid’. I’m sure a big part of it was fear. But why so different from before? One possibility is Sara’s death. She saw a woman who she kinda thought of as an indestructible Amazon (who had cheated death plenty) struck down and I think this shattered some of her illusions about anyone’s ability to cheat death. Add to that Oliver’s words to her in ep 2 that the life he has chosen “only ends one way.” I think that this adds a certain amount of terror that wasn’t there last season. Oliver (and Diggle and Roy to a certain extent) had gotten through so many near misses before but Sara’s death was a real wake up call.
    Also, his challenge to R’as feels different to the Slade situation. He is not going to kill R’as out of fear or desperation or revenge or anger. He is going into that duel to save Thea’s life and the lives of the people of Starling. I don’t know if an ethical argument can be made for Felicity’s change here but I can see lots of reasons for her to be more scared this time around and fear can make us rethink lots of things.

  4. Hey love the recap!! I just want to comment on the Ra’s Al Ghul convo. First Ra’s character is originally from Arabia (No excuse) and yes it confuses me why they cast him as a white man but we all know that’s a different issue for a different time. If you know Ra’s story and the actual League of Assassins you would know that the League is somewhat of an extremist group. Again I don’t think it’s ok to depict any religion in any negative aspect, it’s hard to be a person of faith and colour AND love comics. Just wanted to add a little context. NOC has a new follower! Love the site

    1. Thanks for commenting Tommy! Yes, the R’as situation is a tough one to balance, considering his extremist views and not wanting to perpetuate awful stereotypes. It truly is hard to be a person of faith and color and enjoy *most* media. Hopefully we get more and more pockets of better, more accurate, more diverse representation to outweigh situations like this one.

  5. What an awesome review! I loved it, and I agree. I struggle so much with Laurel. I keep wanting to like her, but I just can’t seem to care about her story. She seems to stop the action every time she appears. Maybe she’ll step up in Oliver’s absence. I hope so. I hope she becomes likable.

    I think the entire Malcolm/Ra’s/Oliver story is going to play out in interesting ways. I really didn’t want Sara to die, and when I thought she’d died only to make Laurel Black Canary, I was very angry, but now that the Thea/Malcolm/Ra’s/Nyssa/Oliver story is in play, I think this season is going to be very exciting.

    I really don’t like Ray at all. I understand where they are going with the story, but I Ray comes across as a creepy stalker. It bothers me to no end that Felicity doesn’t call him on it. I think we are supposed to find him charming, but he’s not charming. While the stalking does bother me greatly, the shirtless salmon ladder was incredibly bothersome. I don’t know about you, but if my boss called me to his office and I found him shirtless doing the salmon ladder, I would be pretty uncomfortable ESPECIALLY if had been pinging my phone, stalking me, and was now buying me clothes. Maybe I watch too much cop TV, but that has creepy serial killer written all over it.

    I love Oliver this season. Diggle is wonderful. I’m even warming up to Roy, and I always love Felicity. I can’t wait for the second half!

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