Arrow – Season 8 Episode 3
“Leap of Faith”
Arrow reunites OIiver with Thea on a trip to Nanda Parbat in an attempt to find out more about The Monitor.
Having Thea back on the show is always welcomed. She has grown a great deal over the years and her presence on the show is sorely missed. It’s great that this final season victory tour was able to find a way to feature her even if it was in the context of remembering some of the more troubled areas of the show’s past.
Oliver and Thea’s relationship is as strongly portrayed as it has ever been. One of the strongest aspects of Arrow is how Oliver Queen’s growth as a human being shapes how he interacts with people. In this case he holds nothing back from Thea which means they can have open conversations about what Oliver is looking to achieve as well as his upcoming death. There’s a really strong scene early on where they bring each other up to speed on their lives which allows Thea to see a photo of her niece and Oliver to learn that she achieved her goal of destroying the Lazarus Pits. She also talks about her self imposed mission to bring down the Thanatos Guild as an explanation for why she didn’t come home.
This conversation highlights that Oliver and Thea have made life choices that they stand by and that they are united in their sense of responsibility. Oliver realises that he can’t fault his sister for that because he thinks along exactly the same lines and accepts that the situation they find themselves in is the norm for them after all they’ve been through. It really is remarkable to think that Thea started this show as Oliver’s spoiled bratty kid sister and has become this solitary world weary warrior. Everyone in Arrow has changed massively but Thea is perhaps the most profound and it’s a testament to how well she’s written as well as how Willa Holland plays the character that it works.
Oliver’s overprotective streak rears its head here as well though the context is different. In this case the memory of seeing a world without Thea is very raw and it’s not something he wants to see happen on this Earth. Amusingly Oliver trying to bench her goes about as well as it always does and she is the one to find him after he’s predictably betrayed. His desire to bench her is a symptom of the weight he has placed on his shoulders at this point. He did see a world without her in it and also watched that world die so he is painfully aware of the stakes that he’s facing and the chief thing that motivates him is keeping his family safe. This means Felicity, Mia, William and Thea so he’s doing everything he can to ensure that they aren’t placed in any danger. With Thea it’s more complicated because she’s capable and self sufficient but Oliver can’t ever shake the perception of her as his baby sister even though she has grown so far beyond that. Thea reiterates the wisdom she has gained through talking about how their parents made lots of mistakes out of a desire to protect them and that their choices played a part in shaping them into the heroes they are today. Oliver has always been conflicted over how he is perceived and how he sees himself but Thea feels that they are both heroes who have done good things in the world. It’s something Oliver needed to hear as it helps put his doubts to rest for the moment.
Thea’s reappearance also brings Lexa Doig’s Talia and Kyra Zagorsky’s Athena who collectively participate in a race against time scavenger hunt to secure the sword of the first Ra’s Al Ghul. For Athena and Talia their desire to get their hands on the sword is to secure loyalty in order to rebuild the League of Assassins in their own image; for Thea it’s about making sure that they don’t get their hands on the sword. It’s a quest that Oliver and Thea stumble into as payment for assistance in learning about The Monitor but it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not a good idea to let the League of Assassins return in any form. All in all this feels like mostly busy work as the League of Assassins haven’t been a feature in the show for a long time so reawakening that plot doesn’t feel needed or significant by this point. It’s basically an Indiana Jones style fetch quest with very little weight behind it that feels like a waste of precious time in this heavily truncated season.
Having Thea defeat Talia in combat and rightfully hold the power the sword represents is basically the expected outcome and allows for a shift in the traditional outlook that would come if Talia had been the one to win. Talia is bound by tradition, faith and honour so sees her actions as unforgivable as they run counter to everything she upholds. She talks about Thea having to shoulder the responsibility that comes with the sword alone because she’s destined to do so but that isn’t Thea’s style as she doesn’t believe in destiny or anything along those lines so suggests the alternative of her and Talia working together to create a League of Heroes devoted to protecting people. It’s strange that it takes Talia no time at all to abandon a lifetime of indoctrinated tradition in order to accept Thea’s alternative proposal though she has always been at odds with her family in one way or another so it makes sense to some degree. Part of the problem is that this isn’t really the story that Arrow should be telling at this point so it’s hard to become invested in this outcome. Oliver doesn’t really learn anything useful about The Monitor either so it only adds to the episode feeling like busy work.
Athena makes for a fairly limp villain as she basically shows up at key points to slow down the quest as the writers remind us of her rivalry with Thea. It’s not something that holds any interest at this point and there’s not enough time within the plot to let it breathe properly. We’ve seen a number of examples of people trying to fill Ra’s Al Ghul’s shoes and none of them have been interesting. This probably marks the end of this plot which is a good thing but also probably marks the final appearance of Thea which is a bad thing. Her final exchange with Oliver where she highlights some issues with The Monitor’s actions and encourages him to remain vigilant is a classic example of how Thea’s mind works and how she points out things that people need to think about. Her appeal to him to not die is wonderfully delivered by Willa Holland and the hug they share where neither wanted to break the embrace was a perfect final moment. If this is to be Thea’s last appearance then the goodbye couldn’t have been more fitting.
The main present day subplot involves Diggle and Lyla working to rescue the child they will one day adopt. It’s not an interesting story by itself but seeing Diggle continue to deal with his PTSD after watching an entire universe be destroyed allows for some strong acting opportunities for David Ramsey. No matter how insane the world surrounding him gets Diggle remains this grounded presence within it who finds it difficult to deal with the more outlandish elements. Part of his current issue is contemplating the sheer volume of deaths that come with a destroyed universe and his concern over it happening to this one which would mean the loss of everyone he cares about. Whatever he can do to prevent that he will do but there’s something cathartic about being able to do something relatively simple such as rescue a mother and son.
Diggle and Lyla work really well together in this episode as they reminisce about everything that has brought them to this point. It serves as a reminder of how strong their connection is and how devoted Diggle is to her. There’s a chilling finality to much of Lyla’s dialogue as well which suggests that she’s taking the opportunity to say certain things to her husband before she can’t. I wonder if The Monitor told her that she won’t survive the Crisis as well so she’s making the most of any time she can spend with her husband. As good as these character beats are it’s a shame that they couldn’t be part of something that felt more relevant.
The future story continues to feel unimportant in the grand scheme of things. It is interesting to see the growth of the bond between Mia and William especially now that she’s at the point where she feels more comfortable opening up to him even if there’s always frustration behind the words. She admits to him that his survival is important to her because he’s the only family she has left but makes sure that she won’t repeat to anyone the conversation they had out of some sort of stubborn pride. It’s an important step forward in the sibling relationship but Mia’s desire to keep how she feels about her brother hidden suggests she has a long way to go before true acceptance of that relationship.
New Team Arrow end up in a conflict with the Deathstroke gang and JJ specifically which doesn’t feel all that significant as it’s a world that I’m not fully invested in which makes it difficult to care about whether anyone succeeds or not. Seeing Zoe run through with a sword and on death’s door is appropriately shocking with a stunning performance from Katherine McNamara as Mia deals with watching someone she has grown close to slip away in her arms. Charlie Barnett also does a great villain performance which is enhanced by Joseph David-Jones playing Connor consumed by anger to the point that he’s willing to kill his brother. The acting is definitely enhancing what feels like an uneven snapshot of the lives of these characters. So far we’ve only been told about the fractured brotherly relationship without being shown enough of it to make the events of this episode have the relevant shock value. It’s also possible that the ending of this episode renders much of this invalid.
The cliffhanger ending was really fascinating as it combines the present and future characters into the present day time period. This has massive implications for all involved as Oliver is confronted with a grown up version of his daughter and Mia gets to interact with the father she never knew. Beyond that Diggle will potentially get some idea of how his children turn out and will have a lot do deal with knowing the mistakes he makes with his biological son leads him to become the new Deathstroke and sit at the head of a violent criminal gang.
My thinking is that this will lead to Mia, William, Connor and whoever else remaining in the present day and have them continue on in the announced spinoff. It’s not a terrible idea as it allows the future to be changed from the relentlessly bleak one we’ve seen so much of though it does render what we’ve seen up until this point largely pointless. The character histories are still important to them because it shaped the people that they have become for better or for worse but if the timeline doesn’t play out that way then the specifics of the plotting that we have witnessed are wasted screentime as they were never meant to matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s a difficult line to walk but in the short term I’m interested to see how the future characters fit in with the present day as there is so much potential there.
A welcome return for such a beloved character that takes every opportunity to celebrate one of the former core relationships. The return of Thea is always welcomed and this episode makes great use of her in several different ways. Her interactions with Oliver makes great use of how much both of the characters have grown while allowing Oliver’s overprotective nature to come into play in a different context. Unfortunately Thea is also used as part of a bland fetch quest that holds very little weight but her take on destiny and responsibility is very fitting for who she is. If this is to be Thea’s final appearance then her interactions with Oliver were absolutely spot on for those characters and their final moments together were very poignant. The Diggle and Lyla subplot felt like more busy work in the context of the story being told but the reminds of everything they’ve been through and the acting on display makes for a great showcase of this relationship. There’s a finality to Lyla’s words suggesting that she might not survive the Crisis as well but there should have been a better story wrapped around this.
The future story continues to feel insignificant in the grand scheme of things even if the characterisation is working really well. Mia opening up to William about how important he is to her is really well done and the aftermath shows how far she has to go before true acceptance of that relationship. Charlie Barnett’s villain performance remains excellent and Joseph David-Jones greatly enhances this when he plays Connor consumed by anger to the point he’s willing to kill his brother. The actors are doing a great job but these moments can’t help but feel like snapshots of a larger tapestry we will never get to see. Throwing these characters into the present day unexpectedly has the potential to render the specific future events almost completely worthless but there’s a lot of potential for excellent character beats when bringing the two casts together.
- well thought out, grown up interactions between Oliver and Thea
- Thea’s perspective on what the world needs instead of the League of Assassins
- a poignant goodbye
- Diggle and Lyla discussing how far they’ve come together
- Mia opening up to William
- strong acting in the future story
- a cliffhanger ending dripping in potential
- the mystical fetch quest feeling unimportant
- Oliver not learning anything useful about The Monitor
- the Diggle/Lyla plot feeling like busy work
- the future plot not having enough to be truly invested in
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