On the D/L – Arrow
Season 3 Episode 16 – “The Offer”
Well Arrow, break’s over and now it’s time to provide us with some answers. Specifically the answer to the very loaded offer made to Oliver by Ra’s Al Ghul at the end of the previous episode.
Much of the running time of this episode is devoted to the characters taking a bit of a step back to deal with the massive revelations that have been hitting hard and fast over the recent run of episodes. As far as I’m concerned this is a good thing as it gives the characters some time to take stock and process what has been going on. Not to mention giving the same opportunity to the audience who have been given a lot to chew on recently.
This is definitely Oliver’s episode as he works to redefine his purpose. He mentions that he started his career as the Arrow with the singular goal of avenging his father and writing all of those wrongs. The list was something that he swore by and as long as he was crossing names of it he was doing the right thing as far as he’s concerned.
As he done this he learned what being a hero was all about and devoted himself to protecting people as well as swearing off killing in order to inspire a different version of justice. The inclusion of Slade gave him a defined bad guy to fight to reassure him that he was in the right.
In this season things are a lot more complicated than he initially thought. It has gotten a lot harder to define what is right and wrong and Oliver is starting to be crushed under the weight of responsibility. I’m reminded of the really emotional moment back in “Sara” where he declares “I don’t wanna die down here”. Oliver is having something of an identity crisis and he’s losing control of the one thing he thought he could count on.
I like the see saw effect created by the rest of his team finding their own purpose. It’s affected him by making him lose sight of his own. It was once his crusade but now it belongs to everyone and that’s something that Oliver has something dealing with.
Ra’s Al Ghul’s offer is timely in that sense as he offers him a sense of purpose that is somewhat lacking. Instead of living this double life between being Oliver and The Arrow he could be Ra’s Al Ghul, a man who is in charge of the most formidable force the world has ever seen. He is told they are more powerful and more loyal than any army and would do absolutely anything he said. That even includes not killing. How would anyone not be tempted by that offer?
The explanation that Ra’s Al Ghul gives for making this offer to Oliver makes a lot of sense. It has been a long time since anyone challenged him and even longer since someone came back from that challenge. It is pointed out that Oliver survived through sheer force of will and that alone is enough to entitle him to the keys to the kingdom so to speak.
Oliver’s black and white view on the world is something that really holds him back sometimes. As far as he is concerned he either does the right thing or the wrong thing with no middle ground as far as he’s concerned. At least as far as he’s concerned the League of Assassins are doing the wrong thing while his crime fighting crusade is the right thing to do. The problem he is having at this point is defining what good and bad really mean when he’s the one dictating the mission. Perhaps this has something to do with his reluctance to take over the League of Assassins since he doesn’t really trust his ability to decide what’s right and wrong on such a global scale. He never needs thanked as the Arrow but he really needs to be reminded that he’s on the right track. It’s easy to see why the opportunity to have this much power is daunting to him.
The scenes between Oliver and Ra’s Al Ghul are really interesting stuff. I really like the half mentioned mythology associated with the role. I also love that it combined the comic book character with the Batman Begins version by mentioning that he had lived a long time as well as having it be a title that was passed down the generations. Ra’s Al Ghul mentioned that he succeeded someone just as he intends Oliver to succeed him.
We finally got an overt mention of the Lazarus Pit and even a small demonstration of the capabilities of it. In keeping with the comics the effects are finite and eventually wear off. This is happening to Ra’s Al Ghul now so his days are effectively numbered. As far as he’s concerned Oliver is the only one worthy of replacing him.
There was a complete lack of menace in the scenes they shared together and Ra’s Al Ghul seemed very genuine throughout. He even lets Oliver leave with Malcolm Merlyn with no apparent strings attached. The prophecy that Ra’s Al Ghul told to Oliver caught my attention. He tells Oliver that the law will see him as a criminal again and the one he loves will find someone else. It’s also interesting to see Oliver trying to deny the benefits of accepting the offer but also appearing tempted at the same time.
When Oliver returns to Starling City he is very keen to test just how much of a difference he can make as the Arrow. He isn’t back for long before asking Felicity to look up any random crime that’s going on so that he can show Starling City that it is still protected.
From here we get some pretty standard Arrow fare in terms of action but it’s cool to watch. It’s also nice to see that Laurel still isn’t quite competent and Oliver’s recognition of that provides a really funny moment. I love how dismissive Oliver is of her every time she tries to help out.
The action sequence leads to a great moment between Quentin and Oliver as the Arrow that fulfills the first part of the prophecy. Quentin feels betrayed by someone he put his trust in for lying to him about the death of Sara for months. He gives a powerful speech about abandoning everything he stands for to support a known vigilante. It was a big deal for him to ally himself with the Arrow and as viewers will know it didn’t happen overnight. There are two things in live that are important to Quentin. The first is his daughters and the second is his sense of duty. Having the Arrow betray his trust like that is something that he can’t deal with and this basically returns their relationship to what it was in the first season.
It’s not long after this that Oliver finds out about Felicity and Ray who are being all comfortably coupley around each other. This fulfills the second part of the prophecy as far as Oliver is concerned and launches him into a spiral of self doubt as he feels that everything that he was warned about has come true. It’s interesting that Ra’s Al Ghul seemed to know all this stuff. I’m going to attribute it to the fact that he has been around for a long time and has seen enough of people to know that history tends to repeat itself. This scene does a good job of connecting Ray to the rest of the show. I think it’s the first time he’s shared screen time with someone who isn’t Felicity in a long time. I want to see the guy talk to other people because he’s a good character and could have some interesting stuff to do with others.
His discussion with Diggle following this scene where he points out all that he has lost and the fact that he feels like he’s losing grip on his own reality. At this point he is seriously considering accepting the offer simply because he feels that Team Arrow isn’t getting the job done any more. Most of the criminals they have put away have escaped or inspired others and things seems to be getting worse as time goes on. Having near infinite resources would certainly help make a difference.
After a discussion with Felicity he somewhat comes to his senses. Felicity reminds him that even though she is with Ray they are still best friends and that he hasn’t lost her. The only reason they aren’t together is because he chose not to be. It’s good to see a scene between them where they aren’t completely at odds and there’s a certain levity to it that we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Oliver’s position is reinforced when Team Arrow manage to save some -not all- of the police officers and put some criminals in prison. That’s enough to remind him that they actually do make a difference and puts any temptation of accepting the offer to bed for now. Though there’s the added complication of Ra’s Al Ghul clearly looking to discredit the Arrow presumably to encourage him to accept the offer.
There were some nice moments with the other characters here as well. Thea is an incredibly broken person at this point. She is having real trouble dealing with the fact that she was used as an instrument to kill Sara and really wants someone to punish her for it. Nyssa refused to do it because there’s no honour in it since it clearly wasn’t her fault and everyone seems to be so understanding of the position she was put in. On top of this she has to babysit an injured Malcolm Merlyn and summon all of her will power not to kill the guy. I really feel for Thea and don’t think it’s going to get any easier for her as time goes on.
I really liked the interactions between Nyssa and Laurel who have found a connection through their shared love of Sara. Like Oliver Nyssa is in dire need of a purpose after her father has taken away her birthright causing her to be aimless for now. It also meshes with the fact that Laurel doesn’t quite feel a part of Team Arrow at this point due to the constant dismissal from Oliver. Nyssa’s plan for now is to train Laurel to live up to her full potential and hopefully collectively come to terms with the death of Sara. I really look forward to seeing how this pans out.
Roy and Diggle sadly got left in the background to mostly run support but Roy reuniting with Thea might give him more to do as he gives her more opportunity to deal with.
The only real downside here was the flashbacks. There was plenty going on in the present so they really weren’t needed. I also didn’t find them all that interesting when all is said and done. I’m mildly curious about this Shado lookalike but I’m fairly certain it won’t actually go where people are expecting it to. Beyond that the flashbacks basically broke the pace of the episode at all points and made me wish for them to be over so that we could get back to the interesting stuff.
A really powerful episode that picks up from the loaded cliffhanger at the end of the previous episode.
Much of the episode is devoted to Oliver weighing up this offer and trying to come to a decision about it. Things are more complicated for him that usual due to the fact that his team are no longer following his every order and his warped sense of what is right and wrong now. It’s difficult for him to figure out where his energies should be focused at this point and this is something that weighs upon him heavily.
Before letting him leave Ra’s Al Ghul offers a prediction of two things that will happen. The first is that he’ll lose his connection to the police and the second is that the woman he loves will find another. Oliver is faced with both of these coming true and this causes him to spiral into self doubt as he feels that accepting the offer is the only way out. There’s also the fact that since many of the criminals have been released he doesn’t feel that Team Arrow are making a difference to the city in any real way.
Naturally his worth is reaffirmed through succeeding in a mission that seems relatively small but acts as a sign that things can get better as long as they work at it. I feel that it’s not the end of the potential to take over from Ra’s Al Ghul but at least it gives Oliver a sense of purpose for now. Of course Ra’s Al Ghul working to destroy the Arrow’s reputation will play into this in a big way so we’ll need to wait and see there.
Laurel and Nyssa training together can only be a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Laurel feels shunned from Team Arrow by Oliver and Nyssa feels shunned by her father so both of them need a renewed sense of purposed. Training together should give them plenty of opportunity to help deal with Sara’s death as well. We’ll see Laurel get better skilled soon I’m sure of that.
Thea is currently a very broken person who is having trouble dealing with the fact that she killed someone. She really wants to be punished and it pains her that nobody blames her for what she did. Having to babysit Malcolm Merlyn is something that makes things worse for her as she has to resist the urge to kill him.
The only real misstep here was the fairly boring flashbacks. Moving them to Hong Kong simply hasn’t worked and the sooner we get Oliver back on the island the better. It didn’t detract too much but it was annoying to have the pace broken by them.