Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Nanda Parbat" New Beginning for ARROW

Article originally written for Seat42F.

The CW’s ARROW finds Oliver (Stephen Amell) traveling to “Nanda Parbat” in the latest installment. He goes there because Thea (Willa Holland), in a fit of rage, gives up Malcolm (John Barrowman) to Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). Knowing that Thea will eventually regret it if she is responsible for her biological father’s death, Oliver seeks to intervene. But he gets a heck of a surprise at Nanda Parbat.

“Nanda Parbat” is another hour of secrets coming to light, something that has been happening a lot lately on ARROW. After two and a half years of various characters not telling various other characters things, the central cast is rapidly being all caught up to speed, which makes for a messy, complex situation. ARROW has never been better.

Thea learning she killed Sara is rough, but it’s rougher when she insists on telling Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who forgives her, Roy (Colton Haynes), who tries to make her feel better, and Nyssa (Katrina Law), whom Thea offers vengeance to. Thea is being reckless with the information, especially when looping in the last person, who is held captive in Team Arrow’s lair at the time and may very well kill Thea (though probably not, for series logistics reasons).

Oliver is doing everything he can to protect Thea, not just physically, but also emotionally. Oliver has already faced Ra’s al Ghul before, and it almost kills him. Yet, when Ra’s takes Malcolm, Oliver is intent on facing the foe once more to try to shield Thea from regret. That Diggle (David Ramsey) accompanies him is incidental, a decision Diggle makes out of loyalty to his team, not one Oliver requests in order to concoct a smarter plan. Oliver isn’t thinking about how Thea will feel with two (or three) fresh deaths on her head in the very likely event that he should fail.

It’s nice to see Roy and Thea as they are in “Nanda Parbat.” Thea isn’t in the head space for romance, so they aren’t getting back together any time soon. Roy went through many of the same things Thea is going through, though, including dealing with killing someone while under the control of a villain. They are different people who will cope in different ways, but it’s still satisfying to see Thea have someone she can talk to and who understands her, especially if this brings them close together again.

The biggest surprise in “Nanda Parbat” comes after Ra’s, as expected, captures Diggle and Oliver and they sit in his prison. Oliver begs Ra’s to spare Diggle’s life, but Ra’s says he has no intention of killing either one of them. He wants Oliver, not his daughter, Nyssa, to be the next Ra’s al Ghul.

Why would Ra’s make this decision? I don’t think Nyssa is ready for the mantle, though maybe appointing Oliver is a test for her. And Ra’s clearly doesn’t agree with everything Oliver does, as he does not hand over Malcolm, whom Oliver seeks to save. I can see why Ra’s respects Oliver’s strength and fortitude, and I don’t think the League of Assassins is pure evil, so one who lives in the grey area of morality, such as Oliver does, could fit in. But given their recent history, Oliver defying Ra’s, it seems a weird move. The League probably won’t approve, and Oliver has no reason to accept.

What if Oliver did accept, though? He could use the League’s might to help with his mission to save Starling City, as well as other places. The problem is, their methods involve murder, something Oliver has decided should not be done any more, so he’d have to fundamentally change the organization, which would not be easy. It gives one a lot to think about.

Outside of all of these events, the one member of Team Arrow still keeping secrets is Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). Unable to sway Oliver to what she thinks is best, she takes up with Ray (Brandon Routh), trying to guide him on his own path to superhero-ness as he dons The Atom suit this week. Felicity needs to learn to stop trying to control the men in her life, as she has picked a type and if she doesn’t want everything that comes with that type, she should reconsider her dating criteria. But it’ll be interesting to see how The Atom will evolve independently, and if he’ll work with or against Team Arrow.

“Nanda Parbat” is another in a string of excellent ARROW episodes, with great character moments and quite a few surprises. While I’m skeptical Nyssa will kill Thea, fates of other characters, such as Malcolm, remain up in the air, and the status quo seems to be constantly shifting. Two thirds of the way through the season, it’s hard to see where the show is heading, and that’s a good thing.

ARROW airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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