Friday, April 24, 2015

ARROW Is Not "The Fallen"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

Whoa. Last night’s episode of the CW’s ARROW, entitled “The Fallen,” is big for the series. Not that other episodes this season have not been big; ARROW has shown no hesitation to blow up its world and core cast repeatedly. That is welcome, as it keeps the plot exciting and moving, and this third year has been much, much better than the first two. “The Fallen” might just set a new high bar, though, with some big things fans might not expect to happen, at least not now.

As “The Fallen” begins, Oliver (Stephen Amell) decides to take Thea (Willa Holland) to Nanda Parbat because that’s her only hope at getting her life back. Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) knows what he’s doing when running Thea through with a sword, leaving her alive enough for the Lazarus Baths, which he controls, to heal her, but injured enough that Oliver will pay the price for the use of the baths, which is becoming the next Ra’s.

Oliver has resisted becoming Ra’s for good reason. He would have to leave his life and everyone he loves behind, giving himself fully over to the League of Assassins, which isn’t the most heroic of organizations. Even though the resources in the group would allow him to expand the good he does for the world once he reformed it in the image he wants, it requires great personal sacrifice on his part to take up that mantle.

But Oliver is nothing if not a hero. He may have had to give up being The Arrow, but the core of who he is remains intact. He gives in to Ra’s’ demands because it’s what’s best for Thea, her only shot at a normal life, and Oliver loves Thea more than anyone in the world.

Thea isn’t the only one that loves Oliver. Diggle (David Ramsey), Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), and (for Thea’s sake) Malcolm (John Barrowman) accompany Oliver to Nanda Parbat, and Maseo (Karl Yune) risks his own position and life to help Oliver late in the hour. This would not have happened so readily early in the series’ run, before Oliver inspired loyalty and respect from those surrounding him. It’s a testament to how far he has come that people fight to save him.

Felicity takes it to another level when, prompted by Ra’s to express her feelings, she sleeps with Oliver and then tries to kidnap him. The sex is a great pay off for shippers, who have longed for the two to be together, and comes at the perfect dramatic moment since they will not be seeing each other again, as far as he knows.

Felicity tries to ensure a future for them and she fails. Still, I think it’s awesome that “The Fallen” finds her standing up to someone like Ra’s, which it’s hard to imagine Felicity doing even a short while ago. Her involvement with Oliver has made her stronger, and she’s come into her own this year. This episode pays off that character growth. And it’s satisfying that ARROW gives her a quick break up scene with Ray (Brandon Routh) first, so there are no questions of morality.

So what happens next? Presumably, Oliver is with Ra’s and Maseo to stay, whereas Thea goes home with Malcolm, and Felicity and Diggle must decide if they want to continue their heroes club sans Oliver, as they did when they thought Oliver had died. I can’t help but think that ARROW will do some sort of reset by the end of the year, next fall at the latest, to get everyone back on track and restore Team Arrow, not as it was, but close enough. At the same time, it would be pretty darn cool if they didn’t, letting someone else become The Arrow and continuing Oliver’s story as Ra’s. ARROW is bold enough that I can’t say for certain what will happen, but it’s likely to be good, no matter which direction they go in.

Oh, and there is yet another flashback, this one taking fight scenes to all new levels of non-believability. It is well past time to ditch these. Please do so ASAP.

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

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