Friday, May 1, 2015

ARROW Is Dead, Long Live "Al Sah-Him"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

ARROW is dead, long live “Al Sah-Him.” Those are not words you’re likely to hear from any of Team Arrow, whose leader, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), is gone. But it is a chant that could be uttered within the walls of Nanda Parbat, the place where the man formerly known as The Arrow is now residing. Is there any chance of getting Oliver back, or is he lost to his loved ones forever?

It doesn’t take much time for “Al Sah-Him” to establish how good Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) is at brainwashing. A mere three weeks since Oliver agreed to become the next Ra’s, Ra’s has him murdering a man he thinks is John Diggle (David Ramsey), his best friend. It seems like Oliver has been completely erased from the body of this man, and whether Oliver knew what he was signing up for or not, his immersion into the new life is proceeding as Ra’s wants.

This causes much distress among Team Arrow, understandably. While Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) helping Diggle find the bad guys for him to take down seems to be working all right, the gang is definitely operating on a shoestring. Starling City is somewhat vulnerable to attack, its hero not returning and the third member of the team gone, too.

Which means they are not prepared when Al Sah-Him comes home and kidnaps Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), something he would never have done as Oliver. His goal is to nab Nyssa (Katrina Law), who must face justice from her father, Ra’s, for abandoning The League of Assassins. But even with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and her new scream, as well as Felicity and Diggle, standing up for her, Nyssa stands no chance escaping from Al Sah-Him. Thankfully, Ra’s has forced marriage in mind for Nyssa, intending to wed her to Al Sah-Him, rather than death. But she’s still being held against her will and Team Arrow cannot save her. Like I said, the city needs a hero again.

In fact, Starling needs saving more than any of the good guys know. Ra’s reveals to Al Sah-Him that the last thing he needs to do to erase Oliver Queen’s existence is destroy his home, meaning to kill everyone in Starling City. Ra’s himself did this once upon a time, and has the virus that Oliver, Maseo (Karl Yune), and Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) narrowly escape from, with grave consequences, in this week’s unnecessary flashback. Al Sah-Him may have forgotten himself enough to murder a friend, but is he so brainwashed that he would slaughter millions without blinking?

One bright spot of hope in “Al Sah-Him” is when Thea (Willa Holland) dons the hood and shoots Al Sah-Him through the arm before he can kill Diggle for real. I’m sure Team Arrow is resisting letting Thea in, as they did Laurel before her, but Thea is quite capable at this point. With the roster feeling empty, it’s time for recruitment, and Thea is the best candidate around. If she pitches in, Starling might just survive this.

“Al Sah-Him” is an emotional hour. Thea, Diggle, and Felicity all still have deep feelings of affection for Oliver, and only believe he’s been lost to them when they see his behavior. The acting in this installment is terrific, proving the cast is capable of more than just running around and shooting arrows. ARROW doesn’t have the best cast on television, but the group is certainly well used, the show playing to the strengths of what it has. And the story couldn’t get much better, high stakes with bold choices.

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

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