Happily, the good people responsible for UK transmission dates decided not to follow suit on the mini-hiatus Arrow Season 3 took in the US, so we’re now only a week behind, instead of three weeks behind. That, in turn, has the oddly amusing effect of making it look like Oliver didn’t need quite as long to make his decision after the offer extended to him by Ra’s al Ghul at the end of last week’s episode. As the title suggests, Episode 16 is mostly given over to Oliver genuinely appearing to consider The Demon Head’s offer (“An army of assassins at my disposal, you say? Hmmmm…”) and using the whole idea for a spot of soul-searching. Has his time as the Arrow made a difference or just a dent?
But before he does that, Oliver has to get Diggle and Malcolm safely away from Ra’s, so he makes it look like he’s mulling it over and Ra’s gives him a tour of the facilities that includes a glimpse into an oddly choreographed assassin training session – and then, to the delight of comics fans everywhere, the reveal of the fabled Lazarus Pit, which we get to see in action later when Nyssa slices Ra’s’ hand open and he pops it in the pit for some magical healing. For the moment, though, you can see Oliver thinking that that might come in handy. Or maybe he’s wondering if the Arrow Cave has room for a Lazarus Jacuzzi.
Once safely back in Starling City, two things happen that appear to nudge Oliver in the direction of actually taking Ra’s’ offer: the first thing is he gets shouted at by a still-angry Detective Lance (“It’s CAPTAIN now!”), who bawls him out for not telling him about Sara’s death; and, secondly, he heads over to Ray Palmer Industries and spots Felicity canoodling with Ray. Diggle, quite rightly, immediately calls Oliver out. “You’re not really considering [Ra’s’ offer] ? Just because Captain Lance is angry and Felicity is momentarily unavailable?” he questions, making him sound quite petulant in the process. Which seems a little bit of a harsh pre-judgement on Felicity’s new relationship, but whatever works, we suppose.
Later, Oliver finally gets a heart-to-heart with Felicity and she cuts straight to the heart of the matter: “They’re called The League of Assassins. That is not the name of a nice group.” They also discuss all the people that have ended up dead because of the Arrow, versus all the people he has saved, but Oliver still doesn’t seem entirely convinced. What’s interesting about the show is that it manages to give you just a hint that maybe Oliver is considering Ra’s’ offer precisely because of the loss of control he’s experienced since his apparent death forced Team Arrow to carry on without him. And then, as if to underscore that very point, in walks Roy, who promptly delivers about five times as many lines as he normally gets in any Arrow Cave scene.
Thankfully, Roy’s entrance also serves as a handy distraction, as he’s concerned with the show’s Villain of the Week, a creepy-looking thug with his mouth sewn shut, going by the name of Murmur. (This is also a happy return to Arrow cheerfully pilfering villains from the comics – Murmur is primarily a Flash villain, so perhaps he’ll pop up on Arrow’s sister show sometime soon.) Murmur is also responsible for this episode’s silliest moment, as Oliver goes over to Ray Palmer Industries on the pretext of having Felicity find out more about him and she spends about two seconds doing the equivalent of a Google search.
Since Oliver doesn’t have any assassins to fight this week, Murmur also gives Team Arrow an excuse for a couple of decent action sequences, including an enjoyable scrap at Police Headquarters with Arrow, Roy, Laurel and Nyssa all taking down bad guys. Roy, in particular, gets in a nice triple kick, while Laurel ends up bonding with Nyssa, who’s come to Starling City because she’s fallen out with Ra’s and now has nowhere else to go. While we’re not a fan of Nyssa as a character – or of Katrina Law’s rather stilted performance – this is a promising development for both (it’s a shame the show doesn’t have time to show us the two of them having dinner together), not least because Nyssa offers Laurel further training, which means the days of Laurel being a bit rubbish at fighting are soon coming to an end.
At any rate, the fight at the police station is enough to convince Oliver that saving individual lives is, indeed, enough of a reward and that he doesn’t need to become the next Ra’s al Ghul after all. He meets with Maseo to inform him of his decision, but Maseo basically tells him that what Ra’s wants, Ra’s gets, and that it’s all been pre-ordained or something. And sure enough, the cliff-hanger for this episode is Ra’s – who has prophesied Oliver’s city turning against him – killing thugs while dressed as the Arrow and ordering a survivor to tell everyone what he’s seen. All of which means that we’re now firmly into the closing stretch of Season 3 and things are hotting up nicely.
Elsewhere, this episode is about fathers: Laurel making some steps to repair her relationship with Lance (with Paul Blackthorne once again nailing the emotional moments); Nyssa getting rejected and essentially cast out by Ra’s for her relationship with Sara, Thea and Malcolm being just as messed up as ever; and, arguably, Oliver considering replacing the quest left to him by his own dad with another mission dictated by a different father figure, as that’s certainly the way Ra’s seems to be thinking of Oliver at this point. Nyssa certainly sees Oliver as having usurped her position as rightful heir.
As for Thea, she continues to be the most fascinating character on the show. There is a clever touch this week, in that Thea gets to experience both sides of someone asking someone else to kill them. First, the cliff-hanger from last week, in which Thea released Nyssa, handed her a sword and told her to kill her, because she deserved it for killing Sara. (Nyssa, to her credit, didn’t react as vengefully as you might have expected.) And secondly, a bloodied and bruised Malcolm asks Thea to kill him as he lays on her sofa for the entire episode, which goes to show you just how dodgy their relationship is right now. Happily, though, this also leads to the episode’s best line: “I’m off to buy my evil dad some soup.”
Willa Holland is terrific at conveying both the anger and the “10 different types of pain” that Thea is currently going through and one can only be grateful, once again, to the showrunners for finally giving her the opportunity to play something interesting. It’s also worth noting that, so far, they have resisted the option to have Thea channel all her new-found fighting skills into costumed superheroics alongside the rest of Team Arrow, although maybe that will change now she’s finally back with Roy.
Finally, we can’t be the only Arrow fan who is more than a little disappointed that after Ray FLYING OFF IN THE A.T.O.M SUIT last week, there is absolutely no follow-up to that in this week’s episode. Get on with it, Ray.
Oh, right. The flashbacks. This week’s visit to Flashback City involved Oliver protecting Maseo and Tatsu’s kid, Akio, from various gunmen. And then they ran into Shado, who is apparently back from the dead for some reason. Yeah, I don’t know where they’re going with that either, but that was the Flashback City cliff-hanger this week. Lookalike? Shape-shifter? Early beneficiary of the Lazarus Pit? Only time will tell.
All in all, The Offer is a solid episode that gives Oliver a compelling moral quandary, delivers heavily on the emotional angst (at least for Laurel, Thea and Quentin), throws in some decent fight sequences, gives Roy some lines and introduces a creepy-looking villain, as well as positioning the players promisingly for the home stretch of Season 3.
Season 1, 2 and 3 of Arrow are available on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, for free next day UK delivery on Amazon items, as part of a £79 annual Prime membership.
Where can I watch Arrow Season 3 online in the UK?
Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.