Arrow, S3 Ep09 – The Climb

In this week’s mid-season finale of Arrow, the mystery of who killed Sara Lance is finally revealed, and it’s not who I thought it would be. What is even more surprising is how this outcome ties in to the overall story, as well as a sinister and somewhat masterful plot by Malcolm Merlyn, which leads Ollie to come face to face with Ra’s al Ghul.


So that’s why it’s called “The Climb”

The meat of this episode focuses on Ollie and what he’s willing to do to protect the lives of his loved ones. It is eventually revealed to Ollie that Thea has been maintaining a relationship with her evil father, Malcolm Merlyn. It’s always interesting to see the tables turn on Ollie. Since season one he continues to lie to his loved ones about his life and it often leads to negative outcomes. This time Thea is caught in the lie, and Ollie feels the right sense of frustration and confusion. What makes the situation even worse for him is the fact that Queen DNA was found during the investigation of Sara’s murder, leading Felicity and Diggle to suspect Thea.

That Queen DNA turns out to play a major factor in a sinister plan by Merlyn, which I found surprising and pretty well thought out on his part. We find out Thea did kill Sara while being mind controlled by her father. His goal was to bring this evidence to Ra’s al Ghul unless Ollie admits to the murder himself, leading Ollie to fight to the death in a duel with Ra’s. If Ollie were to kill Ra’s then Merlyn’s blood debt would disappear. With no other options and little time left, since Ra’s has threatened destroy Starling City unless Sara’s killer be brought to him, Ollie makes the decision to take the blame for Sara’s murder.

Even though Ollie had practically no choice, his decision was commendable. Not knowing the outcome of his fight with Ra’s he’s willing to take the blame for Sara’s death to protect his sister whom he loves, as well as the citizens of Starling City. That’s definitely a hero if I’ve ever seen one.

The final battle between Ra’s and Ollie is intense and well choreographed. I found it a bit surprising that Ollie was required to climb a cliff side before facing Ra’s, though. I would think Ra’s would want to fight The Arrow in his prime, but Ra’s did enter the fight weaponless. Maybe that evened things out a bit.

Clearly, as determined by the outcome of their battle, Ollie was severely outmatched. Ra’s stabs Ollie through the gut and pushes him off the top of a mountain. If the show wasn’t called Arrow, I’d have assumed Ollie is dead, but I’m sure Ollie will be back on his feet when the show returns in January. This would be an ideal time to introduce Lazarus Pits into The CW’s DC universe.

If you’re unfamiliar with DC Comics, the Lazarus Pits are these pits Ra’s uses to heal himself and remain immortal. Ra’s al Ghul on Arrow even mentions the last time someone challenged him to trial by combat was 67 years ago. I don’t think any amount of diet and exercise can make a man look that young well into his 80s. A Lazarus Pit would do the trick.


Matt Nable returns as Ra’s al Ghul

Other than the main arc, “The Climb” also gave us a glimpse into the past and eventual plans of Ray Palmer. We already know Palmer has what he calls an A.T.O.M. Exosuit. Now we find out he’s willing to use this Exosuit to save Starling City. Sadly, like so many characters on Arrow already, Palmer is motivated heavily by the death of his fiancé who died during Slade Wilson’s attacks on the city last season. Can anybody just be a hero without a loved one dying beforehand? Regardless of this cliché trope, I can’t wait to see Palmer kick some butt as The Atom, with Felicity helping him in the process.

The flashback scenes in “The Climb” weren’t too compelling. For the most part they reiterated how Ollie is finding it hard to torture people for information in Hong Kong, and provided more information on the drug Merlyn used on Thea. The flashbacks also hint that something tragic happened to Ollie’s handler, Maseo Yamashiro (Karl Yune), that leads to him eventually becoming a member of The League of Assassins. We won’t find out until next year, and even Ollie remains vague about the details, but it seems Maseo’s wife, Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) might be dead in the present day. I can’t stress how much I hope this is not the case. For one, this would just be another moment where a woman was killed off just to motivate a male character (e.g., Shado). Secondly, this is Tatsu Yamashiro we’re talking about. Anyone familiar with her character in the comics knows we need and deserve to see this character evolve into something greater.

Overall, “The Climb” was a very satisfying and shocking mid-season finale. Regardless of the complaints I have as to where I think the show is headed, I still enjoyed it very much. The final scene was a surprise and makes me glad we only have to wait until January to see what becomes of Ollie. The performances in “The Climb” were commendable throughout, and Matt Nable has a strong, commanding presence as Ra’s al Ghul. Also, I can’t end this review without mentioning Laurel. With her mother now in the loop on what happened to Sara and accepting her mother’s wish to get revenge on Sara’s killer, I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of Laurel when Arrow returns.

Arrow returns Wednesday, January 21 with the episode “Left Behind”. Check out a brief promo below and feel free to let us know what you thought about “The Climb” in the comments.

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