Much like it did with Season 2, Arrow has really started to step things up in the second half of Season 3, and that’s the case again here with Nanda Parbat.
As the episode opens, we’re reacquainted with Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) as The Demon’s Head is having a good old fashioned soak (Lazarus Pit, anyone?). Word gets back to him from daughter Nyssa (Katrina Law) that Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is still alive after his apparent demise at the blade of Ra’s. Of course, Ra’s already knows this, but this still doesn’t stop Ollie making the al Ghul’s shit list.
Elsewhere, Oliver and Thea (Willa Holland) are partaking in training with the dastardly Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), although Malcolm does make a partially valid point about taking an arrow in to a sword fight in a reference to the battle with Ra’s that is on the horizon. And despite being engulfed in this training, this episode also sees Thea still struggling to deal with the fact that she is now aware that it was she who killed Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). Troubled by this, she ends up having a heart-to-heart with Roy (Colton Haynes), who relates it to how he found out that he killed a cop whilst under the influence of mirakuru. We guess it could be worse, Roy – it’s not like you’ve been a junkie and then had an arm lopped off, right?
Flipping over to the flashback moments of Nanda Parbat, we find Oliver now dealing with General Shrieve (Marc Singer) rather than Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), and it seems that Shrieve is a more relaxed presence than the ever-uptight Wall. As such, Shrieve grants Ollie his freedom… ish. For things take a turn for the worse when some goons turn up and begin firing at the Yamashiros and Oliver just as they look to be regaining their freedom. You had the feeling that this was too good to be true, and that certainly proved to be the case. Leaving this element of the episode, it looks like Ollie now finds himself in temporary custody of the Yamashiros' son.
This episode also sees us catch up with Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) after a brief absence. Turns out he’s been locked away in his billionaire bachelor pad working on the whole A.T.O.M. project. When Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) turns up to demand that Ray has a shower, some food and some sleep, she accidentally ends up hopping into bed with the dashing Mr. Palmer. But what about Olicity, the masses said? Love triangle: fully engaged, we say.
On the topic of secrets, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is trying to win daddy Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) back after revealing to him that his youngest daughter has actually been dead for a while now. In terms of shitty daughter stuff, it doesn’t get much worse. And whilst Laurel actually kept this from her father for a fair while, it turns out that Thea Queen is far shitter when it comes to keeping cats in bags, for she rather quickly reveals to Laurel that, yep, it was indeed her who fired the fateful arrows into the chest of Sara Lance. Whilst she’s understanding towards Thea’s predicament, Laurel is less than impressed with Oliver and so calls his bluff on the matter by getting him to do the whole ‘yeah, we’ll find Sara’s killer soon, honest’ thing. And to put Oliver further in the doghouse with those around him, he again does his best to rationalise using Malcolm Merlyn in order to go up against Ra’s al Ghul, although this only further sets off Laurel as she is tipped off on Malcolm’s whereabouts and so looks to seek vengeance on The Magician. In a rather brilliant moment, Merlyn absolutely schools the Black Canary… although it has to be said, why would Laurel make the effort to don the Canary outfit to battle Merlyn when they are both fully aware of who is under the mask? Luckily for Laurel, the League of Assassins arrive to cart Merlyn off.
Much like in previous episodes, the arrival of Nyssa al Ghul in Starling City leads itself to some further badass moments, including an impressive rooftop kidnapping of Merlyn and battle with The Arrow. Merlyn is taken away by the League of Assassins and Sara Lance will be avenged, but unfortunately for Laurel it will not be by her. During all of this, Nyssa is captured and caged up in the Arrowcave in the hope of getting the location of Nanda Parbat out of her. Turns out she’s more than happy to give this information away for it will lead to the demise of Oliver Queen. Although at this point, it’s only really Oliver who is the one keeping a level head on things and not letting his emotions get the better of him, but then that is generally always the case with Mr. Queen.
What follows is an assault mission on Nanda Parbat from Oliver, accompanied by Diggle (David Ramsey). It’s always great to see Ra’s' home turf, and it was even cooler to see The Arrow pop out an awesome compressed bow to aide his mission. In his own mind, Oliver needs to save Merlyn from certain death at the hands of Ra’s for Thea will only regret this down the line, much like how he has regret and guilt over the death of his parents. And Merlyn is ever Merlyn, trying to snake out of his fate and save his behind. Luckily, though, Ra’s is ever Ra’s and takes no bullshit, setting his men the task of torturing Malcolm. With Oliver and Digg would winding up captured, what better moment for an intimate, deep and highly personal honour to be bestowed upon someone? Yep, Diggle does what we had all been expecting for a while now and uses the opportunity to ask Oliver to be his best man. As the brotherhood between the two is only further explored here, it can’t help but give off the feeling that Diggle may not make it past the end of Season 3.
At this point in the episode, back in Starling City there’s a bonding session of sorts going on between Laurel and Nyssa, united in their grief over Sara. Then there’s Thea Queen offering herself to Nyssa to do with as she sees fit in order to get some semblance of vengeance for the death of her beloved. Whilst this is going on, Oliver has a brilliant verbal exchange with Ra’s over in Nanda Parbat. At the mercy of Ra’s, Oliver pleads with The Demon’s Head to do what he needs to with him but to let Diggle go free. This gives the two the chance to look at Oliver’s return from the grave, with Ra’s impressed with Queen’s will and determination. And for Oliver, there’s a sense of pride at having not died. After all, this is Ra’s al Ghul. Nobody survives a battle with Ra’s. So impressed is Ra’s that he offers Oliver Queen a huge opportunity: he wants him to take over from him and become Ra’s al Ghul. If all of this wasn’t engaging enough, there’s also the rise of The Atom, too, who jets off into the skies above Starling to protect the city below.
Nanda Parbat is certainly a crammed episode of Arrow, and one that progresses the show on various fronts. Ray Palmer is now The Atom and has bedded Felicity, Laurel and Nyssa now both know that Thea killed Sara, and so impressed is Ra’s al Ghul with Oliver Queen that he wants him to take over as the ruler of the League of Assassins. What we’ve now got to look forward to is the implications of these happenings on the rest of Season 3 and beyond.
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