Arrow: The Climb

Was anyone else hearing Miley Cyrus during this episode or was that just me?

So, one of the founding principles of reality suspension is that something *could* happen. Since Arrow revolves very specifically around Oliver Queen, it’s highly unlikely that he won’t survive every time he’s placed in peril. But it brings up a point that Barry made in the crossover — Barry has been genetically modified with a superpower, while at the end of the day, Oliver is still just a man. You wouldn’t really know that from the way they fling him from the rafters (and off cliffs). They’re certainly making the case that there’s an “other” ness to him because of his sheer will and ability to survive.

We kick off the episode with Oliver hiking free-handed up a frozen mountainside and then flip back 48 hours. After the Arrow hands off the latest criminal to Quentin, who has a throwaway line to him hat he’s the closest thing he has to a partner (which I think will be relevant next year), Nyssa and some of her LOA goons kidnap him with a warning that he’s taking too long to find Sara’s killer. They tell him he has 48 hours to wrap it up before they start decimating the population of Starling City. Oliver’s pretty adamant that nobody’s going down on his watch, but he’s also blindsided when Nyssa’s right hand man is revealed to be Maseo.

Oliver heads back to the lair and relays the timeline and everybody jumps into hypergear. Felicity calls Caitlin about the DNA testing S.T.A.R. Labs is doing on the arrows (with a little wish that she have a happy holiday) and they’re flummoxed when the markers implicate Oliver as Sara’s killer. It doesn’t take long for the penny to drop that the markers belong to someone in the same bloodline — Thea.

Oliver desperately tries to prove that cannot be. Separately Thea is rocked by the news from Laurel that Sara is dead when they run into each other at the cemetery (and the only reason for Laurel to tell her is for us to see the news shocks her, because in the context of things she really didn’t need to know that). Then Laurel caves and also tells her mom, who demands that Laurel make whomever is responsible suffer when she finds them. But Quentin IS STILL NOT TOLD. Why, y’all?

Surveillance footage of a private hangar shows that Malcolm and Thea came back into Starling City the night before Sara was killed. Oliver goes to ask Thea about it and she denies being in town. Diggle and Felicity convince him to go back and ask again as the Arrow, so he does. After a momentary damsel in distress fakeout, she nearly hands him his ass and then bails off the balcony, which catches him off guard. Back at Verdant, Malcolm comes to see him (as Oliver) and tells him the terrible truth — he mindfrakked Thea into killing Sara so that Oliver would kill Ra’s al Ghul for him. HOLY CRAP. I really, really want Thea to find this out and kill Malcolm.

In flashback land, we see a previous use of the mindfrakking herb when a lab tech hands off a biovirus to China White and doesn’t remember it.

After Oliver hears the truth — and sees the video — he goes to see Ra’s (and hilariously refuses to Kneel Before Zod) and asks for a trial by combat. Ra’s agrees and gives him 12 hours to wrap his affairs. The catch — in that 12 hours he also has to wing across the world and climb up a mountain (riiiighhht).

He goes back to the lair and has some sweet goodbyes and hugs with the boys and then Felicity comes in and tells him to kill Ra’s, to turn back on that thing he turned off. Oliver tells her very simply and earnestly that he only knows two things for sure — he will protect his family at all costs, and he loves her.

Then he finishes the climb — which has been interspersed throughout the episode along with flashbacks that show China White probably killed Maseo’s wife and sent him on his path to LOA. Maseo tells him the rules of engagement and is all “I’d rather you not die,” while Nyssa essentially tells Oliver to say hi to Sara since he’ll see her first.

Then he and Ra’s throw down — after they warn each other they’re about to die, and strip of their shirts. If memory serves, Oliver’s had some scars added, or the makeup is just really effective when you’re standing on top of a mountain in the snow. Ra’s fights it one-handed like a duel, sans weapons, until he disarms Oliver and runs him through (which I NEVER needed to see on my TV) before saying some weird variation on a prayer over him and tipping him backward off the cliff. The End.

I was reminded of all those “OMG, they killed Mulder” cliffhangers from The X-Files years. I never bought into them but it was fun to get caught up. And I’m wondering when we come back (in six weeks) how much time will be spent on the assumption that Oliver is dead vs. actively looking for him. In the very least, please let us NOT have an amnesia arc AND A time jump, because that’s SO 2013.

Poor Felicity — she has it out with Palmer, who tells her that during The Undertaking 2: Electric Boogaloo, his fiancé was killed (BTW he seems remarkably chipper and well-balanced vs. say, the Huntress) and that he never expected to feel romantically for, or kiss, anyone else, so it all caught him off guard. He also shows her the A.T.O.M. suit and she realizes she’s just going to be that girl.

When Oliver tells her goodbye because he’s going to die (cough), I’ll admit that it was a super sweet moment, but I’m still not feeling it if we’re not actually going to GO SOMEWHERE with it. Same with all of the goodbye-ing — we know he’s coming back, so it was just not really fraught with the tension I think they wanted us to feel (or I’m just a jaded fan who’s seen this way too many times on TV).

I’ll put my stake in the ground now — I vote that in 2015, Oliver lives, knows who he is, comes back home, and he and Felicity just go for it as a couple, because death’s ALWAYS going to be around the corner, and you have to live your life. I also really want somebody to finally talk to Quentin and him not fall into a bottle.

Here’s a sneak peek for the winter return on January 21st, which shows us nothing. Happy holidays!


Video and Photos Courtesy of The CW

3 thoughts on “Arrow: The Climb

  1. I love that you called the big mirkakuru soldier thing the ‘undertaking 2: the electric boogaloo’! I laughed out loud at that part.

    And I so agree with you. No amnesia arc, please Arrow!!!

    Thea so needs to learn that Malcom used her too. I would enjoy that.

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