A trip to Nanda Parbat is not exactly something you can just book.
What They Say:
Nanda Parbat – Ra’s al Ghul captures Malcolm and takes him to Nanda Parbat; Ray obsesses over finishing his Atom suit, but Felicity tries to get him out of the lab to prevent him from going down the wrong path.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Arrow continually juggles a lot of things in a big and brash way a lot of the time as it runs with the drama but wraps it all up in some solid action and plots to keep it all moving. And that’s just it; Arrow is always moving. You have to fear the show when it slows down because that’s when it does some of the really harsh things. Which is what happened the last time around as Thea learned the truth about what happened with Sara and her involvement in it in addition to what Malcolm did. The time on the island with Oliver and Thea was a real treat to watch and it worked really well with a solid flashback storyline that complicates the past in a big way but hit some of those important and pivotal moments, such as when Oliver finally got his hands on the list. Add in a little fun with Slade and his sharp dialogue that eats at Oliver and there was a whole lot to like, even as convoluted as it all gets.
The cold open for this is one that brings us back to our big bad of the season with Ra’s al Ghul enjoying a leisurely bath only to have Nyssa arrive to inform him that Oliver is still alive. She’s naturally upset about this as she wants justice, but he knew of what was happening and has been watching all of i for his own reasons. Since he knows that Oliver didn’t kill Sara, there’s no real sense of justice to be meted out. Nyssa does understand that there is some to be had though because of the challenge that Oliver made and lost but managed to survive in the end. That’s a blemish, at least from her point of view, but you know Ra’s has to have a longer view of things and likely in some ways sees Oliver as a potential future challenge that he’s nurturing in hope of a better experience down the line.
While we get plenty of training time going on for Oliver, Thea and Malcolm, we finally get some time back with Ray, who has basically gone missing for a week or so as he’s focusing on trying to finish the Atom suit that he’s building. He’s had a growing intensity for awhile now which was amplified by what happened with Brick, making it all the more real that he wants to be a force for good in a real world and concrete kind of way. Felicity’s trying to talk him down a bit since she can see just how bad things can go if he keeps going this way, but there’s only so much she can do as well. This is a decent little soap opera-like arc here as it goes on as she eventually circles back to try and get him back to health, but half naked Ray gets her going and it doesn’t take long until they’re both making mistakes with each other again. Especially since sex with Felicity gets him inspired a bit later on in regards to his suit problem, which is amusing to watch. Seeing the suit come together here is pretty nice as it’s definitely something new for the series , something that you’d think would fit in more with the Flash, but what it pushes is the self made approach that jives more with Arrow.
Since Oliver finally filled Thea in on the Sara problem, we had the caveat that she couldn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want there to be any issues with her and Laurel. While they could have dragged this out for the rest of the season, Thea finds it impossible to really function with the secret and fills Laurel in, which again is a welcome story point progression instead of being dragged out. That complicates things between Thea and Oliver, though Thea and Laurel handle it well which is nice to see, but it also sets Laurel to knowing who Sara’s killer is. And that has her wanting to take down Malcolm, something that’s far outside of her ability. There’s a lot of problems people keep bringing up to Oliver about working with Malcolm, and you know they need to ditch Malcolm and just work together, but that’s not happening quite yet. What almost helps it is that Laurel does go after him, gets her ass handed to her, and she gets tempted to shoot him in cold blood. I doubt she’d actually do it in the end, but she gets saved from the decision due to the arrival of Nyssa and the League as they whisk him away for their justice.
While the League gets Malcolm, things don’t go too smoothly as Nyssa ends up getting captured by Oliver after a pretty fun helipad fight. Interestingly, Oliver is all set to torture her in order to find out where Nanda Parbat is in order to go after Malcolm, but Nyssa’s all too happy to tell him where it is since she knows he’ll not survive the experience. This leads to some interesting dialogue between the group in general about what to do, since there are so many conflicting opinions, but Oliver is just focused on doing all of this in order to save Thea from herself since she gave him over to them. And he doesn’t want her to regret her actions down the line, since he’s living with the death of both of his parents. What’s also welcome with the way all this plays out is that we get Diggle back in the saddle for a bit as well as he’s not intent on going through what happened before when Oliver went after Ra’s. That allows for some nice time with Lyta about their child, but also the basic admission that these are things he needs to do. Oliver and Diggle have been in all of this since the “start” when you get down to it, so putting them together again in this way is definitely a big positive.
Oliver and Diggle making their way through the League’s place is definitely a lot of fun to watch as the two of them definitely have an ease in how they operate together and just having Diggle all suited up for action is really enjoyable. Having them work through a number of League members only adds to it. Unfortunately, it’s all a trap in the end and when they finally do track down Malcolm, who is being lovingly tortured in an old school way, it springs with them inside it with Malcolm now. Where this segues to is definitely welcome though as now that Oliver and Diggle are captured, Oliver finally admits that he’s not doing all of this just for Thea. He’s doing it because of what happened when he faced Ra’s, that he was beaten and in such a rough way, and that he wants to overcome it. That’s pure Oliver when you get down to it as we’ve seen it over and over since he got a handle on life on the island.
While Arrow riffs off of Batman Begins at the end here, the episode as a whole is one that works a lot of setup for things to come as we move further into the second half of the season. There’s a lot of convoluted and drawn out, for Arrow, movements in getting Oliver to Nanda Parbat and the reveals that happen there and it’s a bit overdrawn in a lot of ways because it’s just a lot of back and forth in various configurations of the group. They’re all legitimate and things are made more complicated by Thea’s reveals, which has Roy getting a little character time commiserating with his own killing issues, but it’s a lot of things going o that feels like it covers familiar ground over and over. There’s breaks with what’s going on with Ray, which the jury is still out on, and a light touch with the flashback sequence that has Waller trying to kill Oliver after Shrieve sets him free, but that’s mostly just a little nudging of things along as opposed to critical story material. It’s a solid enough episode overall with enough changes to it and some decent action, but I really wanted more impact out of it all.