Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Arrow S03 E15: "Nanda Parbat"

Our opening this week, although brief, clears up a bit of a problem I've had with the character of R'as Al Ghul on "Arrow." The idea that he did not approve of the relationship between his daughter Nyssa and Sara, the first Canary, has always had a bit of an unspoken and icky anti-gay sentiment to it. Although a villain, it was always in my mind that R'as would be a bit more open minded, being immortal and all.

What is made clear in this short exchange between R'as and Nyssa is that yes, he did disapprove, but because he knew Sara would leave Nyssa (and him, and the League of Assassins) and hurt her. Also made clear is that R'as knows Oliver is alive, and that he did not kill Sara. Still, he must be dealt with. I also have to say that this opening is the first time that Matt Nable has made me believe he's R'as. He's good, but this is the first time he's struck me as that good.

The Arrowcave and the club have been fortified by Dig with A.R.G.U.S. tech, and given everyone inside a bit of time to catch up and get to know each other better for good or ill. Whether it's trading quips, training for battle, revealing even more secrets, or just the hostile environment caused by Malcolm's presence, it's just not pretty. I did love Malcolm's comment about Oliver bring a bow and arrow to a sword fight.

The thrust of the first half of the episode focuses on the mad obsession of Oliver's that Malcom train him to defeat R'as. Why is he so adamantly on Malcolm's side? As Dig says, there must be something to it, but Oliver is such a liar we'll never know it, until it's too late. When it does come up - while it's irrational male ego more than anything else - it makes more sense than 'trying to save Thea's soul.'

Laurel confronting Merlyn, followed by the assassins taking Merlyn, and Arrow fighting Nyssa are three excellent fight scenes in quick succession. For all the talking in the episode, this more than made up for it in the action column. I have to say however they are making much too fine a point on how good a fighter Malcolm is and how bad Laurel is. It's just not consistent.

Meanwhile Felicity has been distracted babysitting Ray Palmer. This A.T.O.M. suit sure is taking a long time to put together. Before his test flight I was beginning to wonder if we'll even see the Atom before he shows up on "The Flash" in "All-Star Team-Up." At least Felicity finally gets a real kiss from a bare chested man, even if it's not the bare chested man she really wants. I'm also starting to wonder what this Atom's powers are - he's more Iron Man or X-O than any version of the Atom. What I'm wondering now however is what the proposed spin-off pilot is about with the actors who've portrayed the Atom, Black Canary, Captain Cold, and Prof. Martin Stein…

What happens in "Arrow" this episode is that Malcolm is captured by R'as Al Ghul's forces, and Oliver and Diggle follow him back to Nanda Parbat. They're easily captured of course, but just when we think R'as will kill them, he instead makes an offer to Oliver. He asks him to become the next R'as Al Ghul. Now, despite various references to Bludhaven, it's been assumed that the Arrowverse is Batless. There are far too many bits from the Bat-family that have ended up here without a mention of the Batman for there actually to be a Batman. Of course that could be because of legal complications, but it still seems a stretch for R'as to groom Oliver just as he tried to with Batman. But then again, they did reconstruct the swordfight from Batman #244, so why not co-op the rest of the Batman/Demon story?

One last fun bit. William Shatner was live-Tweeting this episode the night it aired. Fun stuff, you can check out his feed here. Special thanks to super cool friend and fellow Biff Bam Pop! writer Leiki Vestimets for hipping me to it. You can check out the latest On… column at the site where she talks about "Saturday Night Live" here. And speaking of "Star Trek" and Biff Bam Pop!, please read our memorial of the late Leonard Nimoy here.

Back to the Arrowverse, I have more questions. Why does Oliver need Nyssa to tell him where Nanda Parbat is? Wasn't he there before? Isn't that where he faced R'as the first time? And after all the men that Oliver and Dig probably killed, how can R'as let them live? How can they live with themselves? I thought Oliver swore off killing.

Arrow returns March 18th, see you then...

And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow discussion group on Facebook.

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