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Arrow Reveals: Clues for the Future? 

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

Happy Birthday, Tommy Merlyn! I think it’s safe to say that Tommy got one heck of a birthday surprise this year. There was no ribbons, no wrapping paper and no card, but this sure beat anything you could buy at the Sharper Image. When Oliver pulled back his hood and revealed to Tommy that he was the vigilante, I actually felt my eyes pop out of their sockets.

Sure, I expected people to find out Oliver’s secret one by one, but for some reason, I never anticipated that one of these early discoveries would come via Tommy. I have long suspected that this show would go the route of Spider-Man, turning Tommy in to Arrow’s foe, much like Harry Osborn stepped in to his father’s role as Green Goblin and became an adversary to Spider-Man.

And truth be told, I’m not quite ready to give up on this theory given Tommy’s rediscovered love and loyalty to his father (which came courtesy of Oliver’s prodding that “at the end of the day, your dad is your dad”). On top of that, the look on Tommy’s face when Oliver admitted that he never planned to reveal the truth seemed to indicate an inevitable change in their friendship.

That being said, I will say that I’m going to miss the old Oliver/ Tommy friendship. Their honest talk at the Chinese restaurant showed their deep connection and bond, while their agreement over Laurel’s horrible cooking provided levity and laughs that can only come from a lifelong friendship. As Oliver pulled back his hood and told Tommy he should trust him because “he always has”, I felt that trust instantly dissolve.  However, I think the fact that Tommy will potentially become a foe already KNOWING that Oliver is the vigilante makes it all the more interesting.

But that was not our only reveal this episode. After learning that Malcolm left Tommy for two years after his mother died (side note: has anyone else noticed how many broken families reside in Starling City? I’m convinced Tommy’s mother’s death was no “accident”), Malcolm disclosed that those two years were spent in Nanda Parbat where he met a man who “helped {him} understand things, find a purpose for {his} life, make {Starling City} a better city for everyone”.

Photo Credit: Jack Rowand/The CW

A little research reveals that according to comic-book lore, Nanda Parbat is a place of healing and enlightenment where time moves differently and its visitors are often able to retain their youth many decades after their arrival, and yet they can leave Nanda Parbat to find that less time has passed in the outside world. That would certainly explain why Malcolm and Tommy look like they could be brothers! Ironically, this is also where Oliver’s mentor-turned-foe, Yao Fei trained. Coincidence? I doubt it.

While Oliver was clearly not stranded in Nanda Parbat, I have yet to reject the possibility that many of the same people from the island may have been involved in Malcolm’s epiphany and training to become the Dark Archer. Oliver and Merlyn’s experiences and revelations sound far too similar to be coincidence…and although we’re currently viewing one as the “good guy” and the other as the “bad guy”, in their own eyes, their goals (to “save the city”) are ultimately the same. And as a friend pointed out, their methods aren’t all that different either: both use arrows, both wear hoods and both have left an impressive body count in their wake.

Our third reveal was left until the final seconds of the episode. After an unexpected phone call, Laurel’s mother makes her first appearance with the shocking suspicion that Laurel’s sister, Sarah (whom we’ve long assumed died when Ollie’s boat was shipwrecked) may in fact be alive. Abiding by the rule that no one on TV is dead until you’ve seen the body, this is hardly out of the realm of possibility. But it does bring up numerous questions – did Sarah also made it to the island? Did she undergo similar training to Ollie? And where has she been since?

Thinking back on the episode, I realized that an earlier scene may have subtly hinted as to Sarah’s potential fate. During Tommy’s birthday dinner, Laurel reminisced over a photo of Sarah and her pet canary, which happened to be black (if you didn’t notice this at first glance, don’t feel bad, it took me a second viewing to notice as well) and as fans of the comic books will know that Black Canary is another Starling City superhero. It’s long been suspected that Laurel will become the Black Canary, but could this be setting us up for Sarah as the future super-heroine? Or could this be where Laurel draws inspiration for her future alter-ego? With this show, I never say never.

On an insider’s note, this episode was actually written by DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns so the numerous comic book references and details are not by chance. This man is a legend and knows these characters inside and out so I think it’s safe to say that nothing in this episode happened by accident and we’re in for quite a ride.

Arrow returns with new episodes Wednesday, March 20 @ 8/7c on the CW.

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