Last week, Oliver was presented with the offer to becomeÂ Ra’s al Ghul’s successor and never in a million years did I think he would even consider it. Good-doer Oliver to become the head of the League of Assassins?! No way. But I should’ve known better. This whole season, we’ve been discussing Oliver’s identity crisis. Is he Oliver Queen? Is he The Arrow? Can he be both? Clearly each requires sacrifice and if we as an audience can see it, it came as no surprise that Super Demon Ra’s al Ghul couldÂ see it too.Â And so like any good job recruiter, he used Oliver’s weaknessÂ to his advantage.
After offering to pass the torch to Oliver, Ra’s not only wooed him with healing water from a magic pond and the promise of endless power, he also used scare tactics to warn him of what would happen if he were to pursue life as The Arrow.
Ra’s: Surely men have branded you a murderer, a torturer. See I would never shame you with such bluntness. Because I see it in your eyes. Struggle you have with your dual identity. Oliver Queen and The Arrow. Neither giving you what you crave.
Oliver: But beingÂ Ra’s al Ghul will?
Ra’s: Oliver Queen is a man destined to be alone. He loves a woman he knows he cannot have.
Oliver: You don’t know me.
Ra’s: But I know The Arrow. As him, youÂ will never be anything more than a vigilante for those who’s lives you save at the risk of your own. The city will turn on you. And your closest allies within the police department will call you a criminal. You will be scorned. And hunted. And then killed. Dying as you begun your crusade, alone.
Honestly, this feels very Batman to me, which is totally appropriate since Ra’s al Ghul also trained Bruce Wayne. Clearly this is his go-to move when trying to intimidate his morally-inclinedÂ students. And for a while, it seemed to be working. Even I was convinced that he might be a fortune-teller, either that or heÂ was really lucky andÂ the universe was on his side. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in The Arrow and all that he does, but I’ve seen enough superhero stories to know that it doesn’t always work in their favor in the long run. Even superheroes hit a hurdle every once in a while.
Nevertheless, Ra’s seemed to be touting this more as definitive endgame than a momentary lapse. And I really can’t blame Oliver for starting to doubt himself as the prophecy appeared to be coming true. The first blow came when he returned and dove right back in crime fighting — what he does best — only to be told off by Captain Lance and basically left out to dry.
Lance: When were you going to tell me? Or were you going to tell me? You really going to stand there still pretending like you didn’t know my daughter was dead?
Oliver: Captain Lance.
Lance: My whole career, my whole life, even when I knew nothing, I at least knew right from wrong. And I knew vigilantism was wrong. The day we take the law in to our own hands is the day we become outlaws. And that idea, that idea was precious to me. Almost as precious as my own daughter. I forgot all that the day I flew in with you, you know why? Cause I trusted you. But I see the man under the hood now. He lies. And he keeps secrets. Also he doesn’t have to carry around the weight of him decisions. But I’m done with him.
Ouch. I mean, I don’t think Lance is wrong here, but I also don’t think Oliver deserved this. It wasn’t exactly his place to tell Detective Lance about Sara (but that’s mostly because I think Laurel should’ve done it first). I get that Lance is all about the law and justice and that he’s hurt and needs to directÂ it at a target, but in doing this, he is also blind to all the good that The Arrow has done. And even more, he’s making Oliver blind to it as well. Captain Lance is a man that Oliver respects and admires so to hear this when he’s already doubting must’ve been a tough blow.
And then to see Felicity with Ray obviously didn’t help matters. Police force turning against him? Check. The likelihood that he’ll be alone? Check. Seems like Ra’s is two for two so far so it’s not all that surprising that Oliver would begin to question himself, even when DiggleÂ tries to convince him otherwise.
Diggle: You want to tell me what’s going on now?
Oliver: Ra’s predicted this. He said that the city would turn against me and I would die alone. We come back and the first thing that happens is Lance is shutting me out and I see Felicity with Palmer. It’s like he looked in to my future.
Diggle: It sounds to me like Ra’s is playing with your head. Question is, why are you letting him?
Oliver: He wants me to take his place in the League of Assassins. It’s why he let us go. As a sign of good faith.
Diggle: Is there even a world where he can imagine you saying yes.
Oliver; He said I could do more as the new Ra’s than I could ever do as Oliver Queen or the The Arrow. That I would have unlimited resources. That I could make a difference, not just a dent.
Diggle: You’re not really considering this, just because Captain Lance is angry and Felicity is momentarily unavailable.
Oliver; It’s more than that. I just. John, tell me honestly, what have we accomplished?
Oliver: All the people we put away. John, they got out. The city is no better off. The Arrow is not making a difference. If I just can’t be me and The Arrow isn’t enough, maybe I should be Ra’s al Ghul.
Again, this seems like a drastic measure, but when all the cards fall into place, it’s hard to ignore them. Obviously, I think Team Arrow has accomplished more than Oliver is able to acknowledge right now, but with the promise of having unlimited power and The League Of Assassins (who, as we learned, don’t necessarily have to be assassins…their leader’s mission is their mission, after all) at his disposal, it’s hard not to question whether he can accomplish more. The man power, the resources, and the healing pond alone seem like things that could be usedÂ to hisÂ advantage and ultimately allow himÂ to achieve more. But as the ever wise Felicity points out, why you’re doing something is just as, if not more, important than what you’re doing.
Felicity: John might have told me about your employment offer from Evil Incorporated. He also might have told me that you may be considering it, which is by the way, insane. They’re the League of Assassins, that’s not the name of a nice group.
Oliver: I’ve been an assassin. There is more than one path to justice.
Felicity: There are a lot of different ways I can answerÂ that, all varying on the theme of ‘you’re crazy’. But I’m going to go with, what makes you think you’re not already on the right path?
Oliver; Okay, it’s been over two years, you tell me, what have I really accomplished? My mother is dead, Tommy, Sara. Crime is not down and my sister is in ten different kinds of pain right now.
Felicity: So you leave? Then what? All the people you’ve lost, all the sacrifices you’ve made, it’d have been for nothing.
Oliver: I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore.
Felicity: I can’t answer that for you. Yes, Captain Lance is shutting you out, but I don’t believe you’re The Arrow so people can say ‘thank you’. And yes, you and I are not together, but that was your choice. When we thought you were dead, each one of us had to figure out why we were doing all of this. Seems like it’s your turn.
Again, I feel bad for Oliver, but Felicity makes some darn good points. To walk away and give up on all the good isn’t going to make the bad and the evil disappear. And if he does that, all the death and sacrifice will have been for nothing. Fighting for and achieving the good is the only way to make the loss count for something. And regardless of how he’s feeling now, he is on the path to accomplishing that. In this episode alone, he took down a muted cop-killer and his crew, which saved who knows how manyÂ lives and clearly counts forÂ something. Luckily when Felicity talks, OliverÂ listens. Maybe not right away and maybe not in the way that is intended, but it sinks in somewhere in his subconscious and usually comes back around. Just as it did this time. After defeating Murmur and telling Lance that he doesn’t do this for the “thank yous,” Oliver returns toÂ Felicity with an answer.
Felicity: Nice work.
Oliver: Not without a few casualties but Amar is in custody.
Felicity: So that’s a no on the whole victory dance thing?
Oliver: You know me, I don’t dance. But I do occasionally say thank you.
Felicity: You’re welcome.
Oliver: And you were right.
Felicity: A thank you and a you were right. I should really be recording this.
Oliver: I started all of this because of my father. To right his wrongs. But it became something more. But I never stopped to think about it or about why until you asked me to.
Felicity: Well, what was the answer?
Oliver: Tonight at the precinct, the only thing that I could think about was those police officers and how their families were counting on me and Roy and Diggle to get them home safe. That’s why I’m doing this.
Felicity: So that means a pass at becoming the most handsome Demon’s Head ever?
Oliver: It means I’m not ready to give up on what we’re doing here.
I loved this scene. It was cute and flirty but also heartfelt and sincere. And Oliver smiled! That’s a rareÂ sighting lately. Nevertheless, Oliver also finally recognized his “why.” I mean, I feel like it was pretty obvious to us, saving people is the reason superheroes do what they do, right?! But if Oliver needed to shake through some person cobwebsÂ to get there, I get it. We’re all human and sometimes personal stuff clutters our vision. That being said, Oliver is staying in Starling City (as we knew he would) and that’s what matters. Or is it?
We know this show well enough to know that’s not the end of this story. Malcolm Merlyn warned him; Diggle warned him; Nyssa warned him. Ra’s doesn’t give things up freely and he doesn’t ask, he tells. Clearly in his moment of renewed confidence, Oliver chose to ignore this and believe that a simple “no thanks” would suffice. Maseo attempted to set him straight, but even his proclamation seems like it won’t do justice to what’s to come.
Maseo:Â You misunderstand, it does mean the tale is yet to unfold, it means Ra’s has already written it, the choice has already been made.
So what happens when the future doesn’t turn out as you predicted? You make it happen. Or at least you do if you’re Ra’s al Ghul. A quick flash at the end made it clear that Ra’s is in town and more than ready to do whatever is necessary to turnÂ his taleÂ in to reality.
Be sure to catch next week’s Arrow at 8/7c on The CW.
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