So this week gave us a big answer to a big question, how will weÂ get Oliver back? We’ll get him back because we never really lost him. Oliver has always been Oliver but thanks to some serious method acting, he’s apparently managed to convince Ra’s that he’s become loyal to the League. I’ll admit, I had a sneaking suspicion this might be the case…it was nagging at the back of my brain last week but Oliver put on such a good performance, part of me was convinced he may have really been brainwashed by the League. But alas, he wasn’t. However,Â now that that’s been answered, I feel like I haveÂ a million more questions. I’m not saying the episode wasn’t clear, just that I’m hoping for a lot more answersÂ next week. So, let’s take a look at what’s plaguing me from this week.
Question #1: Does Oliver really trust Malcolm Merlyn?
By all appearance, he definitely seems to. After all, he’s given MerlynÂ a lot of responsibilities that you wouldn’t necessarily give to someone you don’t trust. But that being said, he also knows Merlyn pretty well and knows that he also has a lot on the line, so he could just be using that to his advantage? I’ve gone back and forthÂ on the relationship between these two. Obviously, they started as sworn enemies, but common goals have brought them together. So has working together really changed Oliver’s opinion ofÂ Merlyn or is he still just using this alliance to his benefit without being blinded to Merlyn’s ability for deception? Merlyn himself even admits the he is a master manipulatorÂ when talking to the rightfully hesitantÂ Team Arrow.
Diggle: What is this about, Malcolm?
Malcolm: Well, this isn’t going to be easy for all of you to believe.
Felicity: Because you’re a sociopath and a liar.
Malcolm: Be that as it may, this will be much quicker for all of us, if we can fast forward through the cynicism and reach the conclusion that I am telling you the truth.
Diggle: About what?
Malcolm: Oliver. He allegiance with the league is a charade.
Felicity: Why would you even play with our emotions like that?
Malcolm: This plan was born the moment he realized he had to capitulate with Ra’s to save Thea.
Diggle: And instead of sharing with us, he trusted you?
Laurel: The man who had my sister murdered.
Malcolm: Well, I am better practiced in the art of deception and no offense, none of you are particularly good actors.
I have to admit, I love that Team Arrow really lays in to him and doesn’t hide their disdain. That being said, Oliver knows this disdain and for all intents and purposes should feel the same. So is he using Merlyn or is he really trusting and depending on him? Which leads to my next question.
Question #2: Who’s team is Merlyn really on?
For the first half of the episode, Merlyn appeared to be helping Oliver, which obviously had me questioning his motives since I don’t see what he gains fromÂ it. If the pastÂ is any indication, Merlyn is only out for his own best interests. Sure, he claims he wants to save Starling City since his daughter lives there, but as we saw, Thea can easily just get up and leave. As can Merlyn. Is saving the city his attempt to win back favor with Thea? Possibly, but I’m still not completely sold. Â That being said, as soon as Ra’s called him out, Merlyn sang like a canaryÂ and threw Oliver under the bus. But did he? This is another thing that I’m not sold on yet. Is “selling out Oliver” part of Oliver and Merlyn’s plan? Or is this a genuine Merlyn “save myself, others be damned” move that Oliver may or may not have predicted (see above question) and may or may not be using to his advantage? Honestly, my brain hurts just thinking about all the potential “who’s on what side” scenarios, but I could see either of these happening. That being said, I kind of hope Merlyn isn’t only looking out for himselfÂ and is actually still executing Oliver’s plan. But with Merlyn, I’ve learned not to hedge my bets one way or another.
Question #3: Why the heck did Oliver think Diggle, Laurel and Felicity would trust Tatsu?
This really throws me for a loop. In what world would Team Arrow not only trust Malcolm Merlyn, but also trust someone they don’t even know who’s claiming to speak on behalf of Oliver? I could think of a million ways that this could be a set up, especially since Merlyn is involved. But when talking to Merlyn, Oliver seemed absolutely certain that they would trust her. Nevertheless,Â as IÂ expected, as soon as they met her, the immediately wanted to know why they should trust a total stranger! Obviously, in the end, they did get on the plane and agree to take down the virus, as Oliver had hoped, but I think it was more the footage of the virus in Hong Kong that pushed them over the edge than it was Tatsu’s presence.
Felicity: How could anyone not know about a terrorist attack in Hong Kong?
Diggle: Because Beijing has people believing these deaths were caused by a local chemical spill.
Felicity: You don’t really believe Merlyn?
Diggle: Looking at this, we can’t afford not to believe Merlyn.
Felicity: He’s a mass murderer who has lied to us so many times it should be a drinking game. And I’ve never even heard of this Tatsu person.
Diggle: Felicity, I don’t know if you’re right but if Oliver is gone forever or not, it doesn’t matter to me. If there’s even a possibility of this kind of danger in my city, I’m reporting for duty.
Laurel: Me too.
Like I said, the horrific Hong Kong video and their desire to save their city seem to be the driving forces here. So why send Tatsu when you could just have sent a video? Granted, Tatsu did seem to convince Felicity to get on board, butÂ that was entirely unrelated to the virus and still has me confused as to why Oliver would think they’d so easily and willingly trust her. I also have a feeling there is more to her than we know. Her fancy sword and inside knowledge of the League suggest some connections and history that will hopefully be revealed in upcoming episodes.
Question #4: Why don’t Oliver and Nyssa team up?Â
This one I don’t get at all.Â Nyssa is interested in womenÂ and obviously doesn’t want to marry Oliver…even going so far as to attempting to stab him at the altar. And Oliver is in love with Felicity, as evidenced by that look he gave her after he announced his wedding (see photo above), and doesn’t want to marry Nyssa. Â They also both loved Sara at some point and both want to get out from under Ra’s thumb, so why don’t they just team up to take down Ra’s? Or just wait til Ra’s is out and then run things the way they want to run them? Oliver would willingly give Nyssa the Demon’s Head title, which is what she wants. They could negotiate a no-terrorism pact, Oliver could go back to Starling City and they could all live happily ever after. It would be a win win situation. But instead, they choose to be at odds and add even more conflict to an already contemptuous situation.
Question #5: Is it just me or is Thea exactly the same?
After all that talk about the Lazarus Pit changing a person and how Thea will never be the same, I can’t help but feel like Thea is exactly the same as she’s always been. As soon as she gets worked up about something, she runs. She did it when she ran to Corto Maltese with Merlyn and she’s doing it now. Roy even called her out on it. But that being said, why talk so much about how a person will beÂ so different then never actually have her be different? In this episode, I even found myself looking for her to go off the rails. For example, when she woke up and Roy wasn’t there and she went back to the auto repair shop, I was expecting the whole previous day to have been a figment of her imagination or a hallucination. As she walked in to the garage, I was ready for them to say “Jason who? I’ve never seen you before?”. Obviously that didn’t happen, she was just normal Thea again. Honestly, these scenes seems a little out of place and irrelevant without that pay off, but hopefully this willÂ play a part and we’ll see these alleged “differences” in upcoming episodes.
Question #6: Is Maseo really dead?
On this show, you never know. I honestly didn’t see this death coming. Especially at the hands of his wife. That being said, I can’t help but feel like this was partially a mercy killing. Maseo admitted to Oliver that his life without his son was essentially a prison and that he could never escape and I’m sure Tatsu understood that as well. She had to have known that him going to the League to become a different person was his attempt to run from himself and from the pain he felt. After all, the League more or less trains you to turn off your emotions, which seems like an easy solution when you’re in never-ending pain. But between Tatsu’s herbs and the Lazarus pit, I have to question if he’s really gone. For his sake, I kind of hope so. But I also wish he would’ve been (or hope that he was) in on Oliver’s plan in the end so that he died while doing something good and more or less redeeming himself.
Question #7: DoÂ the ends justify the means? Will things be the same once Oliver returns?
I know this is two questions, but they both comeÂ from what I considered one of the best, but also most heart-breaking, scenes of the episode. Watching Diggle call out Oliver on his betrayal was brutal. Obviously Oliver has had to do a lot of things that he didn’t want to or wouldn’t normally do in an attempt to protect his friends and the city, but can the reasonÂ he did them really cancel outÂ the fact that he did them? Apparently, not in Diggle’s eyes.
Oliver: Is everyone okay?
Diggle: Like you give a damn.
Oliver: Didn’t Malcolm speak to you?
Diggle: He did, so was it part of your plan to leave my daughter alone when you kidnapped my wife?
Oliver: I had to do something to prove my loyalty to Ra’s.
Diggle: So taking Lyla, was that your idea, Oliver? In front of our daughter!
Oliver: Yes. You met Tatsu.
Diggle: What does that have to do with it?
Oliver: Tatsu told me that in order to beat Ra’s, I would have to sacrifice all the things in my life that I hold most precious. And your friendship is on that list.
Diggle: Oliver, you didn’t just lose my friendship, you’ve lost my trust, you’ve lost my respect.
I mean, Diggle is right, OliverÂ kidnapped his wife and left his baby alone…that’s a major friendship no-no. Granted, it all turned out okay in the end, but there are a number of ways it could’ve gone wrong and not turned out so well. And yes, Oliver did it to prove his loyalty to Ra’s and protect his friends, but he still KIDNAPPED Lyla…if he’s willing to go that far, what else is he willing to do? And couldn’t there have been another way that didn’t put Diggle’s family at risk? Obviously, I’m not in his shoes, so I don’t actually know, but I also can’t blame Diggle for the way he feels. I’m hoping (and anticipating) that the friendship between these two will be restored, but I also don’t know if it will ever be the same.
Questions #8: Is the prison chamber poisoning all a part of the plan? And who is in on the plan now?
WhileÂ the episode left us withÂ a pretty big cliffhanger, which wasn’t really a cliffhanger (since the promo showed us that everyone survives and escapes), the part we don’t know is how they survive or escape. I don’t actually know the answer either, but there were a lot of things in the episode that pointed to this scheme being more elaborate than even we know. Plus, my mind is in manipulation overdrive right now, so I’m seeing any and every possible plot. First of all,Â in their fireside chat, Merlyn and Oliver made it clear that “dismantling the League from the inside” was their best option. Obviously, with the accelerated time table, this plan had to be revised. So if Oliver doesn’t have time to to work on the people who are already on the “inside”, why not bring his own people in to the compound? This also leads me to question whether or not Oliver knew thatÂ the virus wasn’t on the plane. I know thatÂ Ra’s claimed the deception was on his end as he attempted to reveal the mole in the operation, but I am not entirely convinced that Oliver didn’t know or at least suspect this possibility. After all,Â Merlyn made it clear that a “virus on a plane” was far too contemporary for the League and yet, Oliver just brushed it off, seeming not to care.Â So was it part of the plan to get his team caught?
Another thing that seemed fishy to me was after the “virus” was thrown in to the chamber, Laurel, Diggle, Felicity and Ray all started desperately pleading and even calling out Oliver on his deception…why would they do that? I mean, I get Merlyn, but why would Felicity, who loves Oliver, want to make it clear to Ra’s that he was being “Oliver” and betraying the League? As the door closed, this is what their last cries entailed.
Felicity: Oliver, if what Malcolm said is true, if you’re going to do anything, now is the time.
Laurel: Oliver, Oliver, we believed in you.
Diggle: Oliver, listen to me…for the love of god.
Laurel: Oliver, what the hell are you doing?
Ray: C’mon, you gotta get us out of here.
Felicity: We trusted you, you asked us to trust you and we trusted you.
So are they desperate or is “poisoning” them part of the plan? And on top of that, are they in on it? Honestly, I don’t know the answer, but this seemed awfully over the top and almost like a performance, which would circle back to Merlyn’s comment about them all being poor actors. Clearly, they aren’t all going to die. The virus must have either been replaced with another gas or there actually is a cure, but more importantly, I want to know how far back this plan goes and whether this psuedo-poisoning is all a part of Oliver’s endgame.
So there are my big questions from this week. Let’s hope next week brings us some more answers.
Be sure to catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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The plotting has become a “can you top this?” series of plot twists to the point of the ridiculous, but I’m following along while shaking my head.
Ra’s told Malcolm that his attempt to sell out Oliver has given him an easier death than the one planned, then Malcolm is shoved into the jail cell and gassed with everyone else. If Malcolm knows the gas is a sleeping gas, not the virus, then he did the smart thing by ratting out Oliver. His comments also made Ra’s give Oliver another test of loyalty/craziness by killing his friends in the cell. Their phony deaths would allow Oliver to get them out alive.
And would Ra’s allow the virus to be released in his stronghold? Since the old woman and Maseo’s child both got the virus while inside of a locked apartment, that means the virus is easily transmitted through the air and a danger to the people in the stronghold.
Nyssa and Oliver haven’t been allowed to talk privately so she has no way to know Oliver is on her side.
If Oliver lured his friends there but isn’t evil, he’s depending on an incredible amount of luck that they wouldn’t get killed by a stronghold full of trained killers, that Malcolm’s ability to lie and manipulate Ra’s will work, and that a lunatic like Ra’s will do what everyone needs him to do to make the whole plan work.
In other words, he’s acting like someone who knows they are a fictional character and trusts the writers to get things to turn out right. Which is wrong writing.
One thing that bothered me is that they didn’t tell Amanda Weller so that ARGUS could protect the city if they failed, or she could drop a nuke on the stronghold with the same ease as she wanted to on the city when the crazed criminals went berserk.