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ARROW Recap: “The Climb” and Falling Way Down

This is a recap, so there will be SPOILERS APLENTY. Read on at your own risk.

Oh man, oh Manischewitz, was last night’s Arrow six kinds of surprising. While Tuesday night’s The Flash definitely had its share of heartache and revelation, Oliver Queen had a whole lot more to deal with including, well, a fight that did not go the way he thought it would. The truth about a lot of things came to the surface and I don’t think anybody saw that ending coming the way it did. But, like any good climb, we have to start at the bottom to work our way to the top.

Throughout the episode, entitled “The Climb,” we get shots of Oliver free-climbing the side of a cliff which will lead him to the inevitable ending. However, the trouble really began 48 hours earlier when, after delivering a goon to Captain Lance outside of the SCPD Christmas party, the Arrow is attacked by members of the League of Assassins, whom he initially thought was Malcolm Merlyn. Nyssa is still pretty pissed that Oliver hasn’t delivered Sara’s murderer to the League, even though he’s been working pretty darn hard at it. She tells him that, in accordance with League rules, if he doesn’t deliver, the ninjas will kill 50 people in Starling City to send a message. 50 people a day, I think they even said. So he’s going to have to work fast. We also find out that his flashback friend Masseo is a member of the League, working with Nyssa, so it’s pretty clear something bad happened in Hong Kong.

Laurel is visiting Sara’s grave, which apparently she does quite often, when Thea happens upon her, having just visited her mom’s grave. Thea wonders why Laurel would visit the grave of someone who’s still alive, so Laurel, to my utter shock, just tells her that Sara really is dead, that she was murdered by some unknown person, and that she can’t tell Oliver. And Thea’s totally okay with this. That’s… pretty nuts.

At Palmer Technologies, Ray cheerfully walks up to Felicity and starts talking about smoothies. Felicity is, understandably, irritated with him and he knows it. She starts to leave and he asks if it’s because of the kiss they shared. She has no problem with that; it was the way he just took off afterwards that’s the issue. Before he can explain, she gets a 911 from Oliver and has to leave. For work. “But you’re AT work,” replies Ray.

Climb 3

In the Arrow Cave, Oliver is freaking out that the League is going to murder people, which to be fair is a pretty valid fear to have. Caitlin over at STAR Labs still hasn’t finished the DNA test from Sara’s arrow, though, so they still don’t have an answer. Oliver and Diggle talk about how there’s no contingency plan for something like this, and the city can’t just fall back into fear and ruin. A little later, the test results come back and, DUN DUN DUN, the DNA on the arrows belongs to Oliver, matching 11 out of 12 whatever-they’re-calleds. Oliver is now positive the culprit is Malcolm Merlyn setting him up. Even though the was assumed to be in Corto Maltese, he could very easily have come back for that.

Laurel’s shiny veneer of holding it together slowly starts to crack when her mother, Dinah, comes to town for the holidays. Dinah notices almost immediately that Laurel tenses up whenever Sara’s name is mentioned. Actually, Capt. Lance must be some kind of terrible detective not to see that she gets hella wiggy when they talk about where the youngest Lance might be. Having coffee with her mother later, Laurel AGAIN cracks and tells a glassy-eyed Dinah what happened, and that they can’t tell Quentin lest he lose it and spiral toward self-destruction. Dinah makes her promise to make whomever’s responsible for Sara’s death pay.

Speaking of that… Felicity determines that a specific charter plane went to Corto Maltese, then flew around all over the place before finally coming back to Starling. Arrow and Arsenal go and aggressively interrogate the pilot who initially balks but then provides security footage of not only Malcolm Merlyn getting off the plane, but also Thea. Why would she lie? To Diggle, Roy, and Felicity, they think this means Thea’s the one who killed Sara. It makes sense given what Felicity found regarding Sara’s wound pattern. Oliver won’t hear of it, though. His sister isn’t a murderer. Later, he asks Thea about it at home and she denies ever having left Corto Maltese since May. More lies?

Ray tracks Felicity’s phone (creeper) to Verdant where he wants to apologize. She’s still pretty ticked but Ray makes a compelling case. He had a fiance last year who was murdered by the mirakuru army while Ray himself watched. He swore that he’d never kiss another woman, and he hadn’t, until he was kissing Felicity that night. I mean, I don’t think there’s a better explanation than that for how he acted. Your move, Smoak.

Climb 4

We then cut to the fictional country whose name I can’t find to the temple of the League of Assassins where, for training, Ra’s al Ghul makes a group of ninjas attack him so that he can murder them. It must be fun for him. Nyssa arrives and tells him of Oliver’s non-compliance. The Demon’s Head tells her to ready the dogs of war, or whatever cliche he spouts.

Felicity convinces Oliver that maybe he’s not the one who should be talking to Thea about what happened. He Arrows-up and breaks into the apartment to ask her about Malcolm Merlyn. She feigns fear for half a second before tossing broken glass at him, throwing some kicks his way, and jumping out the window. Sooooo, clearly she’s been doing some training.

Later at Verdant, Malcolm Merlyn finds Oliver who pounces on the villain and swears to kill him. However, Merlyn has sent Oliver a very special video to his phone. It’s footage of Thea firing the arrows that killed Sara. Why would he do this? It’s simple, actually: leverage. He knows the only way to get the League off his ass is if Ra’s al Ghul is dead, and the knows the only way Oliver would ever fight him is to protect Thea. Even if Oliver tells the League that Merlyn orchestrated the murder, they’d still kill Thea since she was the triggerwoman. And she doesn’t even know she did it, because Malcolm drugged her with a forgetful-root.

So, Oliver has no choice. He goes to the League and tells them it was he who killed Sara and challenges Ra’s al Ghul to a duel, as is the custom of the League. They give him 12 hours to put his affairs in order before heading to a neutral location somewhere.

Ray Palmer shows Felicity what he’s been working on: a method for turning things small, so they can fit in the palm of his hand, perhaps. He shows her an experimental suit design he’s been working on which he calls the Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism…or ATOM. He wants Felicity’s help in saving the city. “Why does this keep happening to me?” she mutters to herself.

Oliver says farewell to Thea, basically, then goes to the Arrow Cave to say goodbye to Diggle and Roy, and then Felicity walks in and the other two peace out. She’s terrified not that Oliver can’t beat Ra’s, but that he’s not going to kill him if he gets the chance. He doesn’t know what he’ll do, but he does know that he’ll do anything to save his sister…and that he loves Felicity. Too little too late, buddy!

Climb 2

He climbs up the mountain and gets to the plateau where Masseo once again tells Oliver how much he’d rather not have to watch him get murdered. Nyssa instructs Oliver to choose his weapons, and he picks a pair of swords. Ra’s al Ghul appears and begins talking about his first kill at the age of 11, then the several thousand people he’s killed since. He has no weapons, but tells Oliver he’ll just take his when he’s ready. After staring each other down for a moment, they begin…

And Oliver gets his ass handed to him. It’s quick. Almost too quick. Oliver loses both of his weapons and continues to get hit time and again. Ra’s is about to deliver the killing blow, saying that Oliver should be proud he lasted as long as he did, when Oliver springs one final– nope, Ra’s counters that one too, slicing him in the side and punching him in the throat, sending the hero to his knees. And then, unceremoniously, Oliver gets run through with the sword and kicked off the cliff. THE END.

Now, obviously Oliver’s not going to be dead because A) he’s the main character and 2) it’s only the midseason mark, but HOT DAMN. I didn’t see that happening that way at all. Malcolm Merlyn had to have known this was going to happen. He HAD to have. It really illustrates just how dangerous Ra’s al Ghul is. Holy crap, you guys.

Oh, right, I guess we should talk about…


In Hong Kong, Oliver and Masseo torture/interrogate a guy who stole a specific drug, the same one Merlyn later used on Thea, for China White, who then seeks revenge by kidnapping Masseo’s wife Tatsu. That’s it.

Next year is going to be INSANE. How’s Ollie getting out of this one? I guess we’ll find out when the next episode, “Left Behind,” airs January 22nd.

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  1. Ben says:

    So this episode, apart from the surprising end, was terrible. Thor Freudenthal is a crap director and it showed. The action sequences seemed stiff, the lighting throughout the episode was weird with light coming from side angles rather than over head. Also the writing was porous. So Moira Queen is buried in a public cemetery by herself rather than at the former Queen manor next to her husband? She randomly shows up at Saras grave and is shocked to learn she’s dead? Their was no actual mystery or intrigue and all the scenes felt rushed. I expect better from Arrow.


      Agreed.  This season, only the Magician and a couple parts of the Climb were worth watching.  The rest has been pure garbage thus far.  Hard to imagine that Alex Kingston, as Dinah Lance, and beautiful though she is, was in three scenes while John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn, who is far more central to the plot than just about anyone, was in only one scene.  How on earth is that even possible?  Far too much teenage drama, as usual by the CW, and very little action.  But that seems par for the course.  Fanboy and fangirls and olicity fanatics will like anything the writers of Arrow throw their way, but I, like you, expected far more from this show, given that it is now season 3, and thus far, Arrow has not delivered the goods.  We’ll see and can only hope that things pick up Jan 2015.

  2. Blake says:

    I say that Nyssa will put Oliver in the Lazarus pit. Because it’s obvious that ra’s uses them. Cuz he said it’s been 67 years since someone last challenged him. And he doesn’t look older than 67. And to have a daughter that young. She has to have used the laz pit before as well. So the reason why Nyssa will put Oliver is that she knows oliver would never kill Sara. And if it happens not to be Nyssa. Then possibly his friend from HongKong.

  3. Jen says:

    When Oliver got kicked off the mountain, my daughter said, “Don’t worry mom, he’s going to pull an Aragorn and show back up.” I just wish he’d pulled a “Legolas” and brought his bow with him to the fight. WTH?

  4. B.R says:

    Maybe Tommy isnt as dead as we all thought? Could Merlyn of brought him back? Could he have been training too? I have a feeling this mid season finale is just a smoke screen for the real twist coming in January.

    • Mark says:

      I think Oliver is going to be in a coma/recovery for a while.  As a part of his recovery he is going to deal with his demons.  Part of that is dealing with the death of Tommy and Sarah.  Both are confirmed for at least 1 more episode this season.  He will have dreams / visions of them that will help him to release the guilt over the deaths and help him to find strength to recover and become the here he is destined to be

    • earl42 says:

      Hmnnn, never thought of that.  The building exploded with him in it though…right?

  5. Insightful Panda says:

    We knew something bad was going to happen to Maseo’s family when we saw Oliver pull her candle out of his ‘crate of tricks’ a few episodes ago in “Guilty”. Either way, incredible episode. I wonder if Palmer’s ATOM suit being a revamp of an OMAC might lead to some problems in the future. 
    Also Kyle, do you think Oliver is still alive or will be brought back via a Lazarus Pit? If Mirakuru exists in this universe, I’m sure Lazarus Pits are doable to an extent.

    • Bileven says:

      Palmer took the OMAC and used it to create the ATOM suit.  

      The OMAC is essentially still a different design and inevitable function.  But it has to end up at STAR Labs somehow.

  6. Ken says:

    I knew someone was going to be at the bottom of that cliff . . . well, it might not of been the ‘bottom’.  Cliffs tend to have some lower level plateaus sticking out. But it had to be one of 4 characters:  Masseo, his wife (because it hasn’t really been said that she’s dead), Merlyn, or an anticipated cameo by another pending JLA head.  Say . . .Bruce Wayne?  Lord knows he can just borrow an EKG from the office since Wayne Ent.’s original business model was medical equipment. Also, what other comic book character do we know of cheated death after a horrible fall into chasm in wintry hellscape?  Hint:  Marvel Comics.

    • Earl42 says:

      DC has declared the Bat and Sups as off limits to the DCTVU.

      • DarthJay says:

        Have they? That would be too bad. One of the greatest parts of Smallville was when they brought together Superman, Green Arrow, Flash, Cyborg and Canary. It would be awesome to see a similar reunion in Arrow or The Flash’s future.

  7. Vicki says:

    I was mad at that stupid kiss on the forehead. WTH!  Then he turns around and NOW tells her he loves her. She should’ve picked up something and thrown it at him. It was an awesome ending though. I sure didn’t see that coming. Can’t wait for 01/21. 

  8. Jay says:

    Do you think it’s Malcolm coming to get Oliver off the mountain so he can use the same drug on him that he used on Thea?

    • GneissDay says:

      Lazarus pit – just saying

      • Steven says:

        exactly. first time we saw Ra’s he was bathing in something. I’ll say Merlyn will be at the bottom of the cliff, grab Ollie and put him in a pit

        • bruce says:

          I agree but then y wouldn’t the league use the Lazarus pit for Sara?  They could just send some soldiers to fetch her body

        • Bileven says:

          Bruce, on Nyssa appreciated Sarah.  Ra’s Al Ghul didn’t care for her.  

          The usefulness of a Lazarus Pit is also limited.  By the time Nyssa found out about Sarah’s death, she had been gone for sometime.

    • MattyV says:

      I don’t think it’s Merlyn, I think it’s Maseo – same outfits and all. 

  9. Lisa says:

    One thing I don’t quite get is that Malcolm Merlyn should have been fully aware that Oliver would lose to Ra’s. What was the point of setting all of this up, then? Unless he just wanted Oliver killed by Ra’s, or wanted to stir up trouble.

    • If Ollie loses, Ollie is dead. One less thing for Merlyn to worry about. If Ollie wins, his debt with the League of Assassins is erased. Xanatos Gambit.

    • steven says:

      Merlyn will put him in a Lazarus Pit

      • Bileven says:

        Yeah, but a Lazarus Pit is partially the reason why Ra’s Al Ghul is such a merciless killer and Malcum Merlyn wants to destroy Sterling City..  it has the ability to drive someone insane.

        Makes sense that the Pit would be possible, but I do not think Merlyn could do it, at least not alone.

        • HK7747 says:

          I could see the creators toying with the prospect of giving Oliver a dip in the Lazarus pit, and that his arc for the rest of the season (and perhaps next?) is coping with the side effect of insanity and murderous tendencies. It would make an interesting plot device to spice up Oliver’s character development as he’d gotten so close to ‘ideal hero’ level with his character, which would essentially be the plateau, whereas if he has to cope with being a little insane, it makes things a bit more dynamic.

    • DennisBlaine says:

      It is the Lazarus Pit For Oliver. But who will put him in?

    • MattyV says:

      I think Merlyn’s voice in that specific spot was a cover and Maseo is actually the one creeping up to save him. Some how. 

    • SallyW says:

      At the end of the promo you see someone take a step towards Oliver. My theory is that Malcom is going to save him and try to team up with him to take down Ra’s. If that’s the case, it should be a VERY interesting rest of the season!

      • JasonC says:

        From the jacket, the guy looks more like Masseo than Malcom. Masseo is just trying to collect his old comrade, Oliver’s body.

    • Bileven says:

      With Ra’s Al Ghul l thinking the debt for Sarah’s death is paid, he is not going to enact the punishment of 50 innocent people killed per day…  

      Since we know that they would not kill the main character during a mid-season finally, he has to survive, with the help of someone…  but when it’s discovered he survived, the League of Assassins is going to go nuts..  Ra’s Al Ghul is going to be ticked off that he was played… and the blood debt was not settled.

      But I do not think it was Merlyn who saved him..  I think he felt it would just get the mark off of him.  Get Oliver away from Thea and the city.

  10. Chris says:

    Yeah, he said it was called OMAC when Queen Consolidated was working on it, but he likes the ATOM name better

  11. larry says:

    Didn’t Palmer mention something about O.M.A.C. when he was explaining the A.T.O.M. suit to felicity i was a little tired when watching but i thought that came up.

    • matt says:

      He said Queen Consolidated designated it O.M.A.C.

    • Bileven says:

      Yep, the thing that is to form Cyborg…  is a piece of the puzzle needed for Atom’s suit.  
      Which oddly enough, Cyborg is a creation of S.T.A.R. Labs.  So, guessing Felicity is now likely to have a connection to that, as well..  busy girl.

  12. Peter says:

    Good recap, but I have one little quibble for accuracy’s sake.  The thing that the guy stole in Hong Kong wasn’t the drug used on Thea.  The drug used on Thea was the same drug used on the guy in order to get him to steal the thing and not remember doing it even after getting tortured by Oliver.  The thing he stole was just some kind of chemical weapon or something I think.  Pretty crazy episode though.

    • SallyW says:

      Yeah, I caught that too. At first I thought I read it wrong, but that’s a pretty important thing to get wrong.. They should probably fix that haha

    • Bileven says:

      Actually, the guy who stole the chemicals was under the affects of a drug that allowed him to succumb to suggestion and have no memory…  That was why he was able to have no information under interrogation.

      It was the same properties as the explanation Malcolm gave about Thea.