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ARROW Review: Do You Know the Way to “Nanda Parbat”?

Just because everything seems okay doesn’t mean it is, and a lot of times it gets worse when you try to do the right thing. Boy, if that sentiment doesn’t describe Arrow and its deeply (DEEEEEEPLY) flawed heroes and their moral codes, then I don’t know what does. For the last episode before an inexplicable month-long break (which is happening to all of the CW’s shows), “Nanda Parbat” certainly raises more questions than it answers, and further sets up the twisted family drama that will continue into the back 9 or whatever of the season. Oh, and the Atom’s around now, too.

The theme of this episode, and maybe even the theme of the series proper, is that doing what’s right isn’t always what’s smart, and that doing the “right” thing is often just to assuage your own guilt or protect your own pride. The Queen family acts frustratingly black-and-white for the entire episode, and Oliver specifically is just aggravatingly single-minded, even more so than he has been recently. He’s going to save his sister/face the man who beat him or he’s going to die trying, like a real dumb idiot. He’s really lucky he has friends like John Diggle to help him out, even if it doesn’t end up like they hoped.


The main thrust of this episode is Oliver and Thea still training with Malcolm Merlyn for the inevitable fight with Ra’s al Ghul. This fight is going to come even sooner because Nyssa thinks Oliver needs to die either way, even though Ra’s knows it wasn’t he who killed Sara. Thea is having a hard time dealing with the knowledge that she’s essentially the gun used to kill Sara, especially with Laurel acting really nice to her. That never helps anything. Oliver’s convinced that Merlyn is the only way they’re going to beat Ra’s, and seeing as Thea and Oliver can’t even best Merlyn together, they’re going to need all the help they can get.

Roy and Thea talk and he reveals that he knows about what she’s done. While she’s initially peeved, he tells her of his murdering that police officer under the influence of Mirakuru. He says the guilt is eating him alive, so none of them wanted that for Thea. And then she does something completely nutso – she just walks up and tells Laurel the truth, and, much like when Oliver told Thea his secret, Laurel doesn’t blame Thea at all. She blames Merlyn, because it was his fault, after all. But Laurel can’t understand, then, why Thea would still want to work with Merlyn. Thea thinks there’s no other choice, but there totally is, so she somehow (and I truly don’t know how) gets a message to the League of Assassins, and Nyssa specifically, to come pick up Malcolm. More on that in a second.


Laurel, meanwhile, goes to Ollie and sets him up to lie, which he does perfectly, about finding Sara’s killer. He knows EXACTLY who did it but hasn’t told her. She yells at him something fierce and he keeps trying to say that Merlyn is currently a necessary evil. Then Laurel says maybe the meanest thing anyone’s ever said which is that she can’t remember why she was ever in love with him. HOLY SHIT. The stinging…the stinging! This of course makes Oliver real mad at Thea, but she’s all “suck it, bro, I called the League on Merlyn and they’re coming to get him.” Elsewhere, Malcolm is walking in the middle of the night somewhere for no reason when he’s attacked by Laurel in Black Canary mode. He pretty easily Jeet-Kune-Do’s her, but the League shows up and kidnaps him. Nyssa tells Laurel her sister has justice, which is of little condolence.

Then Oliver really goes overboard; he tries to rescue Merlyn before the League can take him away. Oliver only succeeds in restraining Nyssa, who he then takes back and locks up. Literally everyone else is baffled as to why he’d care if the League kills Merlyn, especially since it’ll give Thea and he an out. But Oliver says if they kill him, Thea will have to live with the guilt of having basically killed her own father. Since it was sort of his fault both his parents died, he can’t allow that for her. I mean, I GUESS that makes sense, but it’s definitely more complicated than that, and Merlyn doesn’t deserve to live, really. He’s not a good person. Like, at all.


Oliver decides he needs to go to Nanda Parbat to face Ra’s and try to rescue Merlyn. This is surely a suicide mission, and everybody tells him so, but since he’s Oliver Queen he does whatever the hell he wants. Luckily, and weirdly, Lila tells Diggle to go with him as back-up, which he does; Diggle doesn’t want to lose his brother-in-arms again if he can help it. Oliver merely asks Nyssa where Nanda Parbat is, and she tells him happily because she wants her father to kill him. They somehow get to Nanda Parbat, probably because it’s like a 6 hour plane ride, and try to sneak into the compound, but they’ve been expected. Even if Oliver does cool things like pick up flaming arrows and fire them back at people, it doesn’t stop them from being captured. It was a trap all along.

While in chains, Diggle asks Oliver that if they come back, he’d be the best man at his wedding. Oliver, of course, agrees. Oliver then admits that he wanted to come face Ra’s, yes to save Thea, but also because he couldn’t stand that he lost in their first duel. He’s then brought before Ra’s al Ghul…

…but before we get to the cliffhanger, here’s some other shit going on:

Ray Palmer has been hard at work trying to perfect the Atom suit. So hard, in fact, that he hasn’t been seen in a week. Felicity goes to him and tells him he needs to take care of himself. She puts a firewall or whatever up on the computer so that he can’t work and tells him it’ll take 6 hours for the computer to work again, so he should eat, shower, and sleep. She forgot to list BONE in there, because that’s exactly what Ray and Felicity do post food and shower, pre-nap time. And the Smoak sex seems to have stirred his brain because he wakes up like a Pop Tart and puts the finishing touches on the suit, then goes flying around Starling City while Felicity sleeps. Atom in the house, guys! And he’s even got his own theme music.


Also, Roy takes Thea to where he goes when he’s feeling guilty, which is the family of the cop he killed. He anonymously gives them money or toys for the kid or whatever. Thea takes this to mean she should get rid of her own guilt… by telling Nyssa it was her that did the Sara-slaying, opening the cage, and handing the master assassin a sword. She’s just going to let herself get killed.

The dumb flashbacks this time were of Oliver finishing his debrief with General Shrieve and the General is very pleased and says he’s relieved Waller from any of the activities. Oliver can go with Maseo and his family back to Japan and then go wherever he wants to go from there. But, on their way to the boat, they’re attacked by people who work for Waller because she’s a horrible shrew of a person. Oliver takes the son while Maseo and Tatsu make a run for it.


Which brings us back to Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver pleads for Diggle’s life but is willing to accept his own death. Ra’s al Ghul commends Oliver for his bravery and his honor, but says he doesn’t want to kill him… he is an old man (hundreds of years, at least) and he knows he won’t last forever. He wants Oliver to take his place and become the next Ra’s al Ghul. DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUN!

So, it looks like Arrow is going the full Batman with Oliver and Ra’s. He wants a successor, and Oliver’s the best one for the job. But that, of course, would mean Oliver would have to kill people again, which he clearly doesn’t want to do. Maybe they’ll surprise all of us.

Also, have you noticed all the characters IN the League of Assassins, including Ra’s al Ghul himself, pronounce it “Raysh” al Ghul, while everybody else, including Merlyn, says it the wrong way “Roz” al Ghul? Maybe if Oliver takes over, he can standardize the pronunciation.

This was a really good character episode and is really bringing the storyline to a head. I was so sick of Deathstroke last year by this point in the season, so it’s very nice that I’m not sick of Ra’s al Ghul. I AM, however, getting really tired of Oliver being unwaveringly anti-death and everybody else just putting up with it. I get he’s a moral man now, but he also lacks all reason. Thea is really standing out as a great character and I’m excited to see the resolution to this whole thing.

We’ll have to wait until March 18th to discover what Oliver does with “The Offer” he’s been given. A month! AHHHHHH!!!

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  1. 4damn says:

    Do you pronounce his name “Raysh Owl Gahoolalilly”?  No, because the extra letters aren’t there to justify such a thing.  The pronunciation of the “a” is negotiable but if you want people to make a “sh” sound, then put a fucking H in it.  It might make sense if his name was Ras’, because then you could say the H was dropped, but that’s not the case.
    And for anyone who’s about to link that Denny O’Neil video where he explains why it’s “raysh”, let me rebut with two examples: the inventor of the GIF pronouncing that abbreviation like it’s a brand of fucking peanut butter; and John Boehner pretending his last name isn’t pronounced “boner”, which he could have gotten away with if he wasn’t such a fucking dickhole.
    The ability to put a bunch of letters together doesn’t always equal the ability to turn those letters into sounds that make sense.

  2. Am I alone in thinking that season three has really just thrown this show near completely off the rails? Season one had the origin story + the undertaking, season two the big buildup and flashback reconcilation to the tremendous finale Oliver vs Slade fight.

    But what / where is season three going? These past episodes since the midseason finale are just wandering, aimless even. First there’s the forcing of the Felicity/Oliver angle in episode one, just brought up out of nowhere because Diggle makes a comment about how Oliver can fool himself but he can’t fool Diggle. What?! The Felicity/Oliver thing at the end of season 2 was a total ruse! Thats how it was concluded? Felicty and Oliver make zero sense as a couple, check his track record —- Laurel, the Huntress, Sara…. he’s into damaged and/or badass women. So the writers listened to the fans and made a critical mistake, ruining the dynamic between two characters. For seasons 1/2, Oliver felt like he was regarding Felicity as a goofy little sister… things are just forced now.

    Now there’s the whole other issue of who is the main villain in season three? It would’ve made sense to keep it Ra’s Al Ghul —- only if they bothered to spend some episodes on building him up other than the midseason finale… they didn’t, and now he’s asking Oliver to be his understudy? What? Is? Going? On?

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but The Flash is a better show than Arrow right now. Season three has just been a wash…

  3. Insightful Panda says:

    I’m pretty sure Oliver killed in this episode when attack Nanda Parbat. Many of those arrow looked pretty fatal – then again, not sure how an arrow to the neck isn’t. That’s what Diggle meant about ‘sacrificing his soul to save Theas’. 
    Either way, I’m loving how Oliver’s got the dark batman vibe, yet Brandon Routh’s Atom is more Superman than Atom. It’s a good play on the Bats vs Sup dynamic; as well as them fighting over the same girl. I’m excited for it to return 😀

  4. slayerking5000 says:

    Crazy Theory: What if all of Ollie, Thea and Merlyn’s actions after their fight are all a setup? Thea pretends to give up Merlyn to the league which would explain how she knew how to contact them. (Merlyn told her).

    Meanwhile Oliver goes on his suicide mission to “prove” his honor and gain Ras’s eye as a possible student harking back to the previous few episode’s theme of “only the student can defeat the master”. Sure Merlyn is one hell of a Teacher and master of techniques but compared to Ras himself?

    Nyssa’s impatience and Thea’s willingness to let herself be killed don’t sound like part of the plan but perhaps Merlyn and Oliver knew Nyssa would be impressed with such honesty and bravery in the face of imminent death much like her father.

    I’m probably totally wrong but a long con like this wouldn’t exactly be exactly outside of “The Magician’s” wheelhouse. Guess we’ll know just how wrong I was in a month.

  5. Mason_G says:

    she used an ancient technique called a phonebook. they’re right there under A for Assassins, League of.