Arrow 3×09 Review: The Climb
After watching last night’s midseason finale of Arrow, I had to take a breather and think about what happened for a while before I could review it. First – that beginning! I mean, they immediately jumped into Oliver getting picked up by the League of Assassins and Nissa giving him the ultimatum to find Sara’s killer in 48 hours…or else. Honestly, part of me breathed a sigh of relief when this happened; I think I’ve made it clear that I think this season has been a bit rough so far, and the mystery of Sara’s death hanging out there for eight-ish episodes is one of the big reasons for that.
Unfortunately, the fact that Oliver was suddenly given just two days to find Sara’s killer was just another messy plot point in an altogether messy first season – but thankfully, it did not ruin this episode as a whole. I have to say that I loved how they finally made a solid link between the present and the Hong Kong flashbacks (and Maseo, in particular). That said, while I understand why they didn’t show Maseo with Nissa or the League earlier, I still feel like the flashbacks could have been handled better.
Of course, considering what happened at the end of “The Climb”, I’m at a loss as to how – or hey, even if – they’ll portray any flashbacks when the show returns in January.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s certainly still something there, because Maseo clearly believes Tatsu (who was captured by China) to be dead, and obviously that belief/knowledge somehow led to him joining the League. Oliver or no Oliver, for however long, While the general idea of it being Thea who killed Sara was perhaps surprising, to me it seemed obvious that she was the culprit from the moment they discovered “Oliver’s” DNA on the arrows… even before we saw the security footage from the pilot who flew Merlyn and Thea back to Starling City just in time to have committed the crime. (Pardon the rhyme. Oh. Crap.)
The moment the idea of Thea killing Sara was brought up, everyone but Oliver latched on to it, and I gotta say that I was with Diggle on this one – Oliver has always been blind about his family and the horrible things they’ve done, but after what happened with his mother and father you’d think that it wouldn’t take so damn much to convince him that Thea really did fill Sara up with arrows. Still, at least his blind trust in his sister allowed for a great little fight scene between her and the Arrow – and wow, that leap off the balcony! Thea’s suddenly looking pretty badass, am I right?
While at first I wasn’t too keen on the side plots of this episode (with Felicity and Ray, and the Lance family), by the end I felt very differently. In both cases I felt that the first couple of scenes were awkward at best; for instance, I couldn’t help but cringe a bit over Ray’s sob story. I’m not even sure whether it’s because Brandon Routh simply didn’t deliver it well, or because I may not trust him quite yet… but when he revealed the A.T.O.M. suit to Felicity and asked for her help, his earnestness and her amusing reply (“Why does this keep happening to me?”) was definitely a high point in “The Climb”.
As for the Lances, Momma Lance (Dinah) showing up and basically immediately figuring out that Sara was dead was a bit eye-roll-inducing at first, but in the end this particular plot point had a strong finish. While I think it would have been even more potent for Poppa Lance to finally know/figure out about Sara’s death and react the way Dinah did, Laurel’s promise that “Whoever did this, I’m going to find them, and I’m going to make them pay”, and Dinah’s response – “Then you make them pay, and you make them suffer” – certainly sets up not just Laurel finally becoming the Black Canary, but a likely confrontation between her and Thea. The question is, will the latter happen in season three, or will it be pushed back?
Then again, there’s always the option that Laurel will end up knowing that Thea was under the influence of a drug that allowed Merlyn to control her while giving her no memory of the event, and go after Merlyn instead. (Not that this would be anywhere near as interesting as a misguided Black Canary chasing after her former lover’s little sister.) The fact that Thea wasn’t aware of her actions when she killed Sara certainly made Oliver’s belief in his sister seem less ridiculous, but at the same time I think that in making Thea as innocent as they possibly could in this, the writers did her great harm. As much as I almost hate to say it – simply put, making her into an actual villain would have been way more interesting. Now, though, I’m just on edge waiting for someone to finally let Thea into the Arrow loop! I mean honestly, half of Starling and Central Cities know that it’s Oliver. It’s way past time that she knew, as well.
And now it’s also past time to finally face what happened with Oliver and Ra’s al Ghul. I have to admit that the end of “The Climb” came as more than a little bit of a shock to me, though I knew that the chances of Oliver defeating Ra’s al Ghul of all people had to be pretty slim. And even after sleeping on it, I’m still shaking my head over the fight itself. Yes, it’s Ra’s al Ghul… but shouldn’t Oliver have been able to hold is own a BIT better than he did? There was a moment when I thought perhaps Oliver was letting Ra’s win, but then, you know, Oliver got stabbed twice and pushed off a cliff.
I suppose it should have been obvious from the moment Oliver told Felicity that he loved her that he wasn’t coming back… at least not anytime soon. I mean, let’s be honest – this was a midseason finale. I can’t be the only one who doesn’t believe that Oliver is actually dead. Forever.
I just wonder whether Oliver will pop back up soon after Arrow resumes next month, or whether they’ll make us wait until the end of season three to find out what (if anything) is going on with him, as they made us wait so long to find out who actually killed Sara.
Let’s just say that it’s going to be a long, impatient wait, regardless.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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