Arrow “Nanda Parbat” Review (Season 3, Episode 15)

Humans are complex creatures, but few things are more complex than human emotion. It influences our decisions and colors our perception. Emotions can be the cause of some of our greatest triumphs, but also the cause of some of our worst defeats. Emotions can also cause us to do some monumentally stupid things. Which is what happened to some folks in this week’s Arrow.

Oliver needs to thank his lucky stars for John Diggle. Not only has Dig saved Oliver’s life too many times to count, but he’s always been the voice of reason and pillar of support. Even more than that, of all the people in Oliver’s life, I don’t think there’s anyone that understands him the way Dig does. Part of that is the fact that Dig has been a soldier for a long time so he understands the mindset required to not only put your life on the line for others, but also be willing to take a life when necessary. The other larger part of that is that Dig is Oliver’s friend and he loves him. They’ve been through too much together for it to be any different. That’s why everything that happened between Oliver and Diggle in this episode was so refreshing. For most of this season, they’ve written Diggle to behave in very uncharacteristic ways. It’s been a pretty sore spot for me, but I won’t rehash all of that now. I’ll just say it was nice to see Dig get back to behaving and sounding like the Diggle I’ve come to love. It took him some time, but he finally recognized why Oliver was so gung ho to go face Ra’s again. It didn’t really have anything to do with wanting Malcolm back, and it only had a little bit to do with protecting Thea. It had everything to do with Oliver getting Ra’s out of his head. I don’t think it surprised Oliver that someone beat him (or at least it shouldn’t have), but Ra’s killing him so soon after everything that happened with Slade and Sara was probably too much at once. Oliver just couldn’t get his head back in the game. A brush with death will do that to you, and if anyone could understand that, it’s Dig. Instead of having a big knockdown fight about it or trying to talk Oliver out of his (insane) plan to confront Ra’s again, Dig just decided to go with Oliver this time and have his back. Good thing too because Oliver wouldn’t have made it inside if not for Dig.

I also appreciate how the show addressed the fact that Dig has been staying back while Oliver goes out into the fight. They acknowledged that it’s not in Dig’s nature to hang out in safety while his brother from another mother is out there in danger. It makes sense that becoming a father would cause Dig to think twice before throwing himself into battle. I would be concerned if it didn’t. But at the same time, it’s just not who Dig is to essentially abandon his friend on the battlefield. Hopefully this means that the writers will get back to having Dig be the awesome person he was before and not this pale imitation we’ve had thus far this season.

Then there’s Laurel. Sigh. I really thought perhaps we’d made some progress with Laurel. After her run-in with vertigo and her realization that she needs to stop trying to be Sara, I really thought we were getting somewhere. Alas, no. After Thea spilled the beans about Sara’s killer, Laurel confronted Oliver. It was at that point I hung my head a bit because I knew that Laurel’s next move was going to be stupid. Sadly, I wasn’t wrong. To be clear, I do not condone lying to your friends or withholding information from them. However, in Laurel’s case, I’m willing to make an exception. Laurel was furious that Oliver was (as she saw it) protecting Malcolm. But Oliver wasn’t protecting Merlyn so much as he was protecting Thea. Oliver made a valid point that during the investigation into Sara’s death, every time they got a lead on who the killer MIGHT be, Laurel would jump the gun and try to kill whoever it was. No never mind that they didn’t have conclusive proof or anything. She claimed that she wasn’t guided by anger and vengeance, but her behavior proves otherwise. When Oliver countered Laurel’s argument with that fact, Laurel stormed out and decided to take on Malcolm herself. I don’t know what made her think that she could take on Malcolm Merlyn when she’s not even capable of holding her own against Random Street Punk #3. I get that Laurel is messed up over her sister’s death. That’s completely understandable. However, Laurel hasn’t been trying to deal with the pain she’s carrying around. She’s been avoiding it by focusing on vengeance instead. That makes her dangerous to herself and everyone around her.

Thea is kind of another problem spot. The writers haven’t really done good service to her character because they’ve written her so inconsistently. She goes back and forth between behaving like a mature, rational adult and being an immature whiny brat. Furthermore, they didn’t do enough to justify Thea’s absolute trust in Malcolm, so her feelings of betrayal now ring hollow. It also makes her guilt over turning him in to the League seem like a stretch. Perhaps if the relationship between Malcolm and Thea had been developed better, everything that happened with her in this episode would’ve packed more of an emotional punch. Unfortunately, most of it just fell flat. Something that did work was Thea’s guilt over killing Sara. It’s not so much that she killed a friend. It’s that she was drugged and manipulated into doing so to serve someone else’s purposes. Her guilt and anger about that and her desire to make Malcolm pay for it made sense. It also made sense, given Thea’s penchant for stupid decisions, that she would call the league and hand him over. However, it doesn’t seem like she thought that situation all the way through. Oliver was right that Thea would crack under the weight of getting Malcolm killed because Thea isn’t really a killer.

I can’t say I was shocked by the Ray/Felicity hook up. That’s been a long time coming, and honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Thus far, Ray doesn’t doesn’t seem like a bad guy. Although he and Oliver joined the fight for different reasons, just like Oliver, Ray has a genuine desire to save Starling City. Also like Oliver, Ray genuinely cares about Felicity. Furthermore, Ray seems to want Felicity with him as more than just a member of his crime-fighting team. He hasn’t put all his cards on the table, but he’s certainly revealed enough of his hand to pique Felicity’s interest. The thing is, I don’t think Felicity is over Oliver. Not really. She seems to want to be, but it’s really hard to stop loving someone once you decide to let yourself fall in love with them. But given the fact that Oliver seems to have his head firmly planted up his rear end, it makes sense for Felicity to try to move on with her life. I say I don’t know how I feel about the Ray/Felicity thing because Felicity and Oliver need to be together. They need each other, and I feel like part of the reason Oliver can’t get his head back in the game is that Felicity has been keeping him at arm’s length since he got back. When (or if) Oliver finally realizes what an idiot he’s been in regards to Felicity, it’s going to be difficult to win her back with Ray around. We’ll just have to wait and see how that plays out.

Overall, not a bad episode. I wasn’t totally surprised that Ra’s chose not to kill Oliver, but I was surprised he asked Oliver to take his place. That’s going to be an interesting conversation. I’m not sure what Thea was thinking as far as essentially asking Nissa to kill her. If she was all broken up when Oliver died, what does she think is going to happen if Oliver comes home and finds her dead? Seriously, I need Thea to develop some better critical thinking skills. Ray finally got his suit working, so it looks like Oliver might have some competition in the hero department. That should go over well. The flashbacks seem to be leading up to whatever happened to send Maseo to the League. Whatever it was doesn’t look good. And I don’t think that General is on the up and up. He was entirely too…accommodating. He’s probably the one who sent those guys to kill Oliver and Maseo and I’d like to know why. Arrow is on a break for a few weeks, but when it comes back in March, it looks like Oliver is going to have to give Ra’s his answer. This could be interesting. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?