Arrow “Al Sah-Him” Review (Season 3, Episode 21)

Losing someone you love is difficult. What’s even worse is losing the essence of what made them, well, THEM. To look into their eyes and see nothing of the person you loved is an extremely heavy burden to bear. Sadly, that’s what Team Arrow was faced with in this week’s Arrow.

About three weeks has lapsed since Oliver accepted Ra’s offer, and in that time he’s been completely brainwashed into being Ra’s lap dog. That wouldn’t be such a hard pill to swallow if Oliver hadn’t been through everything he’s been through. Yes. I know. Ra’s helped his process along with drugs, but this isn’t Oliver’s first encounter with mind-altering drugs. It’s not even his first encounter with torture. So what made this time different? Why was Ra’s able to turn Oliver so easily? That part of the story just didn’t really work for me. if Oliver were a different guy and had been through less than the multiple Hells he’s been through, I could see Ra’s getting to him. I’ve already said repeatedly how ridiculous the whole Ra’s storyline is, so I’m not going to belabor the point. Moving on…

This episode wasn’t so much about Oliver anyway. It was about the people Oliver left behind. They had all convinced themselves that even though Oliver had given in to Ra’s, he wasn’t going to change dramatically. Of course, they were all fooling themselves. Sometimes it’s just easier to lie to yourself than it is to face the truth. However, the lies can only last for so long before the truth comes stomping right up into your face. Which is what happened to Dig, Felicity and Thea. They saw what Ra’s had done to Oliver, and they were forced to face the fact that the Oliver they knew and loved is gone. I felt especially bad for them because they’ve already mourned Oliver once. How many times do they have to say goodbye to their friend?

While I was wanting to hug Dig and Felicity, I was kind of wanting to slap Laurel. It’s no secret that I feel Laurel is pretty much next to useless. The show has worked really hard this season to make her more essential to the story, but she’s just not. Even in this episode, she didn’t serve a purpose other than opposing everything Dig and Felicity said. The most dumbfounding thing about all of that was how quickly she was willing to toss Oliver to the side in favor of protecting Nyssa. I get that she feels indebted to Nyssa for saving and protecting Sara. I get that she feels like she’s more connected to Sara by befriending Nyssa. But at the same time, she’s known Nyssa for three weeks. She’s known Oliver for almost thirty years. If Oliver means as much to Laurel as she claims, why is it she wasn’t even interested in trying to save him. I’m not saying that it would’ve been a successful attempt, but at least try. Laurel isn’t even getting any better as a crimefighter. Nyssa still had to step in and save her from Random Street Punk #3 in the alley, and then again when they ended up taking on the League of Assassins. And why were they taking on the League again? Oh right. Because Laurel is completely incapable of allowing other people to make their own decisions about their own lives. Because Laurel has decided that she knows what is best for everyone else even if they tell her repeatedly to stop interfering. I was just too done when Laurel refused to let Nyssa turn herself over to the League in exchange for Lila. First of all, Laurel doesn’t get to make the call about Dig’s wife. Second of all, Nyssa made it clear that she would rather face her fate head on than run and hide. What gave Laurel the right to say anything about anything? I understand that she’s developed a friendship with Nyssa, but a part of being a friend is supporting your friend’s decisions even if they’re decisions you don’t agree with. Especially if you’ve already said your piece. And until it’s Laurel’s wife that is about to be murdered, she doesn’t get to decide what Dig can and cannot live with. Under normal circumstances, Dig wouldn’t trade an innocent person, but (1) these aren’t normal circumstances and (2) Nyssa isn’t exactly innocent. Just as an aside, it was awesome when Nyssa called Laurel out for withholding information from her. She said exactly what I was yelling at my television.

Even tough Nyssa hasn’t always been on the side of good, I must admit that she’s kind of grown on me. I can’t imagine it was easy growing up the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul. That dude is completely insane. Even more than that, Nyssa grew up in a world where it seems she was never allowed to be a child much less experience love. She’s never been able to experience life’s simple pleasures, which is why her decision to turn her back on her family for love was such a powerful thing. Whatever betrayal Ra’s feels like she’s committed against him, he betrayed Nyssa long ago and in a much more fundamental way. He’s her father. He’s supposed to love her. Not use her for his own purposes then toss her to the side and/or try to have her killed when he no longer has use of her.

All in all, not a bad episode. It wasn’t as much of an emotional gut punch as last week’s episode, but that’s not to say it was all wine and roses. Oliver has changed, and it was painful for his family to see the shell of the man he’s become. Despite everything, though, I’m an optimist. Love is one of the most powerful human emotions, and I don’t know that there’s any drug strong enough to override it. It won’t be easy, but I honestly believe Oliver can be saved. Dig, Felicity, and Thea love Oliver and he loves them. I have a feeling that’s what’s going to save Oliver in the end. In addition to the emotional elements, there were a number of pretty awesome fight scenes. All of the fight scenes were more significant because of the emotional impact they had. For example, John fighting Oliver and trying to get through to him at the same time. Very well done. I’m interested to see just how far gone Oliver is and what the heck with this arranged marriage? I mean seriously. That’s just messed up. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?