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There are spoilers in this review. Duh.

When I first started watching Arrow, I came in with lowered expectations, and that’s why I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Now I feel like the opposite is happening. I have higher expectations because the show has been consistently excellent, and now it’s waning in quality and I can see it clearly. This season has been rough, and I’ve been particularly unhappy with the storyline since Oliver’s death. This episode only made me more irritated, because I feel like they are going ‘this sounds cool’ with ideas and not ‘this makes sense.’ Let me get to the episode first though. Previously on Arrow, Oliver Queen challenged Ra’s al Ghul to a duel because his sister Thea was manipulated by Merlyn into murdering Sara. He decided that the only way to defeat Ra’s was with Merlyn’s help, but he finally told Thea about what happened with Sara, and he’s desperate to keep her from becoming a killer like him. Ray’s started to work on the ATOM armor with the help of Felicity, and Laurel’s the current Black Canary. Nyssa, Ra’s daughter, was deeply in love with Sara and has been obsessively trying to get vengeance for her lost love.

Thea’s understandably not taking the truth about Sara well. She almost immediately tells Laurel the truth, because the guilt is holding her down too much. Laurel right away notes that it was not Thea’s fault, but Merlyn is responsible, and he’s the one they should be mad at. I’m so glad that they chose to go that way instead of having her hold anger toward Thea over it. I’d also like to point out that yet again when someone tells the truth, they find more emotional satisfaction with the other person than lying to them. Thea decides to turn her father in to the League. At this point, I started to cheer. She’s right that the league wants who is responsible for Sara’s death, and that’s Merlyn, and he’s really the only person in danger. I yet again want to point out that if Merlyn was capable of killing Ra’s, he would have done it himself. So he’s not going to teach Oliver too much, which is why that storyline is silly. I was seriously on the ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME’ train when Oliver says he’s going to save Merlyn. Everyone on the show was equally baffled by this, and he says it is because Thea will feel guilty about sending him to die. She later on points out that it’ll be a lot worse if he dies attempting to save Merlyn, thus taking them both from her. This show, man. It can be so freaking stupid sometimes.

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But the show has decided to be stupid and sell us that Oliver is going to go into the league’s lair despite everything, and Diggle’s stupid enough to go with him. And Diggle’s wife to be apparently accepts this suicide mission and encourages it! What! Jeez. Also are we really supposed to think that those two can just break into an assassin headquarters? And they’re dumb enough to think they can? I can’t even with the logic on the show right now. Nyssa was taken captive by Oliver, because apparently in the past few years he’s gotten as good at fighting as she has OVER HER ENTIRE LIFE AS AN ASSASSIN. Yes I’m typing in capitals because it is ridiculous that the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul could be beaten by Oliver Queen. I don’t care that he’s the hero or very skilled, she was fighting better than him at twelve. Anyway, she bonds with Laurel about the first time she heard Sara laugh, which was very touching, and Thea lets her out at the end. She tells her that she is responsible for Sara’s death, and I’m curious to know where that is headed. I’d like Nyssa to actually take Thea and Laurel under her wing more; they would both benefit from training with her. Because she’s not going to try and condescendingly keep them out of harms way like Oliver would.

But Ra’s doesn’t want to kill Oliver. No, he’s apparently decided he wants Oliver to take over as Ra’s al Ghul eventually. Ha ha ha. Okay so first of all, this is funny to me, because I always did know they were presenting Oliver as Bruce Wayne, but this is literally the Bruce Wayne storyline. Ra’s believes Batman is the only worth successor. So I actually should have seen this one coming. And they set it up by Merlyn saying that Nyssa will not be his heir, because she was weak by loving Sara or some nonsense like that. He doesn’t seem to care at all that Oliver’s alive somehow? Does he know if the Lazarus Pit was used to cause his miraculous recovery? No I am not letting go of that, I’m still bitter. This is an example of a situation where I feel like they thought “okay this is cool!” without then saying “but would it make any sense for the character.” And for Oliver, it wouldn’t. Maybe he’ll do it to protect people? But no, that’s insane, he keeps wanting to keep other people from being killers, and becoming the leader of the league is the opposite of that. It’s stupid enough that he went there to get Merlyn, or that he thought working with Merlyn would do anything. This storyline just doesn’t read as true. It feels forced, it feels manufactured. Oliver’s character as seriously regressed in the past few episodes, whereas on the way to his death he came to a much better place. It feels offensive that he’s gone ten steps backward like this.

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Meanwhile it should be noted that Ray has completed his ATOM costume, and him and Felicity slept together. While I ship Felicity and Oliver, I went “get it girl!” I want her to find happiness, but does it feel like she’s been relegated to love interest basically this whole season? Now she’s just Ray’s Girl Friday instead. I wish Felicity had a storyline of her own, but I definitely appreciate her not putting up with Oliver’s nonsense anymore. He’s acting like the worst, because the show is forcing drama and angst when it’s unnecessary. It used to be great at natural drama; Oliver coming home and facing his past, him finding his path between killer and hero, the team’s gradual growth as individuals and together, complicated relationships founded on real family or found family, etc. Slade was a good bad guy because he was also Oliver’s friend once, and you knew his madness wasn’t 100% his fault. I’m not sure what it is exactly that is not connecting in this season, but I do know that it’s shaky for a lot of other viewers.

The show does best in the moments when it relies on the family/friendship dynamic, with Dig and Oliver in this episode, and with the Queens and Lances in the past, but those seem like small glimmers. Roy and Thea attempting to find common ground also almost worked; how is it that Thea’s become the more likable and relatable Queen? I’m just not sure I can buy what they’re currently selling, because it feels cheap. I guess we’ll see in March where the story goes from here. Personally I hope Nyssa comes and beats them both up. Also kills Merlyn. I am looking forward to seeing what the ATOM can do, I was surprised at how easy it seemed to fly. That’s pretty drastic in terms of upping the superhero game in-world. Also way to abandon your new girlfriend after your first time together. I really hope Arrow finds its focus again, because this has not be an impressive few episodes.

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