TV REVIEW: Arrow “The Offer”
By Justin Carter
With Arrow on hiatus for the past month, I’ve had time to rewatch some previous episodes from the season. While sitting through “The Return,” I remembered that near the end, Slade Wilson casually asks, “How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?” It’s meant to get under his skin, clearly, but the question neatly summarizes the running theme of the season, not just for Oliver but for Oliver and the Arrow.
How many friends, allies, and lovers can either identity lose before Oliver becomes disillusioned with both and becomes nothing but an empty husk of a man? Physically, he did indeed die, but one could make the argument that he’s been dead emotionally since learning of Sara’s death, maybe even since Felicity got hurt on their date in the opener.
Ra’s al Ghul can sense just how lost Oliver truly is and gives him the admittedly tempting “choice” of taking up the title. True, his whole rambling on about a prophecy that whoever survives a battle with Ra’s after being killed sounds a bit hokey and on the nose, but Matt Nable manages to make it work.
Of course, Oliver doesn’t accept the offer, as anyone would rightly assume from the moment it was pitched, but in theory Oliver controlling the League of Assassins would work out well for everyone. His power would reach the entire world, he could give the orders he wants, the rest of Team Arrow would have occasional backup and their own territory of the world, and it’d give Oliver a true sense of belonging.
Both “Left Behind” and “Midnight City” have shown that the other four members of Team Arrow have found their place in their world both with and without their leader. But with his authority over the team not being what it used to be since his duel with Ra’s, Oliver sticks out like a sore thumb. People were complaining about how pointless the whole introspection seemed, but considering all that’s going on in his life, this would be Oliver running away. And when you consider his retreat to Lian Yu after the Undertaking, running away is something that Oliver does best.
When revealed to the other core characters, this proposition doesn’t go over well to say the least. If anyone has legitimate reasons to pissed at this, it would be Nyssa. To be denied something that is hers basically by birthright and given to an outsider is not an easy pill to swallow, and Katrina Law brings the grief and anger at this news across really well. It’s clear that Ra’s decision is done partly from his old ideals and dislike of her and Sara’s relationship. This isn’t entirely unexpected, because if that pool of water he uses to heal his hand is any indication, this Ra’s has been around for a long time. And while some things may be accepted by older people, sexual preferences are still pretty taboo in this day and age. With Nyssa now basically disowned by her father and hanging around with Laurel, she’s as lost as Oliver, albeit with slightly more emotional stability. She integrates pretty well with Team Arrow in combat, so if she stuck around with them, I wouldn’t mind.
Not helping is Lance blowing up at him over keeping Sara’s death a secret, Felicity’s relationship with Ray, and Thea slowly unraveling from everything done to her by Malcolm. All three of these storylines coming to beat Oliver into at least considering accepting Ra’s offer does feel a bit overkill, especially Lance just dumping on the Arrow and Laurel when they both had a fairly legitimate reason to, but the script does a good job of alternating between them and tying nicely into the main plot.
There seems to be some end to the Olicity “will they/won’t they,” and the father/son tension hinted at between Lance and Oliver feels real and genuinely heartbreaking. In fact, these are all juggled around so well that there didn’t really need to be a villain of the week. On one hand, Murmur looks imposing enough, what with the whole lips sewn shut thing and Adian McMorran’s dead eyed stare, and they could’ve shifted him to the next episode; then again, there isn’t much you could really do with a guy who literally can’t speak for 45 minutes, so maybe giving him not as much time when compared to other villains is the right move.
One thing that isn’t entirely a right move is Thea. Since “The Return”, she’s been all over the place. She wants nothing to do with Malcolm yet she doesn’t appear to be more than two feet away from him. She turns him over to the League to face justice, then has a crisis of faith and turns herself in to Nyssa to give the al Ghul the retribution she deserves. While Malcolm recuperates in her home, she has multiple opportunities to clear Malcolm, and it certainly wouldn’t be unjustified. But instead, she freaks out some more, leaves her own house, and ends up making out with Roy. If the show wants her to kill Malcolm, it needs to make up its mind.
More than anything else, “The Offer” feels like a breather after the past few episodes have spent time establishing the characters’ roles and identities outside of Oliver. This doesn’t make it a bad episode; in fact, it’s overall pretty solid. The villain may feel nonexistent, but that’s by design this time.
With Oliver finally over his superhero midlife crisis and Ra’s personally going out of his way to ruin the credibility of the Arrow, the remainder of the season is going to be chock full of action. And I can’t wait.
“Where are you going?” “To buy my evil dad some soup.” Question of the day: does Malcolm like tomato or chicken noodle?
The way Nyssa and Laurel were looking at each other at the end, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they got together at the end of the season, or at least tried things out, as slightly weird as that would be.
- Primer on anyone curious about Ra’s hand healing after he dipped it in the pool of water: in DC Comics, Ra’s is known for using Lazarus Pits to sustain his life and basically render him immortal. Each time he dies, one of his men cart him back to their base, dip him in the Pit, and he comes back to life. The only caveat, at least in some universes, is that each resurrection in the Pit warps his mind. So, trade-off.