TV REVIEW: Laurel and Nyssa Bond in Arrow’s “Al Sah-Him”
By Justin Carter
Thank goodness this week’s episode of Arrow was so straightforward.
After last week’s almost soap opera approach, I was worried the remaining episodes of the season mightn’t mesh together as a cohesive whole, but “Ah Sah-Him” managed to pull one out of the bag and provide a solid end to both the present day and flashback moments.
Luckily, this week’s episode doesn’t decide to draw out its runtime by having us focus on Oliver’s induction into the League of Assassins. Through a quick series of flashbacks during his sword fight with Ra’s al Ghul, we learn that the League put him a room alone for weeks, also taking the time to indoctrinate him into thinking that Oliver Queen is dead and he is completely his new identity, Al Sah-Him. They’ve also taken the time to give him a hallucinatory drug that causes him to imagine a loved one as he stabs them, so as he sees Diggle as he plunges the blade in, it’s actually just some random guy used to solidify his training as a member of the League. With that done, there’s only one thing left for Al Sah-Him to do in order to secure himself as the next Ra’s, and that’s to kill off Nyssa.
Since her initial appearance last season, Nyssa has been a character defined by her love for Sara. That definitely doesn’t change here, but losing her title as Heir to the Demon has shaken things up. Now, she’s been teaching Laurel and being her pal, going so far as to have milkshakes with her after beating down a mugger. One could make the assumption that Nyssa is doing this because she and Laurel share grief over Sara still, and that she’s helping because this helps her reconnect with the late Lance sister. That she goes to face Oliver on the rooftop where Sara died shows that she’s still not over it. Katrina Law and Katie Cassidy have great chemistry together, and it’s nice that these two women have each other to lean on when the world has put everyone on opposite ends of their respective corners. The scene where Nyssa and Laurel hang out at a restaurant after beating down a mugger and the former puts french fries in her milkshake is a pretty adorable moment – something I would never have thought I’d associate with Nyssa, of all people.
Al Sah-Him, otherwise known as Darth Oliver by Felicity, arrives in Starling to collect her, and it goes about as well as one would expect. Everyone is doubtful that Oliver will carry through on his plan to kill Nyssa (despite the fact that he straight up killed people in the first season without any hesitation and put an arrow in Slade Wilson’s eye seven years ago). If nothing else, it’s good to use Sah-Him’s return to Starling as a catalyst to get Thea to grab a bow to put an arrow through his wrist in order to keep him from killing Diggle. Al Sah-Him manages to get Nyssa by holding Diggle’s wife Lyla hostage, at which point she tries to remind him of his time as Oliver and being the best man at their wedding. The moment would have had more impact emotionally if Oliver and Diggle had spent any real time together after being held hostage in Nanda Parbat. The intention is sweet, but it doesn’t have enough evidence this year to back it all up.
After nabbing Nyssa, it’s revealed by Ra’s that this manhunt wasn’t about eliminating her after all, but retrieving something that she stole from him years ago. With that now in his possession and Sah-Him having proved himself, the only logical course of action by Ra’s is to make Nyssa the Bride of the Demon. Of course, Nyssa is very much repulsed by this idea. It does a good job of once again showing how set in his old ways Ra’s is when she says she doesn’t want to be married to Sah-Him and her father basically responds with “I don’t care”. Between this and Joe being all overprotective dad on The Flash, it’s not a good time to be a daughter in the DC Comics TV universe.
The item Nyssa stole turns out to be the Alpha/Omega bio-virus from five years ago. Apparently, when Ra’s was training to join the League, it was alongside another man. This man, Damien Darhk, grew frustrated after being refused the title of Ra’s and escaped. He’s since formed a hive of agents and has contributed to some of Team Arrow’s adventures over the past three years. The bio-virus being unleashed in Hong Kong those years ago which lead to the death of Maseo’s son Akio was by Damien’s design. At some point, Ra’s acquired it, it was stolen by Nyssa, and now the elder al Ghul wants Sah-Him to use it on Starling City to truly become the new Ra’s al Ghul. This all seems a bit convenient, but it’ll hopefully lead to a satisfying conclusion two weeks from now.
Laurel: “It’s fun seeing you act like a normal person.” Nyssa: “I am a normal person!”
I’m convinced that milkshake scene was written to appeal to Laurel/Nyssa shippers, and I am totally here for that pairing.
For the moment, I’ll be referring to Oliver as Al Sah-Him in my reviews, at least until he goes back to regular Oliver again.
Felicity: “Well, my mom used to feed me the bar before I was off the bottle, and I turned out normal.” Thea: “Ish…”
The Diggle family rule: No glocks at the dinner table. That’s not a bad rule, all things considered.