By Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor
This week’s brand-new episode of Arrow picked up after the fallout of last weeks emotionally charged episode. Last week Arrow fans watched as Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) finally took the next step in their relationship, Thea (Willa Holland) was resurrected thanks to the Lazarus Pit and Oliver finally took his place as Al Sah-him Heir to the Demon. Although last week’s episode was crucial to the show, this latest episode entitled “Al Sah-him” shows Oliver Queen changing from The Arrow into a potential villain for the team.
“My name was Oliver Queen. For two years, I worked to save my city. But to save my sister, I had to become someone else. I had to become… something else.” Stephen Amell may be the actor that has grown the most on Arrow. He has played the billionaire playboy, Queen Consolidated CEO, The Arrow and now he has taken on the role of the villain. This week fans watched as everyone’s favorite vigilante was stripped away and in his place stood a changed man. Amell does an incredible job of stripping away just enough of Oliver Queen for Al Sah-him to come to the forefront. The amazing part about this transformation is that fans can still see a hint of Oliver just under the surface and this ability is credited whole-heartedly to Amell.
Oliver’s transformation may have been a big part of this latest Arrow episode, however the two breakthrough performances this week were from Katie Cassidy and Katrina Law. Nyssa and Laurel became an unlikely friendship back in episode sixteen of this season when Nyssa fled the League of Assassins and agreed to train Laurel. This week, fans got a peek into the new budding friendship. Law and Cassidy play very well off of each other and they create some of the most memorable scenes this week. The two characters also manage to do something rarely seen on primetime television: hold several conversations that are not solely centered around men. Nyssa and Laurel’s scenes pass the Bechdel Test with flying colors. Cassidy and Law do an incredible job at portraying a realistic, honest and truthful female friendship, which is something that’s lacking on television today.
As fans watch Oliver leave behind his old life, he’s tasked by Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) to bring Nyssa back to Nanda Parbat. In several epic, comic-book style duels, Oliver returns to Starling City with Maseo (Karl Yune) to capture Nyssa. In an awesome battle of pure skill, Nyssa and Oliver duel on a rooftop. When the fight begins to swing in Oliver’s favor, Black Canary steps in with her Canary Cry, an ability given to her by Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) in a recent episode of The Flash. With Laurel using the Canary Cry it helps bring Arrow a step closer to its comic book roots, which is extremely satisfying for fans.
Diggle (David Ramsey), Thea, Felicity and Laurel deal with Oliver officially accepting the role of Al Sah-him. Each of these characters deliver incredibly poignant moments this week, however, one that stood out the most was Diggle. Diggle has been placed in the background this season on Arrow. For a character that was instrumental in Oliver’s original crusade, it was jarring to see him pushed to the background. This week however, he stepped up and helped Team Arrow immensely. Ramsey is a very talented actor and he has the extraordinary ability to play a character that holds it together on the outside but seems to be cracking just under the surface. After losing Oliver last week, Diggle returns to Starling City to continue the crusade of saving Starling City. At a family style dinner with Team Arrow, Diggle says what is sure to become their new moto: “Gone but, never forgotten.” Ramsey has the incredible ability to seamlessly step to the foreground of any episode and create some of the most memorable moments.
In Arrow this week, Diggle shared some emotional scenes with Felicity. Felicity and Diggle are the two constant members of Team Arrow and this week fans saw how much Oliver’s actions impacted the two of them specifically. Both of them refuse to believe Oliver Queen is really gone and Al Sah-him is all that remains. Rickards and Ramsey create some of the more emotional moments and it was refreshing to see the two of them together. The arc of realization that Felicity and Diggle go through in order to accept that the Oliver they knew is gone is amazing.
In the only major action sequence of the episode, Diggle brings Felicity back to his apartment only to frantically discover that Oliver has taken Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) hostage and will give her back in exchange for Nyssa. Ramsey’s portrayal of a husband that will do anything to keep his wife safe is incredible. In the end, Team Arrow must battle the League of Assassins in order to save Lyla. This sequence not only showcases how far Black Canary and the entire team has come but also exhibits that Oliver isn’t completely lost. Before the fight breaks out, Oliver has Maseo pat everyone down. When he approaches Felicity she demands that he back off and Oliver sides with her. This small moment helps showcase that all of Oliver Queen isn’t completely lost because Felicity continues to be his weakness. In the midst of the battle, Diggle delivers another powerful line while he duels with Oliver. He says, “You’re still Oliver. I don’t care if the hood is black or green. You’re still you!” In the end, Lyla is returned safely and Nyssa is swept up by the League of Assassins.
This weeks episode of Arrow continues to show Rickards incredible performance as Felicity Smoak. After last weeks emotional episode where she finally admitted to Oliver that she loves him, the fallout this week was going to be that much harder. Rickards does an incredible job at creating a character that clings so desperately to the man she fell in love with only to find out he might be gone forever. There are several emotional scenes involving Rickards this week however, the one that hit Arrow fans the hardest came at the end of the episode. In a moment without any dialogue, fans watch as Felicity makes a trip back to the destroyed, burned down Foundry. She sits in Oliver’s swivel chair and simply weeps. Rickards incredible ability to make such an impact on fans with a small and poignant scene shows just how much she has grown as an actress and how important Felicity is to the story of Arrow.
This weeks episode of Arrow also saw two fan-favorite finally sharing scenes together. With Oliver Queen gone, fans had a feeling that it would hit Felicity and Thea the hardest. Arrow fans were in for a treat this week when the two shared several scenes together, something that has never been done with two characters. Although their scenes together were new and exciting it was their standalone realizations and emotional arcs that had fans on the edge of their seats. Fans never imagined they needed this incredible match up, but now that it’s been presented they want more. Holland and Rickards are two actors that have made their characters completely their own and having the two of them together is incredible.
Thea Queen continues to kick some serious butt on Arrow and it’s amazing. After being resurrected by the Lazarus Pit last week, fans waited anxiously for the repercussions and surprisingly no insane side effects showed up, yet. Like Felicity, Thea tries to cling to the memory of her brother and tries hopelessly to believe he is the same person she loves. When she hears from Malcolm (John Barrowman) that Oliver is indeed back in town hunting Nyssa al Ghul, Thea decides it’s time to take matters into her own hands. In a legendary reveal, Thea shows up at the battle over Nyssa. She shoots Oliver with an arrow in order to save Diggle and is wearing her own superhero costume. Holland has effortlessly taken Thea from a simple background character into a full-blown superhero-in-training and it’s an incredible journey. Since season one when Oliver revealed that Thea’s name is “Speedy,” fans have been waiting to see if Thea would take on that superhero identity. In the comic book universe, Speedy is Roy Harper and then it’s handed down to Mia Dearden. In the comic books, Dearden is a runaway girl who takes on the moniker Speedy to help aid The Green Arrow. In tonight’s episode, the outfit, complete with a cape and hood, that Thea wears seems to be a nod to Dearden. Fans of Arrow can now wait on the edge of their seats and see if Thea will officially join Team Arrow as Speedy.
By episode’s end, Felicity tells Thea that Roy (Colton Haynes) is alive and she should go be happy with him, Laurel mourns the potential loss of Nyssa and Nyssa has been taken hostage by Oliver and dragged off to Nanda Parbat. While in Nanda Parbat, Arrow delivers one of its most shocking twists this season. Before Oliver can kill Nyssa, Ra’s al Ghul stops him and says he has another plan. Instead of killing his daughter, he has decided that Nyssa and Oliver will get married. Insanity. And if that wasn’t enough, Ra’s al Ghul tells Oliver he must unleash a deadly bio-weapon on Starling City in order to prove his loyalty. Arrow continues to deliver twist after twist and with only two episodes left, fans cannot wait to see how season three will wrap up.