Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
If you thought Arrow had turned up the intensity prior to this episode, you were surely mistaken. The mid-season finale of Arrow entitled “The Climb” was by far one of the most action packed, emotional roller-coasters fans have been subjected to thus far.
After a killer crossover episode last week, Arrow returned to give fans a collective heart attack as they watched Oliver (Stephen Amell) battle the elusive leader of The League of Assassins, Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable). Before fans get to the chilling battle scene on the luxurious mountain top, Oliver deals with things a little closer to home. Nyssa (Katrina Law) shows up in Starling City on behalf of her father to threaten Oliver into finding Sara’s killer. She gives Oliver forty-eight hours to deliver the name of the killer before they start killing innocent civilians. Upon her visit, it’s revealed that Maseo (Karl Yune) is now working with the League following an incident with his family. Law has developed Nyssa into an important and strong female character, and it’s interesting to see what she will do to avenge Sara’s (Caity Lotz) death.
Meanwhile, it’s a Lance family reunion in Starling City, and just in time for the holidays. Dinah Lance (Alex Kingston) has come back into town to spend some quality time with her daughter. Although Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) is excited to have the family, minus Sara, back together, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is still hiding the secret about Sara actually being dead (and not backpacking through Europe). Despite Laurel’s best interests, Dinah figures out that Laurel is keeping something from her. In an emotional scene, Laurel admits that Sara is dead and that she has been protecting her father from the devastating news. Although Dinah has not been seen walking around Starling in some time, her character has grown substantially from the once hysterical mother who was convinced Sara was alive. In an empowering scene, Dinah and Laurel visit Sara’s grave, and Laurel vows to her mother that she will avenge Sara’s death. This is the perfect segue into Laurel’s character fully transforming into The Black Canary, which is scheduled to happen in 3B.
This episode also revisited the kiss shared between Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) during episode seven, “Draw Back Your Bow.” To refresh our memories, Felicity and Ray kiss after Ray gives her an expensive dress and takes her out to a work function. After locking lips with everyone’s favorite tech nerd, he promptly walks away without saying a word. In this episode, fans saw the awkward aftermath of Ray leaving Felicity. She thinks it would be best to pretend like it never happened and go back to business as usual but Ray can’t let it go. He traces Felicity’s phone to Verdant, where he explains that the reason he walked away was because he was engaged. The woman, Anna, died the night of Slade’s massive attack on Starling. Fair enough, but if Ray ever breaks Felicity’s heart again, he will have an army of angry fans at his door.
Now, this encounter wasn’t the last of the episode for Ray and Felicity. Later on, Felicity asks Ray why he even bothered buying Queen Consolidated. Ray then exposes his plan to build the A.T.O.M. exosuit. He plans on protecting the people of Starling City by miniaturizing Queen Consolidated’s weapons unit for the exosuit. Felicity responds with one of the best lines of the night: “Why does this keep happening to me?” Ray is a great guy, but Starling already has a vigilante to protect them. Ray has become an exceptional character this season and helps bring a bigger element of justice to the show. Roth has brought Ray to life exceptionally, and hopefully he will continue to grow as a character.
While the Lances are trying to celebrate Christmas, Team Arrow has bigger issues to worry about. With Ra’s al Ghul’s threat looming, Oliver, Felicity, Diggle (David Ramsey) and Roy (Colton Haynes) work hard at finding Sara’s killer. Felicity finally receives the DNA results from Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) at S.T.A.R. Labs, and it turns out it’s Oliver’s DNA on the fatal arrows. Oliver has made a lot of enemies by being the Arrow, but his logical conclusion is that Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) framed him. Upon further investigation (and a little torturing), the team discovers that Thea (Willa Holland) and Malcolm flew back to Starling around the time Sara was murdered. Oliver refuses to believe Thea would be responsible. Although he has been through a lot, part of his humanity remains loyal to his sister and their time before he was trapped on the island. This episode, fans saw moments where Oliver stripped down and simply wanted to save his little sister.
Upon Felicity and Diggle’s requests, Oliver pays a visit to Thea as the Arrow. In an amazing scene, Thea gets to show off those crazy, amazing fighting moves as she battles the Arrow. Holland has taken the character of Thea and transformed her from the innocent, teenage girl fans saw in season one and into an incredible and in depth character. Now, a duel between the Arrow and Thea doesn’t go unnoticed, Malcolm visits Oliver upon hearing this. In a tense encounter, Malcolm reveals that Thea is the one that killed Sara, upon his request. The catch? Thea doesn’t remember she did it because Malcolm drugged her. That deserves a “Father of the Year” award right? Malcolm proclaims his motives for Sara’s death by telling Oliver that he wants him to take the fall for Thea so he can kill Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver would do anything to save Thea, and he agrees to turn himself in and requests a trial by combat. Amell hit the mark this week with his emotional portrayal of Oliver. Due to the fact that Thea is the only remaining family he has left, Oliver will do anything to protect her. She is the reason he is fighting. Amell’s tear filled eyes say it all, and the subtlety of his acting was flawless.
Arrow always knows how to kick you while you’re down. The tear inducing goodbyes with Team Arrow dug the arrow deeper into fans hearts. After a bro hug with Roy and a friendly handshake with Diggle, Oliver must now say goodbye to Felicity. In an emotional and tearful goodbye, Felicity begs Oliver to kill Ra’s al Ghul so he can come home. If this wasn’t bad enough, Oliver and Felicity deliver one of the most heartbreaking dialogues of this season. Oliver says that he knows exactly two things about himself. The first being that he will do anything to save his sister. “What’s the second thing?” Felicity asks. To which Oliver Queen replies “That I love you.” “Olicity” shippers were promptly on the floor, sobbing as Oliver grabs his bag and leaves Felicity alone in the Arrow Cave. Amell and Rickards both have flourished in their respective roles. For a character who was only supposed to be in five episodes, Rickards has fleshed Felicity out into an emotional rock on which Oliver can lean. Amell and Rickards’ chemistry is flawless as they deliver some of the best-acted scenes this show has ever seen.
After a devastating goodbye, Oliver makes it to the top of the mountain to fight Ra’s al Ghul. They smack, slice and slay through each other, and eventually, Ghul has Oliver on the edge of the mountain. In a heartbreaking and emotional sequence, Ghul grabs his sword and plunges it deep into Oliver’s chest. Fans then see Oliver as he begins to lose consciousness and remember the people he loves- his father, his mother, Thea, and Felicity. Ghul takes no mercy and promptly pushes Oliver over the cliff, sending everyone’s favorite vigilante to his death. Talk about a mid-season finale.
With Oliver possibly dead, who knows where Arrow will pick up in January? Will Oliver survive his brutal stabbing and momentous fall, or will fans see Starling City in the wake of his death? Only the next episode of Arrow will answer these burning questions. Until then, fans can be found balled in a corner, sobbing and gasping for air as they await Arrow’s return.
Arrow will return on January 21, 2015 at 8/9c on the CW.
Overall Episode Grade: A