NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow”, including a major character death, are present in this review
Arrow’s had a pretty exciting first two episodes for its final season, though the show felt like it was set up for a losing battle through its exploration of the past, since not every major Arrow storyline has been a gem. That issue particularly came into focus in, “Leap of Faith”, which is saddled with the difficult duty of calling back to the show’s rather uneven League of Assassins storyline from Season Three, as Oliver must go to Nanda Parbat to look for more answers regarding the Monitor and his agenda. At the same time, Diggle and Lyla undertake a mission to liberate Ben Turner’s kidnapped family from a dangerous terrorist, seemingly setting up Connor Hawke’s future adoption by the Diggle family.
If there’s a bright spot to this episode’s League of Assassins storyline, it’s the return of a couple of key characters from the show’s past, once again. Willa Holland most notably makes a brief return to the show in this episode, as Oliver ends up reuniting with Thea after reaching Nanda Parbat, who has been separated from Nyssa, and continues to battle against Athena and the Thanatos Guild. The emotional reunion between Oliver and Thea delivers many of this episode’s best scenes, particularly as we get to see just how much Thea has grown up since Arrow’s early seasons. She’s now a fully independent and skilled warrior in her own right, sporting battle scars and new techniques, which Oliver can naturally make use of in his latest quest.
Since Oliver and Thea still don’t completely know where they’re going however, they’ll need to consult an OG League of Assassins member to get potential information on the Monitor. Since Nyssa and Sara Lance are indisposed, and both Malcolm Merlyn and Ra’s Al Ghul are dead, the Queen siblings’ only choice is to seek out Talia. Talia’s own brief return to Arrow is also pretty decent, as she prepares to train a new generation of League of Assassins members, while fighting her own battle against the Thanatos Guild. The initial team-up with Talia thus proves to be fruitful, until she inevitably betrays Oliver and Thea, in an effort to secure a power-defining relic for herself.
The moral ambiguity and shady world of the League of Assassins still manages to shine through every so often, but it’s disappointing that this episode still can’t redeem the Thanatos Guild, who remain very boring and uninspired villains. Even Talia’s betrayal seems like a moot point in the end, which merely results in a brief and anti-climactic duel between Thea and Talia, which Thea obviously wins. Talia is spared however, with Thea taking the relic that gives her power over the League of Assassins, while Oliver successfully finds information that seems to confirm the Monitor making contact with the first ever Ra’s Al Ghul thousands of years ago, and threatening to destroy all of existence if the balance between good and evil is not maintained. This would seemingly present the Monitor as the villain of the coming Crisis, though DC fans would no doubt be able to anticipate that the original Ra’s Al Ghul more than likely interacted with the Anti-Monitor instead, who is the true threat behind the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event in December and January.
The Lyla/Diggle subplot meanwhile is fairly entertaining when it focuses on the interactions between Diggle and Lyla themselves, particularly after Diggle has had to try and come to terms with seeing all of Earth-2 disintegrate before his eyes. The episode attempts some of this fallout with Oliver as well, but it’s done a bit better with Diggle, even if Diggle and Lyla run into disappointingly little resistance in their efforts to rescue Ben Turner’s wife and child. Frankly, the Diggle family’s mere presence in this storyline feels a little forced, especially since Lyla has to keep making increasingly flimsy excuses as to why she can’t just send an A.R.G.U.S. team to rescue the Hawke family. The Hawke’s are rescued and sent to Hong Kong in the end, though given the events of the flash-forwards, we already know that Sandra Hawke and Ben Turner are both seemingly marked for death, so it’s tough to really feel much toward this story resolution, when we already know that it obviously won’t stick.
Fortunately though, the flash-forwards actually managed to carry more narrative weight than usual in this episode, which was another bright spot in the storytelling. The flash-forwards start off a little slowly, mind you, with William somehow escaping the Deathstroke Gang ambush off-screen, which feels a little lazy, but oh well. With an increasingly impatient Mia thus desperate to strike back at the Deathstroke Gang, the future Team Arrow ultimately decides to take the fight directly to JJ. This ends up going fairly decently at first too, until Mia is nearly killed by JJ, resulting in Zoe running up to save her… And being stabbed through the heart! This was actually a pretty great shock, since Zoe disagreed with Mia’s aggressive strategy, but came along anyway, out of loyalty to her leader. Thus, seeing a crying Mia holding Zoe’s dead body in her arms, right as Connor almost murders his adopted brother out of revenge, is an effectively dramatic and memorable moment, made all the better when a flash of light transports the future Team Arrow into 2019, to meet the present-day Team Arrow! This is no doubt the Monitor’s work, but it’s another exciting turn, one that potentially teases the involvement of the future Team Arrow during the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event, as well as the present-day one!
Even with the exciting trip back through time for Team Arrow 2.0 however, “Leap of Faith” was still saddled with a lot of tedious, unrewarding storytelling. This is an inevitable byproduct of Arrow having to revisit one of its less effective season arcs, especially when we’re once again stuck with the Thanatos Guild, and another disposable terrorist threat, as the villains of the episode. It didn’t feel like any of the characters faced truly worthwhile obstacles here, with the exception to this surprisingly being the flash-forwards, which exceptionally culminated with the shocking death of Zoe, and the trip to the present for the other future-era heroes. This could lead to a decent fusion between the present-era and future-era events of Arrow in the lead-up to the Crisis, but it sucks that the show’s efforts to come full circle in its final season mean having to take some of its less good storylines with the very good storylines. Even if Oliver is no closer to discovering the true agenda of the Monitor however, hopefully the future Team Arrow coming to Star City will give Oliver and his team something more challenging to occupy themselves with in the meantime.
- Heartfelt reunion between Oliver and Thea
- Some emotional moments between Diggle and Lyla
- Some legitimately great twists for the flash-forwards
- The Thanatos Guild are still dull, uninspired villains
- Thea/Talia duel is too quick and anti-climactic
- Diggle/Lyla subplot is often tedious