NOTE: We apologize for the tardiness of this review. Our regular television reporter was ill at the time of airing
NOTE 2: Full spoilers for this episode of Arrow are present in this review
After the startling cliffhanger conclusion of last week’s episode, Oliver is officially out of options. After scooping up a dying Thea and rushing her to Starling General Hospital, Oliver hears that Thea is in a medically-induced coma, and will likely never awaken again. When Diggle and Felicity rush onto the scene, Oliver simply tells them that there is no plan. Ra’s Al Ghul has won.
This scene kicks off what is a very emotionally charged episode for Arrow this week. Merlyn follows shortly on Oliver’s heels to see his dying daughter, and even the hardened villain breaks down in tears at the sight. Viewers will effortlessly feel the weight of Ra’s’ actions at the end of last week, making Oliver’s surrender to the League of Assassins feel hard to swallow, but not because it’s contrived. The narrative really earned it, and that’s awesome.
When Oliver goes to confront Maseo, beginning with a hearty punch in the face, Maseo tells Oliver that Thea can be saved by the League, if Oliver brings her to Nanda Parbat, and pledges himself to becoming Ra’s Al Ghul’s successor. Merlyn later advises Oliver against bringing Thea to Nanda Parbat, since the Lazarus Pits change those that they heal, inevitably for the worst. On this note, it was cool to see the show finally refer to Ra’s Al Ghul’s healing pool as a Lazarus Pit, just like in DC Comics.
Oliver decides to go to the League’s headquarters in Nanda Parbat, with Diggle, Felicity and Merlyn all coming along. Felicity then goes to borrow Ray’s jet, with Ray confronting Felicity about still being in love with Oliver. This was another tear-jerking scene in an episode full of tear-jerking moments, with Felicity tearfully confessing that Ray was someone she never meant to hurt. Ray gives the group use of the jet, but the idea of a great couple like Ray and Felicity falling apart at the cost is another bitter pill to swallow.
When the group touch down in Nanda Parbat, a ceremony is prepared to revive Thea, with Merlyn declaring that he would rather lose Thea forever than subject her to the pit. Wow. That’s a bold claim! Diggle also takes this time to snap at Maseo for his actions, telling him that he’s a weakling and a coward for participating in the rupturing of a family. Cue more emotion, as Maseo finally reveals to Diggle that his own son died, confirming speculation that Maseo and Tatsu separated on account of the death of Akio, which hasn’t happened yet in the flashbacks. Diggle apologizes for Maseo’s loss, but then asks him if Maseo truly feels that his son would be proud of his work with the League. The scene then feels abruptly cut short, no doubt trimmed to satisfy an episode length restriction, and it’s a bummer that we don’t see the rest of this conversation.
Instead, we smash cut to Thea getting revived in the Lazarus Pit, then jumping out all demon-like. She manages to be knocked out again, with Merlyn saying I told you so, and Oliver nonetheless preparing to say his goodbyes, which includes some sexy time with Felicity. That was no doubt a long time coming. Felicity drugs him at the end of the intimate encounter though, knocking him out, and enacting a plan with Diggle and Merlyn to smuggle him out of Nanda Parbat, alongside Thea, who ranges from being angry to being confused when she awakens.
Surprisingly, Maseo helps the group try to escape, though eventually they are cornered, with Oliver waking up, and saying that the assassins must stand down, as Oliver is now Heir to the Demon. The assassins comply, and Oliver tells his friends to take Thea home, forced to stay in Nanda Parbat. I have to say, seeing the plan fail was a surprisingly well-executed curveball for this episode, with Oliver soon thereafter getting dressed in full League of Assassins gear, and looking mighty badass. The only thing that somewhat ruins this scene is Ra’s Al Ghul inexplicably sparing Maseo for flat-out betraying him, saying that the old Maseo betrayed him, not his new identity. Oh, come on! The League rules are supposed to be lethally rigid, especially when they involve open acts of defiance against Ra’s Al Ghul. It really felt like Maseo got off easy here.
One last scene then unfolds in Starling City, with Merlyn seeing Thea awake, and convincing her to let him care for her… Now completely back to her normal self, with no confusion or rage issues, complete with her prior hatred of Merlyn. Again, like Maseo being spared, this felt like a cop-out. Why would Merlyn get so bent out of shape about using the Lazarus Pits, if the negative effects wore off pretty quickly? The fact that he said Thea would be better off dead than slightly ill-tempered for a bit felt even more bizarre. Get a grip, Merlyn!
This just leaves the flashbacks, which continue to finally realize their exciting potential. The pursuit against Shrieve kicks into high gear, with Oliver, Tatsu and Maseo getting plenty of cool action scenes where they take out Shrieve’s soldiers, contrasting nicely with the heavier drama in the events of the present. After all is said and done though, the completed Alpha/Omega weapon is dropped in a big crowd, right next to Oliver. Oh boy. Maybe we’ll actually get some Creature Commandos out of the deal!… But probably not. That would probably be a lot more likely on The Flash, not the more dark and grounded Arrow. Too bad.
“The Fallen” was an episode that was packed with heart-wrenching drama, especially amazing performances from the leads, and some pretty action-packed flashbacks. There were some frustrating logic lapses in the story here and there, but the excellent turnout made it all worth it. With Oliver now officially Heir to the Demon, and the rest of his crew left to ponder the League’s next move, Arrow is sure to have a very exciting handful of remaining episodes for the rest of Season Three!
Arrow delivered on all fronts this week, thanks to a heartbreaking series of tragedies, some cool, action-packed flashback sequences, and Oliver now officially surrendered to the League of Assassins.