Captain Lance hits Oliver with some piercing accusations.

Following the one month hiatus of ‘Arrow,’ it was reasonable to expect the first episode back to re-acquaint us with the current plot and prepare the story and characters for the final arc of the season. And while this first episode back was pretty good, I was slightly disappointed as it was not in the same vein of ‘The Flash‘ in terms of quality, which came back with an excellent episode on Tuesday.

Jumping in, the episode picks up right where the last left off, with Ras Al Ghul offering the title of, well, Ras Al Ghul to Oliver Queen. He speaks of Oliver’s fortitude and repeatedly mentions how he survived his blade, a point that will be explained later. Ras shows Oliver around Nanda Parbat, demonstrating the loyalty of his solidiers and even finally revealing the Lazarus Pit which served to keep him alive all these years. (Oliver was not that surprised at the supernatural springs, and as an audience member I was definitely not too excited by it. We knew it was coming and visually looked more like the Lazarus Day Spa than the epic pits depicted in the comics.) Despite, the space and extra muscle, I didn’t think Nanda Parbat compared very well to the high-tech Arrow Cave, so that was definitely not the best selling point by Ras. More convincing were his words to Oliver about how his city and his loves would turn on him, that eventually they would all see him as nothing more than a vigilante, and that he could do so much more good, deliver so much more justice with the League of Assassins at his command, a point that Oliver clearly realizes. To prove his trustworthiness, Ras allows Oliver to go home with Merlyn and Diggle, calling all blood-oaths and vengeances off, which seemed a little too easy.

Back at the Arrow Cave, Thea frees Nyssa and explains that she killed Sara, but Nyssa does not believe her. Thea begs Nyssa to take the sword and kill her, even explaining in detail what happened, how she was the one who fired 3 arrows in Sara while under Malcolm’s influence. But Nyssa, like Laurel, only sees Thea as a victim and lets her live. At that moment Roy and Laurel enter the cave and see that Nyssa has escaped, quickly knocking her out and putting her back in her cell.

Oliver returns home, dropping Malcolm off to recover in the Queen apartment, basically telling Thea she has no choice in the matter, and then convening a meeting of the Quiver Crew to announce his return, as well as Malcolm’s, and to pick a new criminal to go after to remind the city that the Arrow is still in business. Also, he frees Nyssa, telling her to return to Nanda Parbat and speak with her father, with Nyssa not believing Oliver was still alive, as was Malcolm. Felicity then spots an alarm from a warehouse where exotic goods are being loaded onto a truck, and team Arrow is on the move.

The Arrow opens up the fight on the thieves, instantly spotting the man with the sewn up mouth during the calamity, while Arsenal and Black Canary jump in to help with the rest of the goons. After a daring rescue of Canary by the Arrow when she is almost run down by a van, the battle is over, leaving behind some diamonds that fell out of a crate that Roy tagged with an arrow, and a handful of unconscious bad guys, not including the closed mouth leader. Also, one of my favorite exchanges of the night occurs following the battle, between Oliver and Laurel:

OLIVER: You still need training.

LAUREL: When are you going to stop telling me that?

OLIVER: When you no longer need training.

Might not be Shakespeare, but between Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy, it was pretty damn entertaining. Anyways, following the warehouse heist the Arrow stops by SCPD to drop off the criminals they apprehended to Captain Lance, whose opinion of the Arrow has changed dramatically following the revelation about Sara’s death. Captain Lance says he threw away his principals regarding vigilantes and not taking the law into one’s own hands when he started helping the Arrow, and he only did it because he felt the Arrow could be trusted. But after lying to him for months about the death of his own daughter, Lance no longer trusts Arrow or any of his compatriots, and wants nothing to do with them. Oliver is shaken by this revelation, as it falls in line with Ras Al Ghul’s comments about the city turning on him.

Thea meanwhile babysits her demented father, murder on her mind, especially after a visit by Laurel who came to check in on her, and Merlyn’s own encouragement for her to kill him. Thea holds back however, as a testament to her mother and what she would have thought of Thea becoming a murderer. In the morning, Oliver visits Felicity at Palmer Technologies, his somewhat happy demeanor changing entirely as he watches Felicity and Ray interact, realizing they have become a couple. He speaks to her about the criminal with his mouth sewn shut, who we will soon learn is codenamed ‘Murmur’ due to Felicity’s hacking skills. Seems the man was tortured into a false confession from the SCPD, and was recently released from prison.

Oliver visits his sister and Malcolm, telling the latter about the offer from Ras Al Ghul to become the new head of the League of Assassins. Merlyn is not surprised and tells Oliver about the strange prophecy Ras was operating under, the one that stated that the man who survived the blade of Ras Al Ghul will become the next Ras Al Ghul.

Back at the Arrow Cave, Oliver and Diggle have a conversation about the offer from Ras Al Ghul, Diggle appalled that Oliver would ever consider the job. The conversation does not go well, but at least Diggle doesn’t dig up some connection with his time in Afghanistan to make a point. (don’t worry, the Afghanistan analogies continue, later in the episode Diggle does bring it up again). However, Oliver does point out that despite his being the Arrow, Starling City has not changed that much for the better, and as for protecting his family, his mom is dead, and his sister is in new worlds of pain and trauma. Diggle is shocked to discover that Oliver is seriously considering whether it would be the right thing to do to take the offer.  And across the world (supposedly, though I have no idea how these folks get around so quickly) in Nanda Parbat, Nyssa confronts her father about letting Malcolm and Oliver go, and he informs her that he offered the title of Ras Al Ghul to Oliver. Enraged, she claims she will not stand by and watch him do this, after which Ras basically just tells her to leave, not caring a bit about her opinion.

At the Arrow Cave, the team discusses Murmur and try to decide what he wants with the diamonds they found in the warehouse. They soon enough realize the diamonds could be fashioned into bullet piercing rounds, but not before Roy and Diggle go out to talk to some of his old fencing contacts to see what one would want those diamonds for. Alone in the HQ, Felicity, after having been filled in by Diggle of the Ras’ offer, has a talk with Oliver. He tells her his arguments in favor of becoming Ras Al Ghul, and she tells him about how everyone on the team had to figure out why they wanted to continue their crusade when they thought Oliver was dead, until that moment they had been following Oliver’s lead. Now, it was his turn to figure out what exactly he fought for, to catch up with the rest of Team Arrow.

At the police station, Captain Lance ignores a phone-call from Felicity, as Team Arrow has figured out that Murmur is out for revenge against the SCPD using the diamonds as amor-piercing bullets, and instead looks up to find his daughter visiting him. Laurel brings her dad food, and points out the usual steps along an argument between the two of them, asking if there was some way they could get past what happened. Captain Lance says he is not proud of it, but he just doesn’t know if he can forgive Laurel for breaking his trust. He’ll always love her, but he’s not sure if they can recover from what she did. Before they can talk any further however, Murmur and his crew storm the police station, taking down many cops. Laurel and Captain Lance hide behind his desk, with Lance creating a distraction so Laurel can get away, but she doesn’t get far before Mumur’s crew is assaulted by Arrow, Arsenal and Nyssa (who made it to Nanda Parbat and back again in the course of say, a day? Is that even possible?) The crew takes down Murmur’s men, while Captain Lance follows the close-lipped man to the back-alley, where they brawl in the street. Eventually Murmur gets the better of Lance, choking him out, but the policeman is saved by an arrow from Oliver. Lance gets back to his feet, looks to the Arrow and angrily quips, “Are you looking for a thank you?” To which Oliver quickly responds, “That’s not why I do this.”

In tonight’s flashbacks, which sadly still do not carry the weight, urgency or quality of seasons past, Oliver is taking care of Maseo and Tatsu’s son, trying to figure out what to do with the child and how to find his parents. Luckily, the boy points out a meeting place at the botanical gardens that his folks always said to meet at should they get separated. Unfortunately for Oliver, when they arrive at the likely place, he spots ARGUS agents everywhere, and tries to run for it with the boy. On the way out, he stops as he spots a familiar face, staring in shock as he breathes, “Shado?”

In the episode aftermath, Oliver admits to Felicity that he found his reason for being the Arrow, he does it for the families of the people he is trying to protect, trying to ensure they don’t lose as much as he has. He decides he is going to turn down Ras Al Ghul’s offer, telling Maseo so as he comes to Starling City on behalf of Ras expecting Oliver’s response. Maseo warns him that the offer was not really an offer, and more of a demand, but Oliver is adamant that he will not become the new leader of the League of Assassins. Meanwhile, Laurel leaves the SCPD and finds Nyssa there, and they briefly discuss why she is there and Nyssa says she wanted a reminder of Sara, with Laurel saying she could use the same. They bond over father issues, and Nyssa compliments Laurel on her fighting skills, saying they are basically coming along. Laurel asks if Nyssa might be interested in training her, and it seems Laurel has finally found someone to get her skills to the next level. Thea leaves the Queen apartment and her father and goes to Roy’s house, asking if she can stay with him because she can’t stay at her own house. It appears that for Thea, everyone she knows and loves has lied to her by this point, so she has chosen to forgiven Roy, who lied to her the least. They embrace, and kiss, and it seems the Roy/Thea relationship might have been rekindled.

In the final scene of the night, Murmur’s remaining goons gloat that they escaped and still have diamonds to sell, just as the Arrow jumps down from the ceiling of their warehouse, murdering all but one in cold blood, and telling the last one to tell others what he saw there. The Arrow pulls back his hood and it is revealed that Ras Al Ghul himself is posing as the vigilante, deciding to force Oliver’s hand.


* Captain Lance’s crusade against the Arrow is just beginning. Once he learns the “Arrow” is killing again, he will feel justified in taking down the vigilante, and will be able to do so by his own correct suspicions of who is under the hood

* Nyssa training Laurel will go well, for awhile, just like Ted’s training. But until Oliver trains her himself, she will never be able to operate on the same level as the rest of Team Arrow.

* Thea came into Roy’s house wearing Red, and we all know at one point she was Oliver’s sidekick in the comic, ‘Speedy.’ Is there a chance we’ll soon see a Team Arrow that includes Roy as Arsenal and Thea as Speedy?

Don’t get my wrong, it was not a bad ‘Arrow’ episode, but one could definitely feel it was more of a bridge episode, and I had hoped for an episode a bit more action-packed after a month off. Still it set up a lot of interesting dynamics, and if the trailer from Paleyfest is any indication, the season is definitely going to have plenty of explosive and eye-opening moments before the finale.