We knew when Ra’s Al Ghul was revealed as the main antagonist for “Arrow’s” third season that someone would take the plunge in a Lazarus Pit. Last week, Ra’s impaled Thea Queen with a sword, and this week Oliver Queen has to give himself fully to the Demon’s Head and the League of Assassins to save his sister’s life.
While “The Fallen” is action-packed, with Team Arrow desperately trying to save Oliver and Thea from the League, it’s the episode’s more thoughtful moments that make it something special.
The most impactful one of those quiet scenes is the first meeting between John Diggle and Maseo, Oliver’s partner in crime from his Hong Kong days. This episode has a significant Maseo focus, as there’s also a flashback in which he, Oliver and Tatsu race to stop a biological agent from infecting Hong Kong. During that sequence, we see Tatsu kick some serious butt, Katana-style, but not even this trio can prevent the vial containing a deadly virus from breaking. We will have to wait until next week to see how that one plays out. However, in the present, Maseo steps up and helps Oliver to try to escape the clutches of Ra’s and the League.
Maseo and Diggle are mirror images of each other, two men whose lives have been touched by Oliver Queen; they’re warriors but, more importantly, fathers who will do anything for their children. The only difference is that Maseo has lost his child and the shell of a man he once was now serves Ra’s Al Ghul. Maseo’s meeting with Oliver’s current wingman reminds him of who he used to be. This compels Maseo to help Oliver escape -- a noble effort, but one that’s thwarted by Ra’s, and Oliver’s need to keep his extended family safe.
Most of this season has focused on the war between Oliver and Ra’s. On the surface, it appeared Oliver didn’t want to join the League for reasons of morality, but this week, it becomes clear he also doesn’t want to leave Starling City and his family -- particularly Felicity. She’s the member of Team Arrow most willing to fight for Oliver, the one desperate to keep him out of the League’s clutches, and it’s Felicity who changes most because of this week’s events.
Ray Palmer breaks off his relationship with Felicity because he recognizes how deep her feelings are for Oliver, show just how good of a person he is. The end of Raylicity underscores the tragic events of Nanda Parbat, as Felicity lost Ray for Oliver, only for Oliver to become lost to her. That doesn’t stop them from consummating their love, however, as they enjoy one romantic evening within Nanda Parbat.
Felicity even tries to drug Oliver and drag him out of Nanda Parbat, but she, Merlyn, Diggle, Thea and Oliver are just grossly outnumbered. Not even Maseo could turn the tide against the League, and Oliver is forced to stay behind so his friends can escape in a tightly paced action sequence.
The question remains, how Thea will respond to this? Oliver sacrifices his freedom for her, and now she’s safe back in Starling City. However, Oliver and Roy are nowhere to be found. The only person she has is Malcolm Merlyn, who was once willing to sacrifice her to the League to save himself. Has nearly losing his daughter changed Malcolm, or is he still playing some long game?
Thea had some cool scenes this week in Nanda Parbat as she was revived in the Lazarus Pit, emerging completely insane. With the help of a priestess, Thea regains her mind rather quickly and was now healthy in body thanks to Oliver’s sacrifice. However, one has to wonder what losing Oliver will do to her psyche. Plus, how will Merlyn take advantage of Thea’s vulnerability?
It all sounds intense, and it was, but the most powerful moment of the episode is when Ra’s brands Oliver and transforms him into the Heir of the Demon. It was a moment ripped from a Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams comic – and, really, as we watch the DC Universe unfold on The CW, what more fitting tribute can comic fans ask for?