It’s all about fathers this week, as many members of the cast examine their relationships with their paternal figures. It’s appropriate, of course, considering the entire narrative of “Arrow” began with a promise Oliver Queen made to his dying father to free Starling City from corruption. Now, Oliver has a new father figure, a stern one named Ra’s Al Ghul who offered something to Oliver that Robert Queen never could: a legacy.
The offer ruffles the feathers of Ra’s Al Ghul’s actual heir, Nyssa, who’s still mourning the loss of Sara Lance. It represents the rejection of a daughter who’s served as her father’s loyal assassin. Whether as an act of defiance or an attempt to gain the trust of Team Arrow, Nyssa helps Oliver and company take down the new villain Murmur. It wouldn’t be the first time that an Al Ghul daughter joined forces with a masked vigilante in betrayal of her father. By episode’s end, Nyssa and Laurel appear to be chummy, with Nyssa agreeing to train the neophyte Black Canary. (Has Wildcat been written out already?)
It feels a lot like a Bronze Age story, if DC Comics had lost the Batman rights somewhere around 1975; Oliver Queen is running a gauntlet that Bruce Wayne has faced many times. The temptation of the resources of Ra’s Al Ghul must seem very tempting to Oliver, who has a narrow focus on saving his city. Batman has always been a big-picture type of guy, but Oliver runs on emotion and a need to fulfill a promise to his father. It’s utterly fascinating for this old-school comic fan to watch the contrast of TV’s Oliver Queen going through the paces of a classically plotted Ra’s Al Ghul story.
Speaking of classic, we finally receive confirmation of the Lazarus Pit as Ra’s shows Oliver its healing properties. The pit was teased in two of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and has also been hinted at a few times on “Arrow,” but this week, the healing water of Lazarus finally made its live-action debut. Ah, but there’s intrigue surrounding the water, as Ra’s tells Oliver he’s growing immune to its healing properties. Yet, when Ra’s cut his hand after telling Nyssa he’d be giving the League of Assassins to Oliver, he dipped his hand into the Lazarus Pit, and it returned as good as new. Is Ra’s playing a game to test his daughter’s will?
Oliver’s Faustian temptation force him to butt heads with the rest of Team Arrow, with Diggle and Felicity opposed to him becoming the next Demon’s Head. Felicity is comfortable in the arms of her new beau Ray Palmer (no Atom action this week), but she’s still Oliver’s rock.
But while Oliver ponders his future, other cast members deal with the issues involving their fathers.
First we have Laurel Lance, who seeks forgiveness from her father, still seething over her role in Sara’s death. Quentin Lance is also angry with the Arrow, which makes Ra’s Al Ghul’s prediction that Starling City will soon turn on Oliver ominous indeed. These daddy issues cause Laurel to discover her new bond with Nyssa. If there’s anyone who understands father/daughter drama, it’s her.
Of course, no one has bigger father issues than Thea Queen, who finds a recovering Malcolm Merlyn on her couch after Oliver brings him back from Nanda Parbat. There’s no forgiveness in Thea’s heart, as she’s filled with revulsion over what her father made her do -- namely, killing Sara Lance. Thea finds solace back in the arms of Roy Harper, who’s eager to have her back. Roy also kicks some rare ass this week, and actually takes down Nyssa -- a far cry from being knocked out every week.
All this drama is framed by the arrival of Murmur, who, in DC comics, has traditionally been a Flash foe. However, the TV version is a maniac who wants vengeance on the Starling City police for beating him into a false confession. There isn’t a great deal of depth to Murmur, because the episode does a lot of telling and not much showing when it comes to his origin and motivations. Still, the villain of the week provides a worthy test for a fractured team Arrow and a true threat to Captain Lance and his precinct. When Murmur is soundly defeated, Oliver is once again certain of his path as his city’s protector. Team Arrow is secure, and things seem solid once again for our heroes.
That is, until a vigilante in a green hood takes kills Murmur’s remaining men in an attempt to mar the good name and mission of the Arrow. Beneath the disguise is none other than Ra’s Al Ghul, which suggests Oliver is about to discover the Demon’s Head doesn’t take no for an answer.
And if the arrival of Ra’s to Starling City isn’t enough, this week’s flashback reveals that Shado may not have died on the island after all. That certainly adds a wrinkle to Slade Wilson’s story.