“This tale is over before it begins…” And yes, maybe this particular tale wrapped itself up a little too quickly. There was serious mileage in the idea of Oliver inheriting Ra’s throne as the Demon’s Head, leader of the League of Assassins. Of course it could never be a long term proposition, but as a story arc it held a lot of promise. Just think of the potential – if Oliver had accepted, would he have attempted to reform the League? What moral compromises would he have endured, reconciling his better nature with their established methods? Could he have controlled the destiny of his city from the secret realm of Nanda Parbat, with its Game Of Thrones flavoured machinations and betrayals in fire-lit chambers? It could have been a truly dramatic storyline and a refreshing shake-up of the show’s format. As it is Arrow seems in undue haste to return its hero to Starling and resume business as usual.
So, Mr Scaryface, how exactly do you eat? Baby food through a straw? Not so scary now, are you, mate?
Still, “The Offer” is an effective, well-crafted episode, stronger than of late. It leaves its action beats till last, foregrounding some meaty character stuff. Stephen Amell is particularly impressive as an Oliver Queen suffering a crisis of faith, a crisis of self (“John, tell me honestly, what have we accomplished?). Oliver’s clearly unnerved by Ra’s prediction that the city will turn against him and Amell captures the self-doubt behind the stoic mask. The moment he tells Dig that Felicity is “preoccupied” is nicely understated, a telling glimmer of Oliver’s resentment at her relationship with Ray.
Matthew Nable continues to be good value as Ra’s al Ghul. The Aussie twang still throws me but he underplays perfectly, giving Ra’s reserves of cool intellect and restrained power. “My time is almost over,” he declares, in a moment that shows both Ra’s’ humanity and megalomania. “But my legacy won’t just be ash and bone. It’ll be history.” I’m not entirely convinced he’d dirty his hands by personally impersonating the Arrow in Starling but hey.
Elsewhere comic book villain Murmur makes for a memorably macabre visual with his stitched lips but feels a touch underused. Thea’s clearly heading for meltdown. Nyssa’s decision to train Laurel feels a little too cosy. And Shado’s appearance in Hong Kong puts an unexpected new spin on the ongoing feud between Oliver and Slade. Intriguing…
DC supervillain Murmur made his debut in Flash: Iron Heights in 2001. He’s the creation of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. His mutated physiology gives him super-immunity to toxins.
Just like last week’s helmer Gregory Smith, director Dermott Downs is a former child actor. He appeared in such '70s fare as Little House On The Prairie and Freaky Friday.
It's The Pits
So here, finally, is our confirmation that Ra’s bathes in rejuvenating, immortality-bestowing waters. The Lazarus Pit is an essential part of the character’s lore in the comic books. The DCU version of Nyssa owns her own pit – one of five in the world, including one in the Batcave. As well as prolonging life they also give the gift of insanity…
Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD on Thursday nights, and in the US on Wednesday nights.
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