After the shocking twist at the end of “Arrow’s” Feb. 25 episode, we have a lot of questions — and with the show in repeats until March 18, onscreen answers won’t be forthcoming any time soon. Luckily, Variety was among a number of outlets to talk with executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg following a screening of “Nanda Parbat,” and the duo — along with stars Katrina Law (Nyssa al Ghul) and John Barrowman (Malcolm Merlyn) — had plenty to tease about what’s coming up for Oliver and company when the show returns in three weeks.
Below, we ponder the implications of “Nanda Parbat” and offer the producers’ insights on what’s ahead for Team Arrow.
How will Oliver react to Ra’s al Ghul’s offer?
Needless to say, neither viewers nor Oliver were expecting Ra’s al Ghul to offer our hero the opportunity to take his place as head of the League of Assassins, and Oliver will still be reeling from that choice when episode 16, aptly titled “The Offer,” picks up. “Oliver is completely taken aback, because he’s not expecting that to be the case,” Kreisberg told reporters. “It was something that Greg [Berlanti] and Marc and I talked about — that it was important to have a different villain this year; somebody who was going to be doing something completely different. In season one we had the incomparable John Barrowman, who had his mission. Obviously, last year Slade’s mission was one of vengeance. For this year to have Ra’s, who’s presented as this giant malevolent force, but then to come up and basically offer the keys to the kingdom to our hero, it just felt like such a different way to go and a different relationship for Oliver to have with the villain. What Oliver’s reaction to it is, what Nyssa’s reaction to it is, what everyone’s reaction to it is, makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes — and what his answer is, and what that prompts all the other characters to do… It’s a different kind of threat because they’re asking him to join up. As Malcolm tells him in a subsequent episode [Ra’s] is not really asking. That leads to all sorts of interesting combinations and new paradigms.”
What does Oliver’s choice mean for Ra’s daughter, Nyssa, who has always assumed that she will inherit her father’s mantle?
Regardless of Oliver’s decision, the fact that Ra’s would bequeath his legacy to an enemy instead of his own child has major ramifications for Nyssa, according to Kreisberg: “Nyssa is the Heir to the Demon, so you can imagine how she feels when she finds out that what she would consider to be her birthright is being handed to Oliver.”
Oliver has received the offer of a lifetime.
Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) asked Oliver (Stephen Amell) to take over his title and lead the League of Assassins on Tuesday’s Arrow, after capturing him and Diggle (David Ramsey).
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The move gives a strong nod to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, in which Ra’s was initially played by Ken Watanabe. He was replaced by Liam Neeson by the end of the movie, demonstrating the idea that the title of Ra’s is passed from one person to the other, and this how he achieves his immortality. In the comics, Ra’s cheats death thanks to regular baths in the restorative waters of the Lazarus Pits.
Oliver now has a choice. If he joins The League of Assassins as its leader, it would certainly be hard for him to stick to his “no killing” vow, though perhaps he could reform the group as its head.
If he did take the title, he is in a better position to leave Starling City than he might know. Fledling superhero Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) provides the possibility that Oliver could potentially exit and feel like he wasn’t failing his city. As the Atom, Palmer took a flight for the first time, and he could potentially be a protector to fill Oliver’s shoes.
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But things are also more complicated since Oliver left Starling City to hunt Ra’s for a second time. Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) confessed her role in Sara’s (Caity Lotz) death to Nyssa (Katrina Law), Sara’s former lover and Ra’s’ daughter. Thea freed Nyssa, and now Ra’s’ daughter will also have a choice. She can either take out her anger over Sara’s death on Thea, or save her rage for the man truly responsible, Thea’s father Merlyn (John Barrowman), who drugged her and forced her to kill Sara.
Like Oliver’s “death,” earlier this season, it’s unlikely he will be leaving Starling City for good (the show has been picked up for a fourth season, and The Atom is being eyed for its own spinoff). But whatever happens, these questions won’t be tackled until the next episode, the aptly titled “The Offer.”
Arrow returns March 18 at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Caution: This story contains major spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Arrow. Read at your own risk.
Though it seemed like Oliver (Stephen Amell) was facing certain death when he traveled to Nanda Parbat to rescue Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) during Wednesday’s episode of Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) instead gave the emerald archer an intriguing offer: Become the new Ra’s al Ghul.
Suffice it to say, Oliver will be taken aback by the offer, though he may not have a choice. “[It’s] what Oliver is willing to do to end the threat of the League,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says. “Now it’s a different kind of threat because they’re asking him to join up, and as Malcolm tells him in a subsequent episode, he’s not really asking. That leads to all sorts of interesting conversations and new paradigms.”
“To have Ra’s presented as this giant malevolent force, but then to come up and basically offer the keys to the kingdom felt like such a different way to go and a different relationship to have with the villain,” Kreisberg continues. “What Oliver’s reaction to Ra’s’ offer, what Nyssa’s [Katrina Law] reaction to it is makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes.”
Cliffhangers on cliffhangers (?) on cliffhang-ehs. Tonight’s Arrow, the last new one for about a month, had a lot going on and left several plot threads up in the air. Several of our favorite characters spent most of tonight’s episode going through some kind of internal (and for one, external) torture, and it seems as though the writers are intent on giving a tiny taste of torture by making us wait a month for all of this to be resolved. The most important cliffhanger of the evening definitely revealed how much the show is inspired by the Batman comics.
“Nanda Parbat” is one of those Arrow episodes that it will take several viewings for me to process because there is so much to unpack. So, you can expect me to chime in the comments section during the hiatus. That being said, there were definitely many enjoyable parts of this episode. First, the show continued its trend of calling Oliver out on some of his condescension and general asshattiness, while also making him more sympathetic than he’s been for most of this season. Furthermore, we saw Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn share a bloody scene together—and it was such a treat. If there’s one thing this episode accomplished, it’s that it definitely made some of the iffier parts of this season make sense. Also, there was some Felicity and Ray stuff that happened and we’ll definitely talk about it.
FLASHBACK: HONG KONG
Oliver is taken back to China where Waller and the General’s men debrief him on the Omega sitch—a sitch I’m still not sure what to make of. Now that the virus has been recovered, the army has taken control of the operation and Waller is no longer involved, which pleases both General Shrive and Oliver. After thanking him for his service, General Shrive tells Oliver he can go anywhere in the world; back to Starling and/or rejoin Maseo and Tatsu in Hong Kong.
Oliver chooses the latter. But, as he and the Yamashiro family are about to board a boat, they are attacked by some of Waller’s men. Unfortunately, Maseo and Tatsu get pinned down and order Oliver to get their the son the heck out of there. We don’t know what happens next because cliffhangers.
Nyssa walks in on her father, who’s enjoying a nice relaxing bath, to inform him that Oliver Queen is still alive. No surprise here, Ra’s already knew this and doesn’t care because he knows Oliver didn’t kill Sara. Nyssa brings up the question on everyone’s mind: Does he not believe Oliver’s confession because he doubts the Arrow’s motives, or, and more likely, he doesn’t approve of his daughter’s grief? According to Ra’s, he didn’t approve of their love because he knew Sara would leave both the League and her, and that it would end in heartbreak.
With this ominous opening out of the way, we Barry Allen our way back to Starling City where Oliver, Thea, and Malcolm are training for their fight with Ra’s. And Malcolm is not happy with either of their performance, especially Thea’s. Things balance out though because no one, except maybe Oliver, is happy with having him in the Arrow cave. Eventually, Laurel shows up, which makes things hella awkward for Thea, who is still reeling from finding out Malcolm brainwashed her into killing Sara. Laurel telling Thea that her fighting style reminds her of Sara doesn’t help things.
Added screencaptures from last night episode.
– Screen Captures 3×15 – Nanda Parbat
I have added episode stills from 3×15 – Nanda Parbat.
– Episode Stills 3×15 – Nanda Parbat
“The Return” was a weird episode. Enjoyable, but weird. It had all of the elements of a great Arrow episode—Slade Wilson’s (Manu Bennett) return, Oliver and Thea time, emotionally compelling flashbacks—but they never quite clicked into place. Everything just felt rather underwhelming—tonight was a flashback heavy episode, which led to not enough time being given to Oliver and Thea’s struggles against Slade. It also felt as though the show was kind of spinning its wheels tonight, even though it had so much good material to work with. To be fair, Arrow has been firing on all cylinders since it returned from its midseason hiatus and in that time it has burned through so much plot. With nine episodes left in the season, this was probably the best moment to pump on the breaks, move its many pieces around, and set the stage for the final stretch of episodes.
FLASHBACK: STARLING CITY
We’ve seen Starling City before Malcolm joined the League and before the Queen’s Gambit accident, but tonight was the first time that we’ve checked in on our Starling residents during the time period that Oliver was away—and everything is not okay in the city Starling. Out of grief, Quentin has become a slightly belligerent alcoholic and his relationship with Laurel isn’t in the best place because he resents her for taking a job at a law firm in San Francisco. Thea also isn’t doing too well and has turned to drugs. Tommy’s doing his best to keep Thea on the straight and narrow-ish, but there’s only so much he can do.
Added screencaptures from last night episode.
– Screen Captures 3×14 – The Return