Arrow's "The Climb" Recap
The CW 12.10.14
Let’s begin with a short synopsis:
The League of Assassins demand Oliver find Sarah’s killer or they will start punishing Starling City by killing citizens. Evidence leads Oliver to a trial by combat against Ra’s Al Guld.
Onward to the episode:
The episode starts with a glimpse of Oliver climbing a mountain. I assumed this was the flashbacks from his time training in China, but I was wrong. More on that later.
Present time: Oliver gets attacked in an alley by a dark archer and assumes its Malcom Merlyn, only to find out it’s Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul. He gets knocked out by them (seriously Ollie, how could you let that happen?) and they talk (blah blah blah) about finding Sarah’s killer. Ra’s doesn't have any patience and threatens to kill people in Starling City until the real murderer comes forward. A hood is unveiled of one of Nyssa’s henchmen and ta-da! it’s Maseo, the Japanese guy Oliver stayed with when he was in China (instead of the island). Of course, it’s all confusing and complicated like that.
Laurel ends up telling Thea that Sarah is dead.
Oh and mister tall, dark and handsome, Ray Palmer, arrives to bother Felicity. GET out! Sorry. Okay. Ray and Felicity have a tense conversation about an unexpected kiss that shouldn't have ever happened… and I mean ever.
The team has a super-secret discussion in the arrow cave/bunker… to find Sarah’s killer. Oliver tells them about Ra’s deadline. Felicity jumps right on to her research.
Felicity does some super awesome science stuff to get DNA off the arrow that killed Sarah and the results are in: It’s OLIVER!
Oliver immediately assumes Malcom Merlyn is setting him up for Sarah’s death. Felicity begins to research the whereabouts of Merlyn since Sarah’s death.
Flashback time. Oliver uncovered information about a super-virus called Omega. This virus could potentially wipe out an entire city. Oliver and Maseo aim to track down the vial of it, only to find it’s already been taken. I sense this might be important later…
Felicity digs up some information that places both Malcom and Thea in Starling the night Sarah was murdered. And evidence points toward the possibility that Thea might be Sarah’s murderer.
We have to pause in the investigation so Felicity and charming face, Ray, *grumble grumble* can have a deep conversation. We learn about his tragic incident with Slade’s mirakuru men, who killed Ray’s girlfriend. He wasn’t able to save her. (My sources, aka Wikipedia, say that the character of Ray Palmer “might be one of the most brilliant tortured souls imaginable.” Well, congratulations Fangirls, we have a new objective in digging up his tortured past.)
As much as I want to dislike Ray, I can’t. I mean: A.T.O.M. (more on that later)
Oliver asks Thea about Malcom and being in Starling before her official return, and she denies being there. So either Thea is lying or something else is happening. Or both. So the Arrow decides to interrogate her…
But first we get a tender moment with Laurel and her mother (revealing Sarah’s death). And an awesome kick butt moment with Ra’s al Ghul fighting a bunch of hoodie ninja dudes. He orders his daughter to prove to Oliver that he doesn't hold empty threats.
The Arrow arrives in Thea’s apartment … okay, he kicks through the window and asks about Merlyn. What he learns is that Thea can fight… and escape out of buildings. But the attack provokes Merlyn from coming out of hiding and he confronts Oliver in the empty nightclub (at night?).
Oliver puts Merlyn in a choke hold… and pretty much tells him he will kill him. Until Merlyn sends him a video of Thea killing Sarah. Merlyn claims he drugged Thea with a plant thing that makes a person susceptible to suggestion but erases their memories. Merlyn tells Oliver the only way to save Thea he has to face down Ra’s al Ghul in a death match to erase any blood debt, which includes Merlyn’s debt.
(don’t do it, Ollie. Don’t do it!)
In the flashback, they talk about the same drug that controlled Thea, which confirms that Merlyn might be telling the truth about Thea. Maseo’s family is attacked by this white-haired woman and his wife is taken. Exciting things happen in Oliver’s past and present. The double story lines are great at weaving together to show who Oliver is today.
Oliver confronts Ra’s al Ghul, claiming he killed Sarah because she begged him to, and demands a trial by combat. Ra’s, of course, accepts.
And so the random mountain climb scenes start to make sense (especially if you’ve watched the Dark Knight Trilogy. Do I sense a parallel to Batman?) They aren’t flashbacks. They are actually the present. Oliver is climbing the mountain, which is the location of the trial by combat.
Tender moment between Thea and Oliver. Another tense scene between Felicity Ray reveals the A.T.O.M. suit!!! He wants to use it to protect the city and he wants Felicity’s help. Ring any bells?
Let’s pause for a moment to talk about A.T.O.M. He isn’t one of the higher up superheroes (like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc.) But he’s still involved in the DC Universe and interacts with such higher-up superheroes. Ray Palmer is the A.T.O.M., who can make himself shrink to subatomic levels while retaining natural strength levels. He gains these abilities by the suit he has, which has the remnants of a white-dwarf star in the belt buckle. He’s also able to have 100% control over his body on the molecular level, which makes him powerful. Now, I don’t know exactly how the suit in Arrow is going to work, but we did overhear him talking about a white-dwarf and this episode revealed the 3D graphic model of the suit in progress. So, exciting stuff is happening.
I can see potentials of another spin-off show like the Flash, if his character and A.T.O.M. suit is received well. Otherwise, there might be something wonderful planned for the second of half of this season. I’m excited to see, as much as I want Ray to leave Felicity alone…
Back to the episode:
Oliver bids his men farewell and then says goodbye to Felicity with the three words that have been hanging between them since last season: “I love you.”
Oliver reaches the summit and the trial by combat begins. Ra’s al Ghul takes a moment to brood on the cliff edge while Oliver waits with sword in hand. He monologues about his first kill at age eleven and the purpose of the League of Assassins. Then…
The fight begins in a quiet struggle. No music in the background, just the sound of sword whipping in the air or metal clashing, grunts, falling to the snow, and well… Oliver reacting to pain.
I thought perhaps there was some chance he would win. He was confident, others were confident, this is his show after all. You can’t just kill off the main character in in the third season when the show is planned to have five seasons. But then… Ra’s al Ghul sticks the sword straight through Oliver.
A montage of flashbacks begin as Ra’s gives parting words in another language. Oliver is stoic as he stares distantly. And Ra’s kicks him off the cliff edge and sticks the sword in the stone.
Cue Arrow logo.
When I watched the episode, I sat staring at my computer screen for a good few minutes without a concrete thought in my head as the end credits flipped through.
WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?
Even now I don’t have the words for this episode. How can Oliver be dead? And what’s going to happen with everybody else? With Thea? With Merlyn? With Felicity and Diggle and Roy?
The show returns January 21st. That day can’t come any sooner.