This episode had more archers than any show reasonably should, but it also managed to be one of the strongest of this season (even with minimal Felicity, something that automatically handicaps any episode).
1. Merlyn’s Coming Out Party
John Barrowman mustn’t be hungry very much, as he gets the chew a hell of a lot of scenery, and tonight is no exception. This is, hands down, the most interesting Merlyn has ever been on Arrow. As easy as it would be for him to lie, it appears that he’s telling the truth to Oliver (at least about his involvement in Sara’s death – he’s still lying about his interactions with Thea). Casting Merlyn as a murderous bastard, but one who is telling the truth, is a very fun way to keep him on the show for a bit.
2. Thea is getting really interesting
Thea suffered through the first two seasons as the innocent in the dark – but she has really grown this season – plus, her haircut is adorable.
New ‘dos aside, her character occupies this weird moral standing, where she is, technically, still the innocent she was earlier on. She’s not killing people, she’s not needlessly looking for revenge, she’s not trying to harm anyone. She’s just living her life, but that life is one full of contradictions and lies – but on this show, who’s isn’t?
3. Roy is Becoming Something
Team Arrow has suffered a bit from simply being the Pips to Oliver’s Gladys Knight – this episode shows Roy to be a little more than just a background singer in Ollie’s band. He is still, clearly, in love with Thea, but he is being as respectful and platonic as possible. He is also, essentially, a member of a fancy dance crew, as when faced with danger, he simple tumbles for them, before being easily dispatched.
Even with being less than a perfect character (and only a shell of what Roy Harper is/was in the comics), this is at least something for him to do other than just nod to Oliver and follow his orders blindly.
4. We, collectively, really need to make a decision on how to pronounce Ra’s
We get the first look at the senior al Ghul this episode, but we still get conflicting pronunciations (rah’s versus raysh). Let’s just agree that Matthew Nable has enough of the Liam Neeson gravitas to make Batman Begins fans feel right at home, but is enough of a blank slate to be much closer to the classic comics character.
His relationship with Nyssa, his apparent hate for Sara, his knowledge of Merlyn’s survival, and his declaration of a comic war with Oliver all paint him as one of the more complete and compelling villains the show has trotted out thus far. I look forward to seeing more of him in the weeks to come.
5. Crackpot theory time
Ok, so we know that Sara was killed by an archer, and we know that Nyssa, Merlyn, Komodo, and Oliver didn’t do it. That leaves two archers we know of: Ra’s, the likely murderer, and a wild card: Roy.
Could Roy be working with the League of Assassins? Could he have been ordered to get close to Thea again, to gain access to Merlyn? Could the League have offered to get him Thea back in exchange for a dead Sara?
Just to be clear: I don’t think this is actually the plan, but I love wild speculation. Join me in that activity in the comments!