Arrow S3E9 – “The Climb” Midseason Finale Review
(Disclaimer: Full spoilers for Arrow follow.)
I’m not going to waste your time. Let’s get right down to the reason you’re reading this.
Oliver Queen is not dead.
Duh. You didn’t need me to tell you that. The show is called “Arrow,” for Christ’s sake. They’re not going to kill their main character halfway through the third season. TV just doesn’t work that way. That being said…
Damn. “The Climb” was (and I hate this phrase, so the fact that I’m using it shows you how accurate it is) an emotional roller coaster of an episode. I truly believe that more happened in this one episode than possibly the entire first half of season three combined.
Finally (FINALLY), we learn the identity of Sara Lance’s killer. Strap yourselves in, folks: the mystery murderer that we’ve been searching for all this time is none other than Thea Queen. Granted, she was under the influence of a “mind control” plant/herb/drug thing, but still: Ollie’s annoying little sister killed Sara. I was torn when I found this out. Part of me loved it, as the dramatic potential it opened up is ridiculous. Oliver dealing with his only remaining family killing a woman he once loved, the League going after Thea, finding out why she did it, etc. However, all of that went out the window when it was revealed she was under Malcolm Merlyn’s influence. Suddenly, culpability is not Thea’s, but Merlyn’s. And yes, it is great to have Malcolm Merlyn back in a full on villain role, but I was really looking forward to seeing the fallout of Thea killing Sara of her own volition.
Throughout the episode, various scenes were interspersed with shots of Oliver climbing the cliff to his showdown with Ra’s al Ghul, to great effect. These shots, while not incredibly exciting on their own, really helped build up the feeling of importance regarding Oliver’s upcoming battle.
I can’t yet decide whether or not I like Arrow’s version of Ra’s. Matt Nable gives a great performance as The Demon’s Head, albeit one that is drastically different from any that has come before him. I’ve liked his performance up to this point, but the showdown with him in this episode seemed a bit sudden. I don’t know if that was just me or if that is a complaint more people are going to have, but it seemed to me as though it went from “yeah, this Ra’s al Ghul guy is probably going to be a thorn in our side at some point” to “this is the most important fight of my life” extremely quickly. I understand the need for this, as Thea’s life would have been in danger otherwise, but I personally would have liked a bit more build-up to this fight.
As the Internet has had a hard time coming to terms with, yes, Oliver loses this fight. But, man, he didn’t just lose. He lost spectacularly. He got his ass handed to him. As in, “sword through the chest”-level loss. Now, of course he is not dead, but it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here, and how long it will be before The Arrow makes his big return to Starling City. I enjoyed seeing Oliver fight an opponent that for once completely outclassed him, as up to this point in the show he has seemed almost invincible. Seeing him lose so terribly was painful as a diehard fan, but refreshing as a television viewer.
Among the reveals and cliffhangers were many other moments of intense emotions that the Arrow crew couldn’t wait to ruin our holiday season with. Seeing Oliver say goodbye to Felicity when he knew he was going to his death was absolutely heartbreaking. Hearing Ray’s story about his dead fiancee was absolutely heartbreaking. Watching Laurel’s mom figure out that Sara is dead (to her, dead for the second time) was absolutely heartbreaking. Overall, this was just a heartbreaking episode of Arrow.
On a more fun note, we got to see a holographic prototype of Ray’s A.T.O.M. suit. When he asks Felicity if she will help him with his new crime-fighting agenda, I couldn’t help but laugh. Felicity is clearing turning into Arrow’s Oracle, hopefully minus the whole “paralysis” thing.
We also got to see Thea go toe-to-toe with The Arrow, an unexpected yet kind of awesome turn of events. I can only imagine that this will not be the last time we see a sibling slugfest on Arrow.
It’s going to be a tough wait for January 21st. After the reveals made, the bombs dropped and the cliffhangers… hung (I guess?), this month is going to be brutal. Screw Christmas; I want to know what happens to Oliver.