[This is a review for Arrow season 3, episode 14: Uprising. There will be spoilers.]
Now that many of the secrets being harbored by various members of Team Arrow have been revealed, the story is moving forward again, as Oliver continues to pursue a second match with Ra’s al Ghul.
After several weeks of sub-bar storytelling, Arrow is finally picking back up. This episode appears to have begun to regain some of the self awareness that has been lacking since the end of season 2. The flashbacks are a little more sensible, the drama less drawn out, and it feels like the plot is actually moving forward again.
As Thea struggles to cope with the knowledge that she is the one that killed Sara, Oliver attempts to prevent her from facing the same guilt he did when he first started out as Arrow. Thea responds to Oliver’s request to not tell anyone, by telling everyone, most of whom already knew. I was under the impression that everyone knew, but apparently they had kept it from Laurel.
Nobody actually blames Thea, as it was Malcom that basically hypnotized her into doing it, similar to Roy killing the police officer when he was on mirakuru, but that doesn’t do much to alleviate the guilt. Thea has finally turned on Malcom, though, and sells him out to the League of Assassins, prompting Nyssa to return to Starling City to collect him.
Still trying to spare Thea from the weight of the guilt of being a killer— now compounded by her turning in Merlyn—Oliver attempts to stop Nyssa from capturing Malcom. He fails in his attempt, but does manage to capture Nyssa, and wants her to tell him how to get to Nanda Parbat (apparently he was blindfolded when he went last time) so he can retrieve Merlyn.
At first, this plot line strongly reeks of some of the nonsensical decision making the show has been plagued with recently. Oliver’s motive of “protecting Thea” just doesn’t quite explain away his desire to go to the home of Ra’s again, especially after how it ended with his previous visit. The plot point is definitely contrived, although not by the script, but by Oliver himself. Diggle apparently felt the same way I did, because he tells Oliver that he’s not making any sense. As it happens, Oliver wants to fight Ra’s again, because he can’t stand knowing that there’s someone out there that could beat him so readily.
Oliver and Diggle go to Nanda Parbat together, and of course get captured. Ra’s confronts them and reveals, again, that he is much older than he appears, however he’s not quite so cryptic this time. The Lazarus pits are not outright acknowledged, but we do seem him soaking in some sort of steaming hotsprint. Whether that is the source of his longevity, or merely an Easter egg, seems to be another matter for another week. Based on the flashbacks, though, the answer to that question may yet involve the Omega serum and obviously answer some questions about how Oliver was also revived.
The big twist, is that Ra’s doesn’t want to fight Oliver again. He’s impressed by him and wants him to be the heir to Nanda Parbat and be the leader of the League of Assassins. This may make any Batman fan cringe, because it’s always been The Detective that Ra’s wanted for that role, but a good chunk of Arrow (a lot of them being the best chunks) has merged the character of Oliver Queen/Arrow with Bruce Wayne/Batman.
While there’s nothing wrong with Oliver sharing some boots with Batman, it does call some of the shared universe plans into question. With The Flash, Arrow, Arsenal, Black Canary, Firestorm, and now Atom (who looks absolutely amazing, by the way), we are starting to see the “Justice League on TV” that Stephen Amell has mentioned several times. It’s always been assumed that Superman and Batman wouldn’t be a part of that, strictly because those properties are too big to be involved in a CW shared universe, but this might be usurping one of those roles entirely. We don’t have to have a Batman in this Justice League for TV, but some Easter eggs and hints of him existing would still be cool.
Either way, the stakes have obviously been raised. This is a new position for Oliver, as that’s a fairly honorable request from Ra’s, but Oliver’s principles strongly conflict with some of the practices of the League of Assassins.
There is also another stirring of the romance pot. After Oliver was outright rejected by Felicity after his return to Starling City, he is also put down by Laurel in this episode. She finds out he kept the identity of Sara’s killer from her, and she asks him “How do you do that?… Lie. Right to my face” “It’s hard to remeber a time when I was actually in love with you.”
With so many bridges burned, it’s not likely that they could easily reunite him with any past love interest, meaning we’ll either get the introduction of a new love interest, or another round of isolated hero syndrome. Felicity is pretty clearly, in no uncertain terms, with Ray Palmer now as well (a welcome return, the show has been missing their chemistry for a few weeks), so that will likely play into Oliver’s isolation even more.
With some of the baggage of the first half of the season finally stripped away and some of the less compelling plot-lines finally played out, the stage is definitely set for a strong finish to the season. If the show can maintain its current trajectory and not regress into some of the muddier territory the last few episodes inhabited. With just 4 episodes remaining, it’s exciting to see what will come next!
The next episode of Arrow ‘The Offer’ will air Wednesday, March 18th, at 8/7c on The CW.