This episode of Arrow was billed as an important one, because, well, that’s what TV networks do, and let’s be honest, every episode of Arrow is a big one – brimming with nerdgasms, mediocre dialogue and re-imaginations of Dark Knight, a trilogy that ended less than two years ago.
Following in the footsteps of Manu Bennett and Cynthia Addai-Robinson, sexy Spartacus alum Katrina Law arrives in Starling City to shake things up. She’s Nyssa al Ghul, Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter not named Talia, because we already had the big Talia twist in The Dark Knight Rises. Nyssa is a high ranking member of the League of Shadows, a clan named after its penchant for covert operations, so naturally, she flies into Starling City and sets off an A.R.G.U.S. security alarm upon arriving (A.R.G.U.S. is DC’s answer to S.H.I.E.L.D.). Starling City’s airport security is limited to four guards, which Nyssa makes quick work of, and saunters into Starling (and our hearts). You’d think Nyssa would want to keep her arrival a secret, and that this would jeopardize that. Then, you might wonder if she wanted to alert Team Arrow to her presence in the city to help spring her trap. Neither of those things happen, as Felicity is too busy wading into the Queen family business (lies) to warn Oliver and company that a renowned criminal has come to town.
In this open, we also learn that Starling (and every TV city) is a port city, thanks to some establishing shots of the ocean. Aquaman can’t be far behind.
At Queen Consolidated, the Mayoral Campaign “brain trust” meets to discuss their game plan. That means Moira, Thea, Ollie, Walter and Mark Francis (Nicholas Lea). Moira worries about pandering to her city; Oliver lets her know: “That’s not pandering. That’s campaigning.” You know, because Oliver’s an expert. I half-expected an Island flashback with Oliver running for mayor against a rival baboon tribe. We actually get no Island of Misfit Boys flashbacks this week; it’s not like we ever want closure anyhow.
Afterwards, Felicity approaches Walter, her former boss. She hasn’t stopped working for him though; she brings up Tempest, the suspicious offshore account she was asked to look into last season. Apparently it was used a couple days ago. Walter doesn’t seem too miffed, and claims he’ll talk to Moira about it. Is Walter evil? Say it ain’t so!
Last week, Laurel passed out and collapsed in her apartment, from what seemed to be the after effects of a particularly embarrassing bender. On her way to glorious passed out-ville, she saw Sara, her sister. Now she’s in the hospital, with Quentin and Momma Lance (River Song herself, Alex Kingston) tending to their screwed up baby. Not only does Laurel claim she wasn’t on drugs, but she mentions her vision of Sara to her Dad. Within moments, he’s called Arrow to talk to his daughter, knowing she’s in town.
Hilarious Moment #1: Back at the Arrow lair, Sara does topless pull-ups a la Oliver, with Diggle and Felicity watching on, slightly impressed/wondering what the #%@% is going on. She came to Laurel’s aide, but now wants to leave again, still worried about her family’s safety, which prove to be the right instincts (so of course she doesn’t follow them). But Ollie needs her, apparently, and so does her family.
NEW FLASHBACK TIME: A half dozen years earlier…Sara has bangs (you know, because she’s younger), is still annoying, and Oliver’s texting her behind Laurel’s back. Quentin’s cooking a wondrous dinner, he’s still married to Dinah, and Laurel is planning her engagement and the rest of her life with Ollie. I thought it couldn’t be more painful, but then I learned a harsh lesson.
Back in reality, Lance and Sara have the quickest meet up ever, over tea. It was over by the time Quentin poured her daughter the tea. “Stay.” “No, it’s dangerous.” Hug, bye. I can’t imagine believing my daughter to be dead…and then when I learn she’s been alive all this time, she only gives me one minute of her time, danger be damned. As Sara departs…Nyssa approaches, brandishing a formidable dagger. I half-seriously suggest to the TV that the two of them should make out, and the glorious thing about the CW is that your half-serious predictions turn out to be true far more often than they probably should. Nyssa + Sara sitting in a league, kay eye es es eye en gee. After their wet pleasantries, Nyssa informs her that she’s still there to take her back to the League. Sara demands some time to say goodbye. Arrow, of course, won’t allow her to leave; he “doesn’t trust her.” Sara laughingly suggests to “trust me.” Please.
Meanwhile, Felicity rules/is in deep $#*!. She comes to Moira directly, knowing that Walter wasn’t going to talk to her, “because British people are really bad at lying.” Felicity, you adorable minx. Through some digging, she figured out that Tempest paid off Moira’s maternity doctor, and she made the Merlyn/Thea connection. She gives Moira the chance to tell Oliver herself. Moira threatens her instead, claiming to know the way Felicity looks at Oliver, and that if she told Oliver, he’d never forgive her, and that’d it kill him. This from the same woman who responded “Who?” when Ms. Smoak’s arrival was announced. That said, this show is better when they allow Susanna Thompson to go evil.
Sara tells Nyssa that she’s no longer in love…that she can’t go back, and demands to be released from the League. See, nobody’s been released, except for a certain Malcolm Merlyn, and we all know how that went (insert copious amounts of regret here). Nyssa could you know kill her now, but decides to do one better: to take someone away that she loves. Forever. Ominous noises.
Hilarious Moment #2: Shirtless Oliver starts pounding a tire with a sledgehammer, you know, to shake off some steam. Even more amazing, is that Felicity is so distracted by her moral conundrum that she’s not in rapt awe of the sweaty spectacle. Anyways, let’s shake that image out of our head for a moment, as we and our heroes realize that Laurel was poisoned by snake venom (explaining her hospital visit), an elaborate ruse to bring Sara out of hiding, Nyssa’s plan all along.
The Flashbacks Get Worse: Laurel and Sara are hanging out, giggling on a bed, with Sara secretively/obviously texting a boy (Oliver). Laurel practically sets back womanhood a decade by embarrassingly asking: “Did you meet a boy at school?” Sara actually responds as such: “Boys at school are lame.” AHHHHHHHHH.
In the present, Dinah’s been kidnapped, because a Lance family member must be traumatized and taken every week. Arrow and Canary are on their trail. Canary uses her cry/shriek/what’s it, which shatters the van’s windows they’re tracking. Since it’s clearly her thing, you’d think the League would’ve been prepared for it, but they seem surprised. Ollie’s ears are fine, despite riding on the same motorcycle with her. Either way, Nyssa gets away, and we hear the Canary’s human shriek, and it’s the worst.
Six years ago, kitchen TVs were a thing (so sayeth the CW), and that’s how Laurel and Quentin learn about the Queen’s Gambit going under. Laurel drops a plate when discovering the news, because you always have dishware in your hands when finding out awful news.
Sara has 24 hours to get her Mom, or else. Lance wonders how Canary and Arrow met? “At Vigilante Club,” Sara deadpans, which is funny, but not as funny as the fact that Quentin can’t figure out who the Arrow is.
Let’s squeeze in more conflict: Oliver and Sebastian are chaps now, but he has to publicly support his mother’s candidacy now. Moira and Sebastian have a shadowy confrontation that I liked and where Sebastian has a point: Moira played meek in court, but now wants to be seen as a strong candidate for office. Starling City should be more than a little suspicious of her duplicitous nature, if not for the fact that she was almost convicted for the murder of over 500 people.
It’s time for her candidacy speech, and Moira hasn’t been this nervous since her wedding day. Both of them. Har har. Oliver notices something’s up with Felicity, and because timing is never Felicity’s strong suit, she drops the bombshell to Oliver right there in a public place. It’s a heartrending moment, as we learn more about Felicity’s family than we had previously (none). Her father abandoned her, and her mother wasn’t much of one. She doesn’t want to lose anyone, but because Felicity is the best of us, she tells Oliver the truth anyways…right before he has to introduce his mother to the masses. Oliver manages a perfectly neutral intro, until somehow saying something positive about Moira. He hugs her, whispers “I know” in her ear, kisses Thea lovingly on the head, and then goes to SAVE THIS CITY.
Sara has agreed to go back with Nyssa so long as they free her Mother. But, the kicker: she took a lethal dose of the snake venom. This is when she decides to reveal that she’s alive to her mother: RIGHT BEFORE SHE’S GOING TO DIE AGAIN. Then Nyssa and Arrow fight, and it’s one of the best parts of the episode, as Arrow takes her out, and is about to kill her (maybe), but Sara somehow makes him stop. Ollie gives her a handy antidote, Nyssa releases her from the league, and we’re all hunky dory, as Quentin and Dinah huddle around their daughter. Well, one member of the family isn’t so happy: Laurel. Wuh woh. She’s understandably upset that Sara “stole her life,” ruined her parent’s marriage, she brought assassins to the city, and took her boyfriend. She kicks Sara out of her apartment, sending her on her way with an exploding wine glass. While Nyssa admits that she’s the “heir to the demon,” in the League, one could say that Laurel is the heir to the demons suffered by her father – full blown alcoholism and suffering happening now and seemingly in her future.
The only flashback worth anything is when Moira comes by and reveals that Sara was on the boat with Oliver, and we see the pain and anguish on Quentin and Laurel’s faces.
Ollie comes to his Mom, and essentially announces that she’s dead to him. He’ll keep up appearances for Thea’s sake, but all she does is LIE. It’s some fantastic hypocritical judgment coming from a guy who hasn’t told his Mother a complete truth since the pilot.
Slade and Sebastian watch the news, as Moira’s speech hails her as a serious contender. Slade apparently warned Sebastian not to underestimate Moira, and I guess does a lot of useless counseling…and now (finally) is going to take care of this himself. YES, DO SOMETHING SLADE.
You can make the argument that this entire show hinged upon the fact that Oliver couldn’t keep it in his pants around Sara. So naturally, having learned their lesson, the two get physical to end this episode. Thankfully, Felicity isn’t watching, or else I might’ve thrown something.
Before watching “Heir to the Demon,” I heard about a big twist from the East Coast audiences, and couldn’t help but be letdown that the big twist was that Sara and Nyssa had a relationship, something that wasn’t surprising, and rendered moot by Oliver and Sara getting back together. It could be another cool wrinkle to Sara’s character, of which she has several, but I just don’t like actress Caity Lotz in the role. She pulls off the action sequences, but is painful in the human, “real” ones. She should be one of the best, most fascinating characters on the show: a jilted younger sibling falls for the wrong guy, and ends up corrupted by a maniacal villain, then finds love, badassery and discipline in the freakin’ League of Shadows, with a suffering family beckoning from her past. Unfortunately, all of these supposed layers don’t really register with me. Now that she’s seemingly back in town for good, hopefully that can change.