The Arrow mid-season finale – The Climb – takes Ollie back to his roots and pits him against the man who seems to create all superheroes in the DC universe: R’as al Ghul.
ARROW MID-SEASON FINALE “THE CLIMB”
Director: Thor Freudenthal
Writers: Jake Coburn and Keto Shimizu
Original Air Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey and Emily Bett Rickards
Previously on Arrow: DIGGER HARKNESS SHOWS UP AND HE’S REAL COOL!
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
I get it. Batman Begins made Ra’s Al Ghul the coolest character in the DCU again and that’s valid. I also get that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is the defining aesthetic of all on-screen superheroes moving forward, but they are so obvious in the Arrow Mid-Season Finale – the Climb – that viewers will really have to look past these details in order to see Green Arrow for all the Batman floating around.
Let’s begin with a spoiler, shall we? One of the big mysteries of Arrow’s third season is who murdered Sara (Caity Lotz)? There have been some theories thrown around – most of which have to do with the League of Assassins, one of which focused fleetingly on Roy (Colton Haynes) – and it turns out that the first one is not so far off the mark. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), has been working diligently on a DNA sample found on the arrow that killed Sara – even going so far as to send it to STAR Labs during the Flash crossover – and in the Arrow Mid-Season Finale she finally gets a result: Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell).
It doesn’t even take a Diggle (David Ramsey), intervention for team Arrow to realize that this could not possibly be the case and upon closer inspection – with a little help from some upgraded video – Felicity is able to confirm that Sara’s murderer was none of than Thea Queen (Willa Holland) … and it is a really amazing choice made by writers Jake Coburn and Keto Shimizu at behest of the showrunners. Willa Holland is a good actress who has been largely underused in her capacity as Ollie’s-younger-sister. Over the course of this third season of Arrow her character has taken strides and evolved into something closer to Mia Dearden – her presumable namesake – than yet another CW girl.
The Climb – Arrow’s Mid-Season Finale – pits Oliver against Thea. Though, admittedly, it’s not as easy as all that. The plot revolves around Oliver having to accept the revelation of Thea’s guilt – and getting into a typical Ollie fight with his team about it. The only problem with relying on this trope is that for what feels like the millionth time this season alone John Diggle’s honest and objective advice is brushed aside in a fit of rashness that Ollie will later have to apologize for. I fear that Diggle’s rejected honesty is becoming not only a trope, but a clutch, and Arrow is, frankly, too good a show to rely on a crutch.
The Mid-Season Finale of Arrow continues along in the wake of Oliver’s emotional turmoil when he pays a visit to Thea in the guise of the Arrow which inadvertently forces the young Miss Queen to betray her Merlyn-inspired training to her brother. Further to Merlyn (John Barrowman), the man himself makes an appearance in order to goad Ollie into facing down none other than the head of the League of Assassins – Ra’s Al Ghul. Naturally, this plays right into the hands of the vengeful Nissa (played by the amazing Katrina Law who shines in every scene she gets), who has yet to move past blaming the Arrow for the Canary’s death, but more surprising appearances await Oliver at the top of a mountain.
Yeah, he climbs a mountain. Just like in Batman Begins.
Writers Coburn and Shimizu manage to tie in the Hong Kong storyline – which has been a poor substitute for the Island plotlines of previous episodes – by having Nissa paired up with Maseo Yamashiro (Karl Yune). Maseo’s appearance plays at Ollie’s heartstrings, giving Amell a chance to play up that character’s nobility amidst the den of moral corruption that he has strode into. However, Matt Nable as Ra’s Al Ghul fails to give a performance throughout the Arrow Mid-Season Finale that is either compelling or interesting. He stands out amidst a sea of strong actors (Amell, Law, Yune), and having his stunt double – who in no way resembles Nable – do all the fight work against Amell takes the character down another peg in status where he should be the most frightening person on screen.
Liam Neeson certainly was. Remember Batman Begins?
For all that being said, the Arrow Mid-Season Finale – the Climb – was an engrossing episode. It moved at a quick clip, provides promise for Thea in the latter half of season three, let Stephen Amell be a badass Oliver Queen and showcases a very well-choreographed fight in the end. Plus, the final shot is a startling cliff hanger to leave fans with.
THE BOTTOM LINE: STRONG ENDING
The Climb, the Arrow Mid-Season Finale, is a strong episode with strong story beats to leave viewers off with. As with every episode of everything it is not without problems, but they are minor – for the most part – and can be easily overlooked for the strong performances surrounding them on screen.