The Offer is a strong return to Arrow season 3 that has the male characters doing a lot of really interesting things and the females being consistently weepy.
ARROW 3.16 “THE OFFER”
Director: Dermott Downs
Writers: Beth Schwartz and Brian Ford Sullivan
Original Air Date: Tuesday, March 18th, 2015
Starring: Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards
Previously on Arrow 3.15 “Nanda Parbat”: Oliver and Diggle inexplicably try to save Malcolm Merlyn from the League of Assassins. Thea whines at everyone back in Starling City.
REJECT THE LEGACY
Arrow 3.16 is called the Offer, which really refers to the events of the previous episode more than anything that happens here. Ra’s Al Ghul (Matt Nable in the best work he’s done on the show to date), asks Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell, who’s always good in this part), to step into the role of his heir, thereby taking on the name of Ra’s Al Ghul and all the power that comes with that.
Here are the truly great things about the Offer: Matt Nable is actually really good. In all of his previous appearances as Ra’s Al Ghul he’s been barely serviceable, but as the creeping, scheming master Nable makes compelling choices and is truly interesting to watch. For the first time he is believable as a character who commands respect over a great army that could take anyone down who may elect to stand in his way. Further to Ra’s Al Ghul, writers Beth Schwartz and Brian Ford Sullivan give DC lore a respectful nod by having Oliver see a Lazarus Pit without feeling the need to revive a person dramatically in order to illustrate its prowess. By having the Lazarus Pit in existence Arrow is open to many possibilities regarding the balance of life and death as viewers and the cast understand it.
Ra’s matters! It’s so nice! The Offer is pretty weak where the female cast is concerned, but one of the things Schwartz and Sullivan have done well is use the proposal to drive a wedge between Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Nissa (the awesome Katrina Law), and – although it is not explicitly clear yet – there are strong overtures made by the end of this episode that Nissa will become a more prominent player in upcoming episodes, if not a permanent member of Team Arrow! This is a character shift that many fans have been clamoring for since Sara’s death at the beginning of this season and may serve to balance the treatment of Arrow’s female characters.
When one takes into consideration the fact that The Offer was co-written by a woman it is a little bit distressing the gender roles Thea (Willa Holland), Laurel (Katie Cassidy), and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), are relegated to. Arrow deserves a lot of credit for having an even balance between males and females in their main cast (although not a ton of diversity), but they hamstring every single one of these women repeatedly.
Let’s address these: Thea is blinded by her rage and rendered completely inert and incapable of doing anything, which does nothing for her character development, nor does it offer Willa Holland anything compelling to play. Laurel is easily the weakest character in Arrow and she fails to prove her worth as a character or vigilante over the course of the Offer – so much so, in fact, that Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), Oliver Queen and Nissa Al Ghul all comment on the fact that she is a poor fighter in need of further training.
Finally, Felicity. Felicity was a character with such power as Oliver’s best friend and strongest backup from the security of her computer and despite the fact that the writers have given her Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), as a love interest and partnership that’s actually pretty neat, the Offer takes multiple opportunities to remind viewers that she loves Oliver and will always love Oliver and will at some point date Oliver rather than dare to allow her to be a truly unique character and develop outside of classic romantic/dramatic storytelling and gender roles. It’s just such a disappointment, this placing of characters in boxes, and with Felicity Smoak in particular – a character that really came into her own over the course of her appearances on Arrow.
The Offer also introduces Murmur as the villain, but they do so little with him that the trust of the present-day Starling City drama falls largely by the wayside.
BOTTOM LINE: ARROW IS THE RED-HEADED STEP CHILD
The Offer has some nice moments throughout for Oliver, Diggle and Roy, but they’ve consistently had nice moments throughout the train wreck of a third season Arrow has had. If there were any doubt that the creative team is more focused on Flash than Arrow it is washed away here. The Offer is a strong episode for this season … and it’s still not all that great.