“Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t offer, her orders.” That’s what Malcolm Merlyn tells Oliver Queen during tonight’s episode of “Arrow.” “The Offer” is exactly what last night’s episode of “Arrow” concerned itself with and was a weighty exploration into the world of Ra’s Al Ghul, The Demon’s Head. This week saw a top return for both of CW’s DC Comics based shows, along with a fun series premiere for the Vertigo comic “I, Zombie.” However, “Arrow” is a show to be reckoned with and while it may not have the big, cinematic feel of “The Flash”, it’s an excellent series for fans and non-fans alike. Going into its third season, “Arrow” has shown no sign of slowing down and after a terrific second season, it would seem difficult to match the level of drama and excitement. You know what? They have!
At the end of “Nanda Parbat” (see my review here) Ra’s Al Ghul offered Oliver Queen to be his heir, the next Ra’s Al Ghul. It was a surprise for Oliver and certainly one for the audience as even those well-versed in the Batman comics by Denny O’Neil didn’t see that coming. Last night’s episode explores more of what the offer entails and teases the reality of the Lazarus Pit within the DC television universe. Ra’s explains that he was given the same offer many years ago and because of water springs that Ponce de Leon had found, he has maintained his youth and longevity. The League of Assassins, along with a seemingly even larger network of those under his command, will become whatever The Demon’s Head wills. If Oliver chooses to serve justice, but no longer kill as Ra’s does, The League will follow. It’s an interesting proposition that Oliver entertains throughout the episode as he contemplates his purpose as the Green Arrow. The offer is even more tantalizing as Ra’s has made a few prophecies in regards to Oliver’s future that seem to be coming true. But before we get to that, we learn that because Oliver has claimed victory over death and at the hands of The Demon, it is for this precise reason that he is given the offer to save the world.
Oliver returns home with Diggle and Merlyn and allows Thea’s father to heal back at her place. Oliver’s return is somewhat troubled as his friends are upset as he contemplates his future. After Arrow, Arsenal, and a Black Canary that needs more training partially stop a robbery by a gang led by Murmur, Captain Lance turns his back on the vigilante. He’s angry at Arrow for keeping secrets and lying to him, most especially for not telling him about his daughter Sara’s death. Check one for Ra’s Al Ghul. Captain Lance and the police have started to turn their back on Arrow. The pacing of tonight’s episode was perfect as everything felt connected to the opening conversation Oliver had with Ra’s. It reminded me a little bit of the scene with Green Goblin on the top of the Daily Bugle in “Spider-Man” 1, along with The Joker interrogation scene in “The Dark Knight”, but unique for “Arrow” without being a rip-off. We also got a well-staged and choreographed action scene that is one way “Arrow” stands out from “The Flash.” It’s never a dull moment when the team springs into action and they’ve really developed each characters fighting style. Fans should be really happy with Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper/Arsenal as he has improved tremendously and is absolutely believable as Arrow’s sidekick. Katie Cassidy is great as Laurel Lance/The Black Canary, but still needs work on her alter ego. It’s not a fault on the actress as the character for the show is still learning the ropes of being a vigilante. She takes a lot of punches and kicks, very much like Kick-Ass, but we could excuse it as she isn’t fully The Black Canary just yet. Tonight’s episode ends with the idea that Nyssa Al Ghul may train her and while it would cheapen Ted “Wildcat” Grant’s purpose on the show, I’d allow it as it would undoubtedly turn Laurel into the Black Canary we love from the DC Comics universe.
After his initial problems with Captain Lance, Oliver goes to meet with Felicity Smoak, but finds her with Ray Palmer. He tells her more about his consideration into taking up the mantle of The Demon’s Head and then leaves. He then meets with Diggle who suggests that Ra’s is just playing with his head as we know he’s done in the past. Diggle believes that just because Felicity is “temporarily unavailable” as she’s in a relationship/not relationship “thing” with Ray Palmer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Ra’s prophecy that Oliver will die alone is coming true. Oliver then tells his friend that if “The Arrow isn’t enough, then maybe I should be the next Ra’s Al Ghul.” Before the team suit up to stop Murmur once and for all, Felicity then tries to reason with Oliver. She brings up all the good he’s done as Arrow and that he’s not in it for the thanks.
Meanwhile, Laurel arrives at the police station to speak with her father. Captain Lance hasn’t forgiven her for not telling him about Sara’s death and before they could continue, the station comes under attack from Murmur’s gang. Nyssa Al Ghul shows up and dispatches the majority of the gang while rescuing Laurel. Arrow and Arsenal arrive to fight off the remaining thugs and Arrow defeats Murmur. He leaves him outside for Lance and when he asks if he’s waiting around for a thank you, Arrow replies “That’s not why I do this.” Sidenote: When Nyssa returned to Nanda Parbat to question why she wasn’t chosen as the heir to her father, she inadvertantly challenges him by swinging her sword at Ra’s. He catches the blade in his hand, but it does slash his palm. He later returns to the spring (Lazarus Pit), dips his wound in the water only to then lift his hand with no wound at all. Nyssa then leaves Nanda Parbat and heads back to Starling City.
Oliver meets with Maseo, husband of Tatsu, who then clarifies the exactness of Ra’s Al Ghul’s offer. Matching exactly what Malcolm Merlyn told him earlier, “Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t offer, he orders.” Maseo tells Oliver of the prophecy that the one who survives the blade of Ra’s Al Ghul will become the next Demon’s Head. He warns his friend of the “path of resistance” to the offer and leaves Oliver left with the ramifications of turning down such a powerful figure. Later on, those remaining of Murmur’s gang are talking about their next steps at a hideout. Arrow arrives and kills a few of them, leaving one to leave. He scares him by saying “Tell everyone what you saw.” The thug runs as Arrow is revealed to be… Ra’s Al Ghul!
I love how Ra’s Al Ghul is the phantom menace of sorts. He manipulates from behind the scenes and does go out into the field to get his hands dirty. He’s an amazing and exciting villain for this third season and the cast and crew have done a beautiful job in bringing him to life. It should be said that this is the closest to the comic book version of Ra’s that we have seen since “Batman: The Animated Series.” Matt Nable is excellent as The Demon’s Head and the conclusion to “The Offer” reminds me of the best of last season where you truly can’t wait for the following week to come. It goes without saying that Ra’s will turn the city against the Arrow, thus forcing Oliver into becoming his heir. It’s hard to imagine if there is anyone out there that will be able to stop Ra’s Al Ghul. Is there anybody out there?
“The Offer” gets five out of five stars. “Arrow” airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on The CW. Check your local listings.