A Recap, by definition, WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS! Proceed at your own risk!
Wow, tonight was a great episode of The CW and DC Comics “Arrow.” As I’ve mentioned in last week’s recap/review, “Arrow” has been one of those shows that we’ve watched and enjoying since it’s start, yet never seemed to talk about. I did promise that would change (see last week’s review here) and I will make good on that with my recap/review of “Nanda Parbat.”
“Nanda Parbat” opens with a familiar setting for fans of the series and of DC Comics. We find Ra’s Al Ghul partly submerged in a pit. We are not yet clear on whether this is the Lazarus Pit, but it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if it was. His daughter, Nyssa finds him so she could tell Ra’s that Oliver Queen is not dead. He’s aware of this and seems complacent with the fact that his challenger did not die at his hands when they last fought. Nyssa, however, does not take this lightly and believes that Oliver must die for reason alone that he survived at the hands of her father.
Back in Starling City, Malcolm Merlyn continues to train his daughter, Thea, and her brother, Oliver. While they square off inside Oliver’s secret headquarters, base, Arrow-cave, they are interrupted by the core team members (Diggle, Felicity, Roy, and Laurel.) Merlyn leaves and the team expresses their resentment over Oliver working with him. After they leave, Diggle expresses his concern for Oliver as he feels that his friend has become obsessed with Ra’s Al Ghul. Oliver explains that this is not the case as he is training in order to ready himself for when they face each other again. “I will sleep when this is over.”
Later on, Thea confronts Laurel about her sister, Sara. She confesses that Merlyn had drugged her and it made her susceptible to thoughts. She apologizes for killing Sara and Laurel says that she feels it wasn’t her fault. However, she questions why Thea is still working with the man now revealed to be the reason her sister and previous Canary had died. Afterwards, Laurel then confronts Oliver back at the base and calls him on his lie that they will find the man who killed Sara. She tells him that Thea confessed and ask him how it’s so easy for him to continually lie. She’s angry with him, for more of the same reason that he is in allegiance with Meryln, and leaves right after questioning how she was ever in love with him. This then leads to Oliver confronting Thea back at home about confessing to Laurel. It’s here that she promises that they won’t have to worry about Merlyn anymore as she had contacted the League of Assassins to give up her father’s whereabouts.
Before the League of Assassins gets to Merlyn, he is confronted by Laurel as the Black Canary. She seeks vengeance, but is quickly defeated by him as he has years of experience and training with the League. The fight is interrupted once Nyssa Al Ghul arrives with the League. She quickly defeats Merlyn and promises Laurel that her sister’s death will be avenged. Back at the base, Oliver decides to mount a rescue mission at the dismay of his team. He explains that it’s not about saving Merlyn, but to save Thea’s soul as she will one day regret essentially having her father killed. As the Arrow, he attempts to stop Nyssa and the League, but they get away. Oliver brings Nyssa back and imprisons her in a box prison of sorts. While they work out their next plan, she meditates in the box. She then gives up the location of Ra’s Al Ghul and tells him that the League have brought Malcolm Merlyn back to Nanda Parbat. Nyssa explains that by having Oliver know the location of Nanda Parbat (revealed to be hidden beneath the Hindu Kush) he will go, only this time to be killed for good by Ra’s. Before he could leave, he speaks with Diggle who questions Oliver’s real motivations for wanting to rescue Merlyn.
At home, Diggle’s fiance (a member of A.R.G.U.S.) gives him permission to go with Oliver as she knows that he felt responsible for Oliver’s supposed death the first time he fought Ra’s Al Ghul. Before he leaves, he asks to borrow an A.R.G.U.S. jet. Oliver and Diggle make their trip to Nanda Parbat and manage to infiltrate the hidden fortress. They find Merlyn chained above a fire rock pit of sorts (it appears as if the League are barbecuing him alive), but Ra’s and the League trap them before they could set him free. While chained to the floor in a separate prison area, Diggle asks Oliver once more about his motivations for returning. It’s here that Oliver tells him that after “the fall” (he’s referring to when Ra’s supposedly killed him and kicked him off the mountain) all he could think about was that there was someone out there who was better than him. Diggle reasons that Ra’s managed to get inside Oliver’s head and tells him that you have to be a certain kind of person to do what they do; how it’s dangerous to be paralyzed by fear if you’re going to be a soldier (or something more). Before they make peace with the probability that they are both going to die, Diggle asks that if they both make it out, he’d like Oliver to be his best man.
Oliver is finally brought before Ra’s Al Ghul and it is here that he begs for Diggle’s life to be spared. Ra’s then explains that he has no intention on killing the men and reveals his master plan: he wants Oliver to be the next Ra’s Al Ghul!
“Nanda Parbat” was highly thrilling and entertaining and easily ranks among the best of ‘Arrow”. Ra’s Al Ghul has been a figure teased since season one when we learned of the League of Assassins existence within this universe. It was really only a matter of time before he appeared and season three has centered on him. While he hasn’t been in every episode, his presence has certainly been felt throughout each episode. It only helps that we have Matt Nable as the actor portraying The Demon’s Head. He hasn’t appeared in much, his most notable appearance is probably as the father of Cole Hauser’s Johns in “Riddick”, but he was a professional rugby league footballer in Australia. He has a wildly engaging screen presence and has made his performance as Ra’s Al Ghul very much his own. It does help that he bears some resemblance to Liam Neeson in Batman Begins. The character has also been riddled with clues hinting at his near immortality through the usage of Lazarus Pits. During “Nanda Parbat” he recounts a story of how he encountered an illusionist in 1854 and how he met the man again half a century later. It’s been exciting not having all the cards revealed just yet and the producers have played coy on whether or not those “pit” baths we’ve seen him take are in fact Lazarus Pits. I couldn’t be more excited to see where this leads.
“Nanda Parbat” also saw Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) finally suit up as DC Comics Atom. We’ve known this was coming since his introduction this season as scientist, Ray Palmer. But tonight we finally got to see him put on the A.T.O.M. exosuit and fly in a very Iron Man-esque way. It worked and it’s cute seeing him with Emily Bett Rickards’ Felicity Smoak.
“Arrow” is an addictive show, even while it does seem to constantly take a page out of the Batman playbook. Especially with the direction they’re going in with Ra’s Al Ghul this season, it seems like certain plots are being inspired directly by DC Comics Dark Knight. It’s not entirely a bad thing as the mythology for the Green Arrow within the DC Comics television universe has become something I eagerly anticipate and look forward to each week. The series, along with tonight’s episode, receive a high FIVE STAR rating.
“Arrow” returns to The CW on Wednesday, March 18th. 8 pm. Check your local listings.