Arrow: “Al Sah-him” Season 3 Episode 21 Review

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The truly remarkable thing about Arrow‘s third season is how effective the show can be when Oliver isn’t even a part of the team he brought together. Much like the three episodes that Arrow returned with after Ra’s supposedly killed him around Christmas, “Al Sah-him” did an exceptional job forcing the remaining team to keep fighting and showing how much they’ve learned over the years.

But unlike in “Left Behind,” “Midnight City,” and “Uprising,” the best miniature arc the show has ever done, there’s not a new big bad terrorizing the city. This time, it’s Oliver.

Three weeks have passed since Oliver left Starling City, but it appears a lot of psychological damage has already been done on the newest member of the League of Assassins. I didn’t care for the cheap trick of having Oliver seemingly kill Diggle, only for it to be the effects the training is having on his mind. I also don’t buy the brainwashing and sort of think Oliver is playing Ra’s just to figure out his plan, which we learned this week is unleashing the bioweapon from the flashbacks on Starling City (yes, it’s very similar to Batman Begins).

But having Oliver play the villain against his own team was an avenue for high tension and major character rewards. Ra’s claims that Oliver’s only true competition as his heir is his daughter Nyssa, who’s still training Laurel back in Starling City. But Laurel isn’t about to let her mentor and friend get taken away. So she enlists the team to fight to save their former enemy from their former leader.

After one failed attempt, Oliver does the unthinkable and kidnaps Lyla so that he can trade her for Nyssa. The ensuing fight is one of the most striking of the series, as Oliver fight Diggle while Nyssa, Canary, and Lyla do what they can against the other assassins. This season’s groundwork is finally paying off as all these characters face each other in ways we never thought would happen. But just as it looks like Oliver is going to kill Diggle, an arrow pierces him from the shadows, revealing itself to come from the bow of his very own sister. With Roy gone and Team Arrow on the brink of oblivion, Thea Queen stepping into the field to do what has to be done is hands down one of the best moments of the season.

So as season three heads toward its conclusion, Team Arrow has a new member to fight for the good of Starling City, even if that means putting an arrow in her brother. But the stakes are getting higher, and, Oliver or not, the big battles to end the season have only begun. Grade: A-


Some Other Thought Bubbles:

– The Canary Cry!

– Something to be noted in an age where strong roles for women are becoming easier to find: the only two superheroes on Team Arrow right now are women, assuming Thea actually takes up the mantle of one. Cool stuff!

– Lots of flashbacks this week, which means lots of me hoping Oliver just goes back to the island and sits there for two years after this season and we don’t have to watch.

– Nyssa being forced to marry Oliver is way more complicated here than Talia and Bruce are in the comics. This is a great example of an interesting twist to adapting comics in an era where LGBTQ characters are becoming more prevalent. It’s also an interesting layer added to Ra’s, who is by no means an ally or a feminist. Arrow is very much a product of this age. Again, cool stuff!


By Matt Dougherty

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