Arrow: “The Climb” Season 3 Episode 9 Review

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You’re telling me we have to wait over a month to see what happens next?! The CW could air the next episode on Christmas morning and I would pause my family shenanigans to see what happens next (my mother also loves this show, so I’d at least have a chance).

Look, I know Oliver isn’t dead. We all know that. But here’s the deal, what if Arrow sidelined its lead for them to go on an character changing journey, similar to after Bane broke Batman’s back in The Dark Knight Rises? What if Starling City didn’t have the Arrow anymore? There are certainly some people that could seemingly take his place.

For example, Ray Palmer appears to be developing the A.T.O.M. suit. With Oliver out of the way, Felicity would be able to help him, turning him into a superhero. Then there’s Laurel, whose a blonde wig away from taking up her sister’s post as the Black Canary. If Arrow got rid of, well, the Arrow for a large remainder of Season 3, there are enough potential superheroes in Starling City to fill the void. Will this happen? It’s unlikely, but the Arrow writers have made some really interesting choices before, so I wouldn’t throw the idea out the window just yet.

The Climb delivered Ra’s al Ghul. Not some half-assed teaser at the end of an episode. Matthew Nable did a phenomenal job bringing this classic DC villain to life. He’s not as good as Liam Neeson was in Batman Begins of course, but for a CW show, Nable will more than do.

But before I get ahead of myself and rave about the thrilling final duel, let’s talk about the rest of the episode. Nyssa shows up in Starling once again, telling Oliver that if he doesn’t find Sara’s killer, the League of Assassins will start killing innocent citizens. Caitlin’s efforts give Felicity results, but not the ones Team Arrow wanted. According to the results, Oliver killed Sara. Obviously that’s not the case, which makes the only other possible candidate his sister Thea.

With Thea now involved, Oliver assumes Malcolm Merlyn’s hands are responsible. In a great twist, Merlyn used a drug to brainwash Thea into killing Sara. His reasoning? He believes Oliver can fight and kill Ra’s al Ghul. This was a great way to involve Merlyn in the main plot of the season. I also look forward to the inevitable Merlyn vs. Ra’s that has to happen by season’s end.

To protect his sister from the League, Oliver meets Ra’s, Nyssa, and, more surprisingly, Maseo from the Hong Kong flashbacks. Oliver then climbs a cliff to his doom. The fight itself was probably the best choreography Arrow has ever had. The atmosphere was great too. It looked freezing up there, and the fog surrounding lent an ominous shroud to the duel. It’s clear early on that Oliver is no match for Ra’s. But that sword through the chest was horrifying. Oliver’s life flashed before his eyes, and the demon kicked him off the side of the cliff. What a freakin’ cliffhanger.

The Climb was one of the most shocking episodes of Arrow yet. Even though Oliver most likely isn’t dead, unless this is the CW’s Game of Thrones, to see him defeated so easily was stunning and raised the stakes for the remained of the season higher than they’ve ever been before. The answer to the mystery of who killed Sara is a satisfying one, integrating Merlyn into the League of Assassins plot. Hell of a way to close out the year. Grade: A-

By Matt Dougherty

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