Arrow: “The Fallen” Season 3 Episode 20 Review

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With Thea on the brink of losing her life, Oliver has to confront Ra’s al Ghul’s offer head on to save the last remaining member of his family.

“The Fallen” was full of emotional moments for a series that usually relies on action. We learned last week just how far Ra’s al Ghul will go to get what he wants. Oliver finally learned that lesson, agreeing to join the League of Assassins as the Heir to the Demon.

The Lazarus Pit seems like the last piece of the Ra’s al Ghul story that hadn’t been fully explored. “The Fallen” fixes that by using the mystical waters to save Thea’s life. But, as Malcolm warns, at what cost?

The time devoted to Thea here was well-used, especially by Willa Holland, who only continues to improve as the character becomes more and more messed up. When she wakes up, she only knows who Malcolm is and still thinks that her mother is alive. I was happy to see her mostly back to normal by episode’s end, as a subplot of Thea rediscovering all of her life traumas this late in the season would be a complete waste of time.

But the crux of the episode was devoted to Oliver finally succumbing to Ra’s’ wishes. That means it’s finally time for Oliver and Felicity to just say “screw it” and have at each other. It was simultaneously rewarding and sad.

Of course, this is right about when Arrow usually throws in a big set piece, so Felicity knocks Oliver out with a drink and begs the rest of Team Arrow to help them all get out of there alive. Having Malcolm there added a layer of tension, as he had to cut down his former allies to help former enemies escape. It was also great to have Maseo finally turn the corner and help his old friend.

But in the end, this was still rightfully Oliver’s choice. Upon waking up, he bargains for the lives of his family and friends, says his goodbyes, and returns to kneel before Ra’s al Ghul as a member of the league. It’s a huge moment and the show makes you feel it.

With “The Fallen,” Oliver’s journey to be the hero Starling City deserves has hit quite the roadblock. The folks over at Arrow continue to pull off the last third of a season to raise the emotional stakes as high as they can get and deliver a big story. With just three episodes left, it’ll be exciting to see how the writers resolve this conflict, if they do at all. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Thought Bubbles:

– One area that lacks tension, however, is the flashbacks. While it’s great to have Katana around for the occasional perfectly times blow, season three’s flashback storyline has proven week. Though I doubt they will ever match up to Oliver having two climactic battles with Slade Wilson at once like in season two’s finale.

– Maseo mentioned to Diggle in the present that he had to hold his son while he died. So while I whine about the flashbacks, that is still coming up at some point.

– Felicity confronting Ra’s and then later coming up with the plan to get Oliver out (well, part of it) once again proves that she’s every bit as strong and heroic as the members of her team that don a mask.

– Lots of great performances all around tonight, but particularly with Willa Holland and Emily Bett Rickards.

 

By Matt Dougherty

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