Review: Arrow Episode 21 “Al Sa-him”

Arrow finally unveiled its final villain this week:  Oliver Queen.  I will give the showrunners credit.  They never really said Ra’s was the “big bad” of the season, just that he would be in this season.  We just assumed he was the true villain.  This is a subversion of the usage of a Bat-villain that I appreciate, but does not save the season.

This episode was about aftermath and the new problem ahead.  Mostly we dealt with how the team managed the loss of Oliver.  Diggle had the most compelling material by far here, especially when Oliver took his wife as a hostage.  Thea’s struggle was also quite strong, especially once it was pointed out that she still thought Roy was dead.  Also, Speedy!  And Canary Cry!

Other than that, we got some confrontations with Oliver as the team tried and failed to protect Nyssa (which is quite an interesting reversal from last week).  The flashbacks offered little substance as per usual, but we did finally see that Akio has been hit with the Omega virus.

Oh, and Ra’s wants Oliver to go all eco-terrorist on Starling.  Yeah.  I’m about done with the yearly terrorist attack thing.  Arrow needs to move past that.

Positives

David Ramsey is one of the unsung heroes of this show.  John Diggle was a wondrous addition to this show that made a well-deserved transition to the comics.  This week, his loss and the pulling in of his family showcased just how important he is to the show.  Add in the developments on HIVE and we know that Dig is here for at least one more year, but hopefully more after that too.

Nyssa and Laurel were really fun to see together.  Sure, it is a little weird given their complex history.  But the fish out of water thing with Nyssa was really fun.  This episode with her previous Flash appearance is proof that Arrow needs to let Laurel have a little fun.  It’s good for the character and Katie Cassidy does great with it.

This episode also featured two mythos debuts:  the Canary Cry and Speedy (II).  Thea stepping into the role on her own (with a little Malcolm help) was cool.  Her standing up to Darth Arrow Oliver was even cooler.  The Canary Cry was probably hit and miss for most people.  Personally, I love the change, and that it needed Laurel to actual scream for it to work.

Negatives

Three weeks?  Three weeks is all it took to change Oliver into Darth Arrow?  I don’t buy it.  This is going to be difficult to  resolve in a truly convincing way.  Some more insight into the conscripting process would have helped as well.

While I am glad that the bio weapon does help bring the flashbacks to relevance in the present, it is still so completely annoying that this season is basically ending with yet another terrorist attack.  Also, are we really pulling the Batman card and having them get married?  This is easily the most blatant rip from Batman, as defensible as others might be.

The Verdict

Arrow had interesting aftermath with the supporting cast, but “Al Sa-him” may be going too far in strange ways to come back.

4outof5