As a whole, Arrow’s third season has been highly underwhelming, with many low quality episodes that felt like wasted opportunity to develop storylines, characters or villains. ‘The Climb’ doesn’t nullify this fact, but it avoided falling into most of the traps that the season so far has done, and for a midseason finale, it truly delivered.
I’m going to get my major issue out of the way right now. Thea killing Sara is one of my least favourite twists that the show has done. The explanation was a poor one (Oliver’s reaction to the plant in the flashbacks – “Really, that’s a thing?” – summed up my reaction well) and it felt like all the waiting for Sara’s killer to be revealed was wasted. I’ve been mystified as to where Thea’s character will go this season, and after this twist, I’m even less sure. It does open up a realm of possibilities, I’ll admit that much, but for a big reveal, this was poor.
However, what this did is allow a stunning insight into how evil Malcolm really is. Using his own daughter as nothing more than a pawn in games with Oliver is shocking. To this point, we knew that Malcolm was a bad guy, one who cares little for anyone. However, his love for Thea seemed existent – or at least as existent it can be after seeing him pour boiling liquid on her. Instead, she is virtually nothing to Malcolm, and Thea’s deluded view that Malcolm cares about her is going to be the thing that puts her in serious danger. Her best option would be to heed Oliver’s warnings and stay well away from him.
Anyway, after Nyssa delivered an ultimatum – Starling City citizens start dying if Sara’s killer is not found in 48 hours – and Oliver learned the truth about Sara’s murder, there was only one thing for him to do: listen to Malcolm Merlyn. Ordinarily, this is something that should never be done, but in order to save Thea and his city, Oliver decided he had to go and take the rap for Sara’s murder, taking his right to a trial by combat. With Ra’s Al Ghul.
The fight was over before it even began. “One of the most dangerous men that has ever walked the Earth” Felicity said of Ra’s. We had already seen him kill eight ninjas with ease, and so Oliver fighting Ra’s by himself was never going to end well.
Oliver was given half a chance as Ra’s began the fight unarmed and with both of his hands behind his back. Still, Oliver looked like a kitten trying to hit a piece of loose string. Five years “in hell” and two and a half years in Starling City have made Oliver into a great fighter, but none of that was evident here. He fought with emotion, which never helps his cause, but Ra’s was just far superior to Oliver. This is a man who hasn’t been challenged for 67 years – there’s a reason for that. People learn that challenging Ra’s is a good way to very quickly end up dead.
And that is exactly what happened to Oliver.
I saw Oliver’s death coming way before it happened. Still, it was beyond shocking. To seemingly kill off the main character any time before the very end of the show is a bold move. Of course, Oliver will most probably come back, given that the show is about him. However, it does open up the question as to how he’ll return, and we discuss that more in the podcast.
Before Oliver walked to his death, we had a moment that Olicity shippers surely loved, with Oliver telling Felicity that he loves her. Despite my serious dislike towards the pairing and the way they’ve been handled (and the way the show has been handled because of this), I thought this scene felt good. Oliver surely knew he was walking to his death, and so he thought now was as good a time as he’ll get to put his feelings out there. The handling of them has been so poor in this first half of the season, but I feel as if this is a stepping stone in the right direction.
Laurel was visited by
three ghosts her mother, who is seemingly a better detective than Quentin. Her mother’s intuition is so strong and Laurel is so bad at keeping secrets that she quickly learned that Sara had been killed. While it’s nice that SOMEONE in the Lance family learned the truth, I still don’t understand why they’re dragging out the story of Quentin finding out. Still, Laurel got some words of support in her quest for revenge, which is a nice change from the usual warnings.
The flashbacks finally got interesting as China White decided to steal a bioweapon. Oh, and Maseo’s wife. With Maseo joining the League after “it happened”, we could very well see Tatsu or Akio dying very soon. This season’s flashbacks have left a lot to be desired, but this episode’s were a step in the right direction.
Overall, I was very happy with the midseason finale. It was a serious change to some of the very weak episodes we’ve seen this season, giving us some nice developments in all areas and delivering that shocking twist. Hopefully, when the season starts up again, the momentum will be carried on and the second half of season three will far exceed the first half.