Is confession good for the soul? That’s what Thea’s aiming to find out in the Wednesday, Feb. 25 episode of “Arrow,” season 3 episode 15, “Nanda Parbat.” More people find out how Sara really died, and when Thea hands Malcolm over to the League of Assassins, Oliver and Diggle take a trip to save him. Plus, Ray gets just the energy boost he needs from Felicity to finish his suit.
There are “Arrow” episodes where it’s really hard to care about the flashbacks, and this is yet another one of those cases. Everything going on in the present is so much more exciting that even though Oliver and Maseo’s family are being shot at and Oliver has to run off with the kid to save him, it’s hard to really care that Amanda Waller is behind their latest problems. More Ra’s al Ghul! More Oliver and Diggle broments! More of Thea and Nyssa!
The two biggest cliffhangers of the season both involve Oliver on his knees, Ra’s al Ghul holding a blade, and a wait to see what happens next. Sure, the first time, Ra’s stabbed Oliver and kicked him off a mountain, nearly killing him and neither is shirtless and Oliver isn’t in the process of losing any blood this time around, but this cliffhanger has just as much an impact as the midseason finale’s, and like everything else this show does, it does this brilliantly. How else would “Arrow” go in to a short hiatus than with an episode featuring amazing stunt scenes, multiple confessions, bonding over killing people while under the influence, a hookup, someone taking flight in a certain suit and the tease of a fight in the foundry involving no one actually on Team Arrow?
It all begins when Nyssa learns that Oliver is still alive and heads to Starling City, but she ends up with a new target. Thea can’t handle the guilt anymore and tells Laurel everything, and as expected, Laurel doesn’t blame her. Her hatred is reserved for Malcolm alone, and she points out that Thea has a choice now that can make things right. And so Thea calls up the League and hands Malcolm over on a silver platter. Laurel then confronts Oliver about keeping the truth from her and working with her sister’s killer, but nothing is changing Oliver’s mind. “It’s really amazing, the way Merlyn always finds a way under your protection,” Laurel tells him. “It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when I was in love with you.”
Laurel tries to go after Malcolm herself, but she’s a newbie to his League-trained self and while she does pull a gun on him, Nyssa and the League show up and take it from there. Oliver tries to save Malcolm, claiming that he’s really saving Thea’s soul because the guilt of being responsible for her father’s death will eat at her, before the League can leave with him, but it’s no use. Oliver brings Nyssa back and puts her in a cage that’s part of the security upgrade from A.R.G.U.S. for Verdant (and what an upgrade!), but he doesn’t have to torture her or even touch her to get Nanda Parbat’s location out of her because she wants him to go to his death. Sometimes things can be so simple.
This time, however, he’s not going to face Ra’s al Ghul alone. He has Diggle at his side. Yes, Diggle is back in the field, at Oliver’s side, and it’s so good to see that again, especially after he’s been relegated to driving the getaway van and hanging back with Felicity at her computers with Laurel suiting up as Black Canary alongside Roy’s Arsenal. That was just wrong. But does it really have to take going to Nanda Parbat to face Ra’s al Ghul for that to happen? (Besides, how exactly was Oliver planning to get to Nanda Parbat if not for the A.R.G.U.S. jet? Fly coach? Take a bus? Rent a car? Walk?) As soon as they mention that they need to get in without being spotted, they’re spotted and they end up chasing down one of the League members to try to keep him from alerting the others. It’s no use, and more bodies fall as they track Malcolm.
So how is Malcolm doing in Nanda Parbat? Well, Ra’s doesn’t offer to let him soak like he’s doing in the opening scene, and even though Malcolm tries to beg his way back into his good graces, there’s only agony and blood in his future. When Oliver and Diggle find him, chained up and bloody, however, he tells them it’s a trap – and then Ra’s welcomes Oliver to Nanda Parbat. It’s not exactly a place anyone should welcome anyone to; it’s not like there’s anything there that’s going to make a travel brochure.
Oliver and Diggle end up chained to a floor in their own cell, and with nothing to do but wait for Ra’s to come and get them for whatever he has planned, most likely their deaths, Diggle gets to ask Oliver the favor he tries to earlier: be his best man. Sure, if they both survive. This is also when the truth comes out about why Oliver really is doing this, and it’s not just for Thea, as Diggle knows. See, Oliver is “egotistical and insane” (his own words) and just can’t stand the thought of someone being out there who beat him. Oh, Oliver. Ra’s got in his head; as Diggle explains, soldiers have to believe they’re coming home or they’ll be paralyzed.
Then the time comes for Oliver to once again face Ra’s al Ghul, and he takes the opportunity to offer to beg for Diggle’s life. That’s not necessary, because he’s shown Ra’s tremendous strength, fortitude, power, and that leads to a job offer: to take his place and become the next Ra’s al Ghul. And Oliver didn’t even know he’d gone to a job interview! When he lost his family’s company at the beginning of the season, there’s no way he could’ve imagined this could be his next job…
Meanwhile, back in Starling, Roy tries to offer Thea some words of wisdom, one person who killed under the influence to another. The feeling won’t go away, but it will get easier. She argues that he doesn’t have to see his victim’s family every day, but he does. He watches the cop’s family and brings them food and Christmas presents, and that helps him with the guilt. It’s not the same for Thea, who argues that she deserves to be punished and just tried to have her father killed, and so what does she do but go to see Nyssa in her cage and tell her the truth, free her and offer her her blade so she can take the vengeance she promised her.
Elsewhere, after Ray goes into isolation/suit-building for a week without talking to anyone, Felicity checks on him, stops him from destroying the entire building and then leaves him no choice but to shower/eat/sleep if he wants to work again since she locks him out of his files. “I’m taking you straight to bed,” she tells him, meaning she’ll make sure he gets some sleep, but it turns out that it works for the other meaning as well because when he comes out of the shower, she tells him he’s very attractive, he goes on about how he forgets they work together, and she kisses him. And then he does end up in bed, but not alone.
It seems that whenever Oliver and Felicity are on the outs, Ray benefits in a way. After Oliver gives his “I have to be alone” speech, Ray and Felicity kissed. Felicity disagrees with Oliver working with Malcolm… Sure, that’s not all it is, but there does seem to be a bit of a pattern. However, it seems that sex is what he really needed because suddenly he has all the answers he needs to make his A.T.O.M. suit work and he takes flight.
Finally, when Laurel asks Nyssa if she can remember the sound of Sara’s laugh, she recalls the moment she fell in love with her. Sara had been brought in front of her father and bore witness to a demonstration of his power, one that inspired terror in all that came before, but she laughed. It’s what Laurel needs to hear, as she admits that hating Malcolm for Sara’s death gave her a piece of her sister to hold onto and she’s worried that once he’s gone, that piece will be as well.
“Arrow” season 3 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 15 “Nanda Parbat”?