Arrow Season 3 Episode 9 Review: The Climb

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Isn't there a saying somewhere about it not being the climb that's difficult but getting back down? 

There's something to that effect out there, but of course it's not handy when needed. That said, Arrow Season 3 Episode 9 shouldn't have been titled "The Climb." 

The Fall would have been more appropriate. 

On the Arrow Season 3 Episode 4 Round Table, I posed the question of which man was taking advantage of his daughter – Ra's al Ghul or Malcolm Merlyn. Everyone dearly wanted to side with Malcolm that he was doing what was best for Thea and giving her what she had asked, the truth. Whoops!

Poor Thea. She wanted nothing but the truth and was used in the most horrible way possible. She was forced to kill Sara while under a persuasive drug. What a nice guy. Instead, the man who truly loves Thea – her brother Oliver – claimed he killed Sara in order to save her. 

The thing is, I don't trust Malcolm Merlyn enough to believe what he said about the League is true. If Malcolm was shown to be behind the death of Sara, would Ra's really kill Thea? There's no love lost between Malcolm and Ra's, if I recall correctly. As odd as it sounds, Ra's seems like a rational man. 

You're just a boy.

Ra's al Ghul

When he said that, I realized he's not anything expected. He lives by a code, yes, but something tells me he has room inside that code to wiggle a little. The League is supposed to replace evil with death. Under no definition is Thea evil. Malcolm Merlyn fits the description perfectly. By protecting Thea, did Oliver unintentionally side with Malcom against Ra's? Would Ra's have rather understood the truth? If he doesn't kill evil men, what will he think when he discovers Oliver was protecting someone, especially Malcolm, and killing Oliver wasn't eradicating evil?

The fight between Ra's and Oliver was fair and it's hard to deny the man has it together. Oliver was sweating and it was zero degrees up there. He was overly confident and in the wrong fight – a fight he lost.

While there's no doubt Oliver will live, how he lives will be an interesting journey. How long will he be gone from Starling City? Will he be absent long enough for ATOM and the Black Canary to be born, somewhat out of necessity?

Ray: Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism. ATOM.
Felicity: What are you going to use it for?
Ray: To protect the people of this city. And I want you to help.
Felicity: Why does this keep happening to me?

It was hard not to laugh and think, "Whew! It's a good thing another hero is on the way," as Oliver plunged over the side of the cliff he had only moments before ascended. Ray didn't hold back after Felicity demanded truth from him. He told her about the woman he lost and what he was really doing with Palmer Technologies when he showed her ATOM.

Felicity: I think I made it pretty clear when I said I didn't want to talk about this.
Ray: You were, but you were also pretty wrong when you said I regretted kissing you. I can't imagine there's a man on the planet who would ever regret kissing you.

Felicity continued to doubt Oliver's love for her, making her susceptible to Ray's charms. Not that the only thing Ray has to offer is his charming demeanor. His story is unique and not in conflict with that of any other character. What a treat.

Felicity: I don't doubt that. I don't doubt that you can beat him, but I'm terrified that you won't kill him because that's not who you are anymore and I am so afraid that Ra's al Ghul is going to use your humanity against you.
Oliver: Felicity, I honestly don't know if I'm a killer anymore, but I do know two things. The first is that whoever I am, I'm someone who will do whatever, whatever it takes to save my sister.
Felicity: And the second thing?
Oliver: I love you.

Would Oliver have taken Felicity's advice and killed Ra's if he had the skills to do it? Maybe someday we'll find out, but it will probably be a while. Felicity will either push back against Ray while the fate of Oliver hangs in the balance or turn to him.

Then we have Laurel. She's not capable of keeping the secret of Sara's death any longer, sharing it with both Thea (so we would see her surprise at the news) and her mother, Dinah. 

Laurel: Mom, can I tell you something? Whoever killed Sara, I'm going to find them no matter what it takes and I am going to make them pay.
Dinah: Then you make them pay. And you make them suffer.

Who do you think Laurel will go after? Will she really team up against Oliver and Thea or will she try to take down Malcolm? Will she get wind of all of the options? There are a lot of avenues her journey can take at this point. Her scenes tonight were really well done and I'm ready for her to step up to the challenge that's ahead.

Questions and thoughts:

  • Why did Oliver choose the wrong fight? Why fight Ra's and not Malcolm? Did he really think, in the long run, this would help Thea?
  • Who will tell Thea about Malcolm when the news arrives Oliver is dead?
  • When Black Canary avenges her sister's death, who will she be after?
  • Were you surprised Ra's al Ghul was so rational and fair? He didn't seem evil to me at all. Am I mistaken?
  • How old is Ra's al Ghul if he hadn't been challenged in 67 years? He's looking pretty good for... ???. 

I'm anxious to hear how all of the Malcolm Merlyn fans defend his actions. He has a soul so black there is no way to redeem him. Agree or disagree?

We finally know who killed Sara, but the ramifications of her death are far from over. The way Oliver chose to take care of it will carry into many other avenues of the lives of his friends and family. 

Hit the comments. What did you think of the hour? Did it live up to your expectations? There are far more questions as a result of this midseason finale than answers. I'm anxiously awaiting all of you thoughts.

Don't forget, if you want to re-examine everything that brought us to this point, you can watch Arrow online via TV Fanatic. 

NOTE: Arrow Season 3 Episode 10, "Left Behind," will air on Wednesday, January 21.

The Climb Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (146 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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