Arrow Review – “Al Sah-Him” S3E21

Pros:

Ever-changing intro: While it’s not that big of a deal, I like the attention to detail that the series shows by changing up the “My name is Oliver Queen” bit in the opening segment.

Al Sah-Him: Oliver’s brainwashed transformation into an agent of the League was alarming. I kinda like him better as this cold, blooded killer. A lot of the episode is spent reeling over how he’s been “lost” to Ra’s al Ghul, but I wanted to see more of the process, more of the intense training Ra’s put him through. Seeing him take care of Nyssa so easily and then swash-buckling with Diggle was great.

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House Rules: Diggle and Lyla are just the cutest couple. “No glocks at the dinner table.” Diggle has been a loyal soldier through this whole ordeal, but the moment his wife is in danger, Diggle loses his mind – in a good way. I like that Diggle has lines he won’t cross, because I was worried they made him too soft and a bit of a pushover.

Laurel: Yeah, I don’t believe I just wrote her on the positive side, either. The Black Canary is coming into her own, but it’s still in a realistic that she’s not all that good at her job. Nyssa’s training was coming along nicely. I especially liked the “This isn’t my first day” comment, because the rest of the team still sees her as a bumbling idiot. And… she can be at times, but now she’s a bumbling idiot with Cisco-grade technology. I can’t help but feel she’s trying to fill the void left by Sara with Nyssa, and it’s blinding her from reality.

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Cons:

Bat-manning: If you were looking for something different out of Ra’s al Ghul, prepare yourself for complete disappointment. Arrow has stolen almost every bit of the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Batman legacy, and for a long time, I was completely happy with it. However, there were several “Easter Eggs” that have confirmed there will be no deviation from the original stories. And his new Christian Bale-inspired voice is dumb.

Too little, too late: Where was all this “Save Oliver” shit when he was the only one fighting? Roy Harper was the only one ready to throw down to save Oliver. Instead, everybody reacts poorly, choosing wallowing over actually helping him out. It’s all really stupid. Team Arrow (sans Diggle) spent the entire season whining about Oliver’s decisions and not helping. Now that he’s the agent of Death, basically, NOW it’s a big deal.

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Felicity. Again: I don’t know a character that has been so thoroughly deconstructed as Felicity Smoak. She’s just the worst (worse than Britta from Community, but not as bad as Barbara from Gotham). It’s like her character now exists purely to make us love Oliver. She isn’t just the damsel in distress, but completely useless without Oliver around to make her whole. Quotes like “The only reason I’ve been able to get out of bed these past few weeks” make me gag, and her selfish “there’s no way I’m getting him back” attitude is gross. It’s distasteful and I’m really sick of seeing it. Felicity is a powerhouse, a genius, and a damn fine woman. When she’s on The Flash, there’s none of this self-pitying, self-deprecating bullshit. She’s a valued scientist and a hotty that makes Barry Allen blush. Meanwhile, the way she’s written in Arrow is making me hate the show and the character.

WHO IS TAKING CARE OF THE BABY??: Solid question, right? Who is taking care of Lyla and Diggle’s baby while they are saving the city or whatever? It isn’t you or me, and it damn sure isn’t Thea.

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Easter Eggs:

Damien Darhk: The once-contender to the current Ra’s al Ghul was none other than tech-wizard and genius, Damien Darhk. In the comic books, he harnesses the mysterious powers of “Wi-Fi.” Oooh, spooky (his character was written in the late 90’s)! He’s an associate of H.I.V.E., the organization in the show that hired Deadshot to kill Andy Diggle. It’s been revealed that Darhk will become the main villain of Season 4. Yaay….

Speedy: Now that Arsenal is gone, it’s time for Thea to step up. Who cares if everybody treats her like garbage? She’s rich, bored, and ready to kick butt! The way she handled a bow and arrow in this episode proved that she has the skills and fortitude, but the red jacket and choice not to wear a crop top proves that she’s taking life more seriously now.

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Oliver & Nyssa: The pairing of the two is soooo Bruce & Talia. Ra’s al Ghul’s plan in the comic books is to breed (it’s so gross when you say it like that) Oliver and Nyssa to create the ultimate fighter guy to take Oliver’s place. There are a bunch of problems with this pairing, as Nyssa is not into this at all, and it’s not just because her dad is making her. Nyssa doesn’t seem all that into guys, as a whole. However, she and Oliver share one thing in common: Sara. Oliver and Nyssa, Eskimo siblings!

Ra’s is still insane: Hey Oliver, I know you’re having a hard time getting over your old friends and family; I know just how to fix that – let’s kill everybody in Starling City! Yeah? No? Sleep on it? This is all very familiar to Batman Begins. And it still sounds just as ridiculous now as it did ten years ago.

Predictions:

The feels: The way this show is going, it wouldn’t surprise me if all it took to bring Oliver we know and love back to the surface is a series of heart-felt speeches from Thea and Felicity, maybe a single glistening teardrop? Give me a break; this show is so emotional. I’m still holding out hope that Oliver is playing Ra’s and pretending this whole time, but if I was a betting man, I would say that they’re going to drag this out until Oliver has his opinions changed by a strong case of the feels.

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Oliver is not a fan of Ra’s plan: Duh. I wish there was some more believable dilemma that Oliver had to deal with, but this is what we’re stuck with. So yeah, Oliver might be Al Sah-Him, but I doubt a few weeks of brainwashing could make anybody think that unleashing a super bio-weapon on their hometown is a viable plan.


Hush Comics gives “Al Sah-Him” a C-. The grace period for stealing ideas from Batman lore is over, and the characters haven’t gotten any better written – especially Felicity. What started a great season with has gotten diluted and lazy. You can do better, Arrow.

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment and are credited to Dean Buscher and Cate Cameron.

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