Written by Marisa Carpico
Plot: When Nyssa (Katrina Law) comes to Starling City determined to find Sara’s (Caity Lotz) killer, she suspects Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is the culprit. While she is determined to kill him for both betraying the League of Assassins and possibly killing Sara, Oliver (Stephen Amell) must decide if he should break his no-kill rule for the man who nearly destroyed Starling City two years ago.
The Demon has arrived. I’ve been impatiently awaiting Ra’s al Ghul’s (Matt Nable) arrival on this show since it first mentioned the League of Assassins — so just about anything could have happened in the rest of the episode and I would have been pleased. Not to say that the events leading up to the last-second reveal of this season’s “big bad” (he was in the Lazarus Pit, you guys) wasn’t really interesting. While “The Magician” was propelled by the continued mystery of who killed Sara Lance, it also established the main conflicts Oliver will have to face in at least the first arc of this season—namely, Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm Merlyn.
We picked up at where last week’s episode ended with Nyssa demanding to know Sara’s whereabouts and Oliver broke the news to her in a gentler way than would have seemed possible given how adversarial their relationship has been in the past. Sara’s death is the narrative gift that keeps on giving and Nyssa’s devastation at losing her “beloved” was really effective here. We don’t know much about her other than that she fell in love with Sara in the process of saving and training her after what happened with Slade on the freighter (my kingdom for that flashback episode). We didn’t learn much more about her tonight, but her connection to Sara was enough to propel the action of the episode. True to form, she immediately called for the death of the murderer, who she suspected was Malcolm Merlyn. The Dark Archer still being alive was, of course, a surprise to Oliver. He spends the rest of the episode struggling with whether or not to kill him — regardless of whether or not Malcolm killed Sara.
If this were Season 1, maybe even early Season 2, this wouldn’t even be a conflict. Oliver would kill Malcolm and move on to the next bad guy. But as our hero becomes more devoted to justice than revenge, his sense of morality becomes more complicated. On the one hand, as Diggle (David Ramsey) put it, the world wouldn’t be worse off without Malcolm Merlyn in it. The man is the embodiment of villainy and is currently corrupting Thea as part of whatever his nefarious plan is. Not that Oliver knows any of that. For him, with his new-found devotion to Thea and the memories of watching both of his parents die in front of his eyes still painfully fresh, the prospect of killing her only remaining parent was likely an even larger factor in his ultimate decision not to kill Malcolm than his doubts that he killed Sara at all.
For once, I’m inclined to agree with Oliver and believe Malcolm when he says that he didn’t fire those arrows into the former Canary’s chest. Killing a member of The League makes no logical sense. He spent most of last year trying to not get murdered by Ra’s al Ghul and Malcolm is a master manipulator. Speaking of, I’m really interested in his endgame with Thea. Obviously, he’s trying to drive a wedge between Thea and Oliver. The scene where he struggles to tell her that Malcolm is still alive and Thea strains to hide that she already knows that information was fantastic–but to what end? Even if Thea is a little harder than she was before, I don’t think that she would do anything major to hurt Oliver without some further impetus. Maybe that will come in the form of Malcolm’s death? I doubt that would happen until the mid-season finale at the soonest. My major complaint with this show having 23-episode seasons is that storylines that could and often should be resolved quickly are stretched well beyond their sustainable point *cough* Isabel Rochev *cough* and I’m already worried that this Thea-becomes-a-maybe-villain tale will fall prey to that tendency.
I’m slightly less concerned about that happening in the Ra’s al Ghul storyline. Despite the fact that next week’s episode is going to delve into Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) backstory, Oliver’s protection of Malcolm puts him in direct opposition to the Demon and his mysterious League and once the man’s got all his rings and robes on, he’ll probably be heading straight to Starling City. I, for one, can’t wait to see that happen.