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TV Review: “Arrow” – Season 3 Episode 9: “The Climb”

By: Kyle Shultz

Arrow Season 3 title card

Season One we had Malcolm Merlyn, who left Oliver Queen nearly crippled and beaten badly. The following year we had the big reveal of Slade Wilson still being alive in the present day & on a man hunt for Oliver Queen, only instead of going straight for the kill; he was more strategic with his planning & just a wonderfully written character for the show, definitely a great foil for our Emerald Archer. This year, Oliver’s biggest threat is in the form of Ra’s Al Ghul & Matt Nable’s take on The Demon’s Head is a far superior & far more a deadlier threat than Liam Neeson’s portrayal ever was. Admittedly, I was on the fence about Nable playing Ra’s Al Ghul, I have never watched this guy act in anything, but I do trust the casting behind this show, so there has to be something to him in this role; and boy was there. Nable may not look like Ra’s Al Ghul at all, but he sure does bring this sense of danger to the role, & the way he delivers his lines as this character had me completely invested in him. I really wanted to hear what this guy had to say. Ra’s remark about Oliver being the first man he had to duel in 67 years was basically the confirmation we needed that the Lazarus Pit exists in this universe.

The fight between Ra’s and Oliver is probably one of the most intense fights I’ve watched on a TV show, at least for this show. The simple fact that Ra’s had chosen to fight with only one hand let us know that Oliver was severely outmatched, & unfortunately that ended badly for Oliver. During the final seconds of the fight, as Oliver saw each great moment of his flash before his eyes, I kind of felt like this was the series finale & not a mid-season finale. Surely, the writers are not going to kill off Oliver for good, he’ll come back. Though, I must say I honestly hope he stays dead for a while. I would love it if he stayed off-screen for the remainder of the season, as that could bring some very interesting conflicts up, but I’m sure Oliver will stay gone for at least three or four episodes. Which means that we’ll surely get more Arsenal scenes, which is definitely overdue. Seeing this episode end how it did, it makes sense to have Laurel make her entrance as Black Canary in the second half of this season, like Roy, her reaction to this will be interesting to see as well.

Earlier in the season, Oliver sort of predicted his own demise. His line “This life I’ve chosen only ends in one way,” which brings some very powerful stuff into play. Watching this episode & thinking about previous episodes, you can kind of pick up what the writers were planning for the first half, at least to a degree. One of the biggest things in the comics was that Oliver wanted a family with Dinah Lance, though Dinah always stated that she doesn’t want to bring up orphans. Before Oliver’s fight with Ra’s, we had some very emotional stuff with him saying goodbye to everyone. Oliver seemingly knew that going into this fight, he wouldn’t be coming back. His farewell to his team was some of the most powerful stuff this show has had to offer so far, I cannot wait to see how everyone will react when he comes back.

Ra's Stabs Oliver

With the fight with Ra’s, the whole ordeal came into play because Ra’s issued Oliver 48 hours to find Sara’s killer, or suffer the consequences. This episode finally gave us our answer as to “whodunit?” and as I stated earlier on, I knew it was a female, just didn’t really know it was going to be Thea; at least a brainwashed Thea. I love that it was Thea that turned out to be the killer, though I wished the brainwashing tactic wasn’t there. That seems like a copout to me, though Oliver’s realization that his sister is a kung-Fu badass was some really interesting stuff. I’m hoping that eventually she’ll see how Malcolm really is & join the fight with her brother. I love that Oliver chose to fight Ra’s for his sister, him sacrificing himself so his sister could hopefully lead a better life really changed this from a murder mystery theme to an emotionally stirring conflict that shows Oliver is willing to do anything for the only real family he has left, that is until Connor comes into the show.

I’ve been reading the Katana comics lately, and I’m really interested a lot more in these flashbacks. Granted they do switch things up in the show, but to me, that works better as I can’t predict everything going on, I must say I wasn’t exactly surprised that Katana’s husband Maseo turned out to be alive & in the League of Assassin’s in the present day. Having China White come back & causing trouble & having Oliver embracing his new role as a bow-wielding torturer in the flashbacks tied nicely with the overall conflict of this episode. Even though we got to see very little of Ray Palmer in this episode, it was nice seeing the A.T.O.M. suit in full holographic format, I really cannot wait to see that suit in combat. I must say though, this scene in particular kind of slowed pacing down, but I still enjoyed it. I love Brandon Routh in this role & he is a great actor for this show, perhaps one day we’ll get an episode centered on him. One person I’m surprised we haven’t seen lately is Ted Grant, where has that guy been? I really hope we haven’t seen the last of him.

With “The Climb,” Arrow offered us yet another great mid-season finale, even though this one felt more like a series finale than anything else. We finally have the answer to “Who killed Sara?” and while I really think that could’ve been handled better; I can’t wait to see how that unfolds in future episodes. Same with Oliver being dead, I really cannot wait to see how/when they bring him back & I would love to see how Ra’s handles Oliver’s eventual return.

Overall Grade: 10/10

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