Entertainment Magazine

Arrow’s “The Offer” (S3,EP16) & That’s More Like It

Posted on the 19 March 2015 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

Spoiler alert, everybody: Oliver didn’t accept the offer to become the new Ra’s al Ghul.

The real question is whether or not that conclusion was ever in doubt. When Arrow went on its month long hiatus after “Nanda Parbat” and offered up a trailer ending with Oliver turning to the camera and declaring, “Maybe I should be Ra’s al Ghul,” I could muster little more than a snarky reaction, fearing the show was straying too far away from its original identity. Moreover, I reasoned Arrow was simply setting itself up for a story with only one obvious conclusion, specifically that Oliver would say no to the offer to become the head of an international terrorist organization.  Come on, this isn’t Joss Whedon’s Angel which completely changed formats in-between seasons 4 and 5, taking its heroic title character from an avenging detective helping the helpless to being the head of an evil corporation which he meant to change from the inside. It’s a little early in the season for Arrow to truly do something like that. So, while it’s faintly possible that maybe next season we’ll get to see Oliver Queen in fancy robes, routinely dipping into the Lazarus Pit of Nanda Parbat, for now we were always heading to him deciding that maybe Starling City really is better off with him around as opposed to without him.

Angel Smile hero

Angel turned the main character into a puppet! Arrow’s never going to do that.

“The Offer” reached that seemingly inevitable conclusion honestly. Oliver Queen, while initially dismissive of Ra’s offer, was actually tempted, and I kind of loved it. All superheroes eventually reach the “We are not so different, you and I” stage of their relationship with a villain, and Ra’s accurately predicting exactly what was going to become of Oliver upon his return home vaguely reminded me of the moment the Willem DeFoe Green Goblin offers to team up with the Tobe Maguire Spider-Man, warning that the city will turn on him because what the world likes even more than a hero is seeing a hero fall. Of course, in Spider-Man that moment is immediately followed up by a montage of spinning newspaper headlines (e.g., “City wants Spider-Man Arrested!”), momentarily shaking ole Peter Parker’s confidence until he does that signature upside down kiss with the girl and then runs into a burning building to save people because it’s the right thing to do.

amazing-spider-man-2-green-goblin

No, not that Green Goblin.

While not exactly the same thing, “The Offer” was kind of like an episode-long version of that rather familiar segment of the superhero story, with Arrow’s template being “The Demon’s Quest” story where Ra’s al Ghul offered to make Batman his heir. Matthew Nable’s quietly charismatic and increasingly intriguing version of Ra’s simply let Oliver, Diggle and Malcolm walk as a peace offering, forgiving all debts thus allowing the show to rather efficiently clear the deck and re-set things for us. Oliver was back in Starling City and freeing Nyssa from her cage before we knew it, answering no questions in his dickish way and begging the world to give him a case to work as a distraction. We had left the show on multiple cliffhangers, and they were all rather quickly explained, Nyssa declining to kill Sara, Oliver being allowed to leave Nanda Parbat and contemplate the offer, and Ray Palmer….okay, actually, his whole “I am Iron Man now!” thing was barely dealt with.

Arrow

This will have to wait for another episode.

What we then got was something this show used to prioritize which is a fairly straight-forward, enjoyable case of the week centered around the writers’ version of some relatively obscure DC villain, in this case the somewhat literally tight-lipped scientist-turned-criminal who goes by Murmur. He was wrongfully imprisoned after admitting to a crime he didn’t commit. Once freed, he sowed his mouth shut and started a criminal operation to steal diamonds to be used to create special armor-piercing bullets. That means we get the show’s standard fight between the good guys and bad guys in a hanger, some kind of interaction between the hero and a representative of the law force, in this case Captain Lance, Oliver being impatient at how long it takes to solve everything, culminating with a final battle either in one of the show’s existing sets or in some nondescript Vancouver nighttime setting. In this case, that final battle happened at Starling City’s police headquarters, kind of seeming like every single cop other than Captain Lance got mowed down even though Oliver implies later in the episode that many somehow survived.

Yes, thank you, Arrow. That is the type of stuff I love to watch from you. Incrementally push the season-long plot forward while giving us a fun or at least visually intriguing villain. At some point, have Oliver turn his back to other members of Team Arrow while he’s delivering a dramatic speech in the Arrow Cave (because then we get to make jokes about how often Oliver fails to actually look at the people he’s talking to), and if it makes sense for the story throw in a touching moment between Oliver and Felicity. In “The Offer,” Oliver did the now-familiar dramatic walk through the Arrow Cave while talking to Diggle, and for a change Felicity stopped short of outright hostility or yelling and had a genuine heart-to-heart with Oliver. I was as relieved as Felicity to see Oliver actually smile and say “thank you” at the end. Granted, that scene ultimately turned out to be in a service to furthering the Oliver, Ray, Felicity love triangle, but doesn’t it seem like it’s been too long since we’ve seen people actually be nice to each other and share a smile together on this show?

Ra's_al_Ghul

Mr. Queen, wou will be my heir — for the prophesy says it will be so

Of course, I just jumped to the ending there, didn’t I, without really discussing the backbone of the episode: Oliver’s crisis of confidence and brief consideration of leaving everything behind. The real question is probably whether or not it’s actually believable that Oliver would be tempted by the offer in the first place. The show is fully aware of the fact that Captain Lance justifiably turning on him and Felicity moving on from him to Ray do not exactly add up to earth-shattering changes which should cause someone to run away from everything. Both Diggle AND Felicity tell Oliver that, and the fact that his sister is more broken than ever before shouldn’t be an additional reason to leave but instead a crucial reason to stay. Good for Captain Lance because the way Oliver kept Laurel’s secret about Sara being dead was reprehensible. Good for Felicity moving on, especially the way she pointed out in “The Offer” Oliver’s not being with her was his choice, not her’s. She can’t wait around for him to change his mind. Both of those things should hurt Oliver, and with those around him demanding more and more honestly and less autocratic rule his choices are to try and become a better person or to run away to a land where there would be no Felicity, Laurel, or apparently even Nyssa standing up to him. Why wouldn’t Oliver be tempted, especially with the caveat that if he wants the League of Assassins to stop killing people they will? It made sense for him to at least ponder it.  His related “What have I actually accomplished?” is probably best left unexplored lest we just start naming all the things the Arrow has actually done, especially how he saved the city last season.  That particular crisis of confidence was perhaps bigger than the show had time for, but Stephen Amell sold it beautifully.

I think of it this way: If this was a normal drama or maybe even a sitcom, this would be the episode where the main character gets an exciting new job offer in a new city, the first half of the episode arguing for why maybe he should leave, the second half causing him to re-appreciate everything he has and thus deciding to stay. Cue freeze frame group hug ending, roll credits.

Laurel-and-Nyssa-316-630x420

Is everyone still hung up on how Laurel doesn’t have enough training? Fine, Nyssa is going to train her because Oliver is too busy brooding.

Except, of course, “The Offer” kept not ending, dropping one surprising new twist after another, one totally regrettable (Shado’s alive? Please let that be a twin sister!), one supremely awesome (Nyssa and Laurel are new besties, and Nyssa’s version of a complement is to tell someone that they’re fighting was competent? Please, put these two into a buddy comedy spin-off!), and another kind of “Huh?” (Ra’s is going to defame the Arrow’s good name by killing people in Starling City while wearing the green hood). Oliver dueling with a rival archer whose identity is known only to the audience seems familiar but promising. The same could be said for Captain Lance having switched back to anti-vigilante mode. The potential that we’ll be getting way more of Katrina Law’s Nyssa going forward suggests we might be in for a far superior back half of season 3 mostly because it means the show finally realizes how good Katrina Law is.  On the other hand, Arrow randomly bringing Shado back might indicate that this is still a wildly flailing show. But I really liked this episode so I’m going to ignore that and say that things might be getting better.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I don’t grade episodes, but if I did I would give this an A for Stephen Amell’s performance, arriving at its inevitable conclusion honestly, giving Captain Lance a chance to finally stand up to both Laurel and the Arrow, and not just letting Oliver smile again but make it feel like he’d really earned it.  Plus, I am a sucker for fish out of water humor, and I love the prospects of Nyssa being Thor to Laurel’s Jane Foster minus the romance.

THE NOTES

arrow-the-offer-episode-16-3x16-season-3

Remember that one season of Buffy where Spike basically lived with Giles? I want Arrow to do that with Malcolm, Oliver, and Thea.

1. Spin-off Pitch: A family sitcom about Oliver, Malcolm, and Thea living together, sort of like My Two Dads with Thea as the daughter and Oliver and Malcolm as the father figures.  In the pilot, Thea will go out on a date with Roy, and both Malcolm and Oliver will stalk her separately to make sure Roy just doesn’t try anything funny. Beyond that, there will be a running Pink Panther gag where Malcolm constantly tries to kill Thea at the most unexpected times to ensure that her senses always stay sharp. I’m thinking of calling it Two Queens & A Merlyn.

2. Obviously, my spin-off ideas are jokey nonsense, but in my last spin-off pitch I did predict Nyssa and Laurel would begin a relationship together, although I implied it would be a romantic one. Still, I was half-right.

3. Somebody had to ask it so they could spell it out for the audience, but would Felicity really not immediately realize that armor-piercing bullets would be used to target cops?

4. The passive-aggressive way Stephen Amell said “Palmer” when referring to Ray while talking to Diggle was hilarious.

5. The Arrow can now apparently fly for how else do you explain him vanishing into the sky while his zipline is not visibly attached to anything.

6. Anytime this show says, “There’s a prophecy,” I instantly joke back, “Of course there is.” That’s not because this has been a prophecy-heavy show like Angel, but more that at this point I am not at all surprised to learn there’s some ancient prophecy about the man who survives Ra’s al Ghul’s sword becoming Ra’s al Ghul.

7. Willa Holland is Arrow’s most improved performer this season, and what they gave her in “The Offer” wasn’t exactly the most eloquent thing in the world. It was like at the same time Oliver was contemplating his verbal offer Thea was contemplating the do or do not of killing your own murderous father. That she ultimately walked away dejected, telling Oliver, “I’m going to go get soup for my evil father” was hilarious and sad at the same time.

8. Oh, yeah, the show just confirmed that The Lazarus Pit exists, and it has magic water.  I am choosing to just go with it.  Maybe now we know exactly how Caity Lotz will feature in the team-up spin-off: They’ll just use the Lazarus Pit to resurrect Sara Lance.

9. I still have a remarkably foggy concept of how the League of Assassins actually operates outside of the whole “Live in a mountain, bow to immortal dude, go out and assassinate people” thing.  Maybe that’s all there is to it.

ARROW’S SPOILER-RIFFIC PALEYFEST “Look Ahead” TRAILER

SECOND OPINIONS

ScreenCrush – “The Offer made a lot of headway in clearing off the cobwebs for some solid character work, it’s the overall story’s foundation that makes everything feel so shaky.”

ScreenRant - “And with Ra’s coming to Starling City to besmirch the Arrow’s somewhat good name, those in Oliver’s life may play an even more important role in how he responds to this very personal threat.”


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