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TV Review: Arrow, “Heir to the Demon” (S2/EP13) – A 2nd Mid-Season Finale

Posted on the 06 February 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

To read our other Arrow episode reviews please go here.

Heir to the Demon

  • Airdate: 2/5/2014
  • Director: Wendey Stanzler (Arrow, Glee, Parks & Recreation, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, 90210)
  • Writer: Jake Coburn (Arrow, Gossip Girl, Dirty Sexy Money)

Last week, Arrow sent Laurel further down the river of despair while initiating Roy into Team Arrow and reminiscing about that one time back on the island when Slade almost blew Ivo’s ship up with a rocket launcher.  Although it had moments meant to warm many a Roy Harper fans yearning heart, the resulting episode was a big ole mess, an example of how poorly Arrow hangs together when their plot holes are too large to ignore.   This week?  Infinitely more watchable, but man oh man is this an episode sure to anger a lot of fans even if the Sara/Oliver fans are jumping for joy.  It’s going to be a long couple of weeks before Arrow returns with new episodes after the Winter Olympics.

Let’s break it down:


The (Not So) Great Lance Family Reunion -

That shady dude from Verdant last week is from the League of Assassins, and he poisoned Laurel’s drinks to ensure an apparent overdose.  Why?  Because Nyssa al Guhl and Sara were lesbian lovers, and hurting Laurel was a good way to lure Sara back to Starling City.  Also, the League of Assassins never lets anyone leave (except Malcolm Merlyn), but it’s mostly because Nyssa wants her girlfriend back.

Heir to the Demon

Alas, Sara’s heart now belongs to Oliver, and though Sara offers herself up as a sacrifice to spare her loved ones Nyssa declines to kill her, opting instead to kidnap Sara’s mom for a kind of hostage exchange.  However, Sara is dead serious about not wanting to return to the League.  As soon as her mom is freed during their hostage exchange, Sara crumbles to the ground, having poisoned herself in the hopes her death would save her loved ones.  Luckily, Arrow has an anti-venom to save Sara, and Nyssa releases Sara of her bond to the League, presumably because Sara stopped Oliver from killing her.  This grand Lance family reunion ends quickly after a drunken Laurel blames Sara for everything that has gone wrong, and throws her out of her apartment…and right into the arms of Oliver at the Arrow Cave for some sweet, sweet love making since Oliver also had some family-induced stress to work off…

Felicity Breaks Oliver’s Heart…Kind Of -

Through monitoring of Moira’s secret bank account from last season, Felicity notices a money transfer involving a doctor, and immediately puts it together that Moira is paying off a doctor to keep quiet about Thea being Malcolm Merlyn’s daughter.  Felicity bizarrely confronts Moira with this information, who responds by throwing down the “I’ve seen the way you look at Oliver” gauntlet in undeterred queen bee fashion.  What ever will Ms. Smoak do?  If she tells Oliver he’ll hate her forever and ever and ever.  Screw that.  Felicity tells Oliver right before he’s to give a speech at a press conference announcing Moira’s run for mayor.  In a kind of awesome scene, Oliver stumbles his way through his speech (“You don’t know my mother like I do”) before really sticking the landing, seeming like the doting son.  Turns out he’s anything but since he later  tells Moira she’s dead to him even though he’ll still keep up mother-son appearances in public and around Thea.

Meanwhile, On the Island… -

Actually, they took mercy on us this week by sparing us the island flashbacks.  Instead, we got flashbacks to a weekend from 6 years ago when Sara returned home from college to hang out with Laurel and her parents.  She’s also there to secretly see Oliver, and through text messages we see she’s having doubts about continuing (or beginning) their affair.  A contentious chat with Laurel erases those doubts quite nicely.  Later, we jump ahead to see the moment Laurel first discovered the Queen’s Gambit had crashed, and then when Moira had the unfortunate task of informing Laurel and her father Sara was also on the ship.


It all started so similar to “Tremors” in that we again had cold open establishing the villain of the week (Nyssa) as a bad-ass in very comic book fashion.  Why on Earth would Nyssa, an heir to the throne of a terrorist organization, actually attempt to enter Starling City through such legal, mundane channels as the Starling City International Airport?  Mostly because the show wanted to economize its screen time by having her easily beat up a bunch of guys (airport security) in less than 20 seconds.  Yeah, but, how could she really just walk through the rest of the airport after that without having been caught on camera, made Starling City public enemy #1, etc.?  You just have to go with it.  Just keep remembering, “This is a comic book show.”

However, that was among the least notable things to happen in “Heir to the Demon,” an enjoyable but sometimes crazy episode which elicited the following unfiltered insta-reaction from me: ”That was some crazy shit right there!”  Some of the plot elements had been spoiled in the trailers meaning Sara and Nyssa’s prior lesbian relationship was no surprise nor should it have been given the very Frank Miller bisexual Catwoman from Batman: Year One version of Sara with Sin earlier this season.  It’s the other, less salacious story elements that has left me so flummoxed.  On the one hand, I want to say they yet again had everyone act of character.  On the other hand, I can see where you could argue the characters behaved entirely in keeping with their established behavior patterns.


Heir to the Demon

It seem totally out of nowhere for Laurel to blow up at Sara at the end, right? Laurel had taken comfort in the thought of Sara being alive via her “hallucination.”  Well, the idea in the episode is to clearly establish Laurel and Sara’s sibling rivalry over Oliver, previously hinted at by Sara in island flashbacks, as a way of better framing Laurel’s reaction to Sara’s return.  In Sara’s absence Laurel could romanticize their relationship and long for her return.  However, having Sara actually there shatters the fantasy, revealing unresolved hostilities.  It’s not just that Sara ran off with Laurel’s boyfriend, and that her “death” effectively ended their parents’ marriage.  It’s that Sara was alive this whole time without telling them, and that upon her return whatever psychological damage she caused to her family in the past was enhanced with actual physical damage (personally, I was stunned Dinah survived the episode).

Laurel’s not wrong, and this is an unexpectedly different direction after they heavily implied earlier this season that it would be Oliver and not Sara the Lances would hate once they heard her story and realized Oliver lied to them last year.  That still might end up happening once everyone calms down long enough to actually gets some details out of Sara.

However, did they really need Laurel to be downing alcohol while making her anti-Sara declaration?  Did they have to go full-on diva with it and have Laurel appear to throw her glass at the departing Sara?  Can they please just stop now, seriously, stop what they are doing with Laurel?  Yes, her reaction here actually does make sense, and is consistent with how she blamed her problems on Arrow earlier this season.  However, as the person in the dark on all the secrets the audience already knows must Laurel continue to be placed in the least endearing story lines?

Felicity, Moira, Oliver

Heir to the Demon

How surreal was it seeing Felicity being part of Moira’s classic secret-keeping scenes in Queen Manor?  What was Felicity doing here, simply being used to introduce conflict between Oliver and Felicity to further delay their potential romance?  Did we actually know Felicity doesn’t trust Moira since that was her motivation for getting into this mess?  Crucially, we finally get some background information about Felicity, mostly that her mother is somewhat of a nightmare and her father absentee.  This explains her clear daddy-issue-influenced devotion to helping save Walter last season, and they played it up this week as having created abandonment issues for her wherein she fears she could lose Oliver just like she lost her father.

What of Oliver, whose rejection of Moira by episode’s end was rather stunning? Oliver just found out his sister is actually only his half-sister, and that his mother has been lying about it his whole life.  That’s huge, life-shattering news.  Hell, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder lived out a similar real world experience and wrote “Alive” about it.  However, if everything last season with the Glades was okay for Oliver because Moira did it to protect her family from Malcolm then why is the same exact explanation insufficient for Oliver now?  It is supposed to be that Moira’s lies have finally become too much for him, but in this case isn’t she still just protecting her family from Malcolm?  The way she won her trial earlier this season was used to hint at Oliver forming doubts about her, and this is the proverbial last straw, I suppose.  Oliver’s not really wrong about her, but his reaction without pause for explanation was jarring though well-acted by both parties.

Oliver & Sara

Heir to the Demon

Oliver and Sara make sense as a romantic pairing.  They have a history together, and more so than a single other character on the show, even Huntress, Sara can understand what Oliver has been through.  Essentially, she’s Huntress 2.0. which likely means they aren’t designed for the long-term.  Even then, putting them together at the end of this episode felt slightly rushed even if at that very moment they understood what the other was going through with their family.  It seemed like a hook-up that more happened because they needed something big to happen before leaving the air for the rest of the month due to the Olympics.  Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if the slow-building, overbearing pop song underscoring the scene hadn’t so clearly tipped the show’s hand as to how the scene was going to end, which is a CW-show convention done far better elsewhere and in prior episodes of Arrow.  However, it felt like we were missing part of the story where maybe future island flashbacks will reveal a romantic re-union between the two thus explaining why all of a sudden Oliver was so passionate about her, planting tracking devices and echoing her own father in arguing he can’t lose her again.

The League of Assassins

Heir to the Demon

In a sense, they used Nyssa al Guhl as a “psycho ex-girlfriend” for Sara the way they regrettably did with Huntress for Oliver last season.  It seemed like a way to put a human face and emotion to The League, with Katrina Law making for an excellent Nyssa.  However, the League was always just a tool to keep Sara away for a while, and this temporary reprieve from Nyssa removes that restriction while maybe kicking the League down the road as a villain on the horizon.


“Heir to the Demon” was essentially Arrow‘s second mid-season finale, turning things up to 11 to keep us talking for the rest of the month as they make way for the Olympics.  It marked the return of Sara to the present day, outed her secret to the rest of her family, dissolved the mother-son bond between Oliver and Moira, revealed a bit of Felicity’s background, and said to heck with the Felicity-Oliver and Laurel-Oliver shippers by ending with Sara and Oliver about to get jiggy with it.  It was an episode I frankly did not like upon first viewing but have come to more enjoy upon second viewing which yielded a somewhat better understanding of why they did what they did.  That speech from Oliver at Moira’s press conference was killer, and those action scenes against Nyssa were fantastic.


1. Comic Book 101: Nyssa al Guhl (aka Nyssa Raatko)


  • First Appearance: 2003

Nyssa’s origin story entails beginning her life as a love child born out of Ra’s relationship with a Russian woman in the 1800s.  Once much older, Nyssa tracks down the League of Assassins headquarter to meet her father, who is so impressed by her that he initiates her into the League, appointing her as his right-hand woman.  However, like half-sister Talia she becomes disenchanted with Ra’s, goes off on her own, lives an impossibly long time thanks to the revitalizing powers of Lazarus pits, suffers considerable personal loss, all before plotting to kill Ra’s for having ignored her pleas for help during WWII.  She succeeds, but the way it all goes down ends with Nyssa and Talia united in embracing Ra’s world domination philosophies, becoming the new co-heads of The League of Assassins.  Nyssa was later assassinated.  You can read more about her history at DC Wikia.

2. Do you think Diggle returns home ever day to his ex-wife/current girlfriend and the two just crack up as he tells her about all the crazy shit Oliver’s been up to?  ”Shut up!  His ex-girlfriend’s dead sister who he was having an affair with did not just come back!  And now they’re together!  While poor Felicity pines for him and makes visits to see coma boy in Central City…”  Unfortunately, whenever Diggle’s gal would ask him, “So, then, what did you do?” his reply lately would have to be, “I mostly stood around, flexed my muscles, and occasionally reminded Oliver of how crazy everything was.”

3. Someone once gleefully joked Arrow clearly wants a ship for every possible couple on the show as well as all possible permutations of love triangles.  I wouldn’t have been stunned if Felicity had walked in at the very end of “Heir to the Demon” to full-on establish a Felicity/Sara/Oliver triangle even though there’s already kind of a Felicity/Laurel/Oliver triangle and definitely Laurel/Sara/Oliver triangle.  That’s not even mentioning Isabel Rochev or Huntress.

4. If Sara tells her family about her time on the island will it be a minor miracle if Laurel and her father don’t immediately figure out that Oliver is clearly the Arrow based upon how he was with Sara on the island, Sara became a badass ninja, ergo Oliver must be Arrow?

5. Is it actually well-known that Moira’s affair with Malcolm Merlyn occurred one year before Thea’s birth?  If so, how on Earth is Felicity the first one to figure this out?

What did you think of the episode?  Hate it?  Love it? Let us know in the comments section.

All of the pictures used in the above review, unless otherwise noted, came from CWTV.com © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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