Arrow: 213 “Heir to the Demon” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
After Sara’s return last week, it was only a matter of time until the League of Assassins made a comeback as well, and they do it in style this week. Combined with a few startling revelations, it seems like this could be a turning point for this season of Arrow, in more ways than one.
The episode opens with a young woman in a funky hat getting a red-flag from an immigration officer at Starling City airport, and going on to kick seven hells out of every security guard that tries to stop her. We later learn that this is Nyssa Raatko, also known as Nyssa al Ghul, the daughter of one Ra’s al Ghul, and she is in Starling City to find Sara and bring her back to Nanda Parbat, home to the League of Assassins. As it turns out, a member of the League poisoned Laurel in the previous episode in an attempt to lure Sara to Starling City and reveal herself, and it only went ahead and worked for them. Fortunately for Laurel, Sara’s intervention saved her and she spends some time recovering in hospital, but Sara wants to leave now that Laurel is ok. However, Oliver convinces her to stay and help the family, with a little help from Quentin.
In the midst of all the action, we get a schmaltzy and ultimately kind of pointless flashback to life in the Lance household before Sara went with Oliver on the Gambit, which provides us with no new information and feels very out of place in the episode. But this weird digression aside, Sara is soon confronted by Nyssa, who passionately kisses her while Oliver looks on, and the somewhat complex nature of Sara’s relationship with the League is revealed: not only was Nyssa her leader, she was also her lover, thus making the whole situation infinitely more complicated. It was a nice move, and a largely unexpected one which throws Sara’s storyline into a whole new light.
Nyssa pleads with Sara to return to Nanda Parbat, but Sara tells her that she ‘can’t take the killing any more’, although apparently the League of Assassins has a tricky membership policy which means Sara must either return to them, or die: Sara tells Nyssa that she loved her and asks her to pledge Ra’s al Ghul to release her from the oath, mentioning that he did the same for Malcolm Merlyn, and Nyssa points out how well that worked out for everybody involved, then heads off to kidnap Dinah Lance to provide an incentive. Arrow and Black Canary make chase, with Sara deploying some pretty interesting gadgets, Oliver showing off some fancy motorbike skills and Nyssa rocking the bow and arrow to slightly lesser effect than Oliver usually does, but Nyssa gets away. Sara has a slightly uncomfortable conversation with Quentin about the fact that she went through a lesbian phase with a highly-trained killer, and Oliver tries to track down Nyssa to stop her and save Sara from going back with her, but Sara calls Nyssa on the sly and tells her that she will return to Nanda Parbat as long as Dinah isn’t harmed.
Naturally this isn’t plan A, however, and Sara ingests some of the snake venom that poisoned Laurel as soon as Nyssa releases Dinah. Understandably pissed off, Nyssa puts the beat down on the Lance family until Oliver shows up and has a quick rumble with her, but they are interrupted by Sara collapsing in front of them. However, Oliver has an antidote to the venom, and saves Sara: even though she is not dead and not coming back to Nanda Parbat, Nyssa releases Sara from her oath, and thus her reason for hiding is gone (for now, at least – I’m fully expecting the League of Assassins to return and play some larger role either in this season or the next).
Anyway, Laurel finally finds out about Sara still being alive, and doesn’t take it too well. In fact, she takes it in a hideously melodramatic soap opera-like manner, whining about Sara stealing her boyfriend, telling her that everything bad that has happened to her family is Sara’s fault , and to get out, even going the extra step of throwing a glass at the door (because she still has a drinking problem, remember?), telling her.
Family politics also run through the other subplot of the episode, as Oliver withdraws his support for Sebastian Blood’s campaign in favour of Moira’s, but Felicity throws a spanner in the works by revealing to Moira that she knows about Thea’s true parentage, and that she should tell Oliver because it’s bound to come out during her campaign. Moira obviously disagrees, but eventually Felicity tells Oliver about everything, right before he has to go up in front of a large group of people and announce his political support for his mother. He just about manages to pull through, but later informs Moira that he not only knows about Thea, but that the two of them are done, at least in private, even though he will continue to support her in public.
Someone who has no intention of supporting Moira, however, is Slade, who tells Blood that he will ‘take care of it’ in that gravelly Australian way of his. And finally, Oliver and Sara share a moment in the Arrowcave as they bitch about their respective families, and end up doing the nasty, because of course they would.
Strange and slightly ill-considered flashbacks aside, the multiple threads of “Heir to the Demon” hang together surprisingly well, with an overall theme of family versus responsibility. The continuing reveal of the League of Assassins remains interesting, and the Nyssa-Sara relationship reveal was unexpected and satisfying. Arrow seems to be going from strength to strength, and I feel as though some big things are on their way.