Wednesday, February 5, 2014

REVIEW: 'Arrow' Uproots Its Family Dynamics in 'Heir to the Demon' - and Introduces Nyssa al Ghul

The CW's Arrow - Episode 2.13 Heir to the Demon

Oliver and Lance try to convince Sara to stay in Starling City and reunite with Laurel and Dinah; League of Assassins member, Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) comes to bring Sara back to the fold, and kidnaps Dinah; and Sara considers re-joining the league.

"Heir to the Demon" was not my favorite episode of Arrow. There was good stuff that happened in it - the two major action sequences as well as any interaction between Sara and her father. But the large majority of the episode felt too complex to have an honest emotional connection to what was happening.

This episode introduced Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul - the founding member of the League of Assassins. She helps explain how Sara ended up in this organization. But she's also simultaneously in love with Sara while forcefully trying to get her to return with her. The show gets in some good stuff about Sara finding an intimate connection with Nyssa - simply because she was there for her. And yet, in the end, the show presents a resolution that I just don't think the show had earned. Sara tries to kill herself with the poison, Oliver saves her, she pleads for Nyssa to release her from the League and then, Nyssa does. Sara's been searching for release from having to run all the time. This presents a way for her to finally reveal that she's still alive to Dinah and Laurel - but also in a way that I don't for one second think will have even bigger consequences later.

That story was building up to the moment when Laurel pours herself a drink and does not welcome Sara home with welcome arms. I just didn't buy into that either. Earlier in the hour, Laurel was happy when she thought she saw Sara before blacking out. But when she's actually back, she's angry because this is simply what Sara does? That felt like the show creating opposition - just so Sara and Oliver could end up together by episode's end.

The other big story of the episode was Moira announcing her candidacy for Mayor of Starling City. It derived conflict out of Felicity finding out about Malcolm being Thea's father and whether or not she should tell Oliver about it. Moira is supposedly on an arc of redemption this season. And yet, she has been so disconnected from the main story all season long. She's an extraneous character at this point. She doesn't fill a required role that Oliver needs to interact with. She was at her best when she was scheming with Malcolm and being suspicious of having a hand in the boat's sinking. I just don't know what the show wants from her anymore. They try to let her be intimidating again in that Moira-Felicity scene -  which basically felt like the show trolling all the Oliver-Felicity shippers out there. But that angle doesn't quite work anymore. And now, Oliver is done with her - driving her even further to the outlier of things. Which I guess is to make her even more vulnerable when Slade comes to deal with her and Oliver isn't around to protect her. But that just seems like a lot of work is being done without enough meaningful emotional payoff.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Heir to the Demon" was written by Jake Coburn and directed by Wendey Stanzler.
  • Felicity is the most likable character on the show. So of course, she has a tragic backstory. But hey, she got backstory! Finally.
  • Dinah Lance continues to just be a thankless role for Alex Kingston. Here, she just has to get kidnapped and then hug her daughter.
  • And Thea just gets to stand around and not do anything.
  • But Team Arrow is expanding. After picking up Roy last week, now Sara has joined the team. Soon, there won't be enough space in the Arrow Cave.