In a way, tonight’s Arrow was a return to basics. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a simple “Arrow and company stop low-level bad guy from committing a non-destroy the city crime” episode. It was a refreshing change of pace to take a step back from the League of Assassin antics we’ve been dealing with, and at times “The Offer” was reminiscent of some of the first season’s better episodes. The return of Quentin Lance’s animosity toward the vigilante definitely added to that effect.
As the episode title suggests, tonight was all about Oliver considering Ra’s al Ghul’s offer. Arrow takes advantage of the slowed-down pace to turn its thematic dial up to 100 as the proverbial offer forces Oliver to revisit his identity crisis. Elsewhere in the episode, Thea also deals with her identity crisis; however, Arrow takes this a step further and subtly (very surprising) connects her Malcolm-caused issues with Nyssa and Laurel, who are also trying to pick up the pieces of their fractured relationships with their fathers. Basically, it was a thematically heavy episode—and let’s get to it…
Identity Crisis Part 1
Tonight’s episode opens with Cribs: Nanda Parbat Edition as Ra’s al Ghul, after making his offer, takes Oliver on a tour of his tricked-out humble abode. First, he shows Oliver how loyal all of his assassins are to him. This portion of Ra’s pitch is basically: “Yo, I heard you like lording over people like a dictator, so I’m hooking you up with your own army of Assassins to order around.”—wait, wrong canceled MTV show. However, Oliver is left unimpressed, so Ra’s moves onto manipulation. Ra’s warns Oliver that his city and love interest will turn on him very soon, thus he will die alone. This isn’t the way a man who conquered death should go, Ra’s says, and tells him that he should become the new Ra’s al Ghul to expand his crusade to the entire world. (Arrow finds time in here to casually introduce the Lazarus Pits, which leaves both Oliver and us unfazed). However, Oliver still refuses, so Ra’s, as a gesture of good will, allows Oliver, Diggle, and a bloodied Malcolm to leave Nanda Parbat with all blood debts and whatnot forgiven.
When Oliver returns to Starling City, he and the team quickly jump on a case to prove to the city that they’re still there. They go after Murmur, the leader of a crew who was imprisoned after a cop beat a false confession out of him. Now that he’s out of prison, he’s looking for revenge. However, stopping Murmur isn’t enough to distract Oliver from the identity crisis going on inside. His discussion with Ra’s forces him to finally ask himself the hard questions: What has he actually accomplished in Starling City? He’s lost most of his family and Felicity is dating Ray now—what other reason does he have to stay in Starling City? To make matters worse, his city is indeed starting to turn on him: Quentin Lance renews his anti-vigilante stance after realizing that the Arrow was complicit in keeping his daughter’s death from him.
In this time of struggle, Oliver turns to the two people who have been there since the beginning, Diggle and Felicity. Both of them are appalled that he is even considering taking Ra’s al Ghul’s offer. To be fair, from Oliver’s standpoint, the prospect of becoming the next Ra’s al Ghul is incredibly alluring. It would free him from this constant struggle of having to decide between being Oliver Queen and having a life with the people you love, or being the Arrow and being alone. Also, this is Oliver, a man with several dictatorial tendencies, so you have to imagine that the idea of commanding an army that didn’t question any of his orders must have seemed somewhat appealing.
No surprise here, it’s Oliver’s conversation with everyone’s favorite hero whisperer that manages to break through slightly. In their first civil, and meta, interaction since Oliver returned, Felicity tells Oliver that he needs to go through what they went through weeks ago: He needs to decide what he fights for. Thankfully, his next encounter with Murmur helps him to do that. Murmur, seeking revenge on the SCPD for torturing him, attacks the precinct with bullets capable of cutting through body armor. Team Arrow—assisted by Nyssa, who was essentially disowned by Ra’s—arrives in time to save them. Protecting the SCPD from Murmur and his crew helped Oliver realize that he fights for the families of the victims, to make sure they don’t suffer the pain that he has. Yes, his crusade for justice isn’t moving as fast as he would like it to, but he is making progress—and that‘s what is important. Oliver decides to turn down the offer.
NEXT: Ra’s al Ghul’s response to Oliver rejection