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Arrow - The Fallen - Review

Arrow, “The Fallen,” was written by the team of Wendy Mericle and Oscar Balderrama and was directed by Antonio Negret, whose other credits include Forever and The 100. The episode is another emotional rollercoaster for Oliver and Stephen Amell delivers another terrific performance. There are a couple of great fight scenes and a fairly spectacular car chase. I’m really liking how much the show is able to rely on the core characters for the story and not have to introduce a villain of the week anymore. The episode is no doubt going to be most remembered for the consummation of Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Oliver’s relationship – so yes. That happened.

Oliver arrives home after his – and our – emotional farewell with Roy (Colton Haynes) to find Thea (Willa Holland) dying on the floor. He rushes her to the hospital, but modern medicine can only do so much, and the doctor (Karin Kinoval) tells him “It might be best to consider other options.”

We’ve really had very little of John Barrowman as Malcolm this season, so it was great to see him get to do a little more in this episode. The scene in the hospital room with Malcolm and Oliver is wonderful. The only word spoken is Malcolm’s “Oliver?” on entering. Then it’s just the two men together with Willa and their grief – spectacular acting from both.

Oliver is determined to take up Maseo’s (Karl Yune) offer from Ra’s (Matt Nable). In exchange for becoming the Heir to the Demon, Thea will be healed in the Lazarus Pit. Malcolm is dead set against it, even if it means Thea dies. He tells Oliver that the waters change a person in their soul, and the Thea that comes back won’t be the same Thea. Interestingly, it’s Malcolm that keeps throwing out alternatives – like trying Star Labs. In the end, Felicity convinces Oliver to take them so there is someone to bring Thea home.

I thought it particularly cruel that Felicity went to Ray (Brandon Routh) for help. Routh is excellent in the scene as he acknowledges that Felicity can’t love him because she’s still in love with Oliver. I wonder if she will take Oliver’s advice to her when she leaves him to try to lead a full life – will she go back and try again with Ray? Should she? Of course, we know that Oliver will be back somehow and Ray is going to go off and have his own spinoff, so it’s unlikely, but imagine how awkward work is going to be now!

There’s a nice scene on the plane between Oliver and Felicity as he tells her about having been back to Starling City and seeing Thea – as we saw in previous flashbacks. He tells her about killing Thea’s drug dealer in an attempt to keep her safe. He tells Felicity, “I failed.” And of course that phrase resonates with the show.

The entire League is out to meet them, but it’s Maseo that pushes everyone aside to take Thea from Oliver to prepare her for the ritual. He tells Oliver that he will treat her like his own family. Maseo also shows Diggle (David Ramsey) to his quarters. This is another great scene as we see Oliver’s two friends really interacting. Diggle tells Maseo that the League is just “weak men running from their lives.” But Maseo insists that Diggle doesn’t know him, and can’t until he holds his dying child in his arms. That of course, does hit a chord with new father Diggle. He says he’s sorry and then asks what Maseo’s son’s name was. Diggle then asks Maseo if Akio would be proud of him now.

The ritual reminded me a lot of something out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Regardless, Thea goes into the waters limp and bursts out like a wild animal, jumping on Oliver and attacking him until she’s subdued with some powder. It takes the entire episode for Thea to really come back to herself – and no doubt we haven’t seen the last of the lingering effects on her. Malcolm does come back to Starling with her and vows to take care of her.

After the ritual, Felicity goes to Ra’s. She’s angry and starts to chew him out. I loved Matt Nable in this scene. He just looks at her completely unimpressed and then slightly amused. As with Maseo and Diggle, she knows nothing of his history. He tells her of his own transformation - how his family was threatened and he had to leave his life of bliss without even the luxury of saying goodbye. He tells her, “There’s one immutable truth about life. It is often more cruel than fair.” He tells her to go to Oliver and tell him whatever is in her heart before he’s lost to her forever.

Ra’s leaves Felicity standing in the temple alone, and this is now doubt when she steals the sleeping powder. She returns to Oliver and they make love after a very tender scene. I’m betting the Olicity fans are pretty satisfied! Afterwards, Felicity drugs Oliver to save him.

I loved that Diggle and Malcolm are both angry at her impetuousness. Once again, however, we see how much Felicity has grown. She’s not the least bit cowed and sets about bossing Malcolm around. As she suspects, he knows a secret way out of the fortress. There’s a terrific swordfight between Malcolm and the League soldiers. Malcolm has grabbed Thea and Diggle carries Oliver. They are almost stopped in the temple, but Maseo steps up and helps them.

In fact, it’s Maseo that ties in the flashbacks to the present storyline in the episode. In the flashbacks, Maseo, Tatsu (Rila Fukushima – who’s also on Game of Thrones this season), and Oliver are trying to prevent the deployment of the bio-weapon. After it’s armed, there’s a great chase scene as they go after the truck with the serum in a car that Oliver stole – borrowed! There’s a great stunt where Oliver hangs off the back spoiler and then one where he jumps from hood to truck. I also really liked the moment when Tatsu saves Oliver by plunging her sword through the side of the truck, skewering a guy! One thing that I didn’t like about the chase was the improbability of four guys with automatic weapons missing at that range – not even taking out the windshield?

The truck is a dead end, but after torturing one of the soldiers, they track the bioweapon to a food cart in the market. Another fight scene ensues. Maseo questions why they are risking their lives after he’s shot. Tatsu tells him “If we don’t do this, we aren’t really alive at all.” When Felicity asks in the present why Maseo is helping them, he answers, “If I don’t, I am just a shell.” And of course, that is what Ra’s is making out of his soldiers. He strips them of their past, what makes them them, and gives them a new name and a new purpose in life – but with no love and no connection, can it have any meaning? The tube with the bioweapon is smashed – in good, dramatic slow motion – and the weapon released. I’m betting that somehow or another, this is how Akio dies.

Just as the group is cornered, Oliver wakes up and gets the League soldiers to back off by calling himself the Heir to the Demon. He thanks Felicity for trying, but he’s got to honor his vow to keep the rest of them safe. He tells Thea he’ll always love her. This is another powerful scene from Amell. He tells Diggle, “John, you’re the best man I’ve ever known. Whatever happens, you’re my brother.”

There’s also a really nice scene between Felicity and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) when Felicity goes to her office to break the news to her that Oliver won’t be back. We know that Laurel is now training with Nyssa (Katrina Law), so it will be interesting to see what happens when she tells her – because there’s no way that Laurel won’t tell Nyssa.

In the final scenes, Ra’s wants to know who the traitor in his League is who helped Oliver. Maseo confesses and offers his life – which Ra’s spares, saying that this was Maseo’s actions not Saraab’s. Maseo’s old life was influencing him. We then move to the beginning of Oliver being stripped of his identity. Ra’s tells him the transformation is forged in fire. Oliver must forfeit his identity. Ra’s also defines assassin as “those who stand apart from society” – so it doesn’t have to mean the League are a bunch of killers. But it does mean that Ra’s is never going to look favorably on Oliver interfering in the affairs of society.

Oliver begins his transformation by being branded with an arrow design. He also gets a new costume – no, just no. The costume is interesting thematically, of course as it is the mirror image of his Arrow costume. As the Arrow, only his eyes are covered. With his League costume, the only thing that isn’t covered on his face are his eyes.

This was another fast paced hour with the amazing stunts and effects we’ve come to expect. Really great performances from Amell, Barrowman, Rickards, Nable, and Yune in this episode. I have to admit that I’m not liking where they seem to be going with Oliver – I want him back in his green hood asap! And I would hate to see the progress we’ve seen him make in the last three years be erased by Ra’s. For me, that would make it feel like those three years were a waste of my time as a viewer. However, I think Maseo’s lingering feelings for Oliver are a good indication to hope. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Forever, Defiance, Bitten, Glee, and a few others! Highlights of this past year include covering San Diego Comic Con as press and a set visit to Bitten. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.

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