[WARNING: Spoilers ahead from Wednesday’s episode, “Nanda Parbat.” If you haven’t watched, don’t go any further because spoilers! If you have, read on.]
Did that just happen?!
Arrow may be changed for good following tonight’s momentum-shifting episode. A quick refresher: Oliver Queen was lured to Nanda Parbat to rescue Malcolm Merlyn from the hands of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins, only to discover that Ra’s didn’t want to kill him. He wanted Oliver to be the next Ra’s al Ghul. Wait, what?
Talk about a game-changer.
But that wasn’t all that took place in the episode – brilliantly directed by Everwood and Rookie Blue star Gregory Smith. It introduced Ray Palmer in all his Atom glory, saw Ray and Felicity take a huge leap forward in their relationship in a moment that broke the Internet (and Olicity fans’ hearts!) and Laurel discovering the truth about Sara’s killer.
Executive producers Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg broke down the episode’s huge cliffhanger, including why it was time for Ray and Felicity to go to the next level.
Ra’s al Ghul’s proposal turns everything on its head
The next episode, “The Offer,” picks up immediately where this one leaves off – and it’s then we’ll see Oliver’s true reaction to Ra’s’ surprising proposition. “You want to keep the conversation going,” Kreisberg said. “Oliver is completely – as is hopefully the audience – taken aback. He is not expecting that to be the case. It was something Greg [Berlanti], Marc and I talked about, that it was important to have a different villain this year and somebody who is going to be doing something completely different.”
For Ra’s, a malevolent force this season, to “offer the keys to the kingdom to our hero, it felt like a different way to go and a different relationship for Oliver to have to the villain,” he says. Eventually everyone else finds out, including Ra’s' daughter Nyssa. How they all react and what Oliver’s answer is “makes up the bulk of the next run of episodes.”
Oliver becoming Ra’s al Ghul affects his quest to regain his humanity
“Ra’s has an interesting perspective on that question, which you’ll get in the first act of [the next episode],” Guggenheim said of Oliver’s balance between keeping his humanity intact or not. In fact in episode 20, the title of which has yet to be revealed, the origin of the League of Assassins comes to light – and the meaning of “what it means to be an ‘assassin,’” he added. “If you’re a historian you know it has a different meaning than what it’s become in the modern day.”
Nyssa’s reaction to Ra’s’ offer will not be good (obviously)
As assumed heir to the demon, Nyssa will have some battles to fight when she discovers Oliver may usurp her for the throne. “Nyssa is pleasantly surprised,” star Katrina Law deadpanned, alluding to the opposite reaction being true. Added Kreisberg: “You can imagine how she feels when she finds out that what she considers to be her birthright is being handed to Oliver.” Nyssa being blindsided by her father could also be a subtle commentary on Ra’s’ perspective on Nyssa’s romance with Sara, though the producers were coy. “There’s a scene in [the next episode] between Nyssa and Ra’s that definitely addresses that,” Guggenheim said. “From Nyssa’s perspective, it has everything to do with Sara. From Ra’s’ perspective, maybe or maybe not.”
Her arc for the rest of the season is unlike anyone else’s on the show, Kreisberg hinted. “She was turned from birth and she’s going on a different trajectory where she’s seeing what kindness looks like, what normal people look like. It sends her on a completely different journey.” Law added, “For the first time in her life, she’s vulnerable and she feels weak and she feels useless and doesn’t know where she stands or who she is at the moment. It’s very jarring for her because she’s never had to go through that ever in her life before.”
About that steamy Ray and Felicity hook-up
“It was all Andrew’s idea!” Guggenheim joked, when asked about the decision to have Ray and Felicity sleep together. But seriously, why was now the time? “Part of the fun of watching couples on television is keeping them apart and watching how other people come in and out of their lives,” Kreisberg explained. “There are a lot of people who believe that Oliver and Laurel belong together and people who believe Oliver and Felicity should be together.” It’s fair to say the Oliver/Laurel romance won’t be revisited any time soon after Laurel shut any possibility of rekindling that flame wit a mean zinger aimed at Oliver.
“We’re not sure how it’s all going to end up – we just do what’s right at the time,” he continued. “For right now, Oliver has decided that ‘I can’t do this’ and Felicity’s not just going to sit around and wait for him. She’s probably the [healthiest] out of all of them. He’s the one who’s shutting himself down emotionally when he has someone amazing offering him hope and guidance and friendship and love, and he doesn’t feel he deserves it and doesn’t feel that’s what’s best for her, whether she agrees with it or not.” Ray has served as a formidable foil to Oliver, and on paper, they’re both pretty similar – minus Oliver’s knack for pushing people away. “He’s opening up to [Felicity] and he’s Brandon Routh, how can you blame her?” Kreisberg said.
Nyssa won’t sacrifice Thea
At the end of the episode, Thea revealed that she was the one behind Sara’s death, giving Nyssa the chance to kill her for her wrongdoing. Nyssa won’t take the bait and Thea isn’t going to revert back to impulsive, teenage-like behavior. “It’s a continuing progression. It’s not just going to be a repetition of her acting out, acting out,” Guggenheim said of Thea’s continuing journey. “But certainly in [the net episode] she looks for closure in another way, because spoiler alert, Nyssa isn’t going to kill [Thea].”
The Atom dramatically affects Team Arrow’s stake on Starling City
For answers on how the Atom’s presence in town effectively changes things, Guggenheim points to episode 17, titled “Suicidal Tendencies.” (The same hour that will include Diggle and Lyla’s wedding and Suicide Squad, as ETonline first reported. Ruh-oh!) “It’s not just the Felicity/Ray/Oliver love triangle, it’s the fact that there’s a new superhero in town and he’s going to go about things in a very different way than the Arrow does. And he’s not a part of Team Arrow. Right now, he’s just a very smart guy in a very very powerful suit,” Guggenheim said. “Oliver’s definitely going to have an opinion and the first instance of that will be in [episode 17].”
New allied forces are forming
Now that she’s cast to the side, Nyssa finds a new ally in Laurel. “Journey-wise, the two of them may have more in common than Nyssa may have originally thought,” Law admitted. “Plus they’re both having daddy issues right now.” If anything it Laurel’s ties to Sara that keeps Nyssa connected to her late love. “One of the few people Nyssa can relate to on a primal level is Laurel because it’s a sister relationship, it’s a female bond, it’s all these things you won’t get through a man,” she said. “She’s one of the few characters who fundamentally understands Nyssa.”
Whew, what an episode! Are you shocked by Ra's' proposal for Oliver to take over the throne? Do you think Ray and Felicity's hook-up happened way too fast? Are you intrigued by the Atom's introduction? Tell us what struck your fancy by tweeting Philiana Ng at @insidethetube, and don't forget the #ETnow hashtag!
Arrow returns in March.