Oliver Queen kneels before Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon’s sword at his throat, trying to reason with him. He begs the Demon’s Head to take his life, but to spare John Diggle. Ra’s al Ghul explains that he doesn’t want to kill Ollie, he wants him to take up the mantle of Ra’s al Ghul.
Ollie’s confused, but Ra’s continues, telling him “Wing ta lao wo chey,” which translates as “A tale to be told begins thus.” Ra’s explains that this was told to him by the previous Ra’s al Ghul before passing down the mantle. Ollie initially refuses, explaining that he doesn’t want to oversee the League of Assassins. “They have to kill for you,” he says.
“No Mr. Queen,” Ra’s responds, “they have to die for me.”
Ra’s further explains that Ollie has difficulty with the dual nature of his identities, a problem that he could solve by simply becoming Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver Queen, he warns, will always be alone.
Down in HQ, Thea hands Nyssa her scimitar, explaining that she was the one who killed Sara and that she deserved to pay for her crimes. Nyssa initially doesn’t believe her. But Thea persists, explaining that she was drugged by Malcolm Merlyn and that she threw three arrows into Sara’s chest. Nyssa refuses to kill Thea, explaining that there would be no justice.
Roy and Laurel both enter, see Nyssa out of her cage, and engage her in combat. Nyssa gains the upper hand, but Roy shoots her with a tranquilizer dart and incapacitates her.
Back in Nanda Parbat, Ra’s shows Ollie the waters that keep him youthful (a Lazarus Pit!), explaining that these were the same waters that explorers like Ponce de Leon quested for. Ollie’s unfazed, since he’s seen things that show that the world is a much bigger place than he originally thought. Ra’s offers him the League again, explaining to Ollie that he could use the power of the League to save not just Starling City, but the entire world. He could even make the League of Assassins stop killing (which means they’d have to file a lot of paperwork for the name change alone).
Ollie asks what would happen if he refuses and Ra’s tells him that he, Diggle, and Merlyn would be released and all blood debts would be forgiven. Ollie takes the option and collects the other two men to head back to Starling City.
Ollie heads back to Thea’s loft, where she’s happy to see him, but not so happy that Malcolm Merlyn’s sleeping on her couch, probably bleeding all over the suede. That will never come out.
We then flash back to Hong Kong, where Ollie has been taking care of young Akio in his parents’ absence. Akio disappears, which leads to a momentary bit of forced tension, before he turns back up and explains to Ollie that his parents told him that they would meet him at the botanical gardens if they ever got separated. He and Ollie depart for the gardens together.
Back at HQ, Ollie releases Nyssa, much to the chagrin of the rest of the team. They’re concerned that Ra’s released Ollie too easily and that he’s got something up his flowy green sleeves. Ollie tells them that they need to focus and tasks Felicity with finding a crime. She finds a convenient heist, and the team departs.
The heist’s headed up by a man with his mouth stitched shut, and the target is the mysterious “Catoca shipment.” The team shows up and tries to stop the heist, but the man with the sewn mouth escapes with a crate. Ollie drops the remaining henchmen off at the SCPD, but Detective Lance doesn’t want anything to do with Arrow, explaining that he should never have trusted a vigilante. More so, he feels that the Arrow lied to him about Sara’s death…because he did! Sorry, Ollie, but I’m kinda with Detective Lance on this one.
We then cut to Felicity working with Ray, when Ollie enters, asking if he can talk to Felicity (with a noticeably deeper voice…is he trying to alpha Ray Palmer?). Ollie talks to Felicity about the heist, and finds out the man with the sewn mouth’s named Michael Amar, aka Murmur, a criminal who stitched his mouth shut as a way to work on his focus (zen by way of Clive Barker).
Nyssa returns to Nanda Parbat (the League of Assassins must have a lot of frequent flyer miles stocked up), where Ra’s tells her that he offered his mantle to Oliver. Nyssa’s furious that her father would choose an outsider over his own daughter, and accuses him of not approving of her love for Sara. Oh, then there’s the elephant in the room…
Ra’s responds that he had no problem with who she loved (he’s a progressive guy that way), but he took issue with her allowing weakness into her heart that is still poisoning her to this day, making her less effective and unworthy of the mantle. Furious, she strikes at him with her scimitar, which he deflects. However, he’s wounded and he dips his sliced hand into the Lazarus Pit, where it heals almost instantly.
Back at HQ, the team finds out that the “Catoca shipment” was nothing more than industrial-grade diamonds, which are comparatively worthless. Oliver then talks to Diggle about Ra’s al Ghul’s offer, concerned that he hasn’t made a difference as Arrow and that maybe he should become Ra’s al Ghul.
He then goes to Thea (Jesus, Ollie, how many people are you going to talk about your existential crisis?), who has problems of her own. She feels broken, as her entire life has been thrown into turmoil since her mother died and Merlyn took her under his wing. Seeing as how his drama hasn’t been spread to every living person in Starling City, he then talks to Merlyn about the offer, and Merlyn tells him that he doesn’t have a choice: Ra’s al Ghul chose Oliver to take up his mantle, and that’s the end of it.
Back in the past, Ollie and Akio enter the botanical gardens, where Ollie waxes nostalgic about the botanical gardens he visited with Thea back in Starling City. The tender moment is cut short, as men in black suits surround them, and Ollie and Akio make a run for it.
Back in the present, not even Felicity is safe from Ollie’s drama, as he tells her he doesn’t know why he’s still acting as the Arrow when he doesn’t make a difference. Roy and Diggle enter (you can practically hear Felicity sigh with relief), explaining that Murmur is using the diamonds to make diamond-tipped bullets to shoot the cops that put him in jail. Apparently it’s really hard to find armor-piercing rounds on the black market.
Laurel visits the SCPD with a peace offering of clearly-labeled Chinese food for her father. Okay, I’d like to know what magical Chinese takeout restaurant has packaging that nice. All the places around me just have Styrofoam trays or those little paper rice boxes. Maybe there’s a dragon…maybe. But I digress.
Lance tells her that he’s tried to forgive her, but he just can’t. Sadly, another fantastic Paul Blackthorne monologue gets cut short by Murmur entering, laying waste to the precinct with his diamond-tipped bullets. Which begs another question: why waste the diamond-tipped bullets in the precinct, where most of the officers won’t be wearing body armor? It’s not like detectives are filing paperwork in full riot gear.
Anyways, Lance tells Laurel to run, but she’s almost immediately cornered by one of Murmur’s goons. She’s saved at the last minute by Nyssa (Okay, seriously, where the hell is Nanda Parbat in relation to Starling City? Is it the next town over or something?). Murmur overpowers Lance and starts to strangle him, but he’s saved by the Green Arrow at the last minute. The fight spills outside of the precinct, but the Arrow takes down Murmur.
Lance is unimpressed, asking the Arrow if he’s waiting for a “thank you.” Arrow retorts that this isn’t the reason that he does what he does, and rappels off into the night.
Final flashback, and Ollie and Akio are on the run from the thugs in suits (presumably Waller’s men) when they run into Shado, Oliver’s dead love interest from the first couple of years on the island. The camera lingers on her face, making damn sure that we know who we’re looking at.
Back in the present, Laurel leaves the SCPD and runs into Nyssa. Nyssa needs a reminder of Sara, so she asks Laurel if the two of them can bond over daddy issues. No, seriously, she asks if they can talk about problems with their respective fathers. Oy vey.
Ollie tells Maseo that he’s turning down Ra’s job offer, Thea shows up at Roy’s for a booty call, and we finally see the remainders of Murmur’s gang planning their next move. Suddenly, a green-hooded figure enters and kills some of them, telling the rest to tell everyone what they’ve seen…and it’s revealed that the man in the hood is Ra’s al Ghul.
To put it bluntly, this episode was disappointing in almost every way. The dialogue-heavy opening was a meandering snooze-fest, Oliver’s existential crisis was solved in record time (it’s taken me longer to pick what I’m having for lunch, some days) and the whole episode was a giant, illogical mess.
Then there are the small details that just don’t add up. The time that it takes to travel between Starling City and Nanda Parbat seems like it’s little more than a commute to work. Felicity’s emotions toward Oliver seem to change in less time than it takes Ollie to decide to become Ra’s al Ghul or not. Why the hell is Malcolm Merlyn sleeping on the couch without any sort of bandaging? What are his injuries, and why is he semi-conscious? Did they even try to clean the blood off of his face? How the hell does Murmur eat with his mouth stitched shut? How does it take less time to manufacture diamond-tipped bullets than it does to find someone on the black market selling armor-piercing rounds?
But the biggest question of all is: will the show get better after this episode? God, I hope so.