Welcome Home Oliver Queen
Arrow returned in fine form with “The Offer,” a crossroads episode in which Oliver Queen regains his equilibrium. Ra’s chooses Oliver to replace him as the “next Ra’s al Ghul” – this Ra’s needs to retire and he thinks Oliver would make an excellent Dread Pirate Roberts. The offer has the potential to unnerve Oliver and move him further away from his team and his family. Instead it has the opposite effect. The gravity of what Ra’s proposes jolts Oliver to a new sense of clarity – he “used to be an assassin,” he will not be one again.
Ra’s tries to persuade Oliver to claim his place as the head of “Evil Incorporated” by asking him the essential question all heroes have to answer at one point or another, “Is Sunnydale getting any better? Are they running out of vampires?” or similar. Ra’s presents a harsh truth: Oliver’s efforts to save Starling City from the bad guys are fruitless; there is no fruit for Oliver. That is what makes Ra’s al Ghul’s offer so attractive. He is fighting an uphill battle as a hero, a battle that he might not win. If Oliver could simply have access to a big drafty castle and a rejuvenating oil bath everything would be okay.
It seems the Lazarus Pit doesn’t give Ra’s the same immortal glow it once did, so he needs a replacement ASAP. To entice Oliver, Ra’s sweetens the deal with the promise of vast wealth and connections as well as access to legions of assassins who are willing to die for him. Declining this offer, according to Ra’s, represents Oliver’s worst nightmare – the prospect that all of his sacrifices are meaningless and that he will die alone. To his credit, Oliver’s instincts immediately kick in – this offer has evil written all over it.
Oliver refreshingly turns to Diggle and Felicity for advice. Diggle appears appalled that Oliver might accept what Ra’s is proposing. Yet Oliver demurs, perhaps the organization could be reformed, turned into a dynamic NGO that spreads peace the world over. Ra’s did suggest that Oliver could do whatever he liked with the LOA. Felicity points out the obvious, “League of Assassins” is “not the name of a nice group.” In a call back to their clock tower conversation in “Streets of Fire,” Felicity compels Oliver to fight on as a hero, not as an all-powerful assassin. She and Diggle reached their crossroads when Oliver “died,” and they chose to keep saving the city because it was the right thing to do. Now Oliver needs to make a similar choice. Blessedly, he does after a highly entertaining action sequence at the SCPD. Oliver confirms to Captain Lance that Felicity is right. He will remain a hero and he does not need “a thank you” to do so.
While Team Arrow bonds, nearly everyone else wrestles with daddy issues. Thea’s unwelcome house guest is her dear old “evil Dad”; the man who turned her into a killer and incidentally, still pays her rent. Young Akio chases a figment of his missing father through the market place. Nyssa fumes when her father casts her aside for a hunky American upstart and Laurel can’t get her father to pay attention to her unless diamond-tipped bullets are flying in her direction. In an unexpected twist, Laurel and Nyssa realize they have a lot in common and launch what might turn out to be the best female friendship in the Arrow-verse. Nyssa’s training can stop Laurel from looking like a battered rag doll dressed in little sister’s hand me downs and Laurel can listen as Nyssa complains about how her dad never understood her. They should invite Thea to join them for dinner since she could best Nyssa in the “my dad is the worst dad ever” competition. Move over Birds of Prey, this is the trio I want to see in action.
No review of “The Offer” would be complete without mention of the new dynamic at play between Felicity and Oliver. Felicity’s feelings toward him have evolved from anger to compassion. She displays all the flirty confidence of a woman who is enjoying some great sex, yet she does not want to torture Oliver by flaunting her relationship with Ray. Her happiness speech confirms that Oliver remains the most important person in her life despite her “momentarily unavailable” status. When Felicity turns out to be the one who convinces Oliver to follow his instincts and turn Ra’s down, he proves that she is the most important person in his.
The real Oliver Queen has finally come home. He shows a welcome maturity in turning down The Offer, and best of all, he does so after consulting his original team, the two people who have always steered him in the right direction. Ra’s al Ghul’s violent impersonation of the Arrow in the closing scene suggests that he will not go away quietly. Fortunately, Oliver will have Diggle and Felicity by his side as his fight to save Starling City continues. And if Felicity’s come hither saunter is any indication, Oliver’s Buttercup is only an arm’s length away. There might be fruit in Oliver’s future after all.