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Recap: Arrow 03×04 – The Magician

Alex Baker

Staff Writer

Alex thinks it would be really rad if you checked out his turn-based strategy game, Derelict Zones.

“The Magician”
Written by Wendy Mericle & Marc Guggenheim
Directed by John Behring

arrow 3x4 nyssaNyssa al-Ghul (Katrina Law) is looking for Sara Lance, and she is going to find her no matter what. Which is why she has a bow trained on Oliver (Stephen Amell) as the episode begins. She demands to know where Sara is, but she knows the answer just by reading Oliver’s body language. She lowers the bow, inquires as to the location of Sara’s body and leaves. Oliver dispatches Roy (Colton Haynes) to follow and keep tabs on Nyssa, and Roy obliges as he’s essentially become an errand boy. Oliver, meanwhile, is catching up with Thea (Willa Holland) who is living on her own in Starling and has had some angel “investors” – read Papa Malcolm – willing to help her restart Verdant. Oliver is unquestioning and seems happy to have Thea back in town, even if they’re distant for now.

Nyssa goes to visit Sara’s grave only to run in to Laurel (Katie Cassiday). There is tension as Laurel still holds that whole kidnapping incident from last year against her. But Nyssa offers her condolences. Laurel rebuffs them, accusing Nyssa – and the League of Assassins – for murdering Sara. Nyssa denies it, earnestly, and tells Laurel about her love for Sara. When Laurel blames Nyssa for turning Sara into a dark warrior, Nyssa says that the darkness was within Sara before she arrived in Nanda Parabat.

Roy tails Nyssa to what used to be Sara’s apartment and informs Oliver. (Seemingly having forgotten to tail her to the graveyard?) Oliver arrives at the apartment to figure out what Nyssa is really up to. She says that Sara was in Starling City for an investigation on behalf of the League of Assassins. There were rumors that a former member of the League was at large in Starling. Someone who was supposed to have been killed – Malcolm Merlyn. Malcolm had been released from the League by Nyssa’s father, the only person to have left the League alive. However, he breached the League’s rules with the Undertaking. Before leaving the apartment, Oliver and Nyssa stumble upon some photographs Sara had taken before her death.

team arrow 2x4Back at the Arrow-cave, Team Arrow and Nyssa begin to investigate the few remaining leads Sara left them with. Felicity is off visiting Central City, so Diggle is manning the computers. Nyssa inquires if they found anything on Sara’s person when she died, Roy hands her a piece of blank paper that had been tucked in Sara’s boot. Nyssa reveals that the paper is covered in invisible ink and when she holds it close to a flame, it reveals a name. Oilver reminds us that his father’s diary used the same trick in Season 1. Seemingly it slipped his mind until now.

Oliver enlists Laurel’s help in investigating the name. She goes to her father to see if he’d been running names for Sara in the past. It turns out, Sara had been in town longer than originally thought and had asked Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) to do some investigating on the side. As Laurel leaves, armed with an address, she runs into Nyssa, who has come to watch Laurel in action. Nyssa disapproves of Oliver’s choice to involve Laurel and calls her out on lying to her father about Sara’s death. But Nyssa maintains the lie when Quentin comes over to see what Nyssa is doing in the police station.

Oliver, Roy, Diggle, and Nyssa suit up to investigate the address, which turns out to be a Buddhist monastery. Almost immediately after entering the monastery, they find a headstone with the name of the man they came to find. But Nyssa has locked onto a lone figure in monastery – Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman). He briefly fights Nyssa, getting the upper hand, and then runs off into the night. Oliver grazes him with an arrow, unsure who he was targeting, but when Merlyn turns around to face him, Oliver is shaken.

malcolm arrow 3x4As Team Arrow regroups after the botched mission, Oliver reveals that he shot Merlyn with a tracer arrow. When Laurel hears this, she is incensed that Oliver had the chance to kill Merlyn but refused. Oliver reiterates that he doesn’t kill anymore, but Laurel doesn’t care. Merlyn killed countless people and deserves to be put down. Oliver is unmoved and Laurel storms out. With Merlyn now an active threat, Oliver asks Roy to watch over Thea.

Nyssa follows Laurel as she storms out. She appreciates the fire in Laurel and states again her love for Sara, which Laurel starts to realize is something beyond friendship. I really enjoy how matter of fact Nyssa’s relationship with Sara is handled. It feels less staged than the Montoya/Barbara relationship on Gotham. Laurel asks Nyssa to kill Merlyn, the assassin curtly nods.

Oliver follows his tracer arrow only to find out Merlyn has lead him on a wild goose chase. Merlyn suggest they meet in public, no masks. It’s a strange tactic for someone who is a well-known terrorist and who was formerly dead. They meet and have a great back and worth. Merlyn tells Oliver about how he rescued Thea at the end of last season, and he swears he didn’t kill Sara. Oliver believes him for now.

Thea and Oliver meet for coffee again. He probes her about Merlyn’s involvement and she suggests a cop saved her. Oliver and Thea engage in a game of lies as Thea pretends not know Merlyn is alive and Oliver pretends it was an informant of Sara’s who told him how Thea survived. Oliver seems confused by the whole exchange.

Oliver returns to the Arrow-cave and is confronted by Nyssa. She is annoyed that Oliver is off taking care of “family business” and not hunting down Merlyn. Oliver reveals to Nyssa that Thea is Merlyn’s daughter. She is not happy that Oliver is finding outs to not  kill Merlyn. Diggle weirdly takes Nyssa’s side and more or less advises Oliver to let Nyssa kill Merlyn – death through inaction.

Nyssa attacks Roy and Thea, who were having a moment outside of Verdant. Roy tries to save Thea but gets poisoned for the effort. Thea strikes a fighting stance, but a plaintive cry from Roy makes her reconsider. She surrenders to Nyssa. Roy comes to and informs Oliver about Thea’s kidnapping. Oliver benches Roy for the time being. Oliver also takes the time to tell Laurel about Thea’s parentage. She seems duly chastised and apologizes for sending Nyssa after Merlyn. Oliver forgives her.

thea oliver arrow 3x4Nyssa taunts Thea with stories about Merlyn. “My father may be the Demon, but yours is the Devil.” Nyssa also informs Thea that Merlyn’s pseudonym in the League was The Magician. Thea takes the whole situation in stride, glibly remarking that she’d been kidnapped before. Oliver bursts into the warehouse Nyssa has holed up in and rescues Thea. He and Nyssa begin to fight. Merlyn arrives on scene – Thea a successful bait – and begins to take shots at both combatants. Nyssa deflects some of Merlyn’s arrows with a piece of silk. The three then engage in a tripartite battle around the warehouse – another well choreographed action scene. Finally, Oliver pins Nyssa to a wall with a few arrows. Merlyn stops as he recognizes that Oliver isn’t out to kill him. Malcolm fingers Ra’s as Sara’s killer, which Nyssa vehemently rejects. He goes so far as to call Sara a degenerate that led al-Ghul’s daughter astray. He then challenges Oliver to kill him if he doubts his story. Nyssa reminds Oliver that even if Merlyn didn’t kill Sara, he’s still worth killing. Merlyn retorts by saying Oliver can’t kill him because Oliver doesn’t believe he killed Sara and that since no prison can hold him, Oliver is left with only the option to let him go. Oliver agrees and lowers his bow. Merlyn escapes, even taunting Oliver with his knowledge of the secret prison Slade Wilson is being held in.

Oliver frees Nyssa, who then full-on punches him in the face. She is angry with Oliver’s decision to let Merlyn go. Oliver declares Merlyn off-limits from the League as long as he’s in Starling City. Nyssa seethes and offers her own threat – Oliver has made a powerful enemy, one with a long memory.

arrow 3x4 nyssa in actionBefore Nyssa leaves town, she stops into Wildcat’s Gym to say goodbye to Laurel. She’s bemused by Laurel’s training. Laurel lashes out, afraid that Nyssa will be another in a long line of people who have told her training was futile. Nyssa seems impressed with Laurel’s attitude, and mentions how different she was in the gym to the Laurel she met at Sara’s grave. The two share an unspoken bond because of how much Sara’s death effects them. We briefly see Captain Lance calling Sara’s cellphone, asking to just hear her voice. Laurel is still lying to her father.

Oliver meets Thea in the club. They’re still being guarded around each other and are still lying to each other. Everyone is lying to everyone else! Roy interrupts their half-hearted conversation. Roy and Thea have a brief, flirty conversation, she even compliments his fighting skills. Thea offers Roy a job as assistant manager of Verdant. He accepts, though she mentions the position is strictly platonic. Thea excuses herself to accept a call from Malcolm, who is checking in on her after the kidnapping incident. Clearly, Malcolm isn’t letting her out of his sight.

Hong Kong Flashback: Oliver is tailing an old man on the orders of Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Masaeo is acting as his handler. After objecting to it, Oliver kills his target and takes his USB keychain. Oliver returns to Masaeo’s house. He remarks that Tatsu isn’t home. Masaeo plainly states that it’s because Tatsu hates him. Oliver bribes Masaeo’s son with the promise of candy so that he can use his laptop. Oliver discovers something that disturbs him and demands to speak to Waller. (And we get another mention of Ferris Air!) A meeting is arranged and Waller is none-too-pleased to have had to come all the way to Hong Kong to speak to a low ranking operative. We learn that Waller has been aware of Oliver since he was on the island. Oliver figures out that the plane he prevented from being shot down on the island (in season 1) was one of Waller’s targets. Waller has been holding a grudge because Oliver’s actions allowed a high profile target to get away alive – China White!

We cut to a desert fortress cut into the rock, Nanda Parabat. Nyssa has returned to her father’s court. Nyssa kneels before her father, who is slowly being dressed in the shadows by his attendants. She reports that Sara is dead and Nyssa vows a blood oath to avenge her. Her father replies that the League of Assassins will go after Merlyn, but as Sara was never a true member of the group, they won’t be avenging her. Nyssa is upset and confused. But she puts those feelings aside to mention Oliver’s declaration. Ra’s al-Ghul (Matt Nable) steps out into the light and declares that Oliver has made an enemy of the League. We’re treated to a visually different Ra’s al-Ghul, but Nable’s brief scene seems like compromise between the classic comic and Liam Neeson. I’m excited to see more. I also enjoyed the show’s compromise on the pronunciation of Ra’s – a long standing debate in comics circles, the Starling City crew pronounce it Roz while Nyssa pronounces it’s Raish.

Ra's al-Ghul revealed

What did you think of this week’s episode? How do you feel about Nyssa and Ra’s? What exactly is Malcom’s endgame? Who killed Sara Lance?