Thursday, December 11, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 9 - The Climb

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


Nyssa Al Ghul returns to Starling City with an ultimatum.  Team Arrow has 48 hours in which to bring Sara Lance's killer to justice or the League starts killing civilians. As Laurel Lance receives an unexpected visit from her mother and Ray Palmer gives Felicity an unexpected offer, Oliver will begin a long journey to face Ra's Al Ghul directly.

In the flashbacks, Oliver and Maseo race to beat Chien Na Wei to a deadly bio-weapon called The Omega Virus.  But Wa is one step ahead of them and their actions may hold deadly consequences for Maseo's family!


The Batman and Green Arrow comics of Dennis O'Neil.


You'd really think Ollie would be wearing gloves and covering his face if he's going to climb a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm.

Why does Laurel ask Thea not to tell Oliver that Sara is dead?  Oliver already knows!

This episode - and indeed much of this past season - have done a real disservice to Quentin Lance's detective skills. Suddenly he can't tell when Laurel is lying to him even when it is blatantly obvious to her mother (Yes, yes - mother's intuition and all that.  But the man is a freaking detective!).

Laurel's argument that the news of her sister's death would kill her father has never seemed so ridiculous as when she states it here - first to Thea and then to her own mother. It is the height of arrogance on Laurel's part to assume that her father can't handle this kind of shock and it shows how little the character of Laurel has progressed from the lying drug-addicted opportunist of Season Two. To say nothing of how horrible a person Laurel is for planning to endanger herself as a vigilante in some kind of half-assed attempt to find Sara's killer, not thinking of what it will do to Quentin if Laurel gets killed trying and failing to beat up a mugger.

For that matter, why wasn't Laurel assisting with the investigation at any point in the past year? There's a fair bit she could have done to help Felicity with analyzing the evidence from the D.A.'s office...


Matt Nable turns in a stately performance as Ra's Al Ghul.  Some fans quibbled at this casting, particularly after Liam Neeson said he would have liked to have played Ra's again on the Arrow. Still, Nable has the necessary charisma and gravitas to bring life to one of comics' greatest anti-villains and one can't help but sense that he truly does regret the need to kill Oliver Queen as Ra's, in the comics, might wish to avoid killing "The Detective".

Alex Kingston is honestly wasted in her brief cameo as Dinah Lance.  Still, there is a certain fierceness in her performance here that works quite well for the one good line she has.


All of the fight scenes are well choreographed, particularly the final one between Ra's Al Ghul and Oliver.


Shirtless sword duels are something of a tradition in stories featuring Ra's Al Ghul. The first one occurred at the climax of Ra's first appearance in Batman #252. Written by the legendary Dennis O'Neil (who also revamped Oliver Queen into a social crusader around the same time), this issue was later adapted into an episode of Batman: The Animated Series - The Demon's Quest -  by O'Neil himself.  A clip of the famous sword fight from that episode may be viewed here.

The snowman ornaments that Thea places on her tree with her and Ollie's name are wearing ribbons of their respective colors - red and green.

Ra's Al Ghul says it has been 67 years since anyone challenged him to a duel.  This means he hasn't been challenged since 1947.  More, this means that Lazarus Pits must exist in the reality of the DCTVU, since Ra's does not appear to be that old and indeed does not have any of the scars one would expect to see on an experienced warrior.

In the comics, The Lazarus Pits are a naturally-occurring phenomena similar to the legendary Fountain of Youth.  Ra's Al Ghul discovered The Pits and their unique alchemical properties as a young healer. The Lazarus Pits can heal any injury and even restore the dead to life. Once a pit is used, it is burned up and exhausted forever, though Ra's daughter Nyssa was said to have discovered a way to use the Pits indefinitely.


The DNA sample on the arrows that killed Sara Lance was taken from perspiration on the arrows. The sample matches 12 of the 13 STR (short tandem repeats) s in Oliver Queen's DNA.

Votura is a plant native to South America, which thrives in Corto Maltese.  It can be used to prepare a drug that renders a person suggestible and erases their memory.  It is thus drug that is used by Chien Na Wei to control her agents and by Merlyn to brainwash Thea into killing Sara Lance.

Ray Palmer developed a microprocessor with a SPECint score just over 9000.

Dialogue Triumphs

One man's agony is not worth the life of an entire city.

(After tossing the pilot through a window)
Pilot: Please! All I do is fly the plane!
The Arrow: Quiet! (holds up a photo of Merlyn) The man in this photo - did you fly him from Corto Maltese to Starling City?
Pilot: (trying hard not to look up) No!
(The Arrow hands the photo to Arsenal and picks the pilot up)
The Arrow: This time...look at the photo!

Oliver; You know I figured, when I spared the life of the man who killed my mother, I would never kill again. (Oliver forces Merlyn down on the bar and begins strangling him) I was wrong.
Merlyn: You might want to reconsider.
Oliver: Why?!
Merlyn: For Thea!  (Ollie's phone begins to ring) Check your phone.  I can wait.
(Ollie looks at his phone. It plays video footage of Thea killing Sara)
Merlyn: I don't think you want The League to see that. And if you kill me, they will.

Oliver: You've given her a death sentence!
Merlyn: No. What I've done is given you incentive.
Oliver: To do what?
Merlyn: To tell Ra's that you killed Sara Lance. By right you will be given a trial by combat. With Ra's.  His death will erase any blood debt from his reign. Including Thea's.
Oliver: And yours.
Merlyn: I have to be honest. It was my concern the whole killing thing would have been a deal-breaker for you. But I'm gratified to see that Thea is still sufficient motivation for you. Don't take too long making up your mind. Ra's isn't known for his patience.

(As Ollie confesses to Sara's murder)
Ra's Al Ghul: I should have Sarab cleave your head from your shoulders. Not for killing my daughter's beloved but for thinking me a fool.

Laurel: Mom, can I tell you something? Whoever killed Sara, I'm going to find them no matter what it takes and I am going to make them pay.
Dinah: Then you make them pay. And you make them suffer.

(Upon being informed of the A.T.O.M. project and Ray's desire for her to help him protect the city.)
Felicity: Why does this keep happening to me?

Oliver: Felicity, I honestly don't know if I'm a killer anymore, but I do know two things. The first is that whoever I am, I'm someone who will do whatever, whatever it takes to save my sister.
Felicity: And the second thing?
Oliver: I love you.

Ra's Al Ghul: I was eleven years old when I killed my first man. I remember the look on his face when the light went out behind his eyes. Such a sudden change. Almost imperceptible. Between Life and Death. And I felt ashamed. I had stolen from that man the most precious gift of all - Life. But I also felt something else - Pride. Because I had taken up arms against someone who sought to do ill against my family.  I realized what I had done was necessary. You see, I have replaced Evil with Death. And that is what The League exists to do. And I have killed several thousand more men since then. And the world is better off for it.


Maseo is revealed to have joined The League of Assassins. He now uses the name Sarab, which is Arabic for phantom or mirage.

Sarab joined The League of Assassins at the same time as Sara Lance.

The League's traditions demand that they kill 50 people in every city where a murder took place until the killer is brought to justice.

Felicity gets the DNA sample of Sara's killer back from Caitlin Snow, which she originally gave Caitlin in F108.

Felicity matches the DNA sample to the one the police took from Oliver Queen in A105.

Diggle refers to the events of A303 and how Thea and Merlyn were both out of the country when Sara died.

As in A301, Ray Palmer pings Felicity's phone to track her down.

Ray Palmer had a fiance named Anna who was killed during the events of A223.

Tatsu is abducted by Chien Na Wei after the two fight a duel with katanas.

Oliver refers to Slade Wilson killing his mother in A220.

The laws of The League of Assassins allow a confessed murderer the right to trial by combat. This duel must be fought by the current leader of the League of Assassins. If the leader loses this duel, any blood debts owed to the League will be forgiven.  The challenger is given 12 hours to settle their affairs and is expected to meet the League's Leader at a predetermined site on consecrated ground.

When they were cchildren Laurel wanted to be a cop. Sara Lance wanted to be a doctor.

Ray Palmer changed the OMAC Project of Queen Consolidated into ATOM - Advanced Technology Operating Mechanism.

When Ollie is saying his farewells, he hugs Roy, shakes hands with Diggle and kisses Felicity on the forehead before telling her he loves her.

It is customary for the duels of the League of Assassins to be fought shirtless.

Ra's Al Ghul was 11 when he killed his first man.


The sacred dueling grounds of The League of Assassins.

The Fridge Factor

We find out Ray Palmer's motivation for his work and wanting to make Starling City a safer place is the death of his fiance, who was killed by Slade Wilson's men.

The Bottom Line

A great episode with a hell of a cliffhanger.  January 21st can't come fast enough!

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