This episodes focuses on two stories, splitting the Arrow team up not just by what they’re dealing with, but also in location. Laurel and Thea travel to Nanda Parbat with Sara’s corpse to ask Malcolm Merlyn, the new R’as al Ghul after the finale of Season 3, if they can use the Lazarus Pit to bring Sara back to life (even though Thea thinks this is a bad idea). Thea also wants some answers to her Lazarus Pit blood lust.
This is the first time we’ve seen Merlyn as R’as, and it’s clear he’s reveling in his new found power. Quite why Oliver was so okay with putting the devious Merlyn in charge of the League of Assassins is a little strange and unclear, though it could be put down to it being best to have someone who Oliver is familiar with in charge. I’m also not really sure why Nyssa has stuck around with the League after all that happened last season, and it seems that her character is just hanging around for no real reason. Hopefully we’ll see more of Nyssa having some stuff to actually do, though Katrina Law puts in a great performance (as always) just going against Laurel, warning her not to follow through with reviving Sara. John Barrowman puts in a great performance too, loving the part almost as much as Merlyn himself must be loving his new role as R’as al Ghul. It’s hard to get read on how the League of Assassins will come into the plot of Season 4 so far.
The Star City story focuses on the rift that’s grown between Oliver and Diggle that’s been sizzling away since the Season 3 finale. They end up not working together properly, ignoring one another to pursue their own goals, in a little bit of a throwback to Season 1 Episode 20 “Home Invasion”. This is probably more than coincidence, as in that episode Diggle was out for revenge on Deadshot for killing his brother, and in this episode he’s trying to follow up leads on HIVE, the organisation that ordered the hit. This time’s a little different though. Oliver sincerely wants to make amends, and Diggle doesn’t ask for Oliver’s help when he needs it. You do believe that this time Oliver would have gone out of the way to help Diggle out. And, eventually, they do.
They find out that the HIVE organisation is connected to Damian Dhark, and that they’ve hired a metahuman who can throw tattoos from his body in the shape of playing cards. Felicity ends up pulling in Curtis Holt to help investigate the playing cards. Echo Kellum remains charming as Curtis, though it’s a little unclear as to why Felicity couldn’t just do the things he does, as they largely have the same skillset. They are likely building him up for something in the future. While his name is connected to a character in the comics, it’s hard to say what direction they’ll go in.
In the flashback story we get to see Oliver trying to get in with Reiter’s crew by showing them he’s really good at torture. It’s nice to see that the present day storylines and the flashback storylines have sort of inverted. Now, Oliver is darkest in the flashbacks, and quite breezy in the present day. Even though he’s a bit darker though, flashback Ollie is still fundamentally a good guy, and he needs to juggle seeming like a cold hearted badass killer with protecting the people enslaved by Reiter and his team. It could get quite interesting, but it’s still not really clear where it’s going yet.
To be honest the metahuman and the action in this episode aren’t all that interesting, with the possible exception of Felicity using an assault rifle at one point. This episode is all about characters and character drama, and for the most part it’s very good. The fraternal bond between Oliver and Diggle has always been a great one, and it’s great to see their falling out really dug into and fleshed out this episode, with some real resolutions met. There are some great moments in Nanda Parbat too, but at times it seems a little over the top. The drama around bringing Sara back to life almost seeming a bit contrived at times, rather that the characters actually connecting in their back and forth.