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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews Arrow Season 03 Episode 09: The Climb

December 11th, 2014 by Todd Black Comments


Arrow has never been afraid to move to the beat of its own drum. Sometimes that’s been good, sometimes that was bad. As I neared the end of “The Climb” I found myself bitter that the much hyped showdown between Ollie and Ra’s was going to be at best a few minutes long. However, sitting here now, I’m actually really glad they did that.

“The Climb” was yet another great Arrow midseason finale. As it not only gave us answers to questions we’ve had since the beginning of the season, but threw numerous lines into the future, one that at present is very uncertain.

Let’s start with the very cool opening featuring the League taking down Ollie with almost relative ease. Depending on which version you see, the League can get a bad rap as nothing more than ninja assassins who get beat down by heroes. Here though? We got to see them in full force and strength, and it was awesome. Nyssa was there to not only drop the ultimatum, but also to reveal that Maseo was in the League, going under the name “The Phantom”.

I was not expecting a twist like this so soon (even though some pictures did spoil it already), as it not only makes us wonder what the heck happened in Hong Kong (which I’ll get to), but what it would mean to Oliver, and whoever is left of Maseo’s family…if any are still alive.

Let me sidestep a bit and talk about the Lances. Who despite only having a small part in “The Climb” actually had some powerful stuff. Laurel finally getting to reveal the fate about Sara to Thea and Dinah was good stuff, as you could tell that her keeping it in was killing her. I also loved how Dinah knew that something was wrong from the moment she mentioned Sara’s name. You can take or leave the whole “mothers intuition thing”, but her character can pull that card after how she knew Sara was alive.


The big takeaway though was Laurel revealing to her mother how she was going to hurt the person who killed Sara. Only to have Dinah approve! That was a cool twist, one that definitely raises questions since…

We now know who Sara’s killer is! With the 48 hour deadline in play, Team Arrow had to step it up to find Sara’s killer. This could’ve easily retreaded ground, but instead it delivered the biggest twist of the season yet as it was revealed that Thea killed her! I wasn’t sure how to feel about this when it was first mentioned, as Thea had no real connection to her, I thought this was another feint. But when Malcolm pulled out the footage? What?!?!?

Now true, it wasn’t really Thea, she was being controlled, but the impact this will have is huge. Not just for Ollie and Roy, but for Laurel, Quentin, and of course Thea if she is ever told. This reveal will stick for a while.

Oh, and Ollie basically getting owned by Thea when he tried to talk to her as The Arrow? Priceless.

But of course, what this all led to was the confrontation between Ollie and Ra’s, as Ollie was all but forced to fight Ra’s in order to save Thea’s life from the League. I loved how they showed his resolve in accepting his fate if you will, and noting his lesson in The Undertaking about knowing what you fight for. Thea has always been a motivation for Ollie, one that Malcolm knew would incline him to do this task.


Not just that though, but the way he said goodbye to everyone, Roy, Diggle, and yes, Felicity, you kind of wondered if he would come back alive.

Before I dive into the battle, I want to talk about Ra’s. Many have kind of complained about how Ra’s has been depicted in Arrow thus far, which is saying something cause he’s only been in one episode. But here in “The Climb” we got to see Ra’s in all his glory, and he showed with great impact why he’s known as The Demons Head. This is Ra’s al Ghul, let there be no doubt. Also…how old is he? They weren’t subtle in dropping the “67 years since someone last challenged me” line. And then as if to confirm it, he mentioned his first kill was at 11. So at best, currently, he’s 78 years old. Hmm…

Ok, the fight…IT WAS AWESOME! And perfect on so many levels. Why? Because they didn’t throw away Ra’s (I.E kill him) like a common villain like they would’ve done in season 1. Nor did they make it a back and forth battle. Ollie. Got. Owned. Why is this important? Because this is Ra’s al Ghul, who at worst is a superb martial artist with years of experience, but at best is a man trained by numerous teachers over the course of centuries. You don’t just fight him and expect to win. This proved that, and it was great. True, Ollie got some shots in, but in the end…death comes for us all.

Yes, they “killed” Ollie. Stabbed him in the chest, and kicked him off a mountain. Cheesy? Maybe. But Ra’s sold it, as he prayed for Ollie just before finishing him off. That was cool. Yes, Ollie is clearly coming back, but it’s going to be fun to see how…

Two small stories that also happened were also very impactful. First was Ray Palmer, who we not only got a true backstory for as to his motivations for Starling, but also his future plans for himself in Starling. Meaning? He’s going to be The Atom, no doubt. On a sidenote, I feel bad for Felicity, again.

The Hong Kong story very easily was on par with the main story, as we got not only a good chunk of viewing time that explored the point of the flashbacks this year, we got setup for the backhalf, AND, we got Katana vs. China White. Epic. This is now shaping up to be something special this year, can’t wait to see how it turns out.

While there were some drawbacks, like in pacing, and story, and the fact that some details were continuously stated, “The Climb” was fantastic. A truly great midseason finale. It’s going to be interesting to see how things come back to life so to speak when the show returns in January.


Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians ( He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!