TV Review: Arrow: Season 2: Episode 13: Heir to the Demon (CW)

May contain spoilers It’s an important function of any TV drama to juggle multiple plots at one time to keep the audience interested. These plots are usually driven by side […]

May contain spoilers

It’s an important function of any TV drama to juggle multiple plots at one time to keep the audience interested. These plots are usually driven by side characters, villains, and even a third party, such as a police force or a cult, that adds multiple perspectives to an essentially linear story. But it’s a slippery slope when dealing with so many different stories, and your main draw can get lost in the mix. I’m not saying that’s happened, but the Arrow stories and characters are getting stretched sort of thin, and Heir to the Demon shows a lot of wrinkles.

Heir to the Demon

 

The episode picks up right where Tremors left off, well part of it anyway. Despite the big show of adding Roy to the team in the last episode, he’s noticeably absent, diminishing much of the impact of the last episode and leaving us the awkward place of picking back up on a story that hasn’t been relevant or even touched upon for seven episodes. Caity Lotz’ Canary has returned to Starling at Oliver’s urging after Laurel’s OD. …which for some odd reason, happens after Sara gets there. But the OD was a ruse perpetrated by a League of Assassins member at the order of Nyssa al Ghul (guest star Katrina Law) in order to draw out Sara and bring her back to the League. Katrina Law’s entrance in to the series is a memorable one. As Nyssa al Ghul arrives at Starling International Airport she is stopped by airport security after giving her name as Raatko, a nod to her comic counterpart. The problem with this scene is suspension of disbelief, and professionals not acting professionally. You may recall from my review of Tremors that I felt that the prison guards’ actions with purposely designed to make them victims. There’s a similar problem in Heir to the Demon after an airport security officer puts his gun right against Nyssa’s head. It’s not any law enforcement or security force’s policy to be within arms reach of a perpetrator when drawing a firearm. This obviously leads to her disarming him and the fight begins. Regardless of the kickoff, the fight scene between the security officers and Nyssa is fast and efficient, similar to the embassy fight scene in the Bourne Identity, and does a good job at establishing Nyssa as a dangerous adversary. However, the security guard is just the first of a number of strange decisions in storytelling and direction that only persist as the story unfolds.

Heir to the Demon

 

 

This episode makes a number of interesting decisions in action, direction, and tone that reveal a significant amount of potential, but not all of them fulfill themselves completely. Felicity and Moira haven’t really had any scenes together in the entirety of the series, so I have to say I was completely caught off guard when they set the screen on fire. Felicity’s reasons for keeping an eye on the Tempest account brings out a side of her that Emily Bett Rickards hasn’t had a chance to showcase yet. That side is her protective nature when it comes to Oliver. Throughout the series Felicity has been given many chances to be confrontational, and has shyed away from all of them. So when she actually takes the offensive, it’s better than anyone could have hoped. Best of all, she’s going against Oliver’s own mother Moira (Susanna Thompson) who has proven on numerous occasions that she’s tough, but this is the first time we see her with a sadistic side. It’s a showdown that wasn’t seen coming, and ended up being all the more memorable for it. They both played off of their established character types with Felicity being a very straightforward and idealistic person, and Moira being incredibly deceptive and cynical. The clash between them seethes with quiet aggression, and creates intensity without resorting to violence oHeir to the Demon Felicity and Moirar action.

 

 

Unfortunately, the relationship between Sara and Nyssa doesn’t quite reach the same level despite the clear desperation behind it. The characters’ connection initially comes off as the typical sexually dominated male perspective of a female same-sex pairing, that eventually evolves in to a sort of symbiosis that drives the desperation a little more effectively. It’s not just want. Nyssa needs Sara. The obvious sexual implications are still there, but Nyssa’s instability helps to reveal the relationship as being abusive rather than fetishistic, and grounds it a little more. As the chances of her losing Sara increase, Nyssa gets more and more desperate, escalating in her actions, much like a real abusive relationship. But this is the exact reason that the end makes no sense at all. They take all this time to establish Nyssa’s inability to let Sara go, and then she just…does. There’s not a significant enough motivation behind it, making the ending and the impact shallow and dull. It comes across as a way to just end the arc without any further incident, as the story seemed to write itself in to a corner by emphasizing the part of Nyssa that was beyond reason, and took a cop out over a uniqueHeir to the Demone plot device to end the conflict between her character’s personality and the main characters’ plot progression. It’s the definition of a rock and a hard place, so I can’t say I blame them. But the ease of the solution destabilizes the rest of the episode’s main arc, and unfortunately makes the whole struggle sort of worthless.

 

 

The six years ago scenes do their job, without going above or beyond. They do very little to establish a picture of the Lance family before the island, but they do a lot to further devalue the character of Laurel. She plays as more of a rich heiress from a soap-opera, which is totally different from how she portrayed herself in season one, and closer to how she’s been with her recent substance abuse arc. She’s rude, frivolous, and ungrateful in the flashbacks and in the modern scenes. She even refuses to interact with the sister she had thought to have been dead for the better part of a decade, and instead goes on a self-important rant on how Sara’s “death” wrecked her life. It just feels like there’s no redemption planned for her character, and this is her last hurrah. Also, am I the only one upset to see Alex Kingston standing in the background looking helpless? She’s only been in a few episodes of the series so far, and we haven’t seen or heard a lot about her character since her inception, but when Alex Kingston was annoHeir to the Demonunced, I was looking forward to seeing her embody the strong female presence (even if not the martial arts prowess) of the Black Canary. Instead she just stands around looking scared or surprised. Why cast a powerful feminine presence like Alex Kingston for a role that can be played by anyone with fingernail polish and shaved legs? Now I’ve been fooled by Arrow before, so this could all turn out to be part of a greater plan. But at face-value, there doesn’t seem to be any substance.

 

 

Positively though, the action was amazing for this episode. Seeing Oliver take on another archer after so long was thrilling. Nyssa al Ghul’s obsession with Sara Lance is properly conveyed by a head over heels intensity from Katrina Law that translates well in to her action scenes. Susanna Thompson comfortably shifts in to her slightly villainous role like a glove, and Emily Bett Rickard’s expansion of the character of Felicity is a welcome change that further solidifies her stock in the eyes of the viewers when she finally gets aggressive.


Final Word
All in all, Heir to the Demon tries to be engaging, but is hindered by the amount of time that’s passed since the relevant story aired which didn’t help the weak conclusion. Direction is inconsistent in places, and some scenes just made no sense at all. Not enough was done to ensure that the story was being translated properly in the direction, making for some awkwardly delivered dialogue, and even some continuity and consistency errors that aren’t accounted for in any way. Luckily the fight scenes were redeeming, as well as the scenes involving team Arrow (sans Roy) being spot on, excluding the lack of input from Diggle who will need something to do soon before he becomes superfluous. Maybe picking up the H.I.V.E. Arc? A new rivalry is revealed in Moira and Felicity that reveals itself to be surprisingly potent in it’s potential for future drama. Also, there was a particularly interesting short scene where Slade says something ominous and walks away. I’ll be looking forward to the next episode for that reason alone. But when all is said and done, Heir to the Demon is too ambitious and suffers tremendously for it. It’s got some good ideas and a few seeds get planted here and therHeir to the Demone, that I’m looking forward to seeing come to fruition. As for the League of Assassins and Nyssa al Ghul, not enough has been revealed to be engaging, and too much has been revealed to be suspenseful. It’s a storyline that has showed a lot of promise, but seems to be going in the wrong direction. It’s gonna take a lot more than the name Ras al Ghul to get me on board now. Heir to the demon was disappointing, but Arrow has come back from much worse, which just serves as proof that you should never count your canaries before they hatch.

 

-PS

Arrow airs Wednesday nights 8 PM/7 PM C only on the CW©

All images courtesy of The CW©
Arrow — The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
http://www.cwtv.com/shows/arrow

 

 

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