'Arrow' Review: "Heir to the Demon"

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The CW

Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its thirteenth episode of the year with “Heir to the Demon,” as Nyssa al Ghul ('Spartacus' star Katrina Law) arrives in Starling City to reclaim Sara by threatening her family, while Oliver learns yet another deadly secret about his mother's past.

Previous ‘Arrow’ installment “Tremors” saw Oliver's efforts to train the headstrong Roy interrupted by the reemergence of Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), while Laurel spiraled further out of control and Moira Queen found herself in a surprising position with Walter, so what does the thirteenth episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring? Does Nyssa al Ghul's appearance promise the arrival of even bigger bads to come?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2′s latest installment “Heir to the Demon”!

A mysterious woman arrives to the Starling city airport, identifying herself as Nyssa Raatko, though an A.R.G.U.S. alert quickly arises from her passport. Nyssa easily fights off the approaching guards, and continues through the airport unimpeded. Elsewhere, Moira’s campaign manager urges her to get in front of cameras to get the voters on her side, before Felicity pulls Walter aside to inform him money has moved out of the “Tempest” account she had him investigate last year.

After an urgent call, Oliver arrives to Starling hospital to find Quentin and Dinah (Alex Kingston) looking over a bedridden Laurel, who insists she hadn’t overdosed on drugs. Oliver notices some odd coloration in her eye, before Laurel pulls her father aside to reveal she saw a vision of her sister Sara. Later, Sara performs the infamous salmon ladder at Oliver’s lair, hurriedly preparing to leave while the League remains on her trail. Oliver protests that her family needs her, when Quentin calls and demands to speak with his daughter.

Back in the Lance family past, Sara makes a surprising return from college for dinner, secretly texting Oliver that she’s arrived. In the present, Quentin and Sara meet for tea, though Sara quickly shrugs off his insistence they face the League as a family, before she departs. Out on the road, Nyssa descends from a bridge to confront Sara, Oliver watching from a distance, before Nyssa surprisingly kisses Sara.

Oliver quickly makes his presence known, though Sara urges him to trust her, agreeing to leave with Nyssa for the moment in spite of Oliver’s misgivings about the woman. Meanwhile back at the Queen mansion, Felicity arrives to see Moira, explaining that she’d traced the money to Moira’s OBGYN Dr. Gill, piecing together from her affair that Malcolm Merlyn must have been Thea Queen’s father. Felicity offers her the chance to tell Oliver, but Moira intimidatingly fires back that she won’t, nor should Felicity, for Oliver would hate her too for the revelation.

Sara explains to Nyssa that she left to check on her family after the earthquake, and had grown tired of the killing, though Nyssa doubts that Ra’s al Ghul would ever release her from her oath to the League of Assassins, even with their romantic relationship. Meanwhile, a frustrated Oliver learns from Diggle that Laurel was in fact poisoned by a rare snake oil, likely a ploy to lure Sara back to Starling. In the past, Sara and Laurel argue when Sara questions if Oliver would ever be ready to settle down, secretly texting to meet him at the docks.

Back in the present, Nyssa’s League henchman kidnaps Dinah Lance from the hospital, for which Oliver and Sara give chase by motorcycle, to no avail. Sara blames herself, delicately explaining her relationship with Nyssa to her father, as Oliver assures they’ll get Dinah back. Diggle and Felicity discover that Laurel’s poison was locally obtained, for which they manages to obtain a license plate off security footage. Elsewhere, Sebastian Blood pays a visit to Moira to intimidate her into dropping out of the mayoral race, though she refuses.

Oliver lures Nyssa’s League assassin to an alleyway where the combined efforts of he, Sara and Quentin defeat the thug, though the man takes a suicide poison before he can give up Nyssa’s location. The next day, Oliver prepares to introduce his mother at the mayoral rally, before Felicity pulls him aside and explains that her own father left their family, and she worries about Oliver leaving after what she has to say next. Elsewhere, Sara phones Nyssa and agrees to return to Nanda Parbat with her, next calling her father to meet her, without telling Oliver.

A visibly shaken Oliver is called to the podium to introduce his mother, stumbling through the speech before whispering to his mother that he knows the truth. Awhile later, Oliver returns to the lair to find a vial of the poison missing, activating a tracker to find Sara on her way to confront Nyssa, Oliver worried she could bring the wrath of Ra’s al Ghul on all of them.

Quentin arrives to Nyssa’s warehouse to retrieve Dinah, who becomes elated to see her daughter alive in the brief moments before Sara orders her taken away. Sara collapses, having drunk the poison herself, though when Nyssa grows enraged, Oliver intervenes and begins a deadly battle. Oliver just barely manages to gain the upper hand, before rushing over to administer an antidote to Sara. She returns to life, the sight of which brings Nyssa to agree to release Sara from the League. Oliver is forced to flee as Quentin and Dina rush to their daughter, seeing that Laurel is on the scene as well.

Oliver confronts Moira that her latest betrayal has completely severed their trust, and while he agrees to keep up appearances for Thea’s sake and for the campaign, he no longer wants any kind of personal relationship with his mother. Elsewhere, Laurel grows drunk and angry at their glowing family reunion, ordering Sara out under the belief that her original betrayal with Oliver caused their family to fall apart, including the recent assassination attempts. Back in the past, Moira arrives to the Lance household after news of the Queen’s Gambit sinking has hit, burdened with the revelation that Sara too had been aboard the boat when it sank.

Slade watches Moira’s campaign speech and chides Sebastian Blood for underestimating her, assuring his underling he plans to deal with it. Meanwhile, Sara returns to the lair to find Oliver taking out aggression on a dummy. Oliver questions what she plans to do now, though she simply suggest “I’m home,” before the two passionately embrace.

OUR REVIEW:

For as many successes and hat rabbits that ‘Arrow’ has manage to pull in 1.5 seasons, even producers have acknowledged a few core weaknesses to the CW’s DC drama. On the one hand, most DC villains that breeze through Starling City come and go far too quickly to leave any lasting impact, oftentimes with a hodgepodge of campy and coherent portrayals that end up ill-formed to ‘Arrow’’s world. The other flaw, at least in the first season, came through the more soapy CW elements of personal drama, though even with that angle to the series largely dropped, the Lance family still tends to suffer under its weight. The second season in particular has opened an entirely new world for the elder Office Lance, though too often this season Laurel has languished in a drug spiral plot that tangentially connected to the other threads, at best.

“Heir to the Demon’ grants writers a chance to dovetail both problematic lines to a single point, bringing in a more comic-friendly villain in Katrina Law’s Nyssa al Ghul, who reveals a much more personal connection to Sara Lance that brings the entire family into the tangled web. It isn’t an altogether surprising reveal, given the editing of last week’s promo, and the various other TV outlets teasing their “unexpected,” connection, though the groundwork laid both in Sara’s character and the League’s overarching presence this season makes for a relatively smooth landing.

A few of the logistics might stick out, for instance why Nyssa might have used a public airport in the first place, or how people might react to news of Sara’s survival (sooner or later, people would have to assume the ship’s cook survived as well, training to become a killer assassin of his own in some third location), but the reason we single out Nyssa lies in the fact that her motivations feel genuinely real. Sure, the League isn’t great with severance packages, but the personal stakes between the characters give “Heir to the Demon” a much more emotionally heightened feel overall, without forsaking or forgetting the comic book elements that can frequently run away with them. We’re given to understand that Nyssa will be back as well, but it’s nice to see that ‘Arrow’ can safely put to bed a few lingering issues without dragging down more fruitful stories with them.

And while the hour certainly belongs to the Lances, particularly in the altogether alien sequences of the happy pre-Queen’s Gambit family, “Heir to the Demon” still manages to wring plenty of drama for the Queens themselves, and other members of Team Arrow, even if Oliver ends up somewhat sidelined. A few of the sequences feel a bit oddly edited (something of a jump cut in the initial campaign meeting, then later with Oliver about to introduce his mother), though we can’t deny the excitement of pairing Felicity and Moira together to take swipes at one another in Oliver’s best interest, while the man himself gets a meaty scene to accuse his mother of lying once again. It’s certainly a considerate ploy, to keep up appearances for Thea and the campaign, but oy, wait until he finds out she knew Malcolm Merlyn still lives!

Wrinkles and all, what “Heir to the Demon” does best lies in clearing out a few stale threats to supplant them with newer possibilities. The League appears to have abandoned their pursuit of Sara for the moment, leaving her free to pick up both vigilante (and sexy!) times with Oliver, even as Laurel somewhat justifiably asserts that Sara’s original sin caused their troubles in the first place (dragging Laurel further into alcoholism might be a bit much). Not to mention, Felicity can’t be too happy to have Oliver and Sara spending so much time together, but these are the hallmarks of a fine series, and a finer episode. The newly-created problems will thrust their weight on the story itself, and not the viewers.

Well, what say you?  Did ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its latest installment? Were you excited to see Nyssa al Ghul tease the larger League of Assassins characters? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us February 26 for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 14, “Time of Death” on The CW!

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