Arrow is about to incorporate a third member of the notorious al Ghul family: Talia al Ghul. Talia is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and the half-sister of Nyssa al Ghul, both of whom have been an integral part of the series’ past seasons. Actress Lexa Doig has landed a recurring role as Talia beginning in season five’s tenth episode. Who is Talia, and how might she impact both the series and its loyal fans? Let’s take a look.
The Potential Return of the League of Assassins
In any DC Comics story, you can’t have an al Ghul without the League of Assassins. That was certainly true of Arrow‘s past three seasons. Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) was a recurring character in seasons two through four, while Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) served as the main villain of season three. Through Law’s and Nable’s riveting performances, fans became invested in Arrow‘s take on the League of Assassins.
Arrow season three ended with Oliver Queen killing Ra’s al Ghul and appointing Malcolm Merlyn as the League’s new leader. One of the best episodes of the series’ fourth season was “Sins of the Father.” In that episode, Oliver settled a longstanding feud between Nyssa and Malcolm, both of whom vied for control of the League of Assassins. Even after Oliver won her the mantle of the League’s leadership, Nyssa realized she had been living in her late father’s shadow. Ultimately, Nyssa disbanded the League of Assassins in order to end her father’s dark legacy.
It’s unclear what Talia al Ghul’s current relationship to the League will be. Yet, the simple fact that Arrow is bringing on another al Ghul means that the series has more stories to tell about the al Ghul family. Talia’s debut indicates that the League of Assassins might return in some form. Even if that doesn’t happen, the possibility will always remain.
How is Talia Different from Nyssa?
A potential area of confusion for Arrow fans is that Talia al Ghul might not seem different enough from Nyssa. Early press reports indicate that unlike Nyssa, Talia “refuses to pick sides and instead creates her own.” Yet, the main question that Arrow needs to immediately answer is why Talia hasn’t been part of the series until now.
So far, Nyssa has appeared in 15 out of Arrow‘s 97 current episodes. (16, counting a flashback appearance as a child.) Yet, not once has Nyssa mentioned her half-sister. It’s possible — albeit unlikely — that Nyssa isn’t even aware that Talia exists. Nevertheless, the Arrowverse has already established that Talia is part of its continuity.
In the DC’s Legends of Tomorrow episode “Left Behind,” Talia appeared as a young yet talented trainee of the League of Assassins. That story was set in the 1960s, and it established that Ra’s had not yet fathered Nyssa — making Talia the older half-sister of Nyssa. Yet, before “Left Behind,” Talia wasn’t even part of Arrow. It’s still unclear why she suddenly matters now, enough to warrant a recurring role in the series’ ongoing fifth season.
Outside of the comics, Talia and Nyssa have never appeared in the same story. Since Nyssa is still alive within the Arrowverse, Arrow might be the first time that the al Ghul sisters appear together on screen. Even if Nyssa doesn’t return to share the screen with her half-sister, Arrow still needs to explain what makes Talia different from Nyssa. Otherwise, fans will simply see Talia as a carbon copy of Nyssa, which would be a blatant disservice to both characters.
Does Arrow Need Another al Ghul?
I’m looking forward to seeing Lexa Doig join the Arrow cast, but I’m still skeptical of why her character is necessary. The series has already covered the League of Assassins rather extensively, and it gave the League a pretty permanent send-off when Nyssa disbanded it back in “Sins of the Father.” Does the League still have a future on Arrow? I suppose it’s possible for Talia al Ghul to have a meaningful impact even if she’s not part of the League.
Talia has had a varied impact on other DC projects. Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) from The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be Talia in disguise. Furthermore, Talia had guest roles in the DC Animated Universe as well as the video game Batman: Arkham City. More recently, Talia has recurred in DC’s Animated Original Movies, usually as an antithesis to her son, Damian Wayne. Still, Arrow marks Talia’s first appearance in live-action television.
What will Talia’s appearance mean for Oliver Queen and his ongoing focus of training new vigilantes for Star City? And how will Talia — as a member of the al Ghul family — be relevant to season five’s overall arc? Talia might be connected to season five’s main villain, Prometheus, who currently has far too much mystery surrounding his character. Still, I guess I should wait until Talia actually appears before saying whether she fits Arrow‘s current story. We’ll just have to see out how Arrow handles Talia al Ghul.