Arrow 3×03 – Corto Maltese

"What's up with your family and islands?"


After a depressing albeit effective second hour, Corto Maltese supplied a much-needed dose of fun, coupled with some impressive character development.

First off, it’s worth noting that I was never Thea’s biggest fan. She always seemed to exist solely to fill the show’s teenage angst quota, but in between seasons two and three, she morphed into a highly intriguing character. I absolutely loved the flashbacks as Malcolm viciously taught her his warrior ways. Sure you could say she became an adept fighter way too quickly, but it’s such a welcome development that I absolutely can’t wait to see more. Willa Holland undeniably rose to the occasion, and I totally buy her as this confident and newly-formed badass. And yet, her decision to return home with Ollie after his heartfelt please still made sense, and that speaks volumes to how organic this transformation feels after all the horrors and secrets she endured over the past two years. Well played writers, well played.

As for our future Black Canary, I’m seriously loving Laurel’s journey into cutthroat vigilante. Obviously she’s not going to become a warrior overnight, so it was thrilling (and harrowing) to see her try and exert her own brand of justice on an abusive boyfriend and receive a vicious beating in return. Unlike the past two seasons, the writers are exhibiting a formidable grasp on Laurel’s character arc this year, and I have no doubt it’s going to be quite compelling to watch her learn to control the “fire” she has raging inside. The fact that Oliver refused to train her is also a believable turn, in light of everything that happened with Sara. And now we’ve got the newly-introduced Ted Grant to take Laurel under his wing. I just hope he doesn’t turn into the requisite love interest.

As for our other adventure in Corto Maltese, someone has ARGUS intel about operatives’ wives and children. Shaw wasn’t the most exciting character, but I enjoyed the storyline simple because t it allowed the show to stage some top-notch action while broadening the budding ARGUS/Amanda Waller threat. And yeah, it’s just too cool to watch Ollie kick ass with a firearm. More of that please.

And finally, I can’t express how much I adored the blood-pumping ending with the epic return of  Nyssa Al Ghul. Katrina Law was a freakin’ MVP in her introduction last season, and I absolutely can’t wait to see more of her lethal badassery. Watching her come to terms with Sara’s death and probably blame half of Team Arrow in the process is going to be downright exhilarating. Bring on episode 50.

Bits & Arrows 

– So Roy’s never been on a plane before; can’t say I’m surprised.

– I gotta say, I’m kind of proud of Felicity now that she has the swanky office and her own personal assistant.

– Perfect moment: Malcolm flipping out and savagely punching Thea.

– Comic-book geek nod: Palmer mentions a “digital lazarus.” The Lazarus Pit is a supernatural location that brings the dead back to life. And no, I doubt Sara is ever coming back..

– “Pathological sincerity”. Interesting concept Diggle; I like it.

– Roy and Thea didn’t annoy me as much as they used to. Improvement!

– Hilarious moment of the week: everyone calling Felicity at the same time for a favour, and Laurel making me laugh out loud by asking Felicity to “google a phone”.

– Absolutely beautiful scene between Laurel and her dad in the hospital room. Katie rocked the banged-up look and really broke my heart.

– Great continuity with Ollie telling Thea the truth about how their dad died. I actually never noticed that both their parents sacrificed themselves.

– So who is Mr. Armitage? One of this season’s baddies?

– Makeshift arrows using hotel room props? Awesomeness.

– I think Thea and Malcolm’s fight was the first time in three years I could visibly spot the stunt doubles in a fight scene. I guess John and Willa aren’t too adept at fighting quite just yet. Oh yes, and he lets her win (no surprise there).

– Although it was a bit too convenient, I enjoyed the contrast with Thea shrugging off the hot coffee falling on her hand (after Malcolm trained her to).

– In case you missed it, Lance is the one who “anonymously” tipped the police about the abusive boyfriend. Guess when your daughter becomes a victim, you can start bending the law (not that I’m complaining).

– So Felicity is off to a Flash crossover next week? I gotta say, Arrow’s spinoff is slowly starting to reel me in week by week.

– Ray looking at the weapon schematic at the end was a bit too ominously forced for my taste. We all know he won’t be playing a villain.

Starling Quips

Felicity: I had to reconstruct the partial using a predictive indexing algorithm. Appropriate, since it was his index finger… not particularly relevant now.

Diggle: I could literally watch you forever.
Lyla: Oh yeah? What about once she discovers boys?
Diggle: Well that’s what my glock is for, right baby?

Lyla: Team Arrow may have Starling City purring like a kitten but the rest of the world is still a very dangerous place.

Malcolm: (to Thea) Every warrior must learn the simple truth: that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional.

Oliver: I don’t know how to vacation like a normal person Diggle.

Malcolm: It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I thought I could do this differently, But I can’t. I need to train you as I was trained. Treat you as my student, Not my daughter. (He punches Thea).
Thea: What are you doing?!
Malcolm: The only way to forge steel is to temper it with fire.
Thea: (picking up a sword) Stay away from me, you sick son of a bitch!
Malcolm: Now we can begin.

Oliver: Isn’t it lonely here?
Thea: That’s kind of what I like about it.

Laurel: Felicity I need a favor.
Felicity: Are we favor friends now? Are we friends?
Laurel: I need you to help me find someone by googling his phone or something.
Felicity: Pinging his GPS.

Lance: (to Laurel) You’re not The Arrow, or your sister.

Laurel: I know the world isn’t fair. I know that it’s a terrible place where… where people deserve to get punished, and they don’t. I just… for one night, I need the world to be different.

Oliver: Mom and dad… they sacrificed themselves so that we could live. But if we’re not together, then we’re not even really alive. You’re my family and even if you don’t need me… I need you.

Oliver: I never said I didn’t know how to use a gun.

Oliver: You did good over there.
Roy: I had a good teacher. A judgemental, occasionally temperamental one, but-
Oliver: Those are the best kind.

Must-Download Tune
I’d Say Go by Martinez & Guthrie

Equal parts thrilling and emotional, Corto Maltese is the strongest hour of the season thus far.

Nad Rating

1 comment

  1. Good review, Nadim.

    I'm with you on the Thea angle.
    What do you know, i'm starting to like where the writers is bringing her.
    And she looks great! Her carriage and outward personality is being well-played by Willa Holland. Bravo! Its like that five-years ago Ollie & the present day Ollie.
    I love her bonding with Ollie and I hope it stays that way no matter what.

    Truly love John Barrowman. His poker face is sooooooo…. lovely. Hehehe.

    I wish Nyssa stays until Sara's killer is found.
    It will (hopefully) ensure a lot of a**kicking segments.
    How cool will it be if Daddy Lance gets to be the one to do the deed? Whew!

    Let's note that now, Ollie uses a gun to fight the baddies. 🙂

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