Over the past few weeks, The Arrow producers have made it their job to hype up the show’s return as something completely different. After all, Oliver Queen is out of action, and it’s time for the rest of the cast to step up to the plate. In theory, this episode was a necessary one, but it sadly wasn’t as exciting as I was hoping it would be.
First, the good stuff. After two years of frustrating storylines, Katie Cassidy finally got what she was hoping for as Laurel Lance assumed the mantle of The Black Canary once and for all. Although her introduction was enormously brief (the good stuff lies in next week’s promo), I thought Katie’s first scene in the suit was a memorable one. And since she’s still not half the fighter that Sara was, her using the Canary Cry (the coolest sonic weapon ever) makes her vigilantism all the more believable and thrilling. I genuinely can’t wait to see Laurel interact with Team Arrow and grow into the hero she’s always been destined to become. And let’s be real, Cassidy’s been waiting for material like this since the pilot, and she’s been woefully underused since then.
Interestingly enough, the episode’s single strongest scene was the heartfelt discussion between Diggle and Laurel. These two barely interacted in three seasons, so it was an utter delight to watch Diggle poignantly reveal his feelings of inadequacy for failing to protect Oliver. And Laurel hugging the big guy as a response? Let’s just say I got kind of teary eyed during that extremely touching embrace. It would do Arrow a hell of a lot of good to explore new dynamics such as this one in Oliver’s absence.
All season long, the Hong Kong flashbacks have failed at creating a truly cohesive and enthralling storyline (particularly when compared to the island scenes in the show’s first two seasons). Thankfully, Tatsu’s kidnapping elevated the proceedings, as Ollie proved his heroism by planting a GPS on one of China White’s men (which ultimately ensured Tatsu’s survival). This act of kindness is what saved Ollie in present day as Maseo saved Ollie and dropped him off at Tatsu’s for a speedy recovery. I gotta, say, this is the first time in a long time that I found myself impressed by the show’s dual narratives. Well done.
Sadly, I’ve kind of lost interest in Ray Palmer, which also doesn’t bode well for the supposed Atom spinoff. His dynamic with Felicity bores me, and I didn’t appreciate the blonde getting so much focus this week. I know she’s a beloved character, but I always found Olicity to be a far-from-organic pairing. Thus, I wasn’t terribly moved by Felicity’s struggles (of course Emily Bett Richards was stellar as always). Here’s hoping Ray will suit up soon and give this storyline the shot in the arm that it so sorely needs.
In addition, I’m not entirely sold on Brick as a villain. Vinnie Jones did an adequate enough job with the role, but his kill-me-and-survive shtick with the gun felt like a cheap comic book gimmick that Arrow might have employed in season one. Thankfully, the stakes were effectively raised in the episode’s final moments as Brick took control of an entire army in his plans to overthrow The Glades. And hey, Team Arrow needs to kick someone’s ass right?
Two other elements worth mentioning. First, the action was seriously on point this week. From Thea and Malcolm’s expertly-choreographed sword fight to Arsenal and Diggle kicking major ass throughout the hour, the cinematography and staging was astounding. Second, the musical score by Blake Neely was exceptional – emotional and haunting in all the right places. Major kudos.
Bits & Arrows
– Hilarious sight: Diggle in the Arrow suit (which it too “tight”). Even funnier sight: flashback Ollie slamming into the wall as he swung from the building.
– Epic panning shot down the mountain leading to Ollie’s fallen body. Another first rate scene: Ollie being dragged through the snow by his masked savior.
– Hidden gem: Laurel reassuring Felicity that Ollie would be back. The look between them was everything.
– So Malcolm traveled to Nanda Parbat (where he got the sword) and then back to Starling in like two hours? Stupid.
– Loved Felicity blaming Malcolm and his apologizing. And I adored her storming out of the Arrow cave and turning the lights out.
– The shots of Roy flipping and running through the tunnels – woah.
– So Thea basically confirmed that she knows Roy is the “red hood” right? She better learn about Ollie soon. This is getting lame.
– Diggle sliding under the truck – too cool.
– Thea throwing the dagger at Malcolm was a nifty shot, but it was also pretty cheesy for some reason. And we all know she and Malcolm won’t be leaving the city anytime soon.
Thug 1: That’s him!
Thug 2: I thought he was green!
Diggle: I’m more of a Glock kind of guy.
Roy: I didn’t say anything.
Felicity: (to Diggle) You have that look you always get right before you tell Oliver something… Sagely.
Malcolm: (to Thea) Well, I wouldn’t recommend texting during a real fight.
Laurel: This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard that Oliver was dead. He’s been back before. He’ll be back again.
Malcolm: His death means my own.
Ray: You make it sound like using an enhanced exoskeleton to fight crime and save the city is a loony tunes idea.
Felicity: I’m 25 years old. I’m over my quota where losing my friends are concerned.
Diggle: For the first time since I met Oliver Queen… I don’t know what happens next.
Thea: I could have killed you!
Malcolm: Heh. It’s cute that you think so.
Not spectacular by any means, but an effective transitionary episode with some badass developments.