Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
In a bid to win back some of the lost momentum from Oliver’s return to Starling, Arrow changes its focus to rookie vigilante Laurel Lance. Count Vertigo (the cool version) makes another appearance, Team Arrow shows their growth and Thea is brought into the fold in Canaries. Check it out.
Last week saw Oliver return to the streets of Starling in less than epic fashion. Team Arrow had things well under control and Ollie added little to change that. In the absence of the Arrow everyone else had to step up in a big way and I’m glad having Oliver back didn’t undermine that growth. What began as a personal crusade in the memory of his father has now turned into something much more important. The people Oliver has involved aren’t blindly following him anymore, they have their own reasons to put their lives on the line every night and will continue to do so with or without Oliver’s permission. The tension between Roy and Ollie worked perfectly in establishing how different things are now that he has returned from the dead. Roy proved his quality in the absence of his leader and to see him return to the background would have been truly disappointing.
Having Roy stand up for Thea also hinted at the reigniting of their relationship. It was evident on Harper’s face that he still has feelings and with Thea in an emotionally unstable situation it’s only a matter of time before she seeks the refuge of Roy’s freshly leathered arms.
Having Oliver finally reveal his identity to Thea was handled quite well. I applaud the writers for not taking the opportunity to inject more drama into their relationship. The two have been through a ton and to see their reconciliation strained so soon would have sucked. Having Thea praise Oliver’s work as the Arrow was unexpected but a welcome change of pace. She was the only “good guy” out of the loop and it makes sense to have her join the team, especially now that she can kick ass.
The one thing that didn’t sit well with me about her reaction was her 180 in regards to Merlyn. She had just spent months training under him and as soon as she hears that Oliver doesn’t like him she flips on her father. It just played as disingenuous. The reluctant partnership between Merlyn and Ollie is cool though. Watching them (Arrow, Merlyn, Thea) in a four-way battle against the demon is sure to be one heck of an action sequence.
Quick aside: Why is Ra’s pronounced in two different ways? Let’s get a little consistency going.
Setting Oliver and company (yay to the people who got that reference) aside for a moment. Canaries’ main goal was to further engrain Laurel into her new vigilante role, and that it did. She is still relatively new and untrained and it still shows. Going up against Vertigo, an established Arrow villain at this point, was a bold move for Laurel. One that she wasn’t prepared for. To make things even trickier, having been injected with the hallucinogen, she has to fight against her sister Sara. Getting Caity Lotz to cameo once again was nice. The writers keep finding new ways of keeping her around and as long as they don’t jump the shark and full on resurrect her, I’m game.
The battle between Canaries was an interesting way of realizing Laurel’s inner struggle. She only took up the mantle as a way to avenge her sister, but with Team Arrow’s newfound independence that motivation doesn’t jive. Laurel needed to put her life on the line for herself and in confronting her sister she was finally able to realize that. Her revelation to Quentin at the end was superbly acted and difficult to watch. Katie Cassidy gives it her all and pulls of all of the raw emotion required for something so dramatic. Quentin’s (Paul Blackthorne) reaction to the news was tame in comparison but having him literally die from hearing the news would have seemed a bit too much… maybe his heart condition will worsen, who knows.
And about the flashbacks. I’m not a huge fan of the overt “torture” theme that they seem to be sticking with but the scenes are entertaining. Maseo continues to impress with his loyalty and Waller is ever more the villain every time she shows up. Having them relocated to Starling in a surprise twist was really neat. Having Oliver so close to his family yet so far away will be an interesting new dynamic and should provide some cool insights.
With Ollie and Thea back on “the island” for training and their inevitable reunion with Deathstroke (Manu Bennet) hitting next week, Arrow looks like it has finally found its stride once again. Hopefully Slade isn’t just making a onetime appearance.
Overall I give this episode 8/10