In the wake of last week’s episode of CW’s Arrow, I find myself a bit disheartened. With Sara’s death and the introduction of noted master-archer Simon Lacroix making his television debut, having been introduced last year in comics by creators Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, I was all ready for a big archer-off between Ollie and Simon, but I guess that’s not really going to happen. So the mystery remains of who killed Sara and why. Trust Arrow to play cards close to the chest. But then, that’s one of the reasons why I love the show so much anyway, and this week’s episode wasn’t too different.
The new episode this week is titled “Corto Maltese” and as per last week’s teaser at the end of “Sara“, we know that this episode deals with Ollie going to Corto Maltese to find Thea, who has been training there with her blood-father Malcolm Merlyn, to get over her emotional troubles from the second season. It is a fantastic episode in almost every way that matters, and I loved seeing the new Thea on the show, a Thea who is much more confident of herself now, and who really can take care of herself. And with everything happening with Laurel, things are really looking to be on the up and up for the show’s female cast.
The promo poster for Season 3 really should have been my big clue, to tell the truth. Given how big a character Sara was last season, to see her missing on the new promo poster is a dead giveaway that she was no longer going to be a part of the show’s new phase, as the characters all moved into a new phase of their lives, with bigger and badder enemies to face, and new allies to find. Very disheartening on one level since I really loved Sara and was looking forward to eventually seeing her become Black Canary from the comics, but I guess the showrunners wanted that to be Laurel all along, and with this change in direction for Katie Cassidy’s character, I’m really coming to like her more and more, especially in this episode.
With all leads on Sara’s mysterious killer drying up, Laurel is uncertain and confused. In a fit of misaimed rage, she tries to beat up a wife-beater redneck, emulating her sister’s unspoken crusade on all those who wrong women, but she bites off more than she can chew on. And this creates the perfect entry-way for one of my favourite characters from DC’s old Justice Society of America team, Ted Grant aka Wildcat. In the comics, he is an old hero who trained some of DC’s best and brightest, such as Batman and Black Canary among others and the direction for Ted Grant on Arrow is pretty clear, he is going to be Laurel’s mentor and he is going to train her to master her unspent rage at Sara’s senseless death.
I’m very much excited to see what J. R. Ramirez’s characters ends up doing on the show, and how his arc intersects with that of Ollie and the rest of Team Arrow, and how he goes about training Laurel. It is going to be awesome.
Then there’s the big premise of the episode, the trip to Corto Maltese. Felicity tracks Thea to be living there instead of Italy as she’d mentioned to Roy in the letter she left for him in the second season finale, and so Ollie and Roy and Diggle head off to the island to convince Thea to return. And it is pretty damn fantastic.
In a huge departure from the format of pretty much all of the previous episodes on the show, the flashbacks in this episode don’t deal with Ollie’s “missing” five years on Lian Yu, but instead with Thea’s training at the hands of Malcolm Merlyn. The estranged father tries to teach her by going soft on her, training her as his daughter, but when that doesn’t work, he goes all Ra’s al Ghul and trains her by roughing her up at every turn, awakening her warrior spirit, bringing her aggressiveness to the fore.
It is a pretty big moment for Thea, who is busy reinventing herself. When we first met her, she was an irresponsible party girl in the same vein as her brother used to be before his tenure on Lian Yu, but she slowly grew into someone who was much more of a positive role model. She even started running Ollie’s club Verdant and became a good manager. Now she is a warrior, a swordswoman to be specific, and she knows how to truly kick some ass now. This is important in the light of the fact that Ollie and Roy are both vigilantes now. Both are unaware of Malcolm being alive and kicking, so how Thea manages that secret in their midst is something I’m looking forward to seeing on the show. She ran away from Starling because she couldn’t handle the lives the two of them told her, and there is some healing between all three of them in this episode. Nothing conclusive, but it is still a pretty important shift in their relationship with each other.
And yeah, I’m a bit miffed at Thea’s hypocrisy about secrets. She’s keeping the secret of Malcolm being alive from them, but she talks them down for keeping secrets from her, secrets about her life. Not sure how that tracks out, but I’m open before making a judgement.
Then we have the short subplot involving Ray Palmer and Felicity, the former giving the latter her own office in Queen Consolidated HQ, specifically the office that used to be first Moira’s and then Ollie’s. Pretty damn good all around. Their subplot together is quite interesting since Ray wants her to work on a ruined hard drive containing QC’s Applied Sciences research and what he uncovers at the end is quite mind-blowing, specifically when some of the project names in development at the AS division from last year pop up. Huge, huge moment. Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer is utterly fascinating, with the whole super-energetic fast-talking thing he has going on, and I’m having a lot of fun with his character. I had no idea that Routh would be so entertaining, and he has really made the character of Ray Palmer his own. Can’t wait to see when he gets his superpowers. Now that is going to be amazing for sure.
That’s pretty much it for this episode, other than the fact that Lyla asks hubby John to go to Corto Maltese with Ollie, to work an ARGUS case there. It is kind of a decent enough subplot, though it didn’t hold my interest much. The only really good thing about that subplot was when Roy kicks into action against the bad guys, mirroring Ollie’s own skills in unarmed combat against multiple opponents. After all the high-end action stuff that Roy has pulled previously this season, I’m genuinely impressed with how far the character has come from his humble days, and he has really become Ollie’s trusted sidekick. Colton Haynes looks awesome in those action scenes, even more than Ollie, I’d say.
Next week’s episode, “The Magician” is going to be interesting, because I’m hoping that my fvourite DC magician Zatanna is in it, though that is probably a long shot since no casting to that effect have been announced, and the showrunners have been pretty good on that front for a long time now. But seriously, the cliffhanger reintroduces one of my favourite guest characters from the last season and I’m very excited about her return. Entirely too cool!
More Arrow (Season 2): Link.