After a relatively slow start, Arrow has decided to pick up some momentum. Finally. Don’t get me wrong, the season three premiere was action-y and great, but episodes two and three in all honesty had me struggling to pay attention at times. Alas, episode four, “The Magician” (also Arrow’s 50th episode) really picked up with an interesting, action-packed story.
Sara’s death in episode 1 was sad, I’ll give you that. But since it happened, it has been weighing on the show in a melodramatic way I’ve been having trouble getting behind. I get enough of that on weekly basis from Oliver’s turmoil over the fact that he used to kill people, but now he’s reformed. Did you know that, by the way? He doesn’t kill people anymore. I think they may have mentioned it once or twice… But I digress.
By this point I suppose the Arrow team has spent enough time moping over Sara’s death and they decide maybe it’s time for revenge. Although that decision is single handedly forged by the reappearance of a super pissed off Nyssa al-Ghul. She shows up demanding to know where Sara is and deduces that she has been killed through a series of questions that no one actually answers. After a visit to Sara’s grave and a butting of heads with Laurel, Nyssa decides she’s off to confirm her suspicions of who killed Sara. That’s right, Malcolm Merlyn (aka, The Magician). Oliver follows her, learns what she’s up to and after dealing with the brief shock that a man he killed is still alive, they decide to seek him out and exact revenge. Without killing though. Ollie doesn’t kill anymore, remember?
Naturally they find Malcolm, and after tagging him with an arrow that was laced with nanotechnology to track that didn’t actually work, there is a meeting in the middle of a crowded street where Mr. Merlyn begins to convince the dear Arrow that he did not kill Sara. Not that he wouldn’t have because he kills lots of people. But this one time he didn’t kill somebody because it wouldn’t make sense. The hundreds of people he killed before though, those made sense. The League of Assassins is displeased with Malcolm (codename The Magician) so there is no way he would have killed Sara so that he could be even more on their bad side. While this is a pivotal and interesting scene, that is really well shot, its whole point is to build up Ra’s al-Ghul as this season’s new bad guy. We’ve heard of him before and we’ve all known to expect his appearance this season. I get what they’re going for here, but it kind of raises more bad questions than good for me. As in how does an assassin get on The League of Assassins bad side for killing people? Did he kill too many people? Was an earthquake not stylish enough? Or, more likely than not, will we be finding out more about how Merlyn wronged his group of killers? And in all honesty, does it even matter or will things just become unnecessarily convoluted?
Ollie begins to believe Malcolm and more action takes off from there. Mostly because Laurel and Nyssa don’t buy it, and Nyssa has had it with this nonsense and takes matters into her own hands. Thea is involved, against her will of course, a smoke signal is sent up and an awesome battle of the three archers ensues. Oliver decides that Malcolm did not kill Sara, The Magician escapes and the Arrow made a powerful enemy in Nyssa al-Ghul. It was a predictable battle, albeit a fun one. But seriously, Oliver just decides he believes Malcolm Merlyn? Of all he knows about him and the fact the he knows he’s already killed a crap ton of people he’s just going to take him at his word this time? I know Malcolm didn’t kill Sara, but the characters don’t, so this seems kind of unbelievable. Either Malcolm is most convincing guy ever or Oliver is getting soft in the face of having to kill someone, even if they have it coming.
Overall, nothing in the episode was shocking, there were no plot points that made me gasp but I really enjoyed it. Merlyn implies that Ra’s al-Ghul might be Sara’s actual murderer, which I suspected from day one but at least now it’s established. The action in this episode was balanced well with some background business noise with Thea attempting to reopen her club and there was added intrigue to the relationship between her and Malcolm but it didn’t steal the show as was the case in episode three. No offense to Thea, but she’s just too weak and uninteresting to carry much of the show on her own, I was relieved to see her back in her place this week. It does seem strange, though, that she was so strong last week, and this week is easily kidnapped. I get that she is being built up to become something bigger and honestly I’m excited to see what that is, but again, it was nice to have more of the story action focused on Oliver and his upcoming struggles with The League of Assassins.
We got to see more of Laurel whining, which I’m sorry, I’m so over. For whatever reason it seems the writers have been trying harder and harder each episode to make her unlikeable and it’s working. I feel bad for her, in the last few years she’s gained back so much and lost possibly even more but for some reason I just don’t want to hear her talk about or act out because of it. And her poor dad is just the saddest guy ever. If these two are supposed to be enriching the story with family drama it must be lost on me because it feels more like they’re just draining.
Obviously, the biggest plot point to touch on from last night was the introduction of Ra’s al-Ghul in the final moments of the episode. Maybe it’s because I knew it was coming, maybe it’s because so far I’m not thrilled with the casting, but my response to the reveal was “Meh”. I really hope as the season continues that Ra’s grows on me. I think the battle with The League could easily shape up to be the most exciting season yet.
Hush Comics gives “The Magician” a B, for the much welcome return of action and revisiting of what I hope will be a great overarching plot for the season. It was a good episode and it gave me hope, but it wasn’t necessarily a return to the Arrow greatness that got me so hooked in the first place. However, there is still one glaring question: WHY did Nyssa wait until they had gotten all the way back to the Arrowcave to punch Oliver in the face for letting Merlyn go? Wouldn’t she have done that like directly after it happened? That one should have been thought through.
All pictures belong to The CW and DC Entertainment. They are credited to Cate Cameron
Easter Egg Hunt:
Ferris Air…again: The Flash and Arrow have certainly made plenty of references to Ferris Air this season. This time, it was the flight that Amanda Waller tried to blow up. This could still be a hint that the Green Lantern is coming soon to the small screen.
China White: The flight Amanda Waller tried to blow up was an attempt to kill China White aka Chien Na Wei. Chien is a major player in the drug cartel in SouthEast Asia, and a major adversary to the Green Arrow.
Jansen: The notes that Sara was taking before her death included a note about “Jansen.” Master Jansen was Oliver’s son’s martial arts teacher. If Jansen is a code name for Merlyn, will he wind up teaching Ollie’s son years from now?
Lazarus Pit: Mentioned in episode two, we now get to see the Lazarus Pits. Ra’s emerged out of the healing water before finally revealing his face at the end of the episode. It will be interesting to see if the Lazarus Pits become a bigger plot point as Ra’s becomes the main bad guy of the season.