Arrow Review – “Nanda Parbat” S3E15

This week was a very emotional one on Arrow, and I don’t mean that in a nice way. Half the episode is spent bawling over Sara’s death in the most annoying way possible: constant blame and poor decision-making. There were some legit action scenes and the portrayal of Ra’s al Ghul’s character was spot on for what DC fans expect. Even the flashbacks leave eyebrows raised as we dive deeper into the history of Shrieve and A.R.G.U.S.

Pros:

Three seasons of sexual frustration let out: Let’s admit it, Felicity and Ray Palmer are a better couple than she and Ollie ever would have been. Unlike Ollie, Ray is just as wrapped up in her as he is his work. And they are both tech geniuses, something Oliver never could get a grasp of. Now that A.T.O.M. is a go, I wonder if he will fall into the same trail of thought that Oliver did. I can do without her stumbling over double entendres, getting flustered every time a billionaire shows off his man boobs, but Palmer has been extremely likable thus far, so the pairing is welcome for now.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Pre-bitch ass Meryln: Laurel was pretty dumb to attack Meryln head-on, but it resulted in one of his best scenes in the series. Telling Laurel that she had “delusions of grandeur” was a pretty fancy way of tell her that all this stupid vengeance talk isn’t going to actually amount to a victory. Merlyn continues to whoop her ass with his hands behind his back in the most insulting way possible. In his “training” session in the Quiver/Arrow cave, he also teaches Thea and Oliver about working in unison, scolding Oliver that he brought a bow and arrow to a sword fight. He may be a condescending jerk, but he will actually make them better… if that’s the direction the show is going in anymore.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Do NOT piss Nyssa off: Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, Nyssa, is fireworks in a bottle. This girl kicks major ass. I love the “vengeance is justice” angle and hope they continue to have her as a bigger part of the story. It was satisfying to see her kick Merlyn’s butt (chin) all over town, too. She is clearly not the bad guy here, so it’s easy to get attached to Nyssa as she is the most badass female in the show not named Tatsu.

I Dig the Bromance: There isn’t a better tag team on television right now than John Diggle and Oliver Queen. Diggle knows Oliver very well, and can sense when something has gotten under his skin, or when he has an ulterior motive. Diggle is not afraid to call him on his bullshit, either, and can de-escalate a situation before it ever gets out of hand between Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow. More importantly, Oliver never has to worry about carrying him in a fight. Something in my bones tells me he’s almost TOO valuable to keep on Team Arrow forever, though. I mean, the man finally put security locks. Who else could have thought of that?

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Cons:

Sara is still in the refrigerator: The cliché has been used in comic books forever, but they are reeeally drawing out the affects of Sara’s death in the hope it will make Laurel a stronger character. Instead, it’s getting a bit repetitive. I’m still unsure that they won’t bring her back permanently, but it seems like the only reason Laurel is around is to talk about Sara – same with Quentin Lance. Can Sara be more than a beacon of hope or

And Laurel isn’t doing herself any favors: While she’s been annoyingly tagging along like Oliver’s kid sister, there’s a point when it’s not cute anymore. Laurel isn’t Sara – we’ve visited that point – but she also doesn’t have the same charisma as her sister, either. Her reaction to Thea’s confession was baffling and not believable. Nor was her reaction to Oliver, or her “burn” to them ever being in love. I will be so disappointed if this couple ever gets together. There are talks about Caity Lotz coming back for a spin-off show with ATOM – could this mean that the Lazarus Pit might be used soon? She is sooooo C-Dub.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Oliver is such a know-it-all: Not only does Oliver have to make all the important decisions for the group, but he is constantly “doing what’s best” for each person. It gets a little old, frankly. Oliver has been through some tough times, and done some pretty unforgivable things, but he got over it. There is a team – a family – now with his back, so why does he feel the need to pull the strings? If it weren’t for Diggle, I think Oliver would piss everybody away. Roy and Thea seem to accept that he constantly lies and hides things from them, but Felicity and Laurel are ready to walk away. Stop being a dick, Oliver.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

Traaaaap: John Barrowman, you are better than this. I don’t know hat happened, but Merlyn turned into a gigantic wuss as soon as Ra’s captured him. I know that the Demon Head is formidable, but Malcolm Meryln turns into a total coward, and it’s pretty off-putting. I know Ra’s is scary, and I know that it’s meant to show just how much stronger Oliver’s resolve is than Merlyn’s, but  it just comes off as really lame – especially when they find Merlyn and he is barely able to whisper the word “trap.” Come on, really guys? It reminds me of that episode in Chappelle’s Show when his bodyguard is moments away from revealing one of life’s truths to Dave. So cheesy…

 

Easter Eggs:

Lazarus Pit or just Nanda SPArbat?: Maybe Ra’s just likes his bubble baths, but the way he talked about talking with illusionists in the 1800’s sure makes it seem like this guy is actually old as fuck.

Arrow - "Nanda Parbat"

More Toys!!: The newest bit of tech we see Oliver blessed with is a collapsible bow. This guy shows up to Nanda Parbat on his George Jetson. With just one spasm of his hands, his suitcase this unfolds into a beautiful compound bow. I don’t know where he’s getting all this tech (Cisco?), but I hope it keeps coming. Comic book Green Arrow has a trick arrow for every occasion.

Can’t Ra’s hell forever: Ra’s is really quite true to his source material; meanwhile, Arrow is staying true to 70’s Batman lore (screw you, Bruce Wayne), with Oliver taking the place of the traditional Bruce Wayne. Ra’s respects Oliver, and wants him to take over his position as the Demon Head. This is a big deal. Obviously, there’s a conflict of interest here, but with the lines of death not as black and white as they are for The Dark Knight, this could prove an interesting opportunity for Ollie.

Daddy issues: Ra’s isn’t just ashamed of Nyssa because she’s a lesbian; it’s deeper than that. WIth the Demon Head looking for a replacement, he’s looking for an heir – somebody to keep the family bloodline strong, and so the responsibility falls to Nyssa (we haven’t met any other of his children) to breed the ultimate warrior, similar to Damian Wayne in the Batman comic books. I don’t see Nyssa and Oliver doing the do anytime soon, but it’s always a possibility.

 

 


 

Hush Comics gives “Nanda Parbat” a B- for centering the entire episode around Thea’s revelation that she killed Sara, and the ripple effect it causes between the team. There were signs of a crazy story to come, both in the flashbacks and in Nanda Parbat, but it was marred by the incessant grieving of the show’s weakest character. When Oliver was gone, the show really started relying on the wrong characters. I want: more Roy Harper, more John Diggle, and a more dynamic Felicity Smoak. If Arrow can learn how to get out of its own way, we can forgive these recent missteps.

 

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Cate Cameron, Diyah Pera, and Dean Buscher.

Arrow Review – “The Return” S3E14

Pros:

Flash(back) Dance: “The Return” is chock-full of the past, to the point where it dictated the flow of the episode. I especially enjoy that the episode explores a time that has been often talked about, but not really ever shown – how things in Starling City went while Oliver was gone. Returning from the dead are: Tommy Merlyn, Robert Queen, Quentin Lance’s hair, and John Diggle’s brother, Andy. I want them to explore more of this time.

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Sibling love: Thea and Oliver actually make one badass team when they’re not fighting each other. By Oliver learning from Thea, it makes the partnership that much stronger. It’s also pretty alarming what Oliver is willing to do to protect Thea from drug dealers. As a big brother myself, I can’t say I would have approached the situation differently, but you don’t escape the scene by throwing the body off the balcony. C’mon, Ollie!

Sir Lance a lot: One of my favorite characters who has been handed a diminutive role recently is Quentin Lance. Good for us that this episode features him quite a lot, specifically when showing us how he dealt with Sara’s death – both before Oliver’s return and currently. Paul Blackthorne (you’re right, it does sound like a pirate name), who plays Lance, pours a lot of emotion into this role and we all benefit from it.

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Cons:

Maybe a little too much flashback: Arrow has really excelled at keeping a good balance between their flashbacks and their current happenings, but “The Return” was a slip in the wrong direction, with over half the episode occurring in the past. While it wasn’t an uncalled for amount of time, it really slowed the momentum of the show as Team Arrow inches closer to a showdown with the League of Assassins.

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Too convenient: I’m sorry, but Slade Wilson almost destroyed the city. He kicked Moira Queen and took over Queen Consolidated from the inside. He’s a bad man, and for Oliver (who had just been impaled by one of his own booby-traps) and Thea (who just had her shoulder dislocated) to whoop his ass in a few minutes seemed really convenient, and a major disservice to Manu Bennett’s return. Also, why did Oliver feel like they had to break Thea’s arm? I know she’s a trooper and all, but couldn’t they have used a boot or something to hit the button? What a crappily-designed prison by A.R.G.U.S.

Merlyn works his magic: We all know at this point that Malcolm Merlyn is a giant dick finger, but he really takes it to a whole new level with this week’s episode. Thea finds out the truth behind Sara’s death, and it stings, but what really killed the moment for me was Merlyn’s incessant pleas that he loves Thea and did it to protect her. It’s laughable, and really, really annoying. I love having John Barrowman on the show, but it’d be so much nicer to see him on Team Arrow than the awful excuse for a father figure he’s been so far.

Easter Eggs:

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Star City Rockets: Here we have a really interesting reference. The Star City Rockets’ logo can be found on Oliver’s baseball cap as he tries to go around the city incognito. In the comic books, the Rockets are a baseball team owner by Robert Queen. They play at Papp Stadium, named for Green Arrow co-creator George Papp.

White roses: This may be a stretch, but the white roses that Thea leaves at Oliver & Robert’s gravesite may have some subtle significance. White roses are often associated with innocence and purity. By leaving them at the graves, it could be symbolism for Thea losing her innocence – a theory backed up by the drugs she buys while visiting the memorial to her dad family.

Matthew Shrieve: Turns out Amanda Waller actually has a bossman, and it’s General Shrieve, played by the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer. In comic books, he is leader of the Creature Commandos, a group of monsters/soldiers, but look for him to stick around on Arrow as Waller’s superior.

The Blacker the Canary: In a grieving rage, Quentin Lance spits out that he knows the masked vigilante out there is Laurel, and calls her the Black Canary, perhaps a jab that she is a darker and more evil perversion of what her sister did.

The other guy: When Oliver checks on the “other prisoner” in the Lian Yu prison, he’s looking for Captain Boomerang, who he and the Flash took down together.

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Hush Comics gives “The Return” a C- for its poor management of time and overall lack of progression. There were still some decent parts in the episode, but it relied too much on flashbacks to carry the story and sacrificed quality in the battle with Slade to make a point with Thea. It’s still better than Gotham, though.

 

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Dean Buscher and Diyah Pera.

Arrow Review – “Canaries” S3E13

Pros:

Parkour!
Parkour!

The cat’s out of the bag: Finally, some of the biggest secrets kept this season are confessed to. Every episode has become a brutal exchange between Thea & Oliver and Laurel & her dad, both situations where faulty logic keeps them from spilling the beans. By both parties finally learning their respective secrets, a huge weight is lifted off their (and our) shoulders.

Thea is a changed person: Finally, somebody who actually seems happy that Oliver is back from the dead. He’s gotten so much flack for the things he’s done since his return that Thea’s reaction to the big news is one that had us adamantly cheering for her. The midriff is still in full effect, but her decisions as a character are smart and, for the most part, very level-headed. Seems that Merlyn’s training has done more for her than teach her to fight.

Felicity gets back some brownie points: After a few off-putting episodes from Felicity Smoak, she gets very “real talk” in “Canaries.” Some of the comments to Oliver are a bit snippy, but the talk that her and Laurel have about not chasing Sara’s mantle was really nice. As emotional as these episodes can come to be, the honesty and simplicity of the talk was well-placed.

Laurel gets some guts: Laurel has really been a red-headed stepchild in Arrow so far. We’ve accepted the fact that she is the new Canary, but just as Oliver won’t let her join in on any reindeer games, we as an audience still don’t really like seeing her in the costume. After “Canaries,” though, I’m all about a Canary that doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s not Sara, and she’s not trying to be.

Diggle’s speech: Diggle is by far the most neutral character in the episode, which is great for Oliver, who is essentially gang up on in this episode. These two are the OG Arrow crew – back when he was The Hood and Katie Cassidy (Laurel) had her original face. Diggle has a very grounded approach and can usually break things down to Ollie in a way that doesn’t push him further. The explanation that Oliver created a legacy helps him see that he is not outcast, but that while he created the Arrow, it is now bigger than him.

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Cons:

Count vertigo sucks: This is not your father’s Count Vertigo, although, maybe it is. This guy was so cheesy, like a villain of the week from the 60’s Batman television show. All we were missing was a maniacal “mwahahaha” as he ran away. Then there was the choreographed fight scene with the henchmen as he made his dastardly escape. Puh-lease.

He’s cool, but he’s no Joe West: Where The Flash really kicks this show’s ass is the detective work. Joe West is ten times the detective Quentin Lance is, and he doesn’t get blinded by his feelings. That being said, Star City (especially the Glades) are a whole different type of city than Central City, so there are things that Lance is better at than West, but not being able to tell his daughters apart in Halloween costumes was a bit ridiculous.

Finding a good DJ is harder than it used to be: As far as the League’s planted agent, DJ Dicksplash, goes, I really didn’t like: 1) what his ultimate purpose was in the show and 2) the idiotic way he decided to leave the show. We really could have done without his presence at all, or at the very least skipped the gratuitous sex scene with Thea. Who does it in the living room of an apartment they share with their brother?? Ewwwww!

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Easter Eggs:

Rahs or Reish?: The age-old debate returns! How the hell do you pronounce the name of the Demon’s Head? According to creator Denny O’Neil, it’s “Reish,” so I would be hard-pressed to argue with that. I loved that they still played with the pronunciation, as it’s an age old argument.

More Speedy references: Now that Thea is “in the know,” Oliver can’t help but call her Speedy. It’s referenced again in the Amanda Waller flashback, but in a much different tone. With Thea and Ollie headed to the island (the same island that houses Deathstroke), I hope this training can lead to her eventually donning a costume of her own.

5th and Kingsley: We know The CW loves to hide Easter Eggs in their street names, usually in the form of past writers and artists. However, after some research, it seems like this might he a reference to King Faraday, one of the member’s of Amanda Waller’s Task Force X. I could be super wrong, but I think this might be alluding to a Task Force X appearance soon.

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Hush Comics gives “Canaries” a B. From physically kicking ass to making strong choices, the women of the Arrow-verse really took over this episode. All Team Arrow needed was the lubrication of communication to return to the well-oiled machine they were before Sara died.

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Dean Buscher and Diyah Pera.

Best of 2014: TV – Best Series

Another year is in the books, and we here at Hush Comics couldn’t pass at the chance to rank our favorites of this year’s releases in all types of mediums. Some of the winners will surprise you; heck, some of the results surprised  us. The results are completely subjective, and therefore were chosen with infallible logic. We would love to hear your opinions on what we have chosen, or if you thought we missed anything. This should be a fun review before we gear up for 2015.

hush best of 2014
Click on the link to take you to the “Best of 2014” homepage.

Best TV Series

  • Arrow (The CW)
  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  • The Walking Dead (AMC)

WINNER – The Walking Dead (AMC)

The Walking Dead stepped it up a notch in season five.  But let’s not forget the second half of season four, either.  While much of it was slow because everyone was on the road, we also were given one of the best season finales of the series in “A”, and there was also the now infamous line, “Look at the flowers, Lizzie.”  However, season 5 have had so many non-stop episodes, it felt like descending down a roller coaster for the majority of it.  Comic fans were appeased with Bob’s “tainted meat!” line and the story veered enough away from the comic that there were some truly suspenseful episodes with no way to predict the future.  Sundays seem bleak without our survivor heroes, but I’m happy with how the show went this year. – Adrian

Second Place – Arrow (CW)

Arrow Best of 2014 TV Series Best Series Runner Up 1

There isn’t a cast on television that has the type of chemistry that Ollie’s Scooby Gang does on Arrow. The CW show got off to a promising start, but after nipping at the excessive displays of inner-torment and tucking away the “that’s so C-Dub” moments of eye-rolling almost-romance… I promise that is not a jab at Laurel’s plastic surgery… this show has become the best on television. Stealing Batman’s villains and giving them a place among Green Arrow’s new rogues gallery was genius; throw in some hints at a gigantic world on the horizon (credit to The Flash for triggering that), and you have the best TV show tandem since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. And don’t even get us started on the Season 3 mid-finale. – Sherif

Third Place – Game of Thrones (HBO)

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Hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor. Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor, hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor? Hodor! Hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor; hodor hodor hodor… hodor hodor hodor. Hodor, hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor hodor. – Hodor

RUNNER UP – Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Orange is the New Black Best of 2014 TV Series Best Series Runner Up 3

Writing about Orange is the New Black is sort of strange because many other TV shows envelop our lives.  They come on once a week and we think about them often in between those new episodes.  But with OITNB, binge watching it (the most preferred method), makes you watch it intensely – so intensely that it almost feels like you might be at Litchfield, and then 13 hours later, it’s over and we move on.  Season Two was a good follow-up to the highly acclaimed first season.  While it felt good to be back at Litchfield, and the writing is still better than most shows on today, it did feel like we were missing a lot of the essence of the first season, particularly with the inclusion of villainess Vee.  However, Poussey, Red and the season opener made the entire season a must-watch. – Adrian

RUNNER UP – Sons of Anarchy (FX)

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Sons of Anarchy has proven to be more than a television show about motorcycle boys and violence. After seven years, the final ride has hit me in the face like a semi-truck. It’s hard to express the level of emotions Jax and crew has taken the audience on from the first scene to the last. After years of violence, love, blood, bullets, family and alarming amounts of man butt, the audience is forever changed wondering what the hell to do on Tuesday nights now. Through all the pain the club has experienced, the deaths we all have mourned, and the war zone Charming has become, The Sons of Anarchy Motor Cycle Club Redwood Original chapter will be with me till the day I meet Mr. Mayhem. – Evan

Next Category: Best Animated TV Series

Arrow Review – “Guilty” S3E6

“Mine’s bigger,” spoken by Arrow himself, is the quote that perfectly sums up Ollie in this week’s episode “Guilty.” While it was laughable that Oliver Queen has to always prove he is better than everyone else, it was a nice change of pace to have a story where the Arrow was featured as more than just a side character, considering the show is named Arrow.

We finally got to go back to the format of Oliver and crew investigating crime in Starling City.  It was a nice reminder of how the show first started, without the distractions of who fathered who or who used to date who.  The team investigates a gang who is notorious for selling heroin.  They find all the gang members dead, with a message written in blood…”Guilty.”  Then we get to delve right into an investigation on Ted Grant, Laurel’s boxing coach.

Ted Grant: he can do more than just mop.
Ted Grant: he can do more than just mop.

Although there were drug dealers killed, there was also a trail of bodies, all incriminating Laurel’s mysterious coach.  I really liked how everything concerning Ted was revealed through Oliver’s investigation.  The episode flowed well because of it, and the viewers, comic fans and television fans alike, experienced all the reveals without being overwhelmed.  And we finally have Wildcat!  Former vigilante, current boxing coach, and all around badass.  I’m excited to see if he will be incorporated into the “group” more than just being Laurel’s trainer.  There was a hint of the story arc concerning his son, Tom Bronson, earlier this season, so it could be cool for that to be part of his plot.

Roy Harper is more than just a sidekick --- but first let's test that blood for Mirakuru!
Roy Harper is more than just a sidekick — we will never abandon you!

The other main aspect of this episode was Roy admitting to the team that he thinks he killed Sara because of the dreams he has been having, in which, well he kills her.  While it was obvious that Roy did not kill Sara (at least to me), I really liked the way the storytelling was done here.  Roy’s story nicely tied in the flashbacks from Oliver’s past in Hong Kong and the use of meditation to evoke correct memories.  It also tied together the parallels between himself and Ted’s aka Wildcat’s former sidekick, Isaac Stanzler.

Stanzler stands for nothing else other than what could be when it comes to Roy.  Isaac was Wildcat’s guy who went a little too far when it came to beating the bad guys: literally beating one man to death.  Wildcat cut him loose, only for Isaac to be captured and tortured.  He attempted to get revenge on Wildcat only to have it backfire.  Isaac Stanzler is not a character in the comics, but it was nice to see the comparison of Isaac to Roy.  We have not seen nearly enough from Roy this season, which is a shame because he is one of the best characters on the show.  By using Isaac, we get to see the difference in morality that Roy and Ollie hold.  Plus, we got to see a stunning sidekick vs. sidekick battle!

Oliver Queen is super jelly of Ted Grant training his ex-girlfriend.
Oliver Queen is super jelly of Ted Grant training his ex-girlfriend.

Laurel’s involvement in this episode was refreshing.  Not once did I roll my eyes at her, which is a rarity.  She is getting stronger, both physically and mentally.  In the wake of her sister’s death, she is taking stepping into the Black Canary’s shoes seriously.  She is not afraid to defy Oliver, who is totally jealous that Laurel is getting trained by someone else, and learn how to fight on her own.  She was also unafraid to stand up for what she knew was right: Ted Grand didn’t kill anyone.  I like this new Laurel, and I hope her character continues to develop into someone the audience wants to root for the way they did for Sara.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #5
Injustice: Gods Among Us #5

And this:

  • Freaking boxing glove arrow.  Comic fans had a nerdgasm.  See the above picture for one of many references to this in the Green Arrow’s career.
  • The game Memory looks way cooler in China.
  • Apparently the name Paco is pretty common in Starling City, as Felicity cleverly points out.  There are at least 86,000.
  • There is more we don’t know about Mirakuru than what we do know.  Good to know.
  • Laurel made the smart move of calling Felicity in order to get help.  She finally admitted she needed help!
  • But, Laurel was not scurred of Isaac when she was forced to drive.  Not at all.  Not one bit.
  • Was Diggle a little too quick to say, “Let’s get rid of Roy!”?  I think so.
  • Roy asked Ollie not to abandon him, to which Ollie told him it would never happen.  All the feels!
  • Roy certainly had his meditation breakthrough quickly.  Most people spend a lifetime getting that right.
  • Roy also said that he was gonna turn himself in, but the police don’t know that Sara is dead.  kinda weird.
  • Is it just me, or is Cupid’s bow too big?  She was struggling to hold it up!

Hush Comics gives “Guilty” a B+ for finally including Roy more, for delving into the history of one of the oldest comic characters in superhero history, and for using Oliver as the main character instead of a fleeting thought.

Easter Egg Hunt:

Wildcat, Vigilante: We finally go confirmation that Ted Grant, gym owner and boxing coach, is in fact Wildcat.  Six years ago, he was a vigilante. He did exactly what Arrow does, even wearing a mask. After a drug dealer was beat to death by Wildcat’s sidekick, he hung up his cape, so to speak.  Now he trains Laurel, future Black Canary.  In the comics, Wildcat also trained Batman.  Will we see a reference in the show?  We will have to see.

Princess Training: Ted agrees to train Laurel beyond boxing, but to give her the tools to avenge Sara’s death.  He says the last time he trained a princess, it didn’t go so well.  What could this be a reference to?  It could be to Yolanda Montes, WIldcat’s Goddaughter, and Wildcat replacement.  Unfortunately she died, but this could be another way to go into his past.

He’s in your Arsenal: Roy Harper finally has a nickname!  Isaac Stanzler tells Roy that he is just an Arsenal in Arrows toolbox, thus giving him his new name.  Just an Arsenal, huh?  Sometimes I think Roy is more badass than Ollie.

Street names always matter!: The investigation led Ollie to 9th and Hasen.  Hasen is the co-creater of the character Wildcat.

Cupid, Stupid: Who was that girl who showed up at the end?!  She had been hovering around in the background all episode and showed up at the end to make her presence known in Starling City.  Cupid is a woman who is obsessed with the Arrow, and let’s just say, she goes pretty far for him.  She wants him to love her, so she helps him by killing his enemies.  But she also does things like carving a heart in her chest from the tip of one of his arrows and cutting out the eyes of her hairdresser. Creepy!

 

Arrow Review – “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” S3E5

Whenever I talk to people about Arrow, Felicity Smoak comes up almost instantaneously.  She is the most beloved character on the show. So I was pretty excited when we were going to get some background on the cute tech whiz.  Instead, I was left a little disappointed.  We didn’t get too much of her story that we didn’t already get from the previews, and they writing made her seem petulant and a little weak, with small doses of her typical charm.

The beginning of the episode started out with said charm.  After seeing epic sparring scenes between Oliver and Roy, Thea and Malcolm, and (only semi epic) Laurel and Ted, we see Felicity struggling through sit ups to a workout tape inside her cheery apartment.  Ray Palmer arrives with a new task for Felicity called Co-Generation.  They talk briefly about what this means — being Ray’s newest idea to get people to stay in Starling City, by giving them free energy (a hint of his future powers?).  Felicity’s mother arrives unexpectedly, much to Felicity’s chagrin.  This was one of many scenes that made me lose a little respect for the writing.  Why make Felicity a teenage girl who hates her mom? Isn’t she a little too old to be embarrassed by her “not as smart as me” mother?

Arrow - "The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak"
Felicity and her mom. Holy cleavage.

This behavior goes on throughout the episode.  Felicity constantly dismisses her mother’s visit and presence in her life.  However, her mother seems like a perfectly nice woman, with a similar quirkiness, commenting on how many millionaires Felicity knows and doting on baby Sara.  Which brings up that Felicity was too dense to think that distracting her mom with a baby for four hours while she worked on the hacking of Starling City was a good use of her mom’s time.  It seemed incredibly unlikely that this would bode well for their relationship – which it didn’t. Towards the end, her mother tells her that no matter what, she was involved with Felicity’s life.  Finally Felicity has a change of heart, although it took both of them being kidnapped by Felicity’s ex-boyfriend for that to happen.  I don’t know, I just don’t buy the mother vs. daughter gimmick.

The other thing that bothered me is that while the episode implied we were getting the history of Felicity, the only thing we learned about her was that she is a natural brunette, former goth… and computer hacker (although we already knew that one).  Beyond that, we learned an awful lot about her rotten ex-boyfriend Cooper Seldon, which was not why I was tuning in.

Cooper was a fellow hacker, who declared himself a hacktivist.  He tried to erase all student loans from the Department of Education’s site, which Felicity inadvertently helped with, but also stopped.  She tells Oliver this at one point, but includes herself in the group of hacktivists and says it was her way of heroism.  That wasn’t true.  Her form of heroism was not allowing it to go through.  It felt like the writers were laying it on a little too thick at this point in the episode.

Felicity, the fake hacktivist.
Felicity, the fake hacktivist.

Anyway, Cooper ends up in Federal prison, supposedly kills himself, but really is recruited by the NSA and comes to Starling City to steal money, but starts by shutting down the power and tries to pin it all on Felicity just because she went “corporate.”  Does that sound compelling to you?  Me either.The most compelling thing about it was when Cooper’s college roommate, Myron Forest, was suspected of being the hacker nicknamed Brother Eye.  Look ahead for at the Easter Eggs for more on this one. Plus, when Myron was being investigated, Arrow broke out the famous “You have failed this city” line, and I’m a sucker for that one.  Plus Myron couldn’t have done the hacking because he drives a blue hybrid.  It is now known that people who drive blue hybrids could not possibly commit a crime.

Once he kidnaps Felicity and her mother, he forces Felicity to bring armored trucks of money to his warehouse.  He crushes her phone with his foot because he is such a badass, and sets up traps with lasers and guns just in case, making it convenient for a hectic acrobatic scene for the Arrow.  Felicity is able to get out of the hacking because she’s smart and then she pistol whips her ex.  It was nice for her to not be fully incapacitated for this episode, but I would have cheered harder if she had shown her strength throughout.  Plus, she could have pistol whipped the guy way before Arrow was shot out with machine gun turrets.  Just sayin’.

Sheldon Cooper... oops, Cooper Seldon, total badass.
Sheldon Cooper… oops, Cooper Seldon, total badass.

Meanwhile, Thea and Ollie argued about Malcolm Merlyn’s blood money paying for her oversized loft.  She admits it’s blood money, but she needs a nice place dammit.  They argue some more, but in the end, Oliver decides to move in with her… because it’s a nice place dammit!  Laurel acts as DA for the day, fails miserably, continues to lie to her dad about Sara, and then tells Ted the truth about why she is training.  This whole not telling her dad about his dead daughter is getting really old.  It needs to come out already.  Oh, and then Roy had a dream that he killed Sara.  Fact? Fiction? I don’t know, but it’s a damn good cliffhanger.

And this:

  • Roy doesn’t really care about killing people if he shot someone in the neck.  Ouch!
  • Is Ollie still trying to profess his love to Felicity?  The time has passed, imo.
  • Does Thea own any full sized shirts?  Or is it only ones that show her belly?
  • Malcolm Merlyn is so creepy.
  • Diggle’s only purpose in this episode was for his baby to distract Felicity’s mom.  What a waste of character.
  • Felicity changes her look from goth to preppy to remove herself from the hacking?  Seems like a cop out.
  • Det. Lance accused Laurel of boozing again.  It’s kinda funny?

Hush Comics gives “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” a C+, for lack of character development despite the promising title, too much focus on a seemingly insignificant character, and a lame reason to try to frame someone.

Easter Egg Hunt:

I miss you, Speedy: Ollie refers to Thea twice as Speedy this episode. It is becoming closer and closer that we could see his sidekick come to fruition.

Coast City, again: Laurel is the acting D.A. because the actual D.A. of Starling City is working in Coast City.  I’m still thinking this means we will be getting a Green Lantern show here pretty soon.

Myron Forest, creator of Brother Eye: In this episode, we meet Myron Forest, the roommate of Felicity’s college boyfriend.  In the comics, Myron is a scientist and the creator of Brother Eye.  He works for the Global Peace Agency who assigns him to work on OMAC.  It’s pretty roundabout, but there is a possibility that this is not the last we have seen of Myron, if he is at all connected to the project Ray Palmer keeps looking at.

Black: When Laurel talks to Ted about her training, he gives her the option of a black or red gee.  She chooses black.  While it is small, she is working on becoming Black Canary.

Blonde Ambition: Felicity reveals that she dyes her hair blonde.  This is a tribute to her comic book counterpart, who has dark brown/ black hair.

All pictures belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Cate Cameron.

Arrow Review – “The Magician” S3E4

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?

Who wouldn't fall in love with a chick like Nyssa?
Who wouldn’t fall in love with a chick like Nyssa?

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?

My name is Malcolm Merlyn.  I'm conniving and I scream a lot.
My name is Malcolm Merlyn. I’m conniving and I scream a lot.

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.

Laurel was the female anchor of the group this week in Felicity's absence.  And that sucked.
Laurel was the female anchor of the group this week in Felicity’s absence. And that sucked.

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 WhiteThe 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.