Arrow Review – “The Offer” S3E16

As we spiral deeper into an emotional state of Theadom, Arrow‘s dreary tone is getting more and more grating to the viewers. We’re venturing into the realm of C-Dub overload, as drawn out speeches of inner turmoil are starting to drown out the undeniably incredible story unfolding. It’s a shame because the whole story, as adaptive as it has been from Batman lore, is just as engaging as any of the past material. At the same time, I can’t be too critical of the show that has bred this new generation of superhero TV hype, but there’s an overwhelming feeling that the show has become diluted with the recent explosion of content at CW.

Pros:

Ra’s the roof!: Let’s not pretend that Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins aren’t the best villains on this show thus far. He is shrouded in mystery, and has the force necessary to make life very difficult for Star City. As a villain, he’s less emotional than Slade, but there is a certain amount of maturity that Matt Nable brings to the role that makes him twice as frightening as Deathstroke was. He’s also a villain that has seamlessly transitioned from a Bruce Wayne bad guy to a Oliver Queen bad guy. Nanda Parbat and the League of Assassins have always been held in high regards, so to see them more intimately explored on one of the best TV series out has been gratifying.

The complexity of justice and honor: I’m fascinated by the amount of talk dealing with honor and justice in this show. It’s completely subjective between Captain Lance, Oliver Queen and Ra’s al Ghul. Each character has honor, but the way they go about obtaining justice is unique and conflicting from one another. Nobody disagrees that Malcolm Merlyn is a bad man, but all three would seek to go about serving him justice in different ways. I almost enjoy this better than if it were Batman that Ra’s were dealing with because Oliver’s moral code is a bit different than Bruce Wayne’s, making the decision to take the Demon Head’s mantle a more difficult decision than when it was offered to Batman.

Maybe being Ra’s isn’t all that bad: With all that Oliver has to deal with – defiant and incompetent (*cough cough* Laurel) teammates, the sad truth that there will never be fruits for their labors, the loss of trust from Quentin Lance, and the conflict of being both Oliver Queen and the Arrow – it’s not hard to imagine that sitting atop Nanda Parbat would be too much more difficult. Ollie even falls into a more stern leadership role throughout the episode, tired of getting second-guessed and mocked for decisions that put all the heavy lifting on him anyway. I guess we all have those days at work.

More strong, sexy women: I don’t think I could roll my eyes at the way the women have essentially been reduced to emotional lightning rods in Arrow. While it’s great that Thea can kick ass and that Laurel is a stubbornly independent as her sister, there’s not a whole lot of strength in whining all the time. Felicity is finally done being mad at Oliver, which is relieving, but the show will greatly benefit by the inclusion of Shado and Nyssa round out the incessant gushing.

Arrow The Offer 03

 

Cons:

Is this really a Batman show in disguise?: One of the most alluring elements of the show is how closely Arrow is following classic Batman lore. However, it’s almost gotten to the point where the show isn’t using much creative juice anymore, and just riding on the coattails of the Dark Knight. Whether it’s Oliver’s inner-turmoil between his split personalities, or the thought of leaving a legacy behind as a symbol, there might be too much similarity between the two. If imitation is flattery, then this is the TV equivalent of John Cusack with a boom box.

Lazy writing: There’s too much convenience going on here. How do we get Laurel to deal with her issues with her father? Let’s get the girl with the mother of all daddy issues to have coffee with her, maybe teach her some assassiny things. Poof, now Laurel will be as good as Sara, no training montage necessary. Thea is alone and sad, with nobody to turn to? Poof, let her throw down with Roy in the bedroom. That will solve all her problems. It’s just weak and predictable writing that I would have hoped CW could focus on story-telling over gawking about emotions, but maybe that’s not the main demographic the show is aiming towards anymore.

Not enough Roy in my life: Roy and Diggle, who have been unwavering voices of reason, are completely underserved in this show. They are battle-hardened and also have the best dialogue out of any of Ollie’s other cohorts. I would love to see more action montages, more diving into Roy’s background, more Diggle A.R.G.U.S. exploration. The show needs to lean more on these two characters if they’re going to continue to show the supporting female characters as the emotional wrecks they are.

Arrow The Offer 01
Don’t mind me. Just sitting here reading my sexy book.

 

Lackluster flashbacks: Aside from the gasp-worthy reveal at the end of the last cutscene, but for the most part, the flashback scenes all seemed misplaced in the episode, even feeling unnecessary altogether. I love this show’s flashbacks, but there’s no need to include them just for the sake of including them. The Shado reveal (if it was really her…) could have been better served if it were used to more of a point than just a quick peek behind the figurative curtain. The key to these is being patient and analyzing each segment, but there wasn’t a whole lot to gather from the flashbacks in this episode.

 

Easter Eggs:

The Lazarus Pit. For Real.: We finally get a good, hard look at the Lazarus Pit. I wish I had a Lazarus Pit. Well, we’ve talked about the reviving powers from the pit, but actually seeing them at work is pretty cool stuff.

Murmur: Definitely a D list “villain of the week” here, Michael Christian Amar is also known as Murmur. He was a Flash villain who cut out his tongue and sewed his mouth shut. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection, but his abnormal blood properties prevented the injection from killing him. He’s not really that important, but it was worth mentioning.

It’s called “The League of Assassins”: Oliver mulls over the idea of being Ra’s al Ghul’s successor, but detests killing in his name. The League of Assassins isn’t always known by that name. In other comic book lore, they are referred to as the League of Shadows, which sounds just as cool without any of the nasty murder connotations that go with it.

Arrow The Offer 04

Tidbits and Predictions

Heir to the Demon’s Head: It’s abundantly clear that Ra’s and Oliver will not be friends anytime soon after the end scene for “The Offer,” where Ra’s hopes to destroy The Arrow’s reputation swiftly, but that doesn’t mean that Oliver’s genes won’t suffice… Another Batman parallel could involve Ra’s’ daughter breeding a child with Oliver. We know which team Nyssa bats for, but there has been no mention of Ra’s having other daughters. All I know is that “breeding” doesn’t exactly spell out romance.

Oliver in a suit feels weird: Remind me again what this guy does for a job? For the first time since Ray Palmer snatch up Queen Consolidated, we see Oliver back in a business suit – begging the question, “How does Oliver make money?” It would be nice to see more of his corporate side again.

Will Flashpoint affect Arrow?: After this week’s superb Flash episode, Barry finally learns to use the Speed Force and break the time barrier, resulting in unfortuitous circumstances for the group. As in the Flashpoint books, Barry’s time travel mischief changes everybody’s reality. Could it also alter Oliver Queen’s reality?

Is this a turning point for Merlyn?: Malcolm Merlyn has not been such a good guy thus far. And even further from that are his skills as a parent. After Oliver triumphantly brings Merlyn back to Star City, he is given a crash course in what it’s like to be selfless from Oliver. Has Ra’s finally knocked some sense into Merlyn, and Thea’s heartbreak finally hit home? Or is he still just playing the game to keep himself alive?

Arrow The Offer 05
Should have switched to Geico…

 

 


 

Hush Comics gives “The Offer” a C for tripping  over it’s own feet. With such a grand, expansive story at their feet, the show is more focused on inner-drama among the well oiled Team Arrow than it does finding conflict outside the group. With Ra’s presenting a real threat and bringing the battle to Star City, hopefully the team will have no choice than to confront the bad guy. Plus, we have A.T.O.M. coming up, and nobody can take that away from us.

 

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

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 – “Left Behind” S3E10

Arrow tries to pull the story forward after one of the most shocking mid-season cliff-hangers we’ve ever seen. Obviously, it’d be hard to discuss this episode without spoiling that particular cliff-hanger, so you’ve been warned! Will “Left Behind” answer any of our questions, or continue to pull us along with no answers?

Pros:

Arrow - Left Behind 02

Immediate response to Oliver’s predicament: Unlike this other show we knowArrow gives us instant gratification for whether or not Oliver Queen is dead. Whereas Flash played out the emergence of Reverse-Flash as the appearance of a boss battle in a video game, Arrow progresses the story naturally. I mean, you didn’t really think the Arrow was dead, did you? While this makes Felicity’s outbursts a bit more annoying, it would have made fans even more frustrated with the show for dragging us along.

A little father-daughter bonding: Thea has come back from her hiatus in Corto Maltese a solid character. And as much as you hate Merlyn for hiding behind Thea, the relationship these two have is pretty darn cool. Imagine how cool Speedy would be if she were actually Speedy. I digress – the sparring session the two have is a lot of fun to watch, especially when Merlyn gives her sage advice that he “wouldn’t recommend texting during a real fight.”

No stupid time-jumping: When a major event like the fight with the Demon’s Head closes out a break between seasons (or mid-seasons, in this case), it’s common for shows to convenient jump ahead in time to relieve themselves of the obligation of explaining what the hell happened. Twice now, once with Canary’s fall and now with Ollie’s, Arrow has taken up the challenge of actual story-telling. It’s nice that there’s still a standard for writing. Just 3-4 days after Oliver left town, and there’s a believable amount of time for angst, but not so much that there’s a giant hole in the timeline.

Flash-back: Mateo gives Oliver a huge IOU on this one when he thinks outside the box to help Mateo track down his wife. There’s still a big gap left to explain how Mateo ended up with the League of Assassins and how Ollie gets out of A.R.G.U.S., but it is closing progressively with each episode. We also get the creation of the trick arrow with this series of flashbacks. I didn’t think I would like this season’s flashbacks because of how much I loved the island, but they are providing so much more detail in story-telling.

Cons:

Maybe too much Felicity is not a good thing: We here at Hush rave about Felicity every episode (she made our list of Best TV Characters of 2014). She’s so smart and sexy and independent (except when bought off by Ray Palmer, but whatever), and mostly funny. However, there was nothing to laugh at this episode. She was nothing but selfish and weak throughout, and it got very grating, very quickly. If this was Arrow‘s way of giving one of the strongest characters in the show the spotlight, they did it terribly. Arrow has a knack for making us hate, then love female characters, so I’m hoping for a quick rebound for Felicity.

Oliver cheats death. We get it: Talk about beating a dead Queen, jeez. Oliver Queen has lived through so many life-threatening circumstances. He beat the island. He beat Slade. Wait, you mean you know that? That this isn’t your first time watching the show? Then why is it the focal point of every conversation in the Arrow Cave Quiver? This episode was so full of whiners that for the first time EVER, I was pining for more Laurel scenes. Where is Wildcat? Let’s get some more badass scenes with Laurel as she plays Canary. Sheesh, you cheat death a couple of times and all of a sudden people expect it of you.

How does Felicity have a job still?: Before I continue to kick Felicity while she is down, just think about what it would be like to be Ray Palmer. You meet this Smoaking hot girl at a tech store, and after seeing her genius potential, you hire her for pennies on the dollar (who cares how much? You’re rich!) as an assistant, and she is a wreck every time you try to talk to her about something work-related. That’s when she is there; because she’s always off with god-knows-who during crucial business times. Even after putting the moves on her, she bashes your dreams and tells you that your dead fiancé would think that they’re stupid. I’m sorry, but no amount of quid pro quo could ever be worth putting up with that.

Arrow - Left Behind 01

 

Easter Eggs:

He’s a Brick… House: It’s not really an Easter Egg, since this one is staring us right in the face throughout the episode, but “Left Behind” was kind of short on them, so we will use what we have. Vinnie Jones (very recognizable character actor) plays Danny “Brick” Brickwell, a metahuman crime-lord with the power of… ya know… bricks? I like the inclusion of metahumans in Arrow, and hope this is the sign of more to come. I also wonder if he sinks as fast as a pile of bricks.

Pride Rock will never be the same: As Merlyn returns to tell Thea the bad news that his dickhead plan failed, he tells her that they must “leave [Star City] and never return.” What the hell? Is this guy Scar from The Lion King in disguise? With Mufasa Oliver out of the way, who will protect young Simba Thea from the hyenas League of Assassins?? Maybe Timon and Pumba Diggle and Arsenal will able to give Simba Thea the confidence (s)he needs to turn on Scar Merlyn. Hakuna Matata, bitches.

Project A.T.O.M.: Ray Palmer wants to… “start small” on Project A.T.O.M. It’s no secret that The Atom will be making his debut on Arrow soon enough, but with pillow talk like this, it might come sooner than later.

Laurel takes up a new hobby: While Kate Spencer was never mentioned by name, her spirit lives on in Laurel Lance. Known as Manhunter in the comic book lore, Spencer is a prosecutor who begins moonlighting as a superhero with the help of an arsenal she accrued from the evidence room. Fun Fact: Spencer’s grandfather, Al Pratt, was the original Atom in the comic books. Anyway, I’m sure this is not hinting at anything deeper, but the parallel is definitely there.

Predictions:

Arrow - Left Behind 03

Canary will be instrumental in Brick’s defeat: I’m not sure how high Canary’s sonic frequency weapon gets, but it’s got to be a hell of a lot more effective than Diggle’s headshot was.

More Thea midriff: Don’t expect the hottest Queen in town to start covering that belly-button any time soon, folks. Sexy, but not slutty. Mysterious but still intriguing. Thea Queen’s mid-section has become the focal point of the show for us at home. Distraction? No way. This is The CW, baby. Gratuitous skin just isn’t their thing.

Oliver will eventually side with Merlyn… Ugh: Thea is going to be caught in the crosshairs unless Oliver steps in front of her, and faces the League again. Merlyn will keep himself attached to Thea to ensure their safety, and while he is kind of a coward, he does care for Thea. Beating Ra’s in hand-to-hand may not be an option for Oliver, but there’s gotta be some show of force to get the League off Merlyn’s back if he wants to keep Thea, and her midriff, on his side.

 

Hush Comics gives “Left Behind” a C for Felicity’s horribly written part in the episode, which really swallowed up way too much time when so much else was going on. We get that she loves Oliver, but knowing that he was not dead, and then hearing her blubber about it, and mucking up the mission just made her even less relatable. I actually had to pull a lot of punches on this review, but I’m nowhere near worried about the season rebounding.

All images belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Ed Araquel and Cate Cameron.

Arrow Review – “Draw Back Your Bow” S3E7

Last week’s episode of Arrow, Draw “Back Your Bow”, may not have looked too appealing, but was actually way more delightful than I expected. It had its faults, but overall it was a pretty fun watch. This week, Oliver finds himself up against yet another person in Starling City who uses a bow and arrow to kill people, but this time it’s a crazy lady who’s in love with him. Can I just say really quick, if every foe you face uses a bow and arrow, isn’t that kind of lame? It doesn’t really set him apart from anything if apparently Starling City is the capital of archery. Anyhow, while Oliver deals with his secret admirer, Felicity gets closer to Ray Palmer and a love triangle is born. Well actually it’s a love parallelogram if you count Barry Allen who is also pretty into Felicity. But then again, who isn’t?

“Draw Back Your Bow” begins in a flashback to six months ago on the night Starling City fell. The Arrow jumps out of his van to save a struggling adorable red head from one of the juiced up masked men. Her attacker falls, the Arrow takes off and the damsel in distress swoons while cuddling the arrow that saved her. Low and behold, in a very short six months time she transforms herself from a victim to a full-fledged martial artist, bomb expert and archer all to get attention and affection from the Arrow.

Arrow - Draw Back Your Bow
Carrie Cutter is crazy Cupid. Alliteration much?

 

Carrie Cutter is kind of a random villain to bring in from the comics, and a very new one but I personally thought she was a lot of fun. I also thoroughly enjoyed that during all of her scenes there was basically slow circus music playing in the background just to emphasize that this bitch is crazy. I will not waste time trying to figure out how she gained the knowledge she seems to have now, because if she was a martial artist or any kind of the badass she is as Cupid then she probably wouldn’t have been so easily bested by her in the streets the night Arrow saved her.

I appreciate that the show at least addressed that she used to be a police officer, which explains some of the knowledge she has of weapons and fighting techniques, but the pieces still don’t quite fit if you want to spend time thinking about it.

Oliver Queen defends his city against... a lot of other archers.
Oliver Queen defends his city against… a lot of other archers.

While Oliver grapples with crazy Cupid he also has to deal with the heartbreak of watching the girl he loves but refuses to be with move on with her life. With the man who now owns his family’s company no less. Burn. I’m not crazy about the Oliver-Felicity will they/won’t they love story in the first place, but I guess Oliver has to have a love interest and why not the only redeeming female character on the show? While it hurts him to do it, Oliver stays committed to not being able to be with anyone as long as he is the Arrow and he gives a moving little speech to Cupid that is really meant for Felicity about the pain of not being able to be with someone you love. It was sweet, but frustrating.

When Oliver returns to the Arrow cave after his battle with Cupid, Diggle, who has been playing the unlikely role of matchmaker for whatever reason, gives him yet another push to just throw caution to the wind and go be with Felicity. Ollie decides to take that chance and sadly witnesses the MOST AWKWARD KISS EVER between Felicity and Ray. Sad face, he walks away and the love triangle continues.

Cue awkward kiss in 3...2...1... disaster!
Cue awkward kiss in 3…2…1… disaster!

Honestly, that’s really about all that happened in last night’s episode. We got to see more of Oliver in Hong Kong, attempting to bond with the space alien that is Yamashiro’s wife. Obviously something is going to happen there, not romantically of course, but still the flashbacks this time around were less than compelling. Ray Palmer continued to be alluded to as up to no good as he looked over plans of the ATOM exo-suit, but he’s still pretty darn likable. Overall, “Draw Back Your Bow” may not have really pushed the overarching storyline forward, but it was a really good filler episode in the lead up to the Arrow/Flash crossover. So far I think this season has been off to a little bit of a slow start, but episode 7 was fun and enjoyable enough to help solidify Arrow as still one of the best shows out there.

Finally, here are some points I may have missed from the characters in episode 7 that contributed nothing:

  • Hi, my name is Roy and I’m sad all the time now.
  • Hi, my name is Thea and I just let random guys walk all over me and then kiss me because I’m worthless.
  • Hi, my name is Laurel and thank god I wasn’t in this episode.

Hush Comics gives “Draw Back Your Bow” an A- for making something really enjoyable out of a filler episode.

All images belong to the CW and DC Entertainment. They are credited to Cate Cameron and Diyah Pera.

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 – “Corto Maltese” S3E3

Arrow has been spot on with its cliffhangers this season.  I have yet to leave an episode without having to pick my jaw up off the floor.  As for the rest of “Corto Maltese,” I felt like it was a great setup episode for varying story lines, but in general, but otherwise, not much happened – except for amazing action scenes.

The focus this week was for Oliver and crew to bring Thea Queen Merlyn back to Starling City.  As I was writing my notes for this episode though, I found that not much of it had to do with Thea.  But I was impressed with her scenes.  I really liked that we got her flashbacks this week, which were brutal.  Malcolm Merlyn is as vicious as ever, particularly in the way he has been training his daughter to become a “warrior.” I also really liked the final sword fighting scene between Thea and Malcolm; he let her win. It would be foolish to think that after only five months that Thea would be able to beat the Dark Archer at anything.  And we got our little teaser that Thea will become Speedy, Arrow’s teenaged sidekick, since Thea goes by Mia on the island.

In the mean time on the island, Diggle tries to find a missing A.R.G.U.S. operative, Mark Shaw. This story seemed to take up the majority of the plot of the island, and therefore the episode.  For the moment, it doesn’t seem like it has much to do with anything, and wasn’t all that intriguing.  I do have a feeling that Mark Shaw, aka Manhunter, will be our link back to the Suicide Squad, briefly featured last season.  The best part of this whole scene?  Oliver’s MacGuyvering of bows and arrows from things around the hotel room and the subsequent battle scene that ensued.  Arrows shot, bullets shot, a kick that took three men down at once, and a neck punch with a computer!  I was very impressed.  I think this season’s action scenes are some of the best I have seen – ever.

Do you like my hotel lamp bow?
Do you like my hotel lamp bow?

Back in Starling City, there was plenty going on.  In fact, I felt that considering we were supposed to focus on Thea and Oliver, the meat of the episode was in Laurel’s storyline.  All of her little stories were fairly disjointed, but when tied together, were a bunch of really good Easter Eggs (which you can find my complete list below) and the beginning of the next Black Canary (maybe).  Laurel goes to a local boxing gym to interrogate a man named Ted Grant about Thomas Bronson. For what, I’m not quite sure, but he tells her to take classes.  Jump to Laurel’s AA meeting where a woman admits that she is being beat up by her drunk boyfriend.

Laurel decides to channel her sister, badly and goes after the guy with a baseball bat.  My biggest problem with it?  She didn’t even tuck her hair into her ski mask before she did it.  It’s a small gripe, but perhaps its from years of watching Joss Whedon shows, where in general, the girls have sensible hair styles when battling.  I did think it was good that Laurel was beat.  And no, its not because I think Laurel deserves it.  No one deserves it.  But again, it would be unrealistic that she would be able to just get away with plan that had no thought behind it.  I guess the best thing about it is that she learned from her mistake and will probably be a real badass once she learns how to fight – which she plans to do from the boxer Ted Grant.  It was also pretty cool that Captain Lance turned the guy who beat Laurel up in on an anonymous tip.  Healthy father-daughter relationships for the win!

Laurel has a dang good reason to learn to fight after this.
Laurel has a dang good reason to learn to fight after this.

Meanwhile, Felicity was busy helping Ray Palmer… and attempting to help everyone else.  I love Felicity but how is she getting duped to work for this charismatic asshole?  It’s easy to be all drooly over her new office and her personal assistant, but can’t she see through his facade?  It will only be a matter of time, I hope.  I loved how she was still trying to help Diggle and Laurel, and trying to explain herself to Ray with “It’s a long story.”  It was very Felicity and very adorable.

Truth and lies were very important for all our heroes this week.  And while there were supposed to be more truths exposed, it seems like there are still more lies than anything.  Oliver planned on telling Thea “everything,” but only gave her what I call “truth bait” by telling her only the truth about how Robert Queen died.  He still has yet to reveal his true identity to his sister; something that Diggle predicts could drive her away before it brings the siblings closer.  At the same time, Thea does not come clean about her time on Corto Maltese.  All the lies are bound to cause a lot of anguish for all the characters this season before any of them can come to terms with the truth of the world around them.  It’s going to be a long year, folks.

All the while, we still don’t know who killed Sara.  I suspect this will go on for at least half the season.  But the shocking cliffhanger may give us a clue.  Nyssa al Ghul, Sara’s former lover and partner in the League of Assassins, comes in to Arrow’s headquarters demanding to know where Sara is.  What could this mean for the future?  What could this mean for who killed Sara.  I could speculate, but that would take a whole other post.  For now I will just say I am teeming with excitement for what this could mean for the coming episodes. Gah!

And this:

  • Diggle’s line, “What is it with your family and islands?,” was the best line of the episode.
  • Roy has never flown in a plane.
  • Roy was about to take a frickin’ bow on a plane.
  • Laurel is getting really dark.  She told her dad that the world is a place where people deserve to get punished.  Not saying I disagree, but she is not the same girl she used to be.  Good.
  • Thea will never sue McDonald’s for a hot coffee spill.

Hush Comics give “Corto Maltese” a B, for great use of action, realistically portraying the females strength, and setting us up for what is sure to be an epic season.

Easter Egg Hunt (spoilers ahead):

Home of the Wildcats!: Laurel’s new teacher, Ted Grant, also happens to be Wildcat.  In his boxing ring, there was even a sign in the background that read “Home of the Wildcats!”  Wildcat is a champion boxer who has trained Batman, Superman, and yes, even Black Canary.  It looks like we will be seeing a lot more of him.

Greetings from Coast City: The man who Laurel tries to beat up has charges on him in Coast City, home of Hal Jordan and Ferris Air.  It was a cool way to tie different DC Universes together.

Felicity Smoak, meet your makerFelicity’s new assistant, Gerry Conway, also happens to be the name of the writer who created her namesake in the comics.  She first appeared in the Firestorm comics of the 80s.  This is yet another link to The Flash.

M & M & M: The first “M” is for Thea “Mia” Dearden Queen Merlyn is sure to become Speedy, Arrow’s sidekick.  She was created by Kevin Smith in 2001.  The second and third “M”s are for Mark Shaw aka Manhunter.  I am certain this was not his last appearance this season.  I predict there will be some sort of allusion to the Suicide Squad and possible a showdown with the League of Assassins.

BlueprintsThe blueprints that Ray Palmer were looking at had OMAC written on the bottom righthand corner.  The OMAC’s are machines that fight against humans with superpowers.  None of this is looking good for the heroes of Starling City.

The might be a stretch but..: At one point Ray asks Felicity about the data she is trying to retrieve for him and refers to it as a “Lazarus.” The Lazarus Pits are a major tool used by R’as al Ghul for restorative powers.  At one point, Black Canary was brought back to life by the Lazarus Pits.  It could be me reading too much into nothing, but it could be something… dunh, dunh, dunh!

All pictures belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  The cover image and photo of Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen are credited to Diyah Pera. The photo of Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance is credited to Cate Cameron.

Arrow Review – “Sara” S3E2

No matter how crazy families can be, the Arrow family has proved that they are strong no matter what. Even if there has been a “death in the family”, which was a nice homage to DC. It’s just unfortunate that they had to realize who their real family was when…

Spoilers Ahead!

La Familia of Starling City.
La Familia of Starling City.

… they all found out Sara Lance was dead. The question on my mind more than who did it was, how exactly did Laurel get Sara’s body down to Arrow’s hideout?

Insensitivity aside, Sara’s death was devastating for Oliver and crew, and audience members alike. But we were quickly swept into the investigation of who killed the beloved Black Canary. Similar to The Flash, Oliver goes to the spot of her death to reenact the deed and determine who could have killed her. I thought the process and actions of his investigation was a nice touch to the norm “go get ’em” attitude.

As the episode went on, it became clear that the other archer in town was playing by different rules, and his stunts and tricks with his bow were amazing. To see the hooded man against our very own Arrow were some of the best action scenes I have seen in the show. Between flying through the Queen Consolidated building (during a cocktail hour by new CEO Ray Palmer), jousting in the streets with their bows and dirt bikes, and the shooting battle, I could have watched an entire hour of pure unadulterated warfare.

Our villain of the week turned out to be Komodo aka Simon Lecroix. For the majority of the episode, it seemed that Komodo was the killer of Sara, but after a lot of running around and battle, it was found out that the man they captured was not Sara’s killer, but just a guy from Blüdhaven (Oh gee golly! I hope that means a possible Nightwing reference in the future. Also, this confuses DCU georgraphy even further, since Blüdhaven is a suburb of Gotham, previously thought to be hundreds of miles from Star City). In recent issues of Green Arrow, Komodo has been a pretty big deal, having ties to both Ollie’s old lover Shado and his father, Robert Queen. While the path of comic books is far from unlikely, I doubt that we have seen the last of Lecoix.

One of the more intriguing segues of “Sara” were the flashbacks. Season 2’s flashbacks, which focused on Oliver’s interaction with Slade Wilson and the island, I feared that this season’s flashbacks would be lacking. After seeing the events of “Sara” unfold, I’m no longer concerned about that. The twist of Tommy going to investigate Oliver’s reemergence in Hong Kong was very intriguing. Although, it does make me wonder why Tommy never brought that up in Season 1; you’d like the conversation of “Hey! You’re alive?? That’s weird, because I definitely blew to Hong Kong and almost got kidnapped and murdered to try to find you” would come up in casual conversation. We’re getting deeper into A.R.G.U.S., the team that Waller has “recruited” Queen into, but I can’t wait to see what emerges from the flashbacks this year.

How dare someone come to my city and shoot it up!
How dare someone come to my city and shoot it up!

Meanwhile, the only antagonist we know personally thus far in the season is really Ray Palmer. In addition to stealing the company and Felicity from Oliver, he is Rick Jamesing all over Oliver’s couch while he does it. Palmer’s serious lack of tact is almost made up for by his charisma. Consoling Felicity during her time of loss, we are reassured that he is not all bravado, and there is some kindness being those stupid, smug glasses. While he revered by everybody he seems to share a room with, we get the overwhelming sense that this is not Sebastian Blood all over again. Palmer genuinely cares, and the notion that he may soon turn into The Atom with some unforeseen “accident” makes him all the more tolerable.

Let’s get back to the main plot piece of the episode, Sara’s death – Black Canary’s death. This death in the family hit the Arrow homies hard. The death of one of the best characters, not to mention the hottest, affects the fans just as much as the characters, but to a new viewer for Season 3, it might have been a little too soon in the season, and even returning fans can feel the momentum of a new season slightly held up by immediately killing off one of the crew. Nevertheless, the grieving process felt very real here, from Felicity’s cry to Oliver to show emotion to Diggle’s steadfast approach to helping Arrow find the killer. Even Laurel’s desperate plea to avenge Sara is heart-wrenching. There was even a sad tinge in my heart when Ollie reached out for Diggle at the end there, only to get the unspoken hint to man up and do his duty as a hero. Guys in masks can never catch a break.

Hush Comics gives Arrow‘s “Sara” a B+ for its amazing stunts and solid job at portraying grief, while still being able to inch the story forward and avoid stagnancy that usually plagues episodes like it. Going forward, there is no doubt that Oliver needs to be Oliver Queen and the Arrow to keep the family together. There would be no Arrow without Oliver Queen, so why deny himself the love and support that has made him successful in the first place? Mouth-watering abs and revenge can only last so long, right? And speaking of family, what the heck is going on with Thea and “dad” in Corto Maltese? We have no idea, but a wild theory suggests that she is being trained by Merlin, a League of Assassin outcast, to help him infiltrate and take down the League from the inside. There is so much to look forward to in next week’s “Corto Maltese,” where Oliver takes a little vacation to visit his sister.

All pictures used belong to The CW and DC Entertainment.  They are credited to Cate Cameron and were found here.