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 – “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.

 

 

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.

Arrow Review – “The Calm” S3E1

If you were lucky enough to catch the pilot for The Flash, then you know what it is like to be thrilled by something new and exciting. On the other side of the coin, the Season 3 debut of Arrow brings us back to a familiar place, but not necessarily in the way that we would have intended it to be. The episode title, “The Calm,” refers to the proverbial calm before the storm – and trust us, there is nothing short of actual poop raining from the sky by the time this episode is over. We won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s a bomb of a spoiler.

Fans of Arrow will be able to pick up right where we left off at the end of Season 2; Slade Wilson’s army of Mirakuru-infected soldiers have been defeated, leaving the city recovering again. Many of Starling City’s inhabitants have left town (I always wonder why nobody in Gotham ever does this), and the town is not the only thing rebuilding; Queen Consolidated is now in charge of a group of board members that Oliver Queen must convince to put him back in charge of the company. This new Oliver is in the highest spirits we’ve ever seen him in, and that has everything to do with the new-found flirtation Oliver has with Felicity. I have to say that, as a viewer, the moment for a romantic moment to happen between the two has passed with the Season 2 finale, and anything happening here just feels a bit overdone. Thankfully, we get a firm answer to whether or not Olicity (or Feliciver, Diggle has not confirmed either) becomes a permanent item and we can finally move on. Romance aside, Felicity proves time and time again that she’s still got it. There are a few hilarious one-liners commenting on porcupine farts and shirtless Stephen Amell, but the girl has game. She manages to work intel for Arrow while at a computer in the back room of the computer store she now works at (talk about multitasking!) – and she’s not even the most impressive part of the episode.

She's thinking about Stephen Amell shirtless.  Heck, we all are.
She’s thinking about Stephen Amell shirtless. Heck, we all are.

Let’s talk about what we’re all really thinking. Roy Harper has undergone a serious transformation over the off-season. Without Thea becoming a constant distraction (as of yet, anyway), Roy has fully committed to kicking in teeth all over town. He even has his own matching outfit to Oliver, and seems to be fitting in fine in the sidekick department. The martial arts this kid throws out are down right ridiculous, and one of the biggest gripes I had in this episode was that he was not in it nearly enough. There is a particular scene where he is charged with disarming a bomb during a boxing match that made the show for me. He seems to be a viable replacement for Diggle, and then some, even though it seems he is still having trouble harnessing his anger at times.

Roy Harper is quite possibly the toughest guy in town.
Roy Harper is quite possibly the toughest guy in town.

As a side note, during the boxing scene, there was a quick glimpse of a Ferris Air billboard.  This morning BuzzFeed released an article about Arrow and it was mentioned with the success of the two DC shows The CW currently has, they are looking into doing a third show. Ferris Aircraft is the company that Hal Jordan is a pilot for before he becomes the Green Lantern.  Could The CW’s new show be an origin story for the Green Lantern?  I guess only time will tell.

The rejuvenation of the series is symbolized by the newborn child that Diggle and Lyla bring into the family. Diggle fights Oliver tooth and nail to avoid being domesticated, but ultimately chimed how right Oliver was. He’s the luckiest man on Earth, and is in such utter bliss, which makes it so much harder when we scream at the television that statements like this are almost always a declaration of, “please, TV writing Gods – murder somebody close to me, maim me permanently – because I am far too happy to be an interesting character on my own accord.” DOOOOOOM is coming for Diggle, and I am cringing to see what becomes of that.

Not only have things changed amongst the characters, but it would seem that the acting has been improved upon, as well. Laurel’s character returns with a brand new personality, which is unrelated to her brand new surgically-enhanced face – and she is surprisingly charismatic when she’s on-screen. Her gaping look of stupidity and confusion have been replaced with solid lines and a strikingly genuine conversation with her father.

Oliver, Laurel, and Laurel's new face.  Plus a shining personality!
Oliver, Laurel, and Laurel’s new face. Plus a shining personality!

The story isn’t all roses and chocolate, though; there is most-definitely a bad guy here, and he’s one that we’ve seen over and over again. Vertigo returns this episode with a stronger drug and an extensive knowledge of kicking buttocks. Avoiding carefully the use of the word “Scarecrow” or “fear toxin,” this new Vertigo forces people to see their worst nightmare – which in Arrow’s case is himself. This leads to one kick-ass scene of Oliver Queen beating up a costumed Arrow. Arrow does manage to extinguish this threat, but not all bad guys come in the shape of repetitively appearance pill-pushers.

Ray Palmer, that ASS. Look, Brandon Routh, you don’t get to come into Oliver Queen’s house and Rick James all over his couch. You can take your stupid Superman curl and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Routh’s portrayal of Ray Palmer (also known as The Atom in the comics) is douche-tastic. So far, he seems to be Oliver’s nemesis, even more so than Oliver himself.  Palmer is taking over Queen Consolidated, renaming the Starling City to Star City, and flirting with Oliver’s girl.  Who pings a pretty girls cell phone and then meets her at a hospital?  Creeps who used to be Superman, that’s who.

Ray Palmer is shaking things up in Starling City.  Too bad he's a total dick.
Ray Palmer is shaking things up in Starling City. Too bad he’s a total dick.

More than any series we have reviewed thus far, Arrow is all about the characters. While the martial arts were good, O.K. freaking great, that was not the focus that “The Calm” took.  There was a lot of time for development all around.  That isn’t to say there isn’t room for more; character development is often times the best part of television shows because a triple spinning can only carry the story forward so much.  Arrow has always done great job of telling Oliver’s story through his flashbacks.  This season we are going to get a MUCH different taste of his past.  In his third year “away”, he is in Hong Kong, running from Amanda Waller.  We only got a glimpse of his time there, but we do know that he is taken in, or hostage, or something, by the Yamashiro family.  The woman is also known as Katana.  This should be an exciting year.

Most of the episode focuses on his struggle to split his time between being Oliver Queen and the Arrow. It’s a brand new day in Star(ling?) City and the Arrow has been formally recognized by the city, so things could be looking up for the masked vigilante.  But like I said, this is “The Calm” before the storm.  There is no telling where Oliver’s Hong Kong flashbacks will take us, how the new villains will affect our heroes, or where that bombshell ending will go. Hush Comics gives “The Calm” a B+ for the kick-assiest of kick-assness, strong character development, and that major cliffhanger.

All photos belong to DC Entertainment and The CW.