A tight and focused episode, “The Magician” is very much a return to classic [Arrow](series:720988). With its focus on revenge, murder, and family, “The Magician” at times feels like a long-lost episode from early Season 1.
The real star of the episode is Nyssa Al Ghul, played by Katrina Law, and follows her search for Malcolm Merlyn. “The Magician” succeeds best in contrasting Nyssa and Oliver. With her cold ferocity and oblivious determination, Nyssa is very much Season 1 Oliver. Seeing the two of them trade philosophical blows shows us how much Oliver has grown since the show’s beginning.
John Barrowman continues to bring the creepy-cool in this episode. Both he and Malcolm appear to be having a lot of fun with their clandestine nefariousness. Malcolm Merlyn was the perfect big bad for Season 1, but is much more interesting and terrifying as the subversive, wild card character Season 3 is making him out to be.
With such a specific plot, the episode does tread some water to fill its 40 minutes. There are 3-4 scenes with Nyssa and Laurel that are all essentially the same: Laurel hates on Nyssa, Nyssa tells Laurel she loved Sara. The same can be said for scenes in which random characters tell Oliver to kill Malcolm. These scenes do have emotional payoff at episode’s end, but the audience gets the point long before the final act.
The flashbacks this week further the “we can’t trust ARGUS” plot continued last week. It really should be mentioned how well Amell plays the younger Oliver. It was assuredly easier to play Oliver at the beginning of the show, when the past and present versions of the character were vastly different. Amell does a fantastic job of playing the in-transition Oliver, a much harder character to play. My favorite part of the performance is the subtle change in voice in the younger Oliver, with its lighter intonation and uncertain waver, a stark contrast to the low, confident voice of The Arrow.
“The Magician” is a fun look at the past of Arrow while prepping for the future. And that future comes at episode’s end, when we get our first look (and listen) at Ra’s Al Ghul, The Demon’s Head, played by Matt Nable. The geek in me went nuts for this scene. The Lazarus Pit, the green robe, the sword, the voice! I can’t wait for more.
And man is it great that they’re finally pronouncing his name right.
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