FULL EPISODE SPOILERS AHEAD
So if Season 1 of the CW's Arrow was meant to be Batman Begins, and arguably Season 2 had themes of The Dark Knight with Oliver contemplating how to deal with Slade without compromising "the one rule." then this little season we've got going on thus far is definitely The Dark Knight Rises. I mean, they're not really masking that fact, either:
Death by League of Assassins. Fall down a long hole. "Reborn" through methods that make little sense. Ra's al Ghul. And returning to a city that has fallen to its knees and coming back just in time to fight a brute of a man who has a funny accent.
AND a sidekick!
Yup. TDKR it is! This was the episode that really played it up to be like that, too, considering how it was all build-up to a battle that we actually saw very little of with characters that have only been sparsely seen. Heck, Sin returned after being gone all season long and Ted Grant aka Wildcast was back since, what, the "Guilty" episode? In the real world, that's a long time. Where's he been, what's he been doing? I dunno. We're never told. He just shows up (well technically Laurel goes to him, but still).
For being the big "return" episode, I felt that it was rather underwhelming. There were many things that were rushed, not much was given time to sit, and the actual return itself didn't have the "holy crap this is so cool" feeling to it. I feel like if this had been an "Uprising Pt. 1: The Murderer," "Uprising Pt. 2: The Return" it would have been better.
Part one could have focused on Malcolm Merlyn coping with the fact that Brick was the real murderer of his wife as well as going head-to-head with Team Arrow over how to deal with Brick. Then Part 2 could have been about Team Arrow gathering the troops, which would allow more screen time for characters like Sin and Wildcat. Part 1 would feature the flashbacks but Part 2 would forgo the flashbacks for more time with Oliver and Tatsu, as well as giving more time to show Oliver's actual involvement in the battle, or even just the battle itself.
But as it is just one episode, there is a lot that happened. Some bits worked, and some didn't. It was hard to really latch onto anything as, like I said, it was all-rushed. The best pieces of the episode, or at least the most interesting elements, were the parts with Malcolm Merlyn. I don't like that he looked the same exact age despite the flashback jump being twenty-one years, but, whatever. You could definitely tell this was a changed man. Merlyn was actually happy.
The flashbacks don't necessarily show us anything new, though, outside of some things we already knew. Which is strange because the producers said there would be a twist on his origin, but, I couldn't think of one. He finds out his wife was murdered, kills the man who did it, then runs away to Nandu Parbat to learn to conquer his fear and anger and channel it into power. Didn't we already know that?
I suppose there are more props to be awarded, thus, as the acting was well done on John Barrowman's hands to carry all of the flashbacks scenes to kind of highlight Merlyn's deterioration from a family man into a nervous wreck into a man who didn't know how to handle his emotions. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
Another character I felt there was random development for was Roy. Yeah, kinda weird. Maybe his decision making in the episode wasn't the best, but, you could tell he was trying to take an authoritative stance in the group. He wanted his voice heard, he wanted people to listen to him or at least hear him out. Thinking back to the Roy Harper we knew, this boy has come a long way without being given very much actual development. I mean, what, he had Mirakuru and he got over it? Not too much to go off of. But you can tell he is very matured and that he is trying to fill Oliver's shoes. A rather impossible feat, but, it's seen clearly in this episode.
Laurel also continues to be a character I enjoy watching as the season progresses because of her inclusion in the group and not as some girl who gets randomly happy or mad.
No, that's Felicity. But I'll speak on her shortly (it will not be nice, by the way).
I like watching Roy and Laurel fight together, too. Since apparently weeks (what? I thought this was taking place over a few days, or was there really a week's time between episodes?) have gone by, the two have had substantial time to get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses in battle. Roy is by far the one meant to be leading the charge but it's good to see that Laurel is growing as a fighter in many different fields, be it stealth or regular melee. The scene where the two invaded the Glades precinct to find Brick was especially impressive for Laurel. Not so much the final battle, as whatever shots we had of her fighting usually weren't the greatest. And she's still not entirely in control with the bowstaff, that much is very obvious.
The episode of [Arrow](series:720988) did have a few more pitfalls than they did bonuses, though. Such as the elements that were rushed. When they needed to assemble some people, they just went to characters who haven't been used in forever which felt both forced and out of nowhere. And then there was the battle itself, which just sort of happened. It was almost too convenient. How did Brick's men know to come out from behind the buildings at that very time? How were all of those people hiding in the buildings in the Glades? How long did it take to get all those people there, how long did it take to get them all organized and with weapons? Why didn't Brick's men shoot them all (they clearly had guns) or why didn't Diggle put down any of Brick's men (since he had a gun)? When did Oliver have the time to go to the Foundry? How did Oliver get back in time? How much time elapsed this episode? And where, OH WHERE, is Ray Palmer when he apparently wants to save the city?
Too. Many. Questions.
None of which were answered.
Even disregarding all of those plot-holes, though, the battle itself was totally anti-climactic. There were a few shots of Roy kicking butt as well as getting to see Wildcat in action, but then that ended when Grant got his face busted in by Brick and Brick ran away? What? That's out of character.
Not to mention that the big return was really just Oliver shooting an arrow into someone's gun and then him telling Merlyn not to kill Brick, all leading up to him giving some speech on top of a bus in what was a very strangely rendered shot and getting away like Spider-Man. Seriously, like, is this Attack on Titan or something, is he going to save Wall Maria or something?
The talk Oliver had with Merlyn wouldn't be that great if Barrowman weren't on his A-game for acting, as we got to see the nervous-wreck Merlyn here, which was interesting to watch creep up once again. Oliver just kind of stands there. So, really, Merlyn saves this episode.
My biggest issue is with the ending of it all, though. Everyone's just like "oh, hey, cool, the Arrow is back after weeks." Nobody's wondering where he's been, why he's been gone. Nah, it's fine. But, urgh, when Oliver returns to the Arrow Cave, Felicity is all happy and what not. And then he tells her that he wants Malcolm Merlyn to help train him and just like that, she's mad and basically wants to quit helping Oliver.
So, how many times is it that Felicity has wanted to quit the team?
I just...I don't get it with Felicity. Maybe I'm just having a bad day with the character (since I'm not a big fan of her representation in the comic, I find it to be rather annoying at this point with all the stupid pop culture references..."Is this orange? Because it's definitely not the new black!"), but, honestly, I'm finding it difficult to put up with her. She keeps on threatening and threatening to leave the team, and, her doing so is causing more harm than good. It puts strain on Oliver which makes him lose focus and though we've seen that the team can operate without him somewhat decently it would still cause a rift within the group that just raises stupid questions. For some reason, Oliver still claims to be in love with this woman.
Why?! Throughout the season you have been given little reason to love her! She constantly wants to quit the team, constantly questions his actions even though they are for the greater good of her and the city, and is clearly into another man! I get the feeling that the producers are slowly backing away from Olicity, and honestly, I kind of hope they are (gonna get a lot of hate for that). I never really liked their relationship for this reason: it has caused nothing but problems for Oliver. Every time something comes up with her, he loses focus, and a mission goes awry. He has to have noticed that at this point. Yes, it is important for him to have a life outside the hood. He will need something to do whenever he puts it aside and settles down. But I don't think Felicity is the one for Oliver. Right now, I don't think anyone is. And I don't think he needs to be worried about that.
The most dangerous man in history is going to come looking for him, a large portion of the city is recovering from being taken over by some guy with a hoaky accent, and one of his best friends (Laurel) has just now jumped onto the vigilante hype train. Dating is not the priority right now. I know it's cruel and all, but, this is what it means to be a hero. Things have to be sacrificed. Tatsu even said it in the episode! To defeat Ra's al Ghul means to sacrifice that which is most important. If that's Felicity, I'd drop her like a hot-potato! She'll hold back his training and his teaching of Roy how to become a better hero. You don't need a romantic love interest to be a super-hero. There are plenty of people who don't really have one that come to mind, such as Moon Knight (who is a total psycho), Batman--in some instances, I know Vicki Vale and Selina Kyle sometimes but whatever, I like to think of Bats as a single man--Captain America, Hawkeye, and others. The reason to fight does not have to be a single person, but for multiple people. For the city, for yourself. It's okay to fight for yourself, Oliver, as long as you don't put yourself before other people, before the city. He hasn't done that yet, but there are multiple times when he has tried to put his relationship with Felicity in front of helping the city and it just has not worked out.
Clearly this is a two-way issue, and I do hope that the writers are trying to slowly break them up, but deteriorating their characters to being idiots isn't the way to do it. When Felicity would leave the team for a while back in the day it was fine, it added tension. Now, it's almost become routine. She's always frustrated about something, there's always something. She just can have a good moment. Oliver is like that to an extent, as he will revel in the good times. He'll have a drink with Diggle, that's always a fun time. But with Felicity, it just needs to end. She either needs to get her act together, or take a few episodes off to be fun in Central City. She is a fun character, but the character has to be written properly. I like the Felicity that makes witty remarks and is quick on her feet in a tense situation, questioning but ultimately understanding the needs of the city. Not the one that gets frustrated and cries a lot over whatever Oliver does that she doesn't like.
The episode as a whole was an alright one that only furthered my annoyance toward Felicity's character, but did have redeeming moments. Good bits with Malcolm and a few funny moments were some of their highlights. Not to mention the fact that Lance knows the Black Canary isn't really Sara. I would question how Sin noticed, but, Sara's figure is pretty darn different from Laurel's, so it should be obvious.
Hopefully the next episode--which appears to be filler but it's the good Count Vertigo--will serve as one that isn't quite so underwhelming.