Arrow: Season 3, Episode 14 – The Return

arrow-header-5Well, this week’s episode included a few old faces, some really bad wig choices, and an interesting flashback or two. Though we were without Team Arrow, there was plenty of action, thanks to Ollie’s return to Lian Yu. Let’s deal with that first.

thea and ollie

Ollie and Thea’s time on the island began with a few great shots of the pair training together. This sense of camaraderie broke us in gently, lulling us into a false sense of security, one which couldn’t last – Lian Yu is hardly a weekend retreat. Pretty soon, Ollie had to clear his head. Chased away, not by his inner demons, but the prospect of spilling the secret we all knew was coming – who really killed Sara.

So now Ollie is feeling confused and, tormented by the knowledge of Malcolm’s deception, where else would he go? To see Slade Wilson of course. Unfortunately their happy little reunion didn’t go according to plan, because Malcolm threw a spanner in the works – he let Slade out of his A.R.G.U.S secure prison. How he pulled that one off I’m not quite sure, perhaps the man really is a magician!

ollie phone

Malcolm’s smug telephone conversation with Ollie was a nice touch, though little more than a ‘surprise’ – now go find those killer instincts, kind of speech. Unsurprisingly, Slade steps in when they are off their game, so Ollie and Thea wind up in his old cell.

I have to say, it was great to have Slade back; every maniacal inch of him. His crazy ramblings didn’t make a great deal of sense, but then that’s what we love about him. He left them to sweat for a while, but not before planting more doubt in Thea’s mind that Ollie is keeping secrets. It’s not like he could go anywhere. He’d already used the clearing his head line, and being stuck in confinement kind of limits your options. Dislocating his sister’s arm did seem a little extreme as evasions go, but at least they got out of the cell. The security in that place needs a serious overhaul.

sladeThe scenes on the island were actually my favourite thing about the episode (I’m dealing with the flashbacks separately), especially Thea almost running into one of Ollie’s old traps. He jumps to her defence just in time and takes a spike in the shoulder. With nowhere left to run he finally spills the beans, and Thea’s reaction was spot on.

thea and slade

She uses the anger to good use because, when Slade pops up again, she gives as good as she gets. Ollie and Thea actually had a whole tag-team thing going on, which was really cool to watch. Without the benefit of the Mirakuru, Slade is no match for them and Thea turns his own gun on him. Ollie manages to talk Thea out of shooting him, and instead they put him back in his cell. Slade being Slade though, has to have the final word. He pushes Ollie’s buttons a little, before calmly settling down on his bunk like it’s just an ordinary day on Lian Yu.

Flashbacks

Personally, I think the flashbacks ate into time better spent on the island. I wasn’t entirely convinced by the huge risk Amanda faced by taking Ollie back to Starling. Any number of agents could have high jacked China White’s deal, especially since she was missing a major component – the Alpha. But then, they had to find some way of linking all the storylines together and there’s definitely more to come.

tommy

One major plus was the fact we got to see Tommy again, which is always a pleasure. I’ve really missed his presence, so I don’t begrudge him the onscreen time. Thankfully they didn’t force him to wear a terrible wig, which is another thing I’m grateful for. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Quentin Lance, though he was true to character and as electrifying as ever.

I was a little confused about the purpose of Diggle’s role, especially as his brother was introduced for the first time and yet the storyline went nowhere. Felicity also made an appearance, though it felt forced. The fact she happened to comment on Ollie’s photograph when he was within earshot was convenient to say the least. Though she does have a tendency to talk to herself, and I do like that about her.

ollie flashback

For the most part, Ollie’s scenes were believable. Naturally, his mind was on his family, especially when he witnessed Thea’s downward spiral. So it made sense that he would jeopardise the mission to help her. Finding a recording from his father, beseeching him to right his wrongs and save the city was also a valid reason he chose to help stop China White. But it didn’t explain why he agreed to go back to China for ‘one last mission’.

While we’re on the subject though. There was an appearance from General Matthew Shrieve, which begs the question, are the Creature Commandos going to get some airtime in Arrow?

What did you think of the episode? What was your favourite part of this week’s show? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

Throwback Thursday: “My Endless Tolkien Series” p. 2

The second installment of my endless Lord of the Rings series at Part Time Monster. Originally published Jan. 7, 2014 as “A Brief History of the Rings of Power.” I’m re-running this whole series from the beginning as a Thursday feature here. New installments are published at Part Time Monster on Mondays.

hobbit-mapPicking up where I left off before Christmas: I have this idea to analyze The Lord of the Rings as a series of encounters between the One Ring and the other characters. Before I begin that task, I think it might be useful to lay out the history of the rings of power so we can get a feel for their historic significance to Middle Earth. My two primary sources for this history are “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” (Silmarillion, 285-304), and “The Tale of Years,” published as Appendix B to LOTR (Return of the King, 363-378).

Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” is a book of lore written sometime during the Fourth Age, probably by a Dunadan scholar, and after all the participants in the War of the Ring were either dead or departed (Foster 386).

The Tale of Years” was compiled by the Tooks of the early Fourth Age and kept in their archive at the Great Smials; material gathered by Merry at Rivendell is incorporated into this account, and it is notable for its accuracy (Foster 474).

Together, they provide an account of the creation of the rings of power and a timeline for the existence of the rings in Middle-earth. So, now I will try and piece together an account of the rings of power, from their inception until the eventual destruction of the One Ring. Let’s begin with a timeline, just so we can know how much history we are dealing with here.

The Second Age

The Second Age(SA) is a period of 3,441 years that begins with the overthrow of Morgoth by the Valar and ends with the defeat of Sauron by the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.

The rings of power are forged by Noldorin Elves of Eregion beginning around SA 1500, using skills they learned from Sauron. The three rings of the Elves, the last to be forged, are completed in  1590. Sauron himself forges the One Ring and completes the Barad-dur about 1600; as soon as he puts on the One Ring, the Elves understand his design and remove their rings (Silmarillion 288).

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Wordless Wednesday: Some Greenery

Image

Photo by Gene'O

Photo by Gene’O

Let’s Play Planescape: Torment, Episode 3

by William Hohmeister

Last time on Planescape: Torment:

The living dead walk! Floating skulls talk!

Ep3_Image1Dhall, you’ve been a big help, but you smell. Goodbye.

On my way I try talking to every zombie and person I see. This has a few rewards:

Zombie Worker: The corpse is wobbling unsteadily back and forth, trying to keep its balance.

Nameless: Give the corpse a push.

Morte: “Uh… Chief… you might not w-“

Zombie Worker: There is a *crack* from the corpse’s left leg, and the body falls like a dead tree… the left arm seems intact.

Nameless: “Hmmm, I wonder if I could make use of that arm…”

Good news: I can use it as a weapon!

Ep3_Image2When not vandalizing zombies, Nameless helps a deaf and semi-blind Dustman named Ei-Vene. She wants needle and thread and embalming fluid. All three also act as health potions and buffs* to Nameless. He agrees – sort of. Ei-Vene thinks Nameless is a zombie because of his scars. To carry this off he has to stand there silent like… a zombie. It’s the role he was born to play.

On the way to find the goods, Nameless finds an Anarchist spy disguised as a zombie. The Anarchists are another faction in Sigil – the city we still haven’t seen. No idea why he’s spying, but he offers to tell Nameless how to escape for – surprise – embalming fluid and needle and thread. I find some on this floor, but for the rest I have to head up to the Crematorium.

Ep3_Image3And the Crematorium is filled with curious Dustmen, like that guy in the lower left yelling at Nameless. Fortunately, the Dustmen don’t mind Morte, so I send him off to find the supplies, then head back downstairs.

I get two things from Ei-Vene: an extra permanent hit point and a memory. The hit point comes when she stitches Nameless up, still mistaking him for a zombie. And by watching how she stiches, Nameless remembers leaving a stash inside of a zombie. So that’ll be fun to look for.

True to his word, the Anarchist tells me how to escape: a portal in the northeast memorial hall, opened with a crooked finger bone “key.” Portals are all over the place, apparently, and almost anything can open them.

The Anarchist also disguises Nameless as a zombie, allowing me to reimagine Thriller. Oh, and to sneak past all the Dustmen. Back in the Crematorium, Nameless finds his stash-zombie – now decayed to a skeleton – and recovers a knife, money, and two Clot Charms, a type of healing and buff. All this is in an extra-dimensional space in the corpse’s rib cage. I head to the ground floor

I love these zombies: right beside the stairs a zombie is loitering with the awesomely named Tome of Blood and Ash. It contains runes and spells and the kinds of stuff to make Cthulhu squee. I take it, of course. I’m kind of a jerk to these corpses. When I find actual people, I swear, I’ll be nice.

I find a use for the Tome right away; in the middle hall are four giant skeletons – literally the reanimated skeletons of giants. By using the Tome, Nameless reverses the enchantments on their armor. This destroys the skeleton and leaves behind a magic rune item. I can’t use it yet, but soon. Just gotta become a wizard.

Finally, Nameless finds the memorial hall. He inspects the area but finds nothing. Just as he’s about to leave, the ghost of a woman named Deionarra appears. She knows Nameless, and may have been a lover at some point, though she’s now bitter over a past he can’t remember. She knows he’s immortal, but describes it as a curse because of the memory loss resurrection causes. She fears Nameless will one day even forget that he can’t die.

So thanks for making me think of that, Deionarra.

She points Nameless to the portal exit, but as he leaves she offers a prophecy. I love prophecies, so of course I ask to hear it. Then she hits me with this:

Deionarra: “First I require a promise. Promise that you will return. That you will find some means to save me or join me.”

Which leads me to several choices:

Ep3_Image4I can try to talk my way out of it; I can refuse; I can lie; or I can promise. I’ve researched the game a bit, and these choices supposedly matter. If I lie it makes me more evil or chaotic. If I promise I become good, but if I don’t keep the promise… well, I’m not sure. But there are supposed to be repercussions.

I choose to promise I will save or join her. I’m supposed to be channeling the Doctor, after all, and while he may lie, cheat, and screw people over, I don’t believe the Doctor would willingly abandon someone. I’ll do my best to help her.

Deionarra speaks her prophecy:

Next time on Planescape: Torment…

Portals! Tombs! Manual labor! And… Sigil!

The still images are all screen captures from Will’s game.