Arrow: Season 3, Episode 13 – Canaries

arrow-header-5This episode should be called Revelations because, really, surprise doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’ve been waiting for Captain Lance to learn the truth about Sara for weeks, so that wasn’t the real shocker. No, the real shocker was Ollie revealing his secret to Thea. I mean, seriously, that’s a lot to digest in one show.

So, Thea knows all her brother’s secrets. Oh, wait, she doesn’t know he fought to the death for her, or that she killed Sara Lance. At least she’s safe in the knowledge that her brother’s not a total flake – there’s a reason for all those lame excuses (let’s not mention his latest stint in ‘prison’).

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I was amazed by her reaction, in fact I think my mouth fell open when she thanked him. I was expecting an explosion; a rant about betrayal, accusations for being kept in the dark, a sworn declaration that she would never forgive him (well, okay, maybe not the last one). Instead she opened her arms to him. The acceptance was extremely powerful, and Ollie’s own response (however stoic), spoke volumes.

Thea’s reaction to Malcolm, and the fact he knows Ollie’s secret, was slightly less convincing. One minute she’s asking her brother not to make her choose, and trying to convince people Malcolm is basically a good guy, and the next she’s cutting him out of her life. She knows the kind of man her father is, what he’s done, so it felt a little off. But then I still don’t understand the logic behind Ollie’s newfound trust in Merlyn.

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Still, thanks to Chase, the DJ Assassin (I have to make him sound a little cool), Thea is forced to accept she’s going to need her father’s help. After Chase finally gets Thea where he wants her, he decides to take advantage and doses her drink with cyanide (not very polite). Luckily, Thea calls upon her training and foils his dastardly plan. He still manages to overpower her, and if not for Roy and Malcolm he might have succeeded. But Chase ends his own life (I assume) to avoid capture, and it’s sayonara to Ra’s’ spy.

It’s not the only time Roy stands up for Thea, he actually goes one on one with Ollie earlier in the episode because, well, Ollie was being an ass. It’s a turning point for Team Arrow. The gang are no longer willing to follow him blindly and they, quite rightly, demanded respect for their skills. It led to a pretty great pep talk from Diggle (I’ve really missed those), which forced Ollie to face a few home truths.

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His reaction to Laurel’s new role within the team was expected. He did refuse to train her, and didn’t hide his disappointment when she turned to Ted Grant. So seeing her don her sister’s mask in order to fight crime didn’t go down too well.

Not that she let him stop her from doing her thing, which was great because he accepted her decision in the end. I loved Laurel’s role in this episode. The villain is hardly worth mentioning, though I’ve enjoyed Count Vertigo previously. This time he was merely a prop so Laurel could face her demons, and face them she did. Her dealings with the Count, hallucinating the return of her sister and facing her deepest fears, led to the understanding that she had to let her father grieve.

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The scene between father and daughter was heart breaking, especially Captain Lance’s breakdown. Paul Blackthorne was outstanding in this scene – the raw emotion brought a tear to my eye.

I also enjoyed the relationship between Ollie and Thea. It was great to see a real bond forming between brother and sister, one which will continue to grow if the joint trial is anything to go by. Malcolm has sent them on a quest to face their biggest fear, so next week’s show should be eventful. Ollie is going back to Lian Yu, which means more of Deathstroke.

I don’t have much to say about the flashbacks in this episode because, if I’m honest, they confused me. They began with Maseo and Ollie running from Amanda, after they disobeyed orders to rescue Tatsu. Ollie is then captured, tortured, and forced to give Amanda Maseo’s whereabouts (which turn out to be false). The confusing part is Maseo’s attempt to save Ollie which, granted, makes a strange kind of sense, but his behaviour suggests something else is going on.

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The only thing missing from this episode was Ray Palmer (who was also absent last week). Granted, I’m a little impatient to see Atom, and delayed gratification aside, he resolved a major glitch with Felicity’s help so – what’s taking so long? I know the gang have been a little busy, but has Felicity given up the pretence of working for him completely? Or is he burrowed in a laboratory somewhere, waiting for his time to shine?

On a side note, the above photo is part of the CW photo gallery from Canaries, yet the scene didn’t appear in the show (not in the UK anyway). Perhaps it forms part of a sneak peak from next week’s show, and if so, it appears I’m right – Ray looks like he’s been in the lab for weeks!

What did you think of the episode? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 12 – Uprising

arrow-header-5Okay, so I might have a Pharrell Williams soundtrack playing in my head (you know, because I’m happy), but I promise to go easy on my enthusiasm at Ollie’s return. Unless you want to, I don’t know… clap along perhaps!

After the revelation last week, and the police uprooting themselves from the Glades, it wasn’t a surprise to discover that Brick had made himself completely at home. His minions were out creating havoc while he lorded it up, in the abandoned precinct no less. I’ve got to agree with Felicity about the irony of that one, though not as eloquently I will admit. The team were taking care of business, and though out of their depth, it was great to see them working together.

downloadMalcolm Merlyn played a pivotal role in this episode, which meant we saw glimpses of the Dark Archer in action. There was also a nice reference to Merlyn the Magician. With the assistance of flashbacks (and a rather interesting wig choice) we were privy to the events which turned a good father into a man who threw his daughter under the bus, killed hundreds of people, and failed his son – on so many levels.

The journey into Malcolm’s past began on the evening of his wife’s death. It was actually a pretty powerful set-up – revealing a young Tommy and the bond between father and son. It ended with Malcolm opening the door to two solemn-faced policemen. Later we saw Malcolm at Rebecca’s grave, which gave us a feeling of his desperation, especially when he was given a name with which to focus his rage. For me though, the scene of his first kill gave us true insight into his character. Yes, he wanted revenge, was consumed by anger at the injustice of losing his wife, but he didn’t have to shoot the man in the back.

uprising1There was a fun glimpse into his training sessions with Thea, a chance to show off his sword fighting skills and drive the point home that he is a killer. Malcolm clearly has ulterior motives for staying close to the action, not least because he’s spying on Team Arrow. This naturally led to Malcolm discovering he killed the wrong man (since he was keeping tabs on the investigation).

It turns out, Danny Brickwell took Rebecca’s life. Ballistics from the gun which killed Malcolm’s wife were tracked back to Danny, a fact which gave the weapon a new significance (the thing almost has a life of its own). The news sent Malcolm into revenge mode, putting him in the right place at the right time, because Black Canary and Arsenal were in a spot of trouble. Malcolm took advantage by trying to convince the team to form an alliance – the common goal to rid the Glades of Danny Brickwell for good. Thankfully, Felicity was the voice of reason on that ludicrous scheme.

At one point I thought they might actually consider it. Roy was certainly on board, influenced by Thea’s speech about her father trying to atone for his sins. The fact he saved her life apparently cancels out everything else he’s done, including the plan to level the Glades. What will she do, I wonder, when she discovers the real reason Malcolm trained her?

Malcolm’s backstory had another purpose, a way to merge his path with Ollie’s. During the scenes with Tatsu, when Ollie began his journey back home, the seeds were planted in terms of a rematch with the Demon Head. Tatsu warned him he would need to make the ultimate sacrifice. It isn’t hard to guess what, or who, the sacrifice will be. For a moment I hoped Ollie might turn to Maseo for training, given the wisdom that ‘only the student has hope of defeating the master’. It appears that role will fall to Malcolm, though I’m hoping for a different outcome. I find it hard to imagine an alliance between the two archers.

Captain Lance had a difficult time in this episode – he’s a man who cares a great deal about the city and will do anything in his power to protect it. His scene with Arsenal was amusing, the fact he knew exactly who was hiding behind the mask. Clearly he has a blind spot when it comes to Laurel and Sara but, as I suspected, the reveal is on its way. It took an appearance from Sin (who joined the uprising), to point out the Canary isn’t who she appears to be. But in his heart, I think he’s known all along.

ar312b_0213bThough the team were clearly missing Ollie, they didn’t let the small problem of being outnumbered slow them down. On the contrary, they rallied and, for the final showdown, they even brought along a few friends! Those who call the Glades their home were more than willing to make a stand and fight back.

The scenes during the uprising were just fantastic – dark with the kind of imagery perfect for a comic book. From the moment Black Canary and Arsenal stepped out to challenge Brick, I knew we were in for something special. I even stopped wondering what was taking Ollie so long to get back! Roy’s ‘You have failed this city’ was a really great effort, but it was trumped by Danny’s dig about his two favourite trick-or-treaters – I had to smile at all the talk about masks in this episode. But then, when Brick brought out his goons, Diggle and the gang brought out their ace in the hole. The battle was thrilling, and included an appearance by Ted Grant (Laurel’s training partner) who, despite the rather suspect costume, got in a few good licks before Brick turned the tables. Laurel came to his aid, genuinely concerned since Danny left him in pretty bad shape, and then she became distracted by a familiar arrow (so fickle).

Fine, I’ll admit it, I was distracted too! I think I might have whooped a little when Ollie showed up in the alley. The fact he managed to prevent Malcolm from killing Brick was a surprise, but then there has to be an element of give and take and Malcolm is a smart man. He always weighs his options.

ARW-312-Uprising_thumb_54ca9577687685.34287869Brick’s defeat, and victory for the Glades, ended with a speech by the man himself (that’s The Hood in case you were wondering!) It was beautifully timed – a testament to the strength of the city. Ollie’s parting words ‘You did not fail this city and I promise I will not fail you by leaving it again’ was punctuated by a rather cool exit.

I had hoped for a touching, if somewhat emotional reunion. But Ollie was true to character, making a quip to Thea about being in prison (and up to his old tricks), and telling Felicity he was fine, like he hadn’t just come back from the dead. It played out exactly right, even Felicity’s reaction to his arrangement with Malcolm. She spoke of what Merlyn did to the women Ollie loved, and her parting shot ‘I don’t want to be a woman that you love’ had a definite sting to it. But she has a point, she is the voice of reason, and though fans were probably hoping for something more, they might have to wait a little longer yet.

I enjoyed the episode, liked having the chance to see the team develop in Ollie’s absence, but I’m so glad he returned this week. I’m going to turn up the sound track now, and bask in the fact Ollie is back where he belongs!

How about you? Did you enjoy the episode? What did you think to Vinnie’s interpretation of Danny Brickwell? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 11 – Midnight City

arrow-header-5There were so many things to love about this episode, starting with the new intro. In fact, I haven’t been this impatient to see the next instalment since…well, since episode 10!

It was great to have Ollie back this week, and he had a lot more screen time in Midnight City, including a rather clever dream sequence. It’s the first dream sequence that I can remember, but it made sense as a manifestation of his guilt. He’s recuperating after all, so his mind and body are working over-time. It was one of those dreams which start really well (for some fans exceptionally well), and then quickly turns to hell. Ollie replayed his last moments with Felicity, only this time he chose to stay. There was a sweet moment when they kissed, which ended with Ollie coughing blood – the contrast amped up the horror factor.

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Based on the timeline in this episode, it’s been a week since Maseo pulled Ollie back from the edge (or saved him from the ledge – one or the other!). Tatsu, having worked her magic, did make a reference to the cold (and snow) – contributing these to the brew of ambivalence (or was that penicillin). Seriously though, I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but she wasn’t wrong about Ollie’s incredible will to survive. Plus – we’re talking about Oliver here.

I enjoyed the mystery surrounding Tatsu and Maseo’s past. I know I was wrong about his reasons for joining the League, but if not his wife’s death, then I’m guessing it has something to do with their son. I really liked the glimpses of Maseo’s internal torment. He dominated the scenes in the cabin (where Ollie is holed up), and the connection between the two friends hinted at more to come from this storyline.

We learnt a little more from the flashback episodes. Ollie’s plan to track Maseo’s wife was almost redundant in the end, considering Maseo had his own plan – to trade her for the Alpha serum. This culminated in the pair fighting their way out of a nightclub (the meeting place for the exchange), and a revelation that Amanda had switched the vial, having anticipated Maseo’s actions. Perhaps the most vital piece of information was Maseo’s confession he would do anything for his family. He would even risk the lives of thousands of innocent people. It echoed Ollie’s own commitment to the people he loves.

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But let’s leave Ollie there for the moment, because I haven’t even gotten to the things I loved about Team Arrow. Laurel, or Black Canary, was wonderful in this episode. Not because she excelled in her sister’s role, on the contrary she still has an awful lot to learn. It was the vulnerability that drew me in, the raw passion. Her uncanny improvisation skills helped – using her heel as a weapon was absolute class!

Roy too, really stepped up his game. He had a few memorable scenes; saving Laurel’s skin when she was cornered in an alley stood out. It was probably the first time he’d encountered Laurel’s Canary, so his line “I think we should talk” was perfectly timed. Later, when he was stitching up a minor injury to Laurel’s arm, he told her exactly what he thought of her heroics (“I’ve had training from Oliver and years on the streets. You have a law degree!”). Roy’s best moment though, was squaring off with Malcolm Merlyn. He was clearly picking up the slack by protecting Thea in Ollie’s absence, and it was really convincing. I have a new respect for his place within the team, especially when he donned the hood as Arsenal in this episode – he really had Laurel’s back.

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Felicity went through a transition this week too, which was the result of witnessing her friends in danger. It began with an explosive scene at city hall, and perhaps one of my favourite scenes of the episode. Ray and Felicity were invited to a meeting arranged by the mayor, a kind of ‘let’s pool our resources and get the crazy man off the streets’ kind of affair – clearly Danny Brickwell has been busy. Aside from Ray’s bumbling entrance, because my mind screamed Clark Kent, it was gripping stuff. Vinnie Jones has clearly settled into his role as Brick and revelled in playing a kingpin. He gate-crashed the party, snatched a few aldermans and ordered his goons to execute everyone else in the room. Ray held his own, which was a point in his favour. He did get a little banged up, though there was some lovely team work between (Captain) Lance, Ray, and Laurel.

The after effects of the violence brought Ray and Felicity closer together. When she was able to see beyond her grief she was almost like her old self again, though their banter was muted (it wouldn’t have worked otherwise). The highlight for me was her request to borrow Ray’s helicopter for a Team Arrow mission. It was wonderful to see Felicity back in the driver’s seat, coordinating the assault and being the knowledgeable voice in their ear.

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Black Canary had a few run-ins with Brick, which I enjoyed. I was hoping she’d get her own back for his “Lucky for you I don’t like hitting women” comment and, despite a few blunders, she did manage to have the last say. A fact I found extremely satisfying!

All in all, I like Brick as a villain. There was a point when I wanted to scream at the television ‘for god’s sake take him into custody’ (yes, I’m one of those people). He was pontificating in front of armed police officers at the time, with nothing but the fact he had hostages to save his bacon. I guess it wouldn’t be much of a reign of terror if he didn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt!

Obviously with the appearance of Black Canary, Lance assumed Sara was back in town. It led to some difficult questions, especially given that the team couldn’t explain Ollie’s disappearance. Laurel’s decision to imitate Sara during a phone call to their father was heart-breaking. I wasn’t entirely sure about her (in the shadows) appearance later in the show, but maybe they’re moving towards a big reveal.

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That about covers the highlights. I did miss out the scenes with Thea and Merlyn. It wasn’t a surprise she refused to leave without hearing from Ollie. Her turnaround, however, made for an interesting twist in Thea’s story arc. She has decided to make a stand, to fight with her father against the threat posed by Ra’s al Ghul. I wasn’t going to mention the DJ, he wasn’t particularly memorable in the grand scheme of things. Having said that, the ending was a surprise. Discovering he’s spying on Malcolm for the League means there might just be hope for him yet!

So, with Felicity agreeing to help Ray complete the ATOM project, Team Arrow holding their own and banding together, it will make for an interesting reunion when Ollie makes it back. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too much longer!


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

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 10 – Left Behind

arrow-header-5Okay, so it won’t come as a surprise to learn that Ollie isn’t dead, and I’m thrilled about that, truly. But his miraculous recovery, or indeed his resurrection, was a little vague. Still at least the show didn’t keep us waiting (only until the end of the episode), to discover his fate. I was wrong about the Lazarus Pit, which isn’t really a surprise. That would have been too obvious wouldn’t it?

The flashbacks with Ollie and Maseo set things up pretty well. We know Tatsu (Maseo’s wife) had been taken by China White, and after Amanda refuses to sanction a rescue mission, Ollie takes matters into his own hands. It meant Maseo was indebted to his friend, and this explained why he went to extraordinary lengths to save Ollie after the showdown– bringing Tatsu in (I was wrong about her too), so she could bring him back to life.

diggle in the hoodBack in Starling City, Team Arrow are left wondering about Ollie’s fate. The show started as it means to go on, at least for the time being, with Diggle and Roy (or Arsenal) picking up the slack. We’ve seen Diggle in the green suit before, and still it was a shock. He wasn’t particularly thrilled about it either – he looked down right awkward! I think he said it best when he muttered, ‘I’m more of a Glock guy.’ Needless to say, he only wore it once. Roy, on the other hand, got to show off his growing skills. I really enjoyed seeing him in action.

Understandably, the episode follows the team’s transition from uncertainty to acceptance. They believe Ollie’s dead, and it hit them all pretty hard – though Roy didn’t show any real emotion. That said, there are several touching scenes, my favourite being between Diggle and Laurel (who, by the way, didn’t question why Ollie went off to fight Ra’s). The fact Diggle doesn’t know what to do (for the first time since meeting Ollie), coupled with his admission that he still feels like Ollie’s bodyguard, shows how much he’s hurting. He believes he failed to protect his friend.

diggle-and-roy-try-to-hold-the-group-togetherFelicity’s reaction was predictable in that she started off refusing to believe Ollie is gone. When the truth finally hit home (though it’s a false truth), she lost hope, or at least her belief in the team as a whole. Her protective instincts made sense, she prevented Diggle and Roy from pursuing the bad guy (we’ll get to The Brick in a minute) because she was afraid they’d get killed. Her scenes with Ray Palmer were emotionally fraught, and he got most of the transference. It wasn’t a surprise when she quit Team Arrow either. They are all questioning the point of continuing without Ollie.

There’s actually a wonderful scene (or two) with Barrowman, when he confronts the team about Ollie’s whereabouts. His quip ‘Can you put the gun away. They don’t scare so much as annoy me,’ in response to Diggle’s fire power, was a memorable one. Though Diggle gets points for pulling another gun! Since it becomes clear (to everyone but us) that Ollie perished on the mountain, Malcolm has to face the fact his life is still in danger. He informs Thea that they must leave Starling City and never return – so dramatic! I doubt she’ll leave considering her concern for Ollie, but their on screen time together was good. Judging by her progression (she’s great with a sword), Malcolm makes an excellent teacher – though an arrogant one.

the BrickThe bad guys in this episode actually set up the storyline for the rest of the season. We were introduced to Daniel Brickwell (aka Brick), played by Vinnie Jones. Vinnie played his usually thug, which mostly paid off. I just couldn’t help comparing his opening scene to the moment Ollie challenged Ra’s al Ghul. The Brick was disciplining a member of his crew, and when I say disciplining I mean allowing him to die with a fighting chance. The guy was handed a gun, which the Brick informed him had been used to drop his first buddy. It didn’t have quite the same impact, but there’s no disputing that Vinnie is bad ass. The fact he’s planning to take over the Glades sets us up for a fun couple of weeks! He has a full crew too, men who were put away by Team Arrow (mostly) because the Brick stole all their evidence files. The fact they hadn’t yet been to trial is convenient, but hey, he has to build his crew somehow and all the Mirakuru is gone.

black canaryIt also added weight to Laurel’s need for justice. She couldn’t fight these men in the courtroom and she can’t go after her sister’s killer (not yet.) Trying and failing to keep the bad guys off the street, along with the fact Ollie is feared dead, led to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. We got our first glimpse of Laurel as the Black Canary. I think she’s going to do the role justice, so I’m excited about the development.

I do think it will be strange without Ollie, and I anticipate he’ll be recuperating for a few weeks, but I think his friends in Starling City will handle things well enough. We have a new villain to hate and a few more heroes on the horizon. Overall I was satisfied with the fall out of Ollie’s defeat.

What about you? Did you enjoy this episode? What do you think of the Brick?


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