Ironically, this week's Arrow did little in terms of “restoring” faith in the franchise. I admit I've been pretty on-board with things thus far:
Awesome new villain
Excellent new suit (have I mentioned his biceps yet?)
No-more-secrets Oliver … for now ...
However, this week reminded us of many of the previous seasons' flaws, assuring viewers that some things never change. I don't know – maybe it's the fact that it's later in the week, so I'm tired. Maybe it's because it's getting colder so I'm moodier. Maybe it's because the CW has yet to reward us/me with shirtless Oli doing the salmon ladder.
Or maybe, just maybe, this episode simply isn't that great.
Let's explore the latter.
The first hint that this episode was going to get on my nerves dealt with one of my (least) favorite characters: Laurel. This girl continues to impress me with ways she hasn't got a clue. First of all, I give her a dismally small compliment last week, and what does she do? Stomp all over it with her whiny stubbornness. Seriously, I'm usually a huge supporter of trying to “make things work” in relationships, but I'm definitely understanding why old school Oli felt the need to stray from this drama queen.
Smart call, sir.
She literally spends the entire episode whining about how, even though everyone has super legit points as to why Sara should stay dead, she's right simply because … she knows she's right? You'd think a lawyer & assistant DA would offer us something better than the Veruca Salt approach.
So it should come as no surprise that somehow Laurel gets her way, and Sara is brought back via the “Magic Hot Tub” that then conveniently freezes over. So everyone is upset. Either about Laurel being selfish or about Nyssa being vindictive or generally about Oliver.
Speaking of which, let's discuss Diggle's Oli-issue, since we're on the topic of people being whiny. While I am always a fan of anytime Felicity takes a stand and gets work done (maybe she's the only adult – I always assumed it was Diggle, but she's definitely the most consistently drama-free of the group), I have to agree with Oliver's stance of “What did I do?” following her throw down of the communication gauntlet to the two sulky team mates.
Yes, Oliver crossed a line.
Yes, Diggle has a right to be upset.
Yes, he's also a grown man/soldier and should be able to get over it by now.
I mean, what is John's ideal situation? Oliver goes away and the new Team Arrow (sans Arrow) goes on fighting crime in Star City? Well, that set-up didn't last a year, so I think it's safe to say Oliver is probably not going anywhere. Therefore, to a reasonable (less emotionally driven) person, it would make sense to simply bury the hatchet.
But noooo …
Oliver has to take a hit before the ex-bodyguard takes a hint. Hopefully, between the relationship counseling session & the confrontation with Double Down, they've finally tied up their drama, which means in the future, I can go back to mostly complaining about Laurel. #everybodywins
But before I do, let's turn our attention to another favorite: our favorite toss-up character (as in “Are you all bad or mostly bad? Or maybe actually good?”) and – said in my best Bob Barker voice - the NEW leader of the League, Malcolm Merlyn!
Admittedly, his sassiness is infectious; however his back-and-forth nature when it comes to decision-making makes me think he's really a lonely kid on the playground just trying to make at least one friend. His wishy washy nature has, in fact, led him to have very few friends, and this episode showcases that beautifully.
First of all, he's not exactly the most intimidating Ra's Al Ghul. He spends his time sparring with Nyssa instead of plotting world domination, and guy hasn't even tried to grow any facial hair since he assumed the throne (and we all know good facial hair is oddly helpful at appearing villainous). The fact that he sets two of his men on Thea simply to let them die doesn't inspire much confidence for him as a leader, either.
Overall, he lacks the confidence to lead successfully. For example, did anyone else find it weird that Malcolm was whispering to Thea while discussing the Lazarus' Pit?
Dude, you're freaking Ra's Al Ghul – you don't have to whisper in your own pad.
Who was he hiding from? His own men having to see him change his mind (yet again) because he wants so badly for his daughter to love him? Malcolm, I've been in this kind of relationship – if someone doesn't like you, you can't change it, man. (cue Taylor Swift's “Teardrops of My Guitar,” am I right?)
I had high hopes for this character at the end of last season. He's been a good, solid love-to-hate bad guy. I assumed he'd basically give Team Arrow the finger for helping him assume the position as Ra's and come back to Star City with a vengeance. But instead we've got a guy in a robe who isn't even immortal anymore trying to impress a little girl.
So, I guess in a way, this episode did “restore” a lot of what the other seasons had going on. These moments just happened to be the ones I had hoped they'd given up for good. However, if Arrow has taught us anything, it's no one can mentally mature past the age of thirteen.
Except, as mentioned before, Felicity. She is quickly becoming the most bad ass of all without needing a superhero ability, a leather costume OR the help of her team to get it done.
While this episode predominantly focuses on its whiners (coincidentally making me whine throughout this entire review), perhaps it helps us better appreciate the episode's conclusion. And by that, I mean we can all raise a glass in praise of the Restoration of the OG's – Original Gangsters & Trio of Awesome that started us all on this emotional, butt-kicking journey (and yes, I included an old photo because it embodies everything that is awesome about the original Team Arrow: brains, brawn and witty banter). Thanks, Team. Until next week.
Margot is a huge supporter of all things relating to "nerd culture," in particular those involving superheroes and Disney. She loves books, movies, music and working out, and currently lives in Athens, GA, with her rabbit, Gigi.