On the D/L – Arrow
Season 3 Episode 11 – “Midnight City”
Arrow seems to have come back fighting after the mid season break and has fully committed to starting to the buildup to the season end.
Oliver Queen is still out of commission in this episode. He’s alive but in a lot of pain and nowhere near Starling City. His present day set scenes are all spent with Maseo and Tatsu who are nursing him back to health. The reasons for him being alive are still unclear but I am disappointed by the apparent lack of a Lazarus Pitt. The show has Ra’s Al Ghul, a dead character and a debt that needed repaid so there was no reason to not use this.
Wasted comic book potential aside I found the material really strong here. Oliver seems regretful that Maseo has risked everything to save Oliver and fears the repercussions that will come his way when -not if- Ra’s Al Ghul finds out that he helped Oliver. I get the impression that Oliver almost feels as if he’d never been saved if that action causes harm to someone he respects and cares about.
I really like the dynamic between Maseo and Tatsu here. It’s a stark contrast to how they seem in the flashbacks where they are incredibly devoted to one another. I wonder what causes them to drift apart in such a profound way. My money is on the death or kidnapping of their son. There’s an overriding sense of awkwardness to their scenes together as they are forced to be around each other to help Oliver. Despite being introduced this season I feel invested in these character and I’m keen to learn more about them.
Maseo is also conflicted over his loyalty to the League of Assassin’s as well as his loyalty to Oliver. Clearly he feels a stronger connection to Oliver but as we well know there is no escaping the League and betraying them only has one very unfortunate result.
After a tease last week we are given Laurel’s first proper appearance as the new Black Canary and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how this was handled. I was half expecting a few months of boxing lessons to result in her becoming an unstoppable and skilled fighter but it’s actually quite the opposite. Put simply her first attempts at heroism are a complete disaster. She is completely incompetent and incapable of taking on Brick’s goons which leads to the death of one of the hostages. Her later confrontation with Brick didn’t go well either.
I like that she has a significant learning curve to go through. Her fighting style is unfocussed and sloppy with no real idea of what is truly at stake. It’s a great contrast to Sara’s time as the Black Canary and works well as a point of development for her character.
The return of the Black Canary had some interesting consequences. Reported sightings of her in the city cause Quentin to believe that Sara is back since he still doesn’t know that his daughter is dead. This opens up a massive can of worms as Laurel is forced to use Felicity’s handy computer magic to mimic her sister’s voice so that her father can hear from her dead daughter. I still don’t know why Laurel doesn’t just tell him the truth. I can’t imagine how furious he’ll be when he finally does find out and the weak explanation of his heart being weak doesn’t really work. I’m guessing that when he does find out it’ll cause him so much stress that he’ll have a heart attack and cause Laurel to feel even more guilty.
Roy didn’t fare much better than Laurel with his heroics. He’s a clever guy with lots of skills but he is no Oliver Queen. He lacks the sight of the big picture that Oliver had and has no idea how to strategise in a way that will lead to victory. He rushes to take on Brick with no real plan and it works out about as well as you might expect. The effort is to be commended but he’s got a long way to go.
I liked seeing him try to be proactive when investigating Malcolm Merlyn. Obviously he’s incapable of intimidating him but Malcolm only seems to be intimidated by Ra’s Al Ghul. Their conversation where Roy tells him how bad an idea it is to lie to Thea and forces Malcolm to reconsider his tactics when trying to deal with her.
Malcolm and Thea’s story was good too. I liked that she managed to convince him to stay and fight rather than run and hide. She points out that people all over the world want him dead so he might as well face his problems directly. I wonder how much of a match Thea and Malcolm will be for the entire League of Assassin’s but since it looks like Ra’s Al Ghul is the endgame for this season I guess we’ll find out.
Felicity seems to complete the arc started in the previous episode. After quitting last week she has something of an epiphany when she reconsiders her motivation for wanting to help in the first place. She’s not trying to avenge the people she’s lost any more and has renewed determination to protect those she cares about it. As she puts it, Brick is attacking their home and it’s their duty to defend it when nobody else will.
I like determined Felicity, she will really shake things up and get it done. I wonder if she’ll take charge of the team in Oliver’s absence and give them direction again. They really need to start winning battles especially with Brick getting more dangerous.
Ray Palmer’s desire to do good with his super suit feeds into this nicely. Felicity has gone from refusing to help him kill himself to making sure that he doesn’t get himself killed. Ray is going to do this anyway so she might as well do all she can to help and make sure he comes home. Ray’s motivations have shifted as well. He now seems to be inspired to protect people rather than avenge his lost love. The lack of Oliver in the story is really allowing the supporting cast to come into their own and that’s something I really like.
Brick is actually turning out to be a really capable villain. He’s no Slade Wilson still but more than a match for the current iteration of Team Arrow. His plan is simple and he has the intelligence as well as the muscle to carry it out. Managing to blackmail the Mayor and the police in the way that he did was great to see and just shows how big a threat this character is.
I really could not be bothered with the DJ character who turns out to be a League spy. I don’t feel that this character was needed for the purpose of providing intel back to the League. I’m sure Ra’s Al Ghul could have better spies placed to find out what he needs to know. Maybe this will get better but for now I can’t be bothered with this character at all.
A fantastic episode that furthers Laurel’s journey to being the comic accurate Black Canary as well as developing Team Arrow’s place in the universe without their leader.
Laurel’s story was a nice surprise in showing how unprepared and incompetent she really is when it comes to heroics. Her impulsive nature only really helps in getting people killed as well as almost having her wind up that way herself. Laurel’s decision to take on the mantle of the Black Canary opens up a can of worms as Quentin still believes that Sara is alive and has returned to fight crime. Laurel perpetuating this lie probably isn’t the best idea.
Roy has a long way to go before being a truly effective crime fighter. He’s strong and skilled but lacks any sense of strategy so rushes in blindly and suffers consequences as a result. It’s clear that he’s missing something without the leadership of Oliver Queen.
His investigation of Malcolm Merlyn was nicely handled as he urges him to stop lying to Thea after knowing the problems that can cause first hand. It’s interesting how it forces Malcolm to rethink his approach when it comes to dealing with her.
Felicity’s character arc was nicely handled. I like how she switched gears from feeling motivated to avenge Oliver to being inspired to protect those she cares about in order to honour him. There’s a bit of hometown pride in there too as she wants to protect her home.
Ray Palmer feeds into this story as well with his motivations challenged at their most basic level and his focus being shifted to protection rather than revenge. Felicity’s decision to help him stay alive rather than seeing it as assisting his inevitable suicide is also a nice shift.
Brick is becoming a pretty memorable villain so far with a clear plan and an intelligent way of carrying it out. He’s definitely more than a match for the current Team Arrow and has been firmly established as a more than credible threat.
Oliver’s scenes were brief but memorable in this episode. His interactions with Maseo and Tatsu were great to see and I like how the show is handling their relationship. Clearly something happened between them that hasn’t been revealed by the flashbacks yet but seeing the awkward tension between them is fascinating to watch. I also like how Oliver seems to feel like Maseo made a mistake saving him given how horrible it will likely turn out for him once Ra’s Al Ghul catches up to him.