Arrow: 3.10 Left Behind
After an explosive season two, Arrow has gone from strength to strength, while spin-off The Flash has been a fun, super-powered alternative that have been a hits with viewers. With both shows return from their mid-season breaks, I will recap the events of each week, reviewing the highs and lows. I started with The Flash, now it is Arrow's turn...
But first, it would be remiss of me not to recap the first nine episode of season three before that momentous mid-season cliff-hanger... Sara returned to Starling city and was killed with arrows in front of Laurel. Laurel starts training as a fighter. The search for Sara's killer led to the shocking reveal that it's Roy. Except it wasn't. He becomes Arsenal. Flash comes to Starling City. Ray Palmer takes over Queen Consolidated and starts building a suit that will make him Atom. Naturally Felicity falls for him. Thea Queen starts working with her real father Malcolm Merlyn, is revealed as Sara's killer (though she wasn't aware of it) and Oliver is blackmailed into picking up Merlyn's life debt in return for not shopping Thea to Ra's Al Ghul. All that before Oliver fights the big bad and dies.
So come back after those momentous nine episodes, Arrow had a lot to live up to, not least the question of how Oliver Queen is going to find a way to cheat death and return to Starling City as the Arrow. Because there is no question that that is going to happen; the fun is in how the show gets back to that. Arrow is also a show that can drag this out as long as they like; the current Hong Kong flashbacks allow series lead Stephen Amnell to have weekly screen time without having to wrap up the aftermath of his fight with Ra's Al Ghul in one episode.
Over in Starling City, things continued without him as each character worried for Oliver's safety and later began to mourn him when Merlyn revealed the truth. Roy as Arsenal continued to kick ass; I liked that Thea was quick to point out to Roy that he was obviously the man in the red hood that had been on TV, while Diggle took on the green arrow mantle at the start of the episode in a spectacular highway chase that you would normally only see in superhero movies. It's good to see these action moments are as epic as the fights, which remain spectacularly choreographed each week.
As for the villain, I was less convinced. It must he wooden acting ham week as Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell played too equally over the top villains in Flash. Here in Arrow it was Vinnie Jones, paying Vinnie Jones as Vinnie Jones. Sure his fight with Diggle was brutal but after Slade and Malcolm Merlyn he didn't quite seem to be in the same league, certainly not as the new big bad threatening to take over the glades.
The theme of the episode was about the team holding things together in Oliver Queen's absence and the cracks quickly began to show. Felicity saved Diggle and Roy at the cost of the mission while Laurel too that fateful step we had all been waiting for since the pilot; becoming the Black Canary. Interestingly she is far from ready and has still got a long way to go to match the skills of her late sister Sara and I am intrigued to see how this is all going to play out. Particularly when Diggle and the rest inevitably run into her.
The flashbacks have finally started to develop and about time too; I haven't found the Hong Kong based trips anywhere near as thrilling as the time Oliver spent on the island with Shadow, Slade and later Sara. The seeds of his training are taking shape and Amanda Waller continues to play the ice queen, even if she doesn't quite look old enough to be in the position she is in now.
I'm guessing the real heart of these flashbacks are his connection to Maseo Yamashiro and his wife Tatsu. She continued to remain missing in the past while Waller forced them to search for the Alpha bioweapon before it fell into the hands of China White and the Triad. In the present we saw the surprise reveal of Maseo as one of Ra's Al Ghul's League of Assassins in the previous episode and this week we saw it was him that retrieved Oliver's body from the base of the canyon after his defeat. Tatsu turned up at the very end in a surprise reveal, apparently able to resurrect Oliver from death.
It all helps to add connection to the Hong Kong adventures but I would have been quite happy for the mystery of what had happened to Oliver to have dragged out a little longer. Arrow is continuing to build and build nicely. Some shows hit a slump in their third season; Arrow just improves with age. There are a lot of pieces in play now and I am excited to see where they all fall.