Arrow 3.12: Uprising
One of the most pleasing elements of Arrow since its mid-season return has been its ability to pace itself. Oliver's death at the hands of Ra's al Ghul was a big turning point in the show and it had the patience to deal with the ramifications of what happened without having Oliver returning to Starling City at the end of the first episode.
The chaos left in his wake has been one of the most interesting elements of the show over the last few weeks. Roy as Arsenal has stepped into the void becoming a more confident hero while Laurel has taken those fateful steps towards becoming Black Canary. As demonstrated last week, she has a long way to go and her actions are going to have a lot of consequences, but it is nice to see Kate Cassidy get a decent character arc in Laurel.
Vinnie Jones as Daniel Brickman served his role well; he was playing the character he always plays but as his story progressed over the three episodes, it worked. Brickman wasn't a Slade or Ra's al Ghul or a Malcom Merlyn but he had the presence and aggression to be a dangerous threat to Starling City. Once again the Glades was a lost cause; you have to wonder after the Reckoning, Slade's super soldiers and now Brickman's assault on the Glades, why anyone would volunteer to live in that part of the city. Would it not be better to burn it to the ground and start again?
Before Oliver made his return as the Arrow there were plenty of surprises as the war against Brickman reached its dramatic conclusion. Malcolm was the one to get the flashback treatment this week. I don't think we learned anything new but it was interesting to see what turned a loving father and husband into The Dark Archer we know today. Was Brickamn being revealed as his wife's killer completely necessary? Not really, but it did give him the motivation to join 'Team Arrow' and take up the fight against him.
The idea of an alliance with the devil made for an interesting development; Roy, learning that Malcom saved Thea, led him to agree, as did Laurel who's darker path made that choice all the more believable. Felicity of course was dead against the idea, making Oliver's choice at the end of the episode all the more tragic.
Aided by Tatsu, Oliver made his eventual return to Starling City just as Merlyn confronted Brickman while Arsenal and Black Canary led the vengeful people of the Glades into a battle against Brickman's men. Sin, the street kid companion of Sara's Black Canary and Laurel's trainer Ted Grant - aka Wildcat - joined the fight to give the battle for the Glades a more dramatic edge. Personally I thought it seemed a little too light touch; the body count not as high as I imagined it would be, but it did show that the heroes of the city were more than just people in masks.
As for Oliver, his return had a little bit of a confusing The Dark Knight Rises feel to it. One minute he's saying goodbye to Tatsu in some Asian wilderness, the next moment he is in Starling City, stopping Merlyn from killing Brickman and giving a rousing speech to the people of the Glades. Still, this return felt earned and I am interested to see how he reacts to everything that has happened.
Laurel for one. In the month since he fought Ra's al Ghul she has taken up her sister's mantle; this is not something he will accept lightly. As for her father, Sin's revelation that the Black Canary he saw wasn't Sara led him closer to the truth. What will be worse - the fact that Sara is dead or that Laurel not only hid it from him but pretended to be her to keep him breaking?
"Before you left, the last thing you said to me was that you loved me. Now you're back and the first thing you tell me is that you're working with the man who turned your sister, a woman you're supposed to love, into a killer who killed a woman you used to love! I don't want to be a woman that you love."
That final confrontation between Felicity and Oliver dashed any hopes of a romantic reunion. By doing the one thing she said he never would - allying with Merlyn, training with him in order to defeat Ra's al Ghul - he had gone down a path she won't follow. That is probably a sensible thing. Only time will tell if she will remain with team Arrow. Perhaps Ray Palmer's Atom will need a techy ally in the coming weeks?
One thing is for certain; season three has shaken things up and I am excited to see what direction the show takes next.