Arrow 3.11: Midnight City
This week continued to deal with the aftermath of Oliver's duel with Ra's al Ghul, with the titular hero sitting out the action going on in Starling City once again. But there was still some good stuff for Stephen Amell to get his teeth into both in the past and present as his connection with Maseo and Tatsu continued to develop.
In the past, the Hong-Kong-based flashbacks continued to gain traction as Oliver and Maseo went on a mission into Triad-held territory to rescue Tatsu from China White. It was much more intriguing now that we have seen them in the present. Maseo double crossing Amanda Wallace by giving White the Alpha device was shocking - and ultimately a red herring - that might have suggested why his path led him to joining the League of Shadows. Worse still, the fate of their son hung like an elephant in the room in the present-day scenes; at the end of the episode's final flashback the couple were reunited with Akio but his fate looks to be a tragic one as the season progresses.
Things continued to spiral out of control back in Starling City as Vinnie Jones's villain Danny Brickwell continue escalated his wave of violence by leading a shocking attack on the mayor, involving Laurel, her father, Ray and Felicity. Jones is still playing the character he always plays - an aggressive OTT hard man, but this week he felt like a proper threat to everyone in the city. Meanwhile Ray's devotion to becoming a hero continued to build and he his very much becoming the Bruce Wayne of the show - albeit a more smiley version of Bruce Wayne!
His connection to Felicity helped fuel her return to her fold. After leaving behind team Arrow and berating Ray for his plans last week, she reconnected with both by then end as the chaos caused by Brickwell spiraled out of control. But it wasn't just her decision to help Ray build her suit that was a big step, it was her decision to help Laurel become the Black Canary.
Because this really was Laurel's episode, one that we had been waiting for since the show began two and a half years ago. She made the fateful first step to becoming the second Black Canary at the end of last week and it didn't take long fer her actions to attract the attention of Diggle and Arsenal. Naturally their first action was to try and convince her to stop, something that only happened when the first of Brickwell's kidnap victims was killed. Yet Felicity saw the need for her to help continue Oliver's mission, enabling her to team up with Roy to rescue the hostages and score a short-lived victory against Brickwell.
What was really great about her journey this episode was that she didn't naturally fit into Sara's shoes. She fell, she was injured and she was beaten several times but she kept going; an attempt at training and her revenge-fuelled determination allowed her to become a hero. She still has a massively long way to go in the weeks - and years - ahead but she has potential if she gets the right support.
Laurel's judgement this season has taken a U turn, gone off the beaten track and then jumped off the bridge. Yet even taking all that into account, I still don't understand her decision to keep her father Quentin in the dark about Sara's death. It was one thing to not reveal her death in order to protect his health when she was a global-trotting assassin half way across the world. But mimicking her dead sister in a call to him and then pretending to be her from a shadowy balcony seems a step too far.
Overall, another strong episode and I am glad the show is taking its time to bringing Oliver back into the fold. It is really interesting to see how everyone deals with his absence and it will be all the more rewarding when he returns to help Starling City in the nick of time. Because everyone needs him. Laurel needs guidance, Brickman has the upper hand and now - surprise! - Thea's baby faced DJ is the actually a member of the League of Shadows too. That isn't going to go down too well when Oliver - and Malcolm Merlyn - finds out about that. The weeks ahead are going to be a lot of fun.