Legion contributor Andrea Levine is recapping and reviewing Arrow for us this season. Follow her on Twitter @wysefyre!
O.M.G! In one of the strongest episodes this season, we were treated to the return of Oliver, the backstory of Malcolm Merlyn, the return of Sin, a showdown between Brick and the people in the Glades, and an important development in Olicity. Oh, and Roy is terrible at having a secret identity.
Let’s start with this week’s flashback. It’s all about Malcolm. It turns out that once upon a time, he was a slightly uptight but loving father with an awful haircut. Seriously, given his wealth, he should have had better hair. He adored Tommy, who called his mom ‘mummy,’ even though he wasn’t British, but when the police tell Malcolm his wife, Rebecca, was murdered everything changed. Consumed by his anger and grief, he attempts to attack the prime suspect in the case, but fails miserably. The thug beats the snot out of him, and in a desperate moment, Malcolm shoots him. But it doesn’t help. He’s still filled with rage and it’s out of control, so he decides to leave Tommy, who just lost his mother, and go to Nanda Parbat to try and turn the anger into something else. Once at Nanda, he meets a young Nyssa al Ghul. She’s ready to kill him, but using the age-old child mesmerizing technique of pulling a quarter out of her ear, she gives him his League name instead – “The Magician.”
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the episode. We open with Oliver getting ready to head back to Starling City against Tatsu’s wishes. Naturally, he doesn’t listen and goes. She follows him. He asks her to join him, but she doesn’t want to see him die. They talk a little bit about how in order to defeat Ra’s al Ghul, Oliver must become like him. “Only the student has hope of defeating the master.” They part ways, and Oliver begins his journey home.
In Starling City, the Glades are a mess. Team Arrow, particularly Laurel and Roy, have been in the thick of it, trying to take the place of the police. Sin glimpses Laurel and thinks Sara has returned. More on that later. Quentin has been feeling particularly useless, so he decides to help Team Arrow off the books. He contacts Roy to give him all the evidence the SCPD has on Brick, hoping the team can do something with it. He also lets Roy know he knows his secret identity. Constantly wearing a red hood in both real life and as your alter ego is probably not the wisest decision. This is Arrow, not Power Rangers.
Felicity goes through all the info and discovers Brick’s gun was used in the unsolved murder of Rebecca Merlyn, much to the surprise of everyone including Malcolm, who has bugged the Arrow Cave. He doesn’t take the news too well, and immediately starts making plans to remedy this. Malcolm tells Thea about his mistake and she tries to talk him out of going after Brick, but no such luck. Malcolm shaped his whole life around avenging his wife. He thought he had put it to rest, and it justified all the decisions he had made after. To him, his being wrong means that if he had this information, he might have chosen differently, and Tommy would be alive, and the Undertaking might not have happened. It’s a sad but great moment for Malcolm. We get to see him vulnerable. Of course, that quickly changes and he becomes hell bent on going after Brick, but it’s nice to get a peek under the hood.
Felicity is able to track Brick to the SCPD precinct in the Glades. Laurel and Roy go in and begin to take Brick’s men out one at a time, but Brick quickly finds them, and would have destroyed them had Malcolm not appeared and saved them. *Grumble, grumble.* Brick escapes.
Malcolm suggests he and Team Arrow team up against Brick, but Felicity won’t hear it. She says Oliver would never agree to such a thing. Roy, however, is leaning towards yes, because Thea told him about what happened during Slade’s attack on Starling. She made him see that Malcolm does care, just in his own twisted, messed up way. In the end, Roy loses. No team up. At least, not with Malcolm.
All the talk about getting more help makes the team think. They decide to appeal to the people in the Glades. Roy goes to Sin to get people, and Laurel approaches Ted. After yelling at her about putting on the mask, he agrees.
They take their group of people to where Brick is holed up, and it looks like a scene out of The Dark Knight Rises, with the two opposing groups going at each other. Don’t get me wrong, I love scenes like this, but I think it’s time Arrow stopped trying to sprinkle Batman in every chance they get.
Brick nearly kills Ted then tries to get away, but Malcolm corners him and proceeds to go cuckoo bananas on him. After Brick reveals he killed Rebecca to get in with a gang, Malcolm is ready to kill him with Brick’s own gun, but Oliver shows up just in time. He manages to convince Malcolm to not kill Brick for Thea. After Brick and his men are captured, Oliver gives a passionate speech apologizing to the people for not being there, promising to never let it happen again, and commending them on surviving in his absence. It’s a great speech that fells like he’s talking to both the people of Starling and the audience. Now we know Arrow can survive without Oliver. But we don’t want that.
During the melee, Sin realizes the Black Canary is not Sara. After Brick’s takedown, she approaches Quentin and enlightens him. He’s understandably confused. I don’t look forward to him finding out.
Malcolm goes to Thea and lets her know he didn’t kill Brick, and Oliver shows up. He explains away his absence by saying he was in jail in Bludhaven. See? More Batman. Unless they’re going to introduce us to Nightwing, enough with Batman. We don’t need him. Oliver and Malcolm are surprisingly civil to each other, and in a moment alone, Oliver asks him to train him to be more like Ra’s. Malcolm agrees.
This reminds me a little of Avatar the Last Airbender, when Zuko offers to be Aang’s firebending teacher. The big differences are Zuko wanted to be good, and Aang didn’t lose the woman he loved, unlike Oliver, who devastates Felicity when he tells her about his plans. She had hoped when he returned they might have a chance to be together, but she can’t support his decision to align himself with the man who has caused him nothing but pain. As she points out, Malcolm turned Thea, a woman Oliver loves, into the murderer of Sara, another woman Oliver loved, and she (Felicity) doesn’t want to be a woman he loved. Ouch. And this is where we leave it. Oliver is sacrificing Felicity in order to learn from Malcolm to protect Thea. Lucky him, right?