Arrow Season 3 Ep 4 (TV Show Review)

Last week I mentioned that Arrow is really good at keeping secrets close to its chest, until the right amount of critical mass is reached to unveil said secrets. The big mystery of who was bankrolling Sebastian Blood last year was a terrific reveal, as was the whole subplot about breaking to Thea the news that Malcolm Merlyn is her blood-father, not Robert Queen. And this season, it looks like the big mystery is “Who killed Sara?”. We’ve seen some development so far, not entirely satisfactory, but it has been a good source of background tension to the show and things look set to intensify even more.

Nyssa al Ghul made her season 3 debut on the show in this week’s “The Magician“, which also happens to be the show’s 50th episode. I’d expected some really great things from the show in this episode, but it kind of failed to deliver on that expectation. Sure, it was a fairly good episode, but it just didn’t feel like such a momentous episode, though I suppose that the detail is kind of irrelevant. Either way, I had a lot of fun with this one since Katrina Law’s Nyssa is one of my favourite elements of the second season, and she turns in a grand performance here, really charging the show with some much-needed drive and direction in the hunt for Sara’s killer.

Note: Some spoilers from the episode are mentioned here.

At the end of last week’s episode, Nyssa al Ghul returned to Starling City to find out what had happened to Sara Lance. Last season we discovered that at some point after being separated from Ollie on Lian Yu, she’d joined up with the League of Assassins and that she went on to become one of its better agents, even becoming Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter’s lover. Nyssa was the one who took her in and made her into the trained fighter that she’d become, and this was honestly one of the best moments of the season. This week’s “The Magician” is all about Nyssa discovering that Sara is now dead and her joining up with Team Arrow to hunt down her killer, with Nyssa believing that since Sara was on the hunt for Malcolm Merlyn, whom the League knew was alive and well despite what happened in the season 1 finale, that he was the one to have killed her.

And it is a plausible theory of course, but hardly one that matters I think because we know that when Sara was killed, Malcolm was in Corto Maltese with Thea, training her to become a fighter. It could be that he did kill Sara on a jet-setting trip back to Starling, but then why would he antagonize Nyssa al Ghul like this? Doesn’t add up, and that’s what this episode explores.

Given that Ollie has been acting a bit dazed since he found out that Sara was dead, and that their only solid lead, Simon Lacroix, didn’t get them anywhere, Nyssa coming on the show was a great boost for the tension. She wants immediate answers with immediate results, and she forces Ollie to get off his ass and do something. Not to say that he has been less than dedicated in finding out who killed Sara, but he’s worked more on connecting with his family. It makes sense, especially given the web of lies that surrounds him and Thea (more on that later), but Sara’s death is a pretty major event in the show, and I want there to be something tangible done about it until we learn who really killed her.

Malcolm, when cornered by both Nyssa and Ollie, does offer an alternative, but it is something almost alien to both the hero and the anti-hero. Almost. The real benefit of the reveal however is that it sets up the entry of one of DC’s greatest villains at the end of the episode and while I thought that the entry was rather sudden and lackluster, I won’t deny the thrill I got when Matt Nable stepped on the scene as Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon himself, the immortal leader of the League of Assassins. He’s being built up as the big bad of the season, and his entry so early hints to me that he is going to be doing a lot of work this season, which is all well and good as far as I’m concerned.

And another thing is that this episode gave us one of the best action sequences to date, in terms of the characters involved, a three-way archery fight between Malcolm Merlyn, Oliver Queen and Nyssa al Ghul. Pure fangasm there. It is a rather brief fight unfortunately, but it is also rather well done in its briefness and is hopefully the sign of things to come, given what Nyssa reports to Ra’s at the end of the episode and the villain’s ominous reply to his daughter.

Arrow Season 3 Poster 0001

Another great thing this week was how driven Laurel herself is. She wants to find Sara’s killer and put him (or her) down, no matter the cost. She lost her sister once, found her, then lost her again as she was killed pretty much in front of her. That’s brutal. The only silver lining with this was that it set Laurel off on a new trajectory that mimics Thea’s. Both these women are tired of being helpless again and again, to suffer from lies and omissions and losses, and they just want to be able to handle things on their own. Whereas with Thea we are seeing a reformed woman who does possess the ability to hold her own in a fight, with Laurel we are seeing all of that in motion as she has started taking boxing lessons from Ted Grant, a local Starling boxer who in the comics is a mentor to many of DC’s greatest characters, especially Black Canary and Batman. Good things there!

There were a couple of dumb moments in this episode, or three, such as Team Arrow not thinking of exposing a blank piece of paper found on Sara’s body to a flame to expose the secret ink written on it until Nyssa thought to point it out, or Malcolm Merlyn standing in one of the busiest squares in Starling without any disguise and talking to Oliver as if it is just another day in the city for the two of them. Weird stuff.

One of the best things though was the healing between Roy and Thea. They are a great couple together, and it is nice to see that they are both moving on from their differences. Being the Arrow’s sidekick has done much to temper Roy’s rashness, and the same goes for Thea as well, with both of them having found a zen-like calmness in the work they’ve been doing in the last few months.

Hopefully their resurgent relationship can have a better outcome than it did before.

A final thing, I’m really curious to know why Malcolm Merlyn was granted the name of “The Magician” when he joined the League. Most interesting.

More Arrow (Season 3): Ep 1, Ep 2, Ep 3.

More Arrow (Season 2): Link.

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Posted on October 30, 2014, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

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