Advent Review #4: Arrow Season 3 Ep 8 (TV Show Review)

The previous episode of Arrow brought out Arrow-fangirl Cupid who wanted to be the hero’s sidekick and even developed a ruinous romantic attraction for him. It was a pretty decent episode that also brought forward the expected kickassery of Tatsu Yamashiro, the future superhero Katana. However, it was a relatively stand-alone episode and what actually leads into this week’s Arrow is the episode of The Flash from this week (review), where Team Arrow went to Central City on a case and ended up teaming up with Team Flash for some really good times that also featured a rather spectacular battle between Oliver and Barry.

And in this week’s “The Brave and The Bold“, we get to see a direct continuation of that episode as Team Flash visits Team Arrow in Starling to help them in their search for Sara’s killer, only to end up being the targets for new villain-on-the-block, Digger Harkness, former member of Lyla Michaels’ Task Force X aka Suicide Squad. This was a pretty intense action-oriented episode that only Arrow can do, and also recently that The Flash can do, and I loved this second team-up of these heroes, and all the little things that led to the spectacular ending, which was a cut above all that we’ve seen so far on both shows.

In my review of this week’s The Flash, I mentioned that while on the surface the episode was about Barry and Oliver teaming up to stop the villain Ray Bivolo who could make people go rage-insane just by looking at them, below the surface it was about both characters maturing into the next phase of their relationship. They also moved beyond the hero-worship that Barry has for Oliver and by the end, it was a stonking good episode that stands as some of the finest superhero television I’ve seen to date. And then came this week’s Arrow and I was utterly floored yet again as writers Marc Guggenheim, Grainne Godfree, Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti upped the stakes significantly and delivered a power-house writing performance that also saw the actors give their best.

The Arrow crossover episode deals with Teams Flash and Arrow fighting against Digger Harkness, the future Captain Boomerang as he is named by Cisco towards the end. Digger turned out to be a much more interesting villain than I’d thought possible, since the writers gave him a real attitude and history while also upping his badass quotient. The fact that he starts off by being a member of the Suicide Squad who was “scrubbed” during a failed op but survived to take his revenge on other ARGUS agents, it just adds to the whole tone and mood of the episode.

Team Flash arrives in Starling to help Felicity with the investigation for Sara’s murder, and it is kind of nice to see that they are all friends to the degree that Cisco and Caitlin would just head over to Starling on a whim when their work could have been handled better via digital media and transmission. It kind of is a bit silly, truth be told, but it is not a big deal really and I can get behind something like that since the overall execution beats expectations.

And the meeting of both Barry and Oliver is something to remember. They collaborated on the Bivolo case “recently” and now Barry is thinking that the two can partner up to take down Digger Harkness. This creates a very different mechanic for the characters and their relationships since this time they are not fighting against each other but are working with each other, and that is a pretty big step forward. The camaraderie between all the characters is totally on-point all through the episode and I especially enjoyed the developing fascination Roy has Cisco. These two seem to hit off from the start, and it is nice to see that Roy has someone more his age around to talk with and joke with. It is a pretty basic thing, what happens between the two of them during their “indirect” bonding, but it is definitely top-notch stuff.

Plus, since Digger is a former ARGUS agent recently come back from a failed op, he is targeting other ARGUS assets and neutralizing them. Which of course naturally puts him in the range to take down Lyla Michaels, Diggle’s ex-wife and also his current live-in partner and the mother of his daughter. Lyla has been a supporting character for the most part with this series, but with this episode I felt that she took several steps further she is able to teach to Diggle the way that he often teaches Oliver, about finding his center and what not. Good things are happening!

In this week’s episode, we get to see some real fun moments with Lyla, and it is in those moments that she really shines. For example, she helps Oliver work through his issues with Barry once the latter sees for himself just how unremittingly dark Starling is when compared to Central City, and that living in a place like that means that Team Flash largely wears blinders and cannot really deal with the darkness of Oliver’s home-ground. I liked Lyla as a mentor and a friend, far more than I like her as an ARGUS agent since her ARGUS work never really comes to focus in the show. Which isn’t really all that big a criticism to be honest, and I loved this episode.

If Oliver’s entry into The Flash episode was superb, then so was true for Barry’s entry into Arrow, which also involved him running past a confused Thea who is wondering just what the hell happened to her. Really hilarious.

Arrow Season 3 Poster 0001

The flashbacks this week went back to Hong Kong as usual, but they also included some really interesting “beginnings” of who and what Oliver became to be able to take on the persona of the crusading angel that he was when he started being a vigilante and still is, to some degree. This week, Amanda Waller forces him to resort to torture as a means of interrogating someone. There is a rather tragic twist to this that goes on to have a big effect on Oliver in the flashback and in the present, and I liked the turn that the show is taking. Is Oliver more Arrow than himself? Does he have his humanity still? What cost does he pay to do what he does, day after day? What kind of a man is Oliver really?

Of course, we see some stuff from Barry as well when he is talking to Oliver about the kind of person and hero he is, what he means to people everywhere. And this all goes back to Barry’s chat with Oliver at the end of the first episode of The Flash, when Barry asked him for some advice and Oliver said that Barry could be an inspiration like he couldn’t be himself. Neat little call-back that deserves a lot of mention I do reckon.

By the end of this episode though, we don’t get any explanation for whoever killed Sara, something that was task-dropped in the first episode of the whole crossover and which is pretty much Caitlin and Cisco’s impromptu visit to Starling City. But at the same time though, there is ample here to keep anyone busy and that is exactly what happens.

The ending of this episode is pretty spectacular and welcomingly enough, the answer to the question of “who will win in a fight against the other” remains to be seen. I liked the ambiguity of the whole thing. Standalone episode that does a damn good job of doing what it set out to do and that certainly didn’t beat around the bush on certain things.

Absolutely loved this episode!

More Arrow (Season 3): Ep 1, Ep 2, Ep 3, Ep 4, Ep 5, Ep 6, Ep 7.

More Arrow (Season 2): Link.

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Posted on December 4, 2014, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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