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When we last left Oliver Queen, he was bleeding to death on the side of a large mountain. Which, for a normal person in a normal television series, would mean almost certain death. But, you can’t have a show named Arrow without actually having the Arrow, so there was very little doubt that the show would fine a way to resurrect Oliver. The main questions was how?
I, like many people, assumed the show would use the Lazarus Pit as the means, as Ra’s al Ghul’s own throwaway line regarding his advanced age in the mid-season finale seemed to hint pretty strongly that he’s been using the Pit himself for some time. And while it would have been really cool to see the Pit utilized, I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way in which the Oliver resurrection came about. Throughout the season, the Hong Kong flashbacks have been far less engaging than Oliver’s time on the island. It’s a combination of not spending enough time with Oliver’s new roommates (I still have to look up both their names- something I never needed to do with Slade or Shado) and the entire storyline not having a clear arc or purpose beyond explaining something Oliver needs to use or do in the present day.
But, using Maseo and Katana as the means of Oliver’s rebirth was an excellent step toward making the Hong Kong plot more than simply a side story to Oliver’s main action. It also sets up an interesting arc for both Maseo and Katana for the remainder of the season. Clearly Katana is indeed rescued (and, one can assume Oliver’s actions with the tracker lead to that rescue), but their relationship is vastly different in the present. Have they split up? What’s the reason behind it? And where is their son? Suddenly, the Hong Kong tale is a great deal more complex.
The action back in Starling City was also far more engaging than I thought it would be. Sure, sad Felicity is never a fun thing to see, but watching the interplay between Diggle, Roy, and Felicity was a nice change. These are three people who, without Oliver, would not be close or interact with each other under normal circumstances. Oliver is the glue that holds them together. Without him, the gang slowly but surely falls apart. Watching Felicity crumble under the weight of reality (that what she and the team are involved in isn’t simply a superhero game- there are life and death consequences) rang very true. Too often on “superhero” shows, everyone on board begins to take for granted that the hero will always win (or, at least come out the fight injured but ready to heal and fight another day). Even though Oliver isn’t actually dead, seeing the team react to that reality was really powerful.
While Felicity retreated in her grief, seeing Diggle and Roy become even more charged to keep fighting no matter the cost also fit both characters. While Diggle should almost certainly hang up his gun, considering all he has left to lose, without Oliver there to remind him to take it easy and not make rash decisions, it makes perfect sense for him to place saving Oliver’s legacy over his family (one presumes, once the adrenaline and grief begins to subside, he’ll realize what he has left to live for). As for Roy, he has nothing outside of his identity as the Red Arrow. Oliver and the team are his family. His past leads him to accept Oliver’s death (after all, why would something good happen to him now?), but he’s just as brash and reckless as Diggle in the face of danger. Watching each of the three face Oliver’s death with different reactions deepens each of the characters in beautiful ways.
The episode’s misstep once again comes in the form of Laurel. I’ve made my peace with the fact she will be the new Black Canary, but I’m still not buying that she would be even remotely skilled enough to begin fighting at this point. I assume we are meant to believe she’s been continually training with Wildcat? Even still, I’m only just now coming around to accept that Thea could have reached something near the martial arts ability she exhibits (and that’s only with a very generous belief that Malcolm Merlyn has the ability and focus to train someone thoroughly and quickly), I can’t believe Laurel would win in a fight with two major street thugs. But, this is what the show wants us to accept, and if I can accept that there’s a slew of metahumans living a few cities over, I guess I can try to accept that Laurel Lance can fight people.
— Outside of Laurel’s suspect fighting skills, I think I’ve finally figured out what bugs me so much about Katie Cassidy’s performance. She consistently starts scenes at about an 8 on the emotion scale so there’s nowhere else for her to go when her character needs to summon any feeling or reaction. Just once, I’d like to see her build emotion or intensity throughout a scene rather than already be near her peak.
— While the episode was strong and character driven, there were certainly some major clunky lines. From that atrocious courtroom scene to Roy’s blunt “Oliver’s dead,” it was a bit all over the place.
— Could someone FINALLY tell Thea that Oliver was the Arrow? Please? It’s now reached ridiculous status that she doesn’t know and every other major character on the show does. It’s also bordering on cruel now, seeing as she’s the only character who doesn’t know he’s dead when she should, in theory, be the one most affected.
— Major kudos to the writers for not dragging out the Oliver resurrection. They could have left things hanging for a few weeks, but instead, they did the right thing and kept the show moving forward.