TV SHOW: Arrow
SEASON/EPISODE: 3.04 ‘The Magician’
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Wendy Mericle, Marc Guggenheim/John Behring
After finding out that Malcolm Meryln is still alive and hiding in Starling City, Team Arrow come to believe that the Dark Archer is actually Sara’s killer. But is he really?
Okay, this is more like it. After the first few episodes of this season, which did not have any real kind of forward momentum to them (I certainly did not feel any kind of sense as to where the show was going with this season’s arc or what that arc was supposed to be before this instalment), this episode finally kicks it up a notch and delves back into two of Arrow’s stronger story-lines. That being Malcolm Merlyn, while the other is the League of Assassin’s (yes I know they are both linked too, which is also a good thing).
I will say though, that I did start to have a sense of déjà vu with this story of ‘who is Sara’s killer?’ which went through the same motions as the episode ‘Sara’ (as nearly everyone came to believe that Malcolm was now the younger Lance’s killer, just like with Komodo. So once again, they let anger and grief guide them forward towards someone who is actually innocent of that crime, but certainly guilty of plenty of others), so it was good to see that Oliver was the only person with his head clear and looking for answers and not just wanting to get justice. We instead leave that to Nyssa and Laurel, who both want Merlyn’s head on spike.
It’s funny that though everyone is grieving over Sara’s death (generally that brings people together when they grieve over the same person, as they all have common ground with their feelings for said person), the show still manages to turn them all against each other for a time with first Laurel verbally attacking Nyssa, blaming her for Sara’s death. Then Oliver and his ‘no more killing’ rules become the their focus of attack, as he will not kill Merlyn if/when they face each other. I just feel that we have already seen this story in the previous episode (which I mentioned earlier in this review, so that took me out of the episode a little).
But where this episode was stronger was Malcolm Meryln (like I said earlier, he is one of the best things about season one, and John Barrowman looks like he is having a blast with the role) and he is one of the show’s best and most deadly villains (alongside Slade Wilson), so that made this episode more interesting and engaging than the previous instalments of this season. Katrina Law was also good as Nyssa once again and the three way fight scene between her, Oliver and Merlyn was very well choreographed and executed.
Now on to the big reveal at the episode’s end, where we finally got to see Ra’s Al Ghul himself, no I will admit that my main exposure to the character comes from Batman the animated Series, The Dark Knight Trilogy and Arkham City. So I can’t really say much about how Matt Nable brings to the role, especially since he only had this one scene so far (though at the moment, I can’t say that he has the same screen presence as Liam Neeson), but considering how well Malcom Merlyn and Slade Wilson were developed during their appearances on Arrow. I hope that the same can be done for this character, especially since he has been a shadow over the series since the start of the second season.
Now the flashbacks about Oliver in Hong Kong were more interesting this time around, but once again they feel very disjointed and out of place when you take into account the current season’s modern day story. I mean the past events are obviously showing how Oliver became a killer without a conscious, but I feel that this would have made more sense (at least in story telling terms) with season two when the Arrow decided not to kill any more as it would have brought a more conflict to how Oliver was going to change his ways.
But anyway, apart from that. At least now we seem to have a direction and point for this season which appears to be the League of Assassins and their Leader, and that is something I am looking forward to seeing, more so than the flashback‘s this time around.