Series Issues: Arrow 3×14 – The Return

(Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW)

(Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW)

Spoilers might swing down upon you.

Alternate Title: The killer in me is the killer in you

Welcome back to Lian Yu. The island seems like a recurring character now. This time, we get the dynamic duo of Oliver and Thea training. It’s almost peaceful until Oliver discovers Merlyn has allowed Slade to escape. The real threat isn’t him. The truth about Sara’s death is bubbling to the surface and Oliver can’t seem to keep a lid on it. Sorry for all the cooking references, I was preparing my dinner. Anyhow, Thea can tell Oliver is keeping yet something else from her and it’s throwing their dynamic out of sync which is no good with Slade stalking them.

Back in the flashback timeline, Oliver and Maseo must find Chien Na Wei (China White) and to do that they must track down an executive from Queen Consolidated. However, Waller is quick to warn Oliver against making any contact while in Starling City. That doesn’t stop him from stalking Thea, Laurel and his late friend Tommy. It’s weird to see the Queen mansion again as we reuse the sets from the first seasons. We even get a chance to get a sneak peek at John Diggle and as it turns out, Oliver almost ran into Felicity all the way back then.

It kinda had a feeling of Back to the Future 2 as we revisit scenarios with Oliver been careful not to be seen but walking right by his family and friends. The fun ends when he faces Thea’s drug dealer and kills him – it’s self defense but it’s something he would’ve avoided nowadays. Quentin gets some deja vu as he’s repeating a vicious cycle caused by the same event – Sara’s death back then and now. He’s fallen off the wagon and poor Laurel acts as the pincushion of all his diatribes. I empathize with both of them, but this dysfunctional  relationship will take more than a couple of AA meetings to solve.

Back on the island, Oliver and Thea get jumped by Slade and put in his old prison cell. As Thea takes this chance to grill him about Sara, Oliver finds a way out just before having to reveal the truth to her. However, as they go back outside he must push Thea out of the way of one of his own traps. As he gets hurt in the process, Thea sees her chance and pushes him (figuratively) into a corner. Thea finally learns she was Sara’s killer.

Meanwhile back in time, Oliver is convinced he just must step away from the mission and go back to his family, ignoring the threat of Waller and ARGUS. Soon after he’s made this choice he listens to a video message from his father explaining the book (you remember the book, right?) and his call to arms to save the city. Oliver’s reaction is to rejoin Maseo and help him capture Chien. Which they do. Relatively easily actually. After that, Waller wants him to return to Hong Kong, but Oliver is adamant on staying. Enter General Matthew Shrieve played by Marc Singer (another comic book character, leads the Creature Commandos although in this case he just seems to be calling the shots at ARGUS). Shrieve tells Oliver that after being debriefed in China he can take off wherever he wants.

It’s Slade time in current time again, and Oliver is hurt. Fortunately, Thea is no slouch in the fighting department although they need each other to hold their own against Deathstroke. Finally, Thea pulls out a gun given by Oliver and almost ends him right then and there. Slade goes back to prison. He manages to psychologically hurt Oliver once again as he tells him that he’s lost his sister as he has lost everyone in his family. Oliver can’t disagree.

Oliver and Thea return to Starling City and face Merlyn. Thea lets him have it, as she still agrees with Oliver on their strained alliance, but states she will not be his daughter ever again.

Highs:

  • Thea Queen (Willa Holland) has grown leaps and bounds. She’s now capable of facing Oliver and putting Merlyn in his place. The difference with her party girl past self which we also get to see in the flashback timeline is a complete era apart. Her final speech to Merlyn is epic.
  • Quentin Lance and Laurel Lance go through some trying times twice. For some reason, it’s worse the second time around. Good and bad here, but the heavy scenes make me admire Paul Blackthorne (Quentin).
  • There are tons of easter eggs. Quentin’s partner joking about a vigilante killing the drug dealer. Felicity telling Oliver’s portrait that he’s cute. Tommy Merlyn inviting Laurel for dinner.
  • Colin Donnell reprises his role as Tommy Merlyn in the flashback timeline. Are we going to keep seeing him appear in the past? Apparently, ARGUS is taking Oliver and Maseo back to China but perhaps we can still follow the past in Starling City. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Lows:

  • Oliver really must stop keeping secrets at all. The worst thing is going to be if/when Laurel finds out about Sara’s killer from someone else other than him.
  • Thea is a great character, but her almost instant way to start coping with tragedy minutes after hearing it sometimes makes me think she’s some sort of a double agent. A little denial and desperation in her voice would sound more imperfect and realistic. That being said, I still love her character.
  • Wasn’t Slade super-humanly strong? I know it’s the Queen siblings, but if Oliver is hurt and Thea has not – consciously – killed before it would sound like it should take more than two tries to take him down. Yes, I’m picking at straws. However, if it turns out later that he let them win to further some other plan I would not be surprised.
  • Didn’t Arrow had a lot of problems with Chien Na Wei when he fights her as the Hood in season one? Here he just seems to knock her out cold when she steps out of the car. Then again you can argue that she got even better before facing him again. That’s me picking at straws again.

That will do for now.

(Sources: The CW)

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