What did satisfy, was seeing Tatsu (Rila Fukushima) hold off resorting to source character, just yet. Seeing Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez) take on his alter-ego (for what it was worth), while finally addressing Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy). Brick (Vinnie Jones) stayed true to form (leaving another character to cop-out), and it was nice to see Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus) back to taking swings (even if her reappearance was a bit abrupt). It was also encouraging to see Oliver (Stephen Amell) work his way back to Starling City, in a manner that could have played separately to the city’s timeline. His recovery time could have been flashbacks to the missing weeks, before the mid-season resumption. The official flashback story, for the episode, was assigned to someone else. The start to Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) journey, from Tommy’s (Arien Boey) mild-mannered dad, to master assassin, got the spotlight. It was a nice diversion, but magicians tend to get things past us, once we’re distracted.
The problem (oddly enough, cued by those Merlyn flashbacks) came from something of a hijacking, to the arc-in-progress, that only one character seemed to be wise to, and came with the attempted rationalization of Merlyn’s misdeeds – including his attempt to destroy the Glades as an effort to help it. Yes, that was a thing the episode actually did. No, the head scratching didn’t stop there.
Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) had no trouble seeing through Roy’s (Colton Haynes) Arsenal disguise, but still hasn’t figured that The Arrow is Oliver Queen – the guy that dated both his daughters. This has been something of an original sin matter – for Arrow, and I guess any other example of the genre – going back to episode one. I imagine a lot of people have suffered through various types of suppressed… issues, in order to suspend disbelief. To throw that peek-a-boo-I-see-you-Roy scene at us: not constructive.
Did Laurel have a huge blind spot, that Sin fell into, or did she really not consider her sister’s virtual side-kick a major spoiler threat, to her keep-daddy-in-the-dark campaign?
The maker moment, to Merlyn’s flashback story, was also its low point. Yes, we already knew that Merlyn did the deed; yes, it was clear that he was well out of his depth, in the attempt, and he had to be made painfully aware of that; but what street-wise hoodlum walks away from a yuppie that just drew on him – at least, without the gun? On a more personal note: the presentation of child Nyssa al Ghul (Taylor Dianne Robinson) suggested no immortality to the show’s League mythology (Merlyn’s older than she is – canonically, it would be well the other way around). Deflates the Demon, some.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the rival crowd merge before – and I don’t mean the season two finale, again <*cough* Dark Knight Rises *cough*>. It also seemed to have the same problem. For all the guns, on Brick’s side, and his talk of there being a drop in the Glades population, coming from the confrontation, there really wasn’t any shooting. Not to say that I felt let down, by a mostly bloodless free-for-all (I was, but I’m not saying), it just came across as too choreographed – no one bothering to bother Laurel, tending to one of her own, and all. Maybe that was the reason I found The Arrow’s grand gesture a bit on the curdled milk solid side, and rejected the neat, wholesome capping, to Merlyn’s redemption.
Further undermining the redemption resolution: Thea (Willa Holland) not so much as blinking at the fact that both Ollie & The Arrow made their triumphant returns, that very night. Of course, one thread, sidelined for the moment, was Merlyn’s hypnosis of Thea; so maybe she won’t be blinking at all that much, anyways. I also thought it odd that Thea hadn’t made the connection, between standing up to the League, and having to actually kill people. Seemed to be the core of her curriculum. A simple “Brick did it” might’ve also made it clear to her, as to why Merlyn couldn’t take his reactivated blood-feud to the police; but: script.
Still, the episode did have one character not slaved to the plot. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) had gone from the sound of one loon, howling at the moon, to the only one making any sense. Her rejection of the Merlyn mandate kept the wind to her back, for the duration of the episode; but it was where that rabid rabbit led her, down the plot hole, that made the episode about as much Felicity’s uprising, as it did the people of the Glades. Felicity finally saw the Oliver curse for what it is.
What started out as an encouraging expansion, to a plotline that needed time to play out, ended in kind of a rush. The real problem, however, wasn’t in the effort to wrap up the villain-of-the-week exception, or get Oliver back into the swing of things, but the clear haste with which the showrunners want to incorporate Malcolm Merlyn, somehow. The writing has been on the wall, so the inevitable human interest story, of the Magician, could have been left to a stand-alone episode, at any given point. As the sub-plot to ‘Uprising,’ however, the starter rush to redemption made for something of a photobomb finish.
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