TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 3, Episode 14: The Return [The CW]


The CW‘s Arrow, The Return TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 3, Episode 14: ‘The Return,’ was more than just a revisiting of Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) original castaway setting, and more than a re-litigation of some hard feelings, left buried there. It was a return to a moment, in time, that its chief witness helped to create by not supposing to be there – even as he witnessed it. To start things out, however, Oliver was out to show recovering Sith apprentice, Thea (Willa Holland), how the hero brother did things, back in the day.

Can anyone read body language on this show? Oliver practically changed color, at Thea’s prideful “no more secrets” remark. Not content to trust Thea’s color blindness, he set off, for a bit, and checked in on the island’s resident secret, Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). Now, I’m not sure who has been buying into the Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) redemption more, the Queens, or the fans; but Malcolm’s choice, to MC the Queen exercise, should add a few more points, to his cad card, before any real redemption is attempted.

What followed was more cat-and-mouse play, by Slade, again meant to nip at Oliver’s Achilles’ heel of secrets. Slade even took the time to prove that Thea’s kung-fu was good, but lacked discipline. In keeping with her track record (of being unable to focus on the graver matter, at hand), Thea refused to let trying not to be butchered get in the way of Slade’s digs, about Sara. She can take to the power of suggestion quite well, when it’s at the wrong time, and from the wrong person.

Just so we’re clear, Slade was merely a plot device, in this episode; and anyone expecting a major throw down, or a new twist to the Arrow-Deathstroke rivalry, was likely left disappointed. The real point, of the whole exercise, was to reconcile Oliver’s familial obligations, in face of threats past, present, and possibly future.

The present threat was obvious enough; and the future threat may hinge on the secret of Sara’s killer; but the past threat wasn’t China White (Kelly Hu) making Starling City the market place, for Omega. It was Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) threatening to kill anyone who discovered that flashback Ollie was still alive, while he was in town to intercept it.

Arrow might be dabbling in sub-atomic super heroics, at some point; but I don’t think time travel will ever make the bucket list. As such, flashback Ollie had to settle for the It’s a Wonderful Life treatment, as much of what went wrong, since his & Sara’s presumed death, just happened to play out right in front of him.

First up: Thea’s drug habit; which then folded into Tommy (Colin Donnell) getting into the role of both big brother, and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) consoler. Flashback Ollie also received what some might consider an insider trading tip, from Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), courtesy of her very loud thought process. It was meant to be a cute moment – and it kinda was – but it meant that Ollie has been stringing Felicity along, ever since he officially returned, with full knowledge of how she felt.

There was also a quick glimpse of how blissfully miserable life was for Diggs (David Ramsey), back when brother Andy (Eugene Byrd) was still around, but then the flashback was forced to heel, by the plot.

Thea crashing Tommy’s party was one thing, but who let the drug dealer in – and why was he able to recognize a hooded Oliver, when no else will has, from Hood to Arrow? Must’ve been his voice. At least flashback Ollie had his death’s head on straight; and once that problem was dealt with, we were let in on his becoming privy to The Hood’s hit list – courtesy of Robert Queen (Jamey Sheridan). Of course, all these familiar flashback faces made for at least one glaring omission – also named Queen.

The flashback-to-home sub-plot served double duty, as a parallel to both the present Ollie-Thea outing, and the fallout from Laurel coming clean to her father. The dynamic between flashback Laurel & Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) put a poignant spin, to their current tension; and to the show’s credit, it doesn’t look like Laurel will be let off the hook too soon. Unfortunately this pretty much guarantees future Laurel redemption stories.

Was pre-Waller ARGUS really that inept, considering their auction sting, or was this an example of Waller making the case for taking over?

Whichever the case, it was pretty hard to let Waller’s passing remark, about having a superior, go without anticipating some kind of major ramification. Turns out, there was some weight to that revelation, in the form of Matthew Shrieve (Marc Singer). If the name Shrieve doesn’t ring a bell, I’m not about to play the spoiler card. I will say, however, that he has some pretty specific source shoes to fill; specific in ways that should prove interesting for Arrow’s showrunners to adapt to the show’s low key approach (assuming they even bother).

I was, however, left wondering since when has the U.S. Military been in a position to debrief people – or do much of anything – inside China. He likely meant Hong Kong; but taking things from ARGUS, to the Pentagon, ratchets up the jurisdictional liabilities considerably. In any case, Oliver Queen’s flashback home ended right back where it began, like we knew it would.

Oliver & Thea Queen, however, did not. It seemed apparent that Ollie would influence the outcome, more than Malcom; but Malcolm wasn’t let off the hook either. In fact, Sith-Lord-in-training Thea remains in there, somewhere, and someone has to feed the beast. A return to form, in Thea’s case, may prove a bit more than Malcolm Merlyn may have wanted.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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