TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 3, Episode 4: The Magician [The CW]

 Katrina Law Stephen Amell Arrow The Magician

The CW‘s Arrow The Magician TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 3, Episode 4: ‘The Magician,’ referred to Merlyn, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman): master of the trick shot & misdirection. Well, now resurrection has been added to his repertoire; good for him. What was bad for Merlyn, was that he was now the chief suspect in Sara Lance’s murder, and was about to receive much more heat than even he was geared for snaking his way out of.

Principally, that heat would come from some official (unfinished) business, with the League of Assassins. Few magicians can truly impress other magicians; and Merlyn’s cheating death did not go unnoticed by the outfit that trained him. He was a marked man, already, but what he supposedly did with his new lease on life, to the other League graduate local, sent to sniff him out, earned him special attention from a ranking member.

Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law) was the latest unpleasant surprise, to show up at the end of an Arrow episode, and she was feeling more than a little unpleasant, herself. Drawing on Team Arrow, in their own headquarters, set the stage for a rocky relationship, and for Oliver (Stephen Amell), the news of Merlyn’s status put him in a particularly delicate bind. There was Nyssa the vengeful killer, before him, Laurel (Katie Cassidy), the vengefully unhinged, behind him, and Thea (Willa Holland), the tentatively restored relation, in the wings.

There was also Merlyn, himself. Not content to be the fox in the kennel, he took a more active role in diffusing the situation. Always the long term thinker, he had way too much riding on Thea to do something as reckless as kill Sara; and he had Oliver pegged as the most receptive of his pursuers.

Oliver was all over the place, on this one. Putting Roy (Colton Haynes) on Nyssa’s tail made for surveillance about as subtle as a blonde, ragged round-eye – head & shoulders above the surrounding crowd – stalking an elderly gent in Hong Kong. The flashback element to the episode drew a parallel between Oliver the survivor, willing to kill as a means to an end, and Oliver the hero, intent on holding a line short of that measure. Survivor Oliver still had his scruples, however, and he was sure to leverage his kill into further establishing his position with Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). The Arrow, on the other hand, was getting it from all sides, and really had nothing to work with, beyond his own conviction.

Laurel & Nyssa were both disgusted, by The Arrow’s application of the no-kill standard to Merlyn, and Thea was now lying to Oliver. Are we supposed to start liking her, at some point? The Laurel redemption has already been sucking up a lot of oxygen. For her part, Laurel was in no position to demand Nyssa kill Merlyn: the kill order predated her knowledge of him as a villain. Nyssa, however, seemed intent on enabling Laurel’s mania.

That included her continued deception of her father. Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has not been in the best health, and when he does eventually find out about Sara – well, that might result in one more tragedy for Laurel’s evolution (can’t wait for that… ). I think Nyssa’s sentiments, regarding Laurel’s tougher qualities & strong prospects, were wasted (for the time being).

Nyssa, in the meantime, resorted to a soft target of particular value to Merlyn. If Roy was out of his league (no pun intended), as Nyssa’s tail, he certainly wasn’t up to stopping her from kidnapping her target. The time he had, on the getting the target clear, was wasted on showing off. End result: he practically fell on a knockout dart.

Maybe I’ve just soured on a steady diet of dour characters, but I’ve been finding myself rooting for whichever seems to be having the most fun with a given role. In the absence of Ray Palmer, the only character that seemed to be having any fun was Malcolm Merlyn. He managed to keep a step ahead of Nyssa & Team Arrow, but Nyssa’s hostage forced his hand.

It also forced Oliver’s; forcing a confrontation, between himself and Nyssa, that was well executed even before Merlyn made it three. He also made it look easy – living up to the title – but one good tag gets another, and Oliver came out on top. Not that it mattered.

With the hostage free, and an alibi established for Merlyn, not even the deaths of Tommy Merlyn, and the people of The Glades, was enough to get The Arrow to put The Magician down. Nyssa was not happy. Laurel wasn’t satisfied, either; but Laurel’s father was still in a state of blissful ignorance. Nyssa’s father, however, has a much larger stake in Arrow‘s events.

Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) accepted Nyssa’s assessment of The Arrow, as an enemy of the League. Merlyn had made some very damning implications, regarding Ra’s al Ghul, in his own defense. I have to hope that he was lying, at least to some degree, because it was a pretty petty picture he was painting of the legendary figure. Throw in the fact that Nable’s “Head of the Demon” looked more like a 60s era guru, and I suppose I’ll be having to curb my expectations again, in order to keep pace with Arrow’s relaxed standards, regarding iconic characters.

When a rematch, with a resurrected season one villain, upstages the entry of the biggest baddie that the series is likely to get, I have no choice but to hope for a multi-season arc to The Demon’s involvement. Merlyn may yet wind up being the Big Bad of the whole series; but Ra’s al Ghul deserves all the time it takes to impress upon the uninitiated (and reassure initiates) just who The Demon really is, in the grand scheme of the DCU – even if just brought down to Arrow‘s level.

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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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