Arrow TV Reviews

TV Review: Arrow, “The Climb” (S3,EP9) – So That Just Happened

Choppy. That is the word that first comes to mind when I think about “The Climb.” The best Arrow episodes have a certain internal rhythm to them, an infectious ebb and flow that makes the mere task of having to wait however long it takes you to fast-forward through the commercials on your DVR an excruciating experience. I never felt that way with “The Climb,” which just kept haphazardly cutting from scene to scene, with an obvious effort in the early portion to focus on pairs, such as Oliver and Thea, Felicity and Ray, Laurel and her mom, and Oliver and his buddy in the flashbacks. While that made for some nice individual scenes it never quite came together. There was never a consistent flow to the episode, for me, because it was clear that too much was going on, a common problem for the always overly ambitious Arrow. I’d probably only think this because The Flash just got its extra 4 minutes from the CW for its mid-season finale, but this seemed like an episode of Arrrow which was severely limited by its running time.

That all being said, some of what just happened was pretty silly, about as silly as Oliver being asked to remove his shirt prior to combat because that’s the custom in the League. As is my own personal custom, I’ve taken to doing these reviews as conversational Q&A’s with myself, my way of working through the part of me that is increasingly critical of Arrow versus the part that still wants to love it. There’s only once place I can start with this, and it’s not the question over whether or not Oliver Queen is dead. No, the thing that demands an immediate discussion is the big reveal to the “Who Killed Sara Lance?” murder mystery:

Thea? Really? Thea Queen Merlyn killed Sara “Canary” Lance? Little Thea! Are you f’n kidding me?

Seeing Red
I’d like to see you try to do that to Thea now, Roy. She’d apparently shoot you in the chest with some arrows.

Yes, Thea. A lot of fans had already predicted it would be her, although no one could have guessed it would be via “mind controlled by Malcom with a fancy plant.” The show had already eliminated Komodo, Malcolm, Roy, and even Cupid as possibilities, at least as the person who actually shot the arrows. The only candidates left were Ra’s Al Ghul himself, perhaps because he disapproved of Sara being with his daughter, either Huntress or Slade Wilson if they were out of prison, a new, mystery character, or Thea. Who the heck else was left?

The Promise
Slade: Thea killed you, Sara? Really? Whoa, maybe they should have just let me kill you.

Somebody better than Thea, that’s who. Literally any of the other candidates would have been a better choice than Thea Queen.

Why is Thea such a bad choice? From the halfway point of the first season the producers have been adamant that one of their earliest sins was that they had failed to fully integrate Thea with the rest of the show’s universe, and everything they’ve done since has sought to make an amends for that. They put her in that court-appointed job with Laurel, gave her a love interest in the form of Roy, and advanced her career considerably by making her the manager/owner of Oliver’s night club where she could more organically run into other characters in the show. They then put her through the emotional ringer with the death of her mother and discovery of her true parentage and had Malcolm break her down emotionally to build her back up in his own image. Now, she has shed any claim she had to being the show’s ultimate innocent since she, like Roy, killed someone while under an outside influence that robbed her of free will. This now draws Thea further to the center of the show than she ever has been before and into direct conflict with Laurel and potentially everyone on Team Arrow. When a character on a show isn’t really working sometimes the best thing to do is to make them a villain. That’s what Arrow just did with Thea without making her a full-on villain since she clearly has no idea she killed Sara.

Fine. Whatever. But if Thea is going to be the murderer you’ve got to do way more with her this season than the show has. Oliver got her back from Colto Maltese, she moved into a ginormous loft apartment, was almost killed by Nyssa, and later hired a stupid DJ for Verdant. That is literally all they’ve done with her.

They tipped their hand a little that Thea was more of a fighter now, but they ultimately showed just enough to make her a suspect while holding back just enough to make us forget that she was even a character on the show. If we had seen her kicking ass and continually training with her dad wouldn’t it have been a bit too obvious (to us) that she fit the same exact profile as Roy when he briefly thought he killed Sara?

Yeah, about Thea’s fighting – What the hell was that fight scene she had with the Arrow? Were we supposed to laugh out loud when she jumped over that balcony ledge at the end?

Of course you weren’t supposed to laugh, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did. That was all fairly terrible. It doesn’t make much sense that Thea would so quickly defend herself against Arrow yet clearly offer up no defense against Nyssa earlier in the season, although Nyssa did get the drop on her in a way the Arrow did not. More importantly, though, for all of the work Willa Holland has done to build herself up physically that scene mostly looked like a lesser stunt person (in one overhead shot I suspected it wasn’t actually Willa Holland) throwing awkward kicks as Stephen Amell mostly stood still. Her sparkly pants sure didn’t help. The capper was clearly her jumping over the railing after warning the Arrow to leave her and her father alone. Where on Earth could she possibly be safely landing from that high up in those clothes?

Did we really need to know that Malcolm is so evil that he’d brainwash his own daughter to kill someone as a way of erasing his own debts?

Streets of Fire
Malcolm, bonding with his daughter back in the day

Not really. Malcolm’s treachery is well-documented by this point. That being said, dude, Malcolm’s plan is kind of awesome. He already lost while fighting the Arrow meaning he probably holds him in high regard as a warrior. He’s been running from the League ever since Moira brought them up as a threat last season. That’s a nesting doll way of building villains, i.e., you can’t wait to see the guy that the other bad guys are afraid of. So, why not turn his enemy against his other enemy, rightly calculating that Thea would be the perfect leverage. It does beg questions, such as how exactly Malcolm knew Sara was back in Starling City when she stopped by to visit Oliver and Laurel in the season premiere. However, as far as evil plans go this is a pretty good one.

Is it actually satisfying that Sara died simply as collateral damage in Malcolm’s quest to erase his debt with the League of Assassins?

No. Sara deserved better, especially after everything she went through last season. It always seemed like if Sara was going to die Slade Wilson needed to be involved somehow because that’s someone for whom the matter would be truly personal.

Doesn’t all of this rob Thea of that important sense of agency they had supposedly given back to her with her decision to embrace Malcolm?

Yes, it does. Making Thea a more complicit player in this saga would have been far more interesting than where they went with, which is “brainwashed assassin.” Eh. The honest-to-goodness best way to actually integrate Thea with the rest of the show is for Oliver to finally tell her that he’s the Arrow, even though that would leave only Captain Lance on the list of characters who don’t know Oliver’s secret. They don’t want to do that, though, but it’s sabotaging their own drama. That goodbye scene between Oliver and Thea could have been heartbreaking, but instead it was odd and stilted because Thea is again left the perpetual outsider, unaware that her brother is going off to die for her. This is perhaps one area where their need to fill story for a full season caused them to hold back, with Thea’s discovery of what’s actually happened kicked further down the road.

Why didn’t they just call Barry for help? Not even shirtless Ra’s Al Ghull is a match for super speed.

Because shut up that’s why.

That’s not a good answer.

It’s not a good answer because there is no real good answer just as there’s no real solid explanation for why not a single Avenger outside of Black Widow showed up to help Captain America in The Winter Soldier, or why Captain America was totally okay with letting Iron Man go solo against a villain who had kidnapped the freakin’ President of the United States in Iron Man 3.

Flash Arrow Smile 2
Gee, I’d like to help guys, but we were just attacked by The Reverse Flash.  Busy, busy, you know.

We know the real world explanation which is that The Flash can only show up on Arrow on special, ratings-boosting occasions. From a storytelling standpoint, Barry Allen is probably not really the guy you want when the challenge at hand is a fight to the death. That’s more Oliver Queen’s bag and moral burden to carry. Plus, from a practical point of view what other option could Barry Allen’s super speed have presented them? Sure, Oliver definitely wouldn’t have “died,” but all of their other problems with the League of Assassins would have likely remained.

Are you ever going to get to the big thing everyone’s talking about – They didn’t just really kill off Oliver Queen, did they?

Arrow Climb NyssaGame of Thrones killed off its presumptive lead character in the penultimate episode of its first season. It could have killed the show. Instead, it was catapulted into the national conversation where it has remained ever since. As a result, American TV has turned into a bloody blood bath, with characters you’d previously consider untouchable perishing left and right.

Oliver Queen is not one of those characters. You don’t kill off Arrow on Arrow just as The Flash wouldn’t kill off The Flash. The best you can do, though, is to introduce doubt.  Common sense tells you that there’s no way Oliver survives that chest wound, the ensuing fall from the mountain, or the hypothermia awaiting him as a half-naked man lying on the side of a snowy mountain.  However, from the looks of him there’s also no reason that Ra’s Al Ghul should be old enough to have last been challenged in a trial by combat 67 years ago, and there’s no logical reason that Malcolm Merlyn should still be alive. Technically, Slade Wilson should be dead, too. Based on past precedent, there are two ways they will resolve this. The first is they will go full-on comic book and introduce the Lazarus Pits, which contains within it life-giving liquids which prolong Ra’s life for hundreds of years. Maybe they won’t go that far but instead stick to something similarly comic book-y, ala the super soldier serum that revived Slade. The second is simply that someone, most likely his former friend from Hong Kong or Nyssa, will retrieve Oliver from the mountainside and nurse him back to health, ala the way Sylar on Heroes survived a freakin’ broad sword through the gut. They could even do something crazier and have Ra’s Al Ghul actually be the one to somehow revive Oliver, impressed enough by his skills to want him as a potential heir ala Ra’s comic book relationship with Batman.

Was that fight scene kind of a letdown?

Arrow Climb2It’s probably hard to think that what with the way it ended, but by Arrow’s high fight scene standards it could have been better. It was mostly Stephen Amell swinging swords wildly, leaving himself open to easy counterpunches and kicks. You’d expect Oliver to be better than that, but I guess swords aren’t really his thing. Frankly, when Ra’s complemented Oliver for lasting that long I laughed because it seemed as if Ra’s was mostly just humoring him and letting him survive. More importantly, though, it didn’t at all link up with the buildup which was whether or not Oliver would be able to bring himself to murder Ra’s. They put a ginormous exclamation point behind that idea during his conversation with Felicity, and if there was a point in the fight where we were supposed to believe Oliver hesitated to deliver the kill shot I didn’t see it. Instead, he got beat after briefly dropping Ra’s to his knees.

Moreover, it feels like the first time we meet Ra’s al Guhl should not have been in the episode in which he killed Oliver. This was a Slade Wilson vs. Oliver Queen-level main event, but it ended up feeling like the undercard with too little build-up. Then again, the lack of build-up, by which I mean something stretched across multiple episodes, maybe made it doubly surprising that Oliver lost.

Don’t you have anything to say about Felicity?

Eh. She got a sob story and cry for help from stalker Ray Palmer, and a kiss on the head and a genuine “I love you” from Oliver. Otherwise, she was tech girl on the computer, and “voice of reason” in Team Arrow arguments, her usual roles. I’m actually impressed that they didn’t make her goodbye scene with Oliver more dramatic than they did.

Are we seriously looking at an extended stretch of Arrow that will really be focused on Black Canary and A.T.O.M.?

Sigh. Yes, we are. This might be a good time to take a couple episodes away from Arrow coming back whenever Oliver is inevitably returned from the “dead.” There’s going to be a lot of face time with Laurel, building up to her eventual reckoning with either Thea or Malcolm or both. It doesn’t sound all that fascinating, even after Laurel’s mom, a better detective than her ex-husband, approved of her quest for vengeance. As for Ray, I am a little lost on exactly how he means to use his super shrinking suit to protect the people in the city. The dude apparently lost the love of his life to a mirakuru thug last season. Now, he wants to be strong. Broad strokes, I get it. The actual specifics of how his suit will help I’m a little less then enthused about.

I am more interested to see what becomes of Team Arrow while Oliver is gone.  Do they disband, take up Oliver’s cause going forward as a trio, throw in with Black Canary, or something totally different?

Are the flashbacks finally interesting?

Arrow Climb Hong Kong guyThe flashbacks finally got good once we learned more about Katana, but there was a lot to get through before that. The trick of revealing that Oliver’s Hong Kong handler from the past now works with the League in the present is pretty much the same thing they did last year with Slade, but there it worked better because we’d had so long with Slade in the flashbacks prior to that. Here, it feels more like a Hail Mary to save the least effective aspect of the season. It does throw us comic book nerds for a loop, though, because in the classic origin story it is Katana’s husband and son who die. Now, clearly the husband didn’t die, and it certainly seems like either Katana or the son or both are doomed to die in those flashbacks. That all being said, the actor playing Katana’s husband has been doing a fine job with the role, and I enjoyed how neither he nor anyone else in the League truly believed that Oliver killed Sara.

THE BOTTOM LINE

There are some workable ideas in “The Climb,” but because there were so many of them going on at the same time I don’t know that it ever really gelled together. Prior to this, they had devoted nearly half season to the mystery surrounding Sara’s murder, but one of the downsides is that the payoff better be worth it. I don’t think that it was since while I can see arguments for why Thea is a perfect choice my initial instinct is still, “Thea killed Sara? That’s just stupid.” Or at least it’s definitely stupid that she did and doesn’t remember because she was under mind control, borrowing a page from how Marvel used Sharon Carter to kill off Captain America not too long ago.

THE NOTES:

1. That bit with Diggle arguing about Oliver’s blind spot with his family – Remember when Diggle used to say that type of thing to Oliver about Laurel?

2. Where exactly was that mountain located?

3. I kind of loved that Oliver expected Ra’s Al Ghul would show up in Starling City just to see him and then turn out to be totally right about that, annoying Nyssa in the process.

4. Roy didn’t seem nearly as conflicted about Thea’s apparent guilt in the murder than you would expect.

5. Just like to put in a good word for John Diggle.  Sometimes the show remembers he’s a character on this show, other times it forgets.  I predict that Oliver will be back in time to be best man at his wedding.

6. It will be interesting to see how everyone reacts when they learn that Oliver is “dead.”  I bet you that John Diggle and Roy won’t cry on the outside, but they’ll definitely cry on on the inside.

7. UPDATE: It just occurred to me – I wonder if The Flash will acknowledge Oliver Queen’s apparent demise.

NEXT TIME:

SECOND OPINIONS:

ScreenCrush.com – “From a geek standpoint, one can’t deny the thrill of seeing Oliver face off with Ra’s al Ghul in an impressively epic duel, though the underdevelopment of Ra’s and the head-scratching cliffhanger don’t quite land as well as they should. I’m eager to see where ‘Arrow’ season 3 goes next, with Starling left unguarded, Sara’s murder solved, and Oliver mortally wounded, though the unfocused buildup of prior episodes somewhat hampered an otherwise effective and emotional outing.

TV.com – “Then again, perhaps Oliver’s flashing to those he loved as he knelt on that mountaintop, with the sun rising behind him, was exactly the type of closure he needed: the notion that he had, in fact, done everything he could to honor their memories and keep them safe, and at the cost of his own life. It’s a form of closure and also a type release from those burdens, the expectations, and that trauma. Really, deep down, it is all Oliver has ever wanted.”

I’m done with my ramble. What about you?

17 comments

  1. Hey, wanted to thank you about that Katana story but apparently they twisted it up a bit, husband is alive, so maybe son is dead?
    This is really a sad ending for Sara, my favorite character, wtf? Thea killed her? Are we suppose to believe now that in any universe Laurel is going to forgive Thea and that Thea is going to forgive herself. This show has gone like really bad in s3. And somehow most of the bad has something to do with Laurel and/or Thea characters. I never hated Laurel or attacked her like some fans, but really it all comes down to that. I’m guessing that the actress (who i really like btw) probably has the best contract (and good for her) because she really was the biggest star when the show started and that somewhere in her contract it is said that she would become BC in s3 the latest or smth like that 🙂 I’m probably not going to watch the rest of the season, i’ll tune in around April to see what is happening. If i were a producer of the show, which of course i am not, i would keep Sara as BC because she had great back-story, she had that sonic thing, she had Sin…and have her in Starling for about 5-10 episodes every season. I really have a feeling that this season is going forced and not organic at all. I seriously can not see Laurel as BC, i told you all that i am not a comic book fan i just follow the show and its story. And the story of the show is that Laurel is always somehow forced in the plot. And really don’t see how Team Arrow could benefit from her other than the DA thing and that is minor too. I am really sorry about the rant to all Laurel fans and again nothing against KC,i like her very much.

    1. And one other thing, that scene with Oliver and Thea fighting AWFUL, and scene with Laurel and her mom EVEN MORE, like she knew in one minute that Sara had died and she told Laurel to make them suffer. I really had an embarrassment transfer during that scene, a big one. Ok, now i am done, sorry and thanx 🙂 Happy holidays

      1. Happy holidays to you, too!

        I pretty much ignored that scene with Laurel and her mom in my review because my annoyance could only take on so many targets. I still have nothing good to say about it. I like your way of putting it, “I really had an embarrassment transfer during that scene, a big one.” I felt that mostly at the very end when the most intense facial expression Laurel could muster in response to mother’s call for vengeance was mostly that of a person swallowing very hard.

    2. “Wanted to thank you about that Katana story but apparently they twisted it up a bit, husband is alive, so maybe son is dead?”

      It would be very much so like this show to kill of Katana to motivate Oliver and her grieving husband, but because we’ve yet to really get to see Katana become Katana and also because she’s kind of crazy in the comics I’m guessing that while the son will definitely die Katana will survive that encounter with China White. I wonder if she might end up a villain somehow. But, yes, they are very much departed from the comics at this point. So, I don’t really know what they’re doing with it.

      “This show has gone like really bad in s3. And somehow most of the bad has something to do with Laurel and/or Thea characters.”

      I’d personally throw Ray Palmer in there too, but sometimes he’s not so much bad as he is merely “around.” In fact, that kind of describes Thea as well. And Roy. By comparison, they’ve given Laurel a ton to do.

      “I’m probably not going to watch the rest of the season, i’ll tune in around April to see what is happening”

      The one thing I would recommend is to at least tune in for that first episode back from the Winter break because it should be interesting to see how everyone reacts to Oliver’s “death.” Beyond that, I wouldn’t really blame you for tuning out and dropping back in later to see if it got better. That’s what a lot of people have been threatening to do ever since they killed off Sara. It appears as if the next couple of episodes will deal with Roy trying to step into Oliver’s shoes in Team Arrow, and obviously ATOM and Black Canary aren’t far behind.

      “And the story of the show is that Laurel is always somehow forced in the plot”

      The producers would have actually agreed with you after that first season. One of the things they said during season 2 was that when they looked back at season 1 they realized that Laurel often times felt like she was off in her own show with Tommy and her dad, sometimes only tangentially related to the main plot. So, they made her part of the anti-Arrow task force, and then had her react so negatively to Sara and later learn Oliver’s secret to pull her closer to the center of the show, much as what they’re trying to do with Thea now. I don’t think they succeeded with Laurel as her drinking problem became more comical than compelling, and they’re off to a crappy start with Thea.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you said, but unlike you I am prepared to take a open mind to where the show opens up on 21 January 2015. To me this wasn’t their best writing or their best episode, but certainly not their worst. One thing I don’t get is why Ra’s al Ghul cares so much about Sara, when he previously said she wasn’t one of them. WTH?

    The one thing I found jarring is where all these events things took place, are in Nanda Parbat, or nearby in Starling City. If in Nanda Parbat, Oliver has got one fast jet plane.

    Some of the things that I always makes me laugh about this apparently love of Sara Lance, because I don’t know who keeps perpetuating this. If I remember rightly most liked having the Canary but thought Caity was pretty weak on the acting front. Frankly, i didn’t like to see killed brutually or see the mess they’ve now created with her storyline, but I was never attached to the character. There were many things about her and she did that I found unredeemable.

    I look forward to seeing the rise of ATOM, Arsenal and Black Canary – as in the long run the show will be better off for it. I’ve never seen Team Arrow as a permanent fixture that couldn’t be altered along the way, as that makes the story dynamic and interesting, as frankly it was getting stale to me.

    Also one of the most annoying things I have found in season 3, is that keeps willing to retconned its own storylines and for me that shows a lack of creative integrity. It seems TPTB on Arrow will do anything to shock, surprise and make the audience go WTF? even if it means killing its own stories / character development to do so. It’s like they are trying to go for Game of Thrones plots but without the writing, believability or conviction to pull it off. Unfortunately there were too many WTF moments in this episode that just me roll my eyes once to often.

    1. We don’t know where the mountain top is except that it’s not in Nanda Parbat. Ra’s said that the duels took place on neutral territory.

      Earlier in the episode, Ra’s was in Starling City so if Oliver only had a few hours to put his affairs in order before meeting Ra’s, it’s probably closer to Starling City.

      1. “We don’t know where the mountain top is except that it’s not in Nanda Parbat. Ra’s said that the duels took place on neutral territory. Earlier in the episode, Ra’s was in Starling City so if Oliver only had a few hours to put his affairs in order before meeting Ra’s, it’s probably closer to Starling City.”

        That’s how I understood that part as well.

    2. “Some of the things that I always makes me laugh about this apparently love of Sara Lance, because I don’t know who keeps perpetuating this. If I remember rightly most liked having the Canary but thought Caity was pretty weak on the acting front. Frankly, i didn’t like to see killed brutually or see the mess they’ve now created with her storyline, but I was never attached to the character. There were many things about her and she did that I found unredeemable.”

      I was really, really anti-Sara when she first started, and Caity Lotz has an odd way of delivering her lines that threw me initially. However, I did warm up to her and grow to genuinely like her, even if that meant I didn’t so much regard Sara as being a selfish person for inviting Oliver to be an emotional buffer at that ill-fated family dinner with Laurel and her parents but instead blamed the writers for concocting such a half-assed scenario. I know from the comments section to my season 2 reviews that there are those who really disliked Sara, though, and were happy to see her finally die. At the very least, a lot of people do seem to agree that Caity Lotz at least made for a believable Canary. As for perhaps whitewashing the history here, some of the mourning over Sara might simply come down to liking the show better with than without her which would speak to the mess the show has made of her storyline since killing her off.

      “I look forward to seeing the rise of ATOM, Arsenal and Black Canary – as in the long run the show will be better off for it.”

      I like that in theory. There’s a part of this that feels like a Doctor-less Doctor Who episode to me, when you remove the central figure and get to see the supporting players get the spotlight. Of course, there it’s always the Doctor’s companions who are left taking center stage whereas here it’s going to be two new(ish) heroes and Arsenal. The problem is I’m one of those people who’s never been able to get behind what the show has done with Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, I’ve never particularly cared about Roy Harper, and I’ve found Laurel’s ongoing transition into Black Canary a little jarring. There have been some individual moments with Ray Palmer I enjoyed, there was some stuff with Roy I liked last season, such as when he called Oliver out for being so thoroughly wrong, and I liked the “Kickass” moment where Laurel failed spectacularly her first time trying to be a vigilante. However, as of right now that doesn’t all add up to me looking forward to those three being pushed forward as temporary hero replacements until Oliver returns. They are right, though – they have not served Roy Harper particularly well this season. If the coming episodes are to be his showcase this might be do or die time for this character in terms of whether or not he can ever win me over.

      “Also one of the most annoying things I have found in season 3, is that keeps willing to retconned its own storylines and for me that shows a lack of creative integrity. It seems TPTB on Arrow will do anything to shock, surprise and make the audience go WTF? even if it means killing its own stories / character development to do so. It’s like they are trying to go for Game of Thrones plots but without the writing, believability or conviction to pull it off.”

      Agreed. To me, that trend of their’s started last season when they had to jump through so many hoops to explain how exactly Sara was still alive and that Oliver had apparently been lying the whole time about when exactly she had died. Then they had to explain how exactly Malcolm Merlyn was still alive. And so on. And so on.

      “Unfortunately there were too many WTF moments in this episode that just me roll my eyes once to often.”

      Right there with you.

  3. There are a lot of good things about this show. But one of its main weaknesses is that it’s willing to kill off female characters to fuel manpain, male spitting contests, or sheer plot contrivances. Shado died for Slade’s revenge motive against Oliver, Moira died for the same reason, and Sara died for both Oliver’s manpain and to put Laurel into the Black Canary suit. Now Thea has been caught in the trap. I’m really hoping Katana wasn’t killed for Maseo motivation too.

    When Thea left with Malcolm at the end of last season, I was hoping she would end up channeling Moira and playing Merlyn in the end. This “drug that makes you do what the other person wants and no memory of it” is the lamest thing ever. So beneath this show. Not to mention, it’s the least pay-off dramatically because there’s no redemption if there’s no free will, and we already had the “I killed someone while I was drugged” story with Roy.

    I believed Sara as the Canary, she had the backstory (five years with the LoA; the burning desire that other women should not be hurt) and Caity Lotz had both the physicality of the Canary and the vulnerability of a wounded bird. But Sara died so that Laurel could become the Black Canary (although I think having Sara kidnapped would have worked as well). But they’re still having problems writing a cohesive story for Laurel. She’s spent the last 7 episodes telling everyone but her father that Sara died, adding “but you have to keep it a secret” and taking boxing lessons while doing nothing to actually look for Sara’s killer. Is Dinah saying “Do whatever you have to find and punish Sara’s killer” what it really takes to get Laurel to put on the black leather? Do we owe the existence of the Black Canary to Quentin’s decision to have Dinah come to Starling City for Christmas? And since Laurel plain out told Oliver “I’m not on your team and you can’t tell me what to do”, how are they going to integrate her into Team Arrow, especially since she still can’t fight? Maybe the writers should have spent some time in previous episodes having her be nice to Diggle, Roy and Felicity so that they’ll invite her in when Oliver is gone.

    You’re right that the first time we really got to know Ra’s al Ghul was in this episode where he “killed” Oliver. I think they’re relying too much on people knowing the comic book mythology.

    Marc Guggenheim was giving interviews saying that he didn’t know where people got the idea that the next three episodes were about Laurel (that would be from Andrew Kreisburg, Marc) and that they will be showcasing Roy. And oh, there’s going to be a lot of Malcolm too. It feels a lot like damage control. When so many people say they watch this show for Team Arrow (Oliver/Diggle/Felicity), spending four episodes in a row, two of them sweeps, focusing on other characters seems like a risky move.

    1. “But one of its main weaknesses is that it’s willing to kill off female characters to fuel manpain, male spitting contests, or sheer plot contrivances. Shado died for Slade’s revenge motive against Oliver, Moira died for the same reason, and Sara died for both Oliver’s manpain and to put Laurel into the Black Canary suit. Now Thea has been caught in the trap. I’m really hoping Katana wasn’t killed for Maseo motivation too.”

      In my mind, I often compare Arrow to the Buffy Vampire Slayer spin-off Angel, partially because that’s where my mind naturally goes and partially because it’s something the producers have repeatedly cited as an influenced. Both shows are very male-centric examinations of the nature of heroism, with brooding, male central figures, and just like Arrow over time pretty much any female character on Angel died to help motivate the male characters, most specifically Angel. It never particularly bothered me, largely because it was a Joss Whedon show where death is expected but often not permanent. Plus, they had so few female characters that I don’t even know that I noticed that particular trend while watching the show. It’s harder to miss it with Arrow, which, as you perfectly summarized, now has a very bad track record with killing female characters to motivate the males. When it first started happening on Arrow I thought of it as a byproduct of being a show about a male hero, but by this point it’s probably too fair to give them a pass just because of that.

      “This “drug that makes you do what the other person wants and no memory of it” is the lamest thing ever. So beneath this show. Not to mention, it’s the least pay-off dramatically because there’s no redemption if there’s no free will, and we already had the “I killed someone while I was drugged” story with Roy.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      “She’s spent the last 7 episodes telling everyone but her father that Sara died, adding “but you have to keep it a secret” and taking boxing lessons while doing nothing to actually look for Sara’s killer. Is Dinah saying “Do whatever you have to find and punish Sara’s killer” what it really takes to get Laurel to put on the black leather? Do we owe the existence of the Black Canary to Quentin’s decision to have Dinah come to Starling City for Christmas? And since Laurel plain out told Oliver “I’m not on your team and you can’t tell me what to do”, how are they going to integrate her into Team Arrow, especially since she still can’t fight?”

      One of the things I liked about the idea of killing off Sara was the potential for this to be the season of “Who killed Sara Lance?” The way I planned out the story in my head involved Caity Lotz returning for more flashbacks, tracking what she had been up to immediately before coming back to Starling City, with Team Arrow and Laurel going all True Detective or Gracepoint/Broadchurch or, more comic book-y, Rorschach from Watchmen on it. The reveal would be that Ra’s Al Guhl himself was the murderer, personally executing Sara either over her relationship with Nyssa or because she was trying to leave the League again. That way Nyssa eventually becomes somewhat of an ally to the good guys, Ra’s Al Guhl is introduced in a very direct and meaningful way, etc.

      The fact that they didn’t do the story I anticipated is not wrong, especially since for all I know the Ra’s Al Guhl of the comics would never (ever!) behave in the way I described. But I still thought this was would be more of an active investigation situation. As it pertains to Laurel, you’re pretty spot-on. Beyond taking boxing lessons, she hasn’t actually been doing anything to actively look for Sara’s killer. Oliver at one point told her the trail had run cold, but that he’d keep looking into it. She apparently just trusted that he would figure it out, and when he did she’d be ready to kick the killer’s ass. The one thing they did with Laurel that I did kind of like was to have her get her butt kicked the first time she tried to be a vigilante. It’s a page out of Kick-Ass, but it was a necessary one if they want us to take her seriously. It’s still hard for me to buy the idea of her becoming a Black Canary anyway near the level of Sara’s Canary at any point this season, which is fine because they may stick with the idea of her being really bad at this at first. In fact, they darn well better.

      “Marc Guggenheim was giving interviews saying that he didn’t know where people got the idea that the next three episodes were about Laurel (that would be from Andrew Kreisburg, Marc) and that they will be showcasing Roy. And oh, there’s going to be a lot of Malcolm too. It feels a lot like damage control. When so many people say they watch this show for Team Arrow (Oliver/Diggle/Felicity), spending four episodes in a row, two of them sweeps, focusing on other characters seems like a risky move.”

      Agreed. What they’re up to with the show right now is a huge risk.

      The

      1. I like your Rise of the Black Canary story. I almost wish they had done that instead.

        Did you see David Ramsey’s panel at the Phoenix Comic Con? He’s very funny. He first did an impersonation of John Barrowman, and later, at the 30 minute mark, he does ones of Haynes, Amell, Rickards, Cassidy and Blackthorne. It’s worth seeing.

    2. “But one of its main weaknesses is that it’s willing to kill off female characters to fuel manpain, male spitting contests, or sheer plot contrivances. Shado died for Slade’s revenge motive against Oliver, Moira died for the same reason, and Sara died for both Oliver’s manpain and to put Laurel into the Black Canary suit. Now Thea has been caught in the trap. I’m really hoping Katana wasn’t killed for Maseo motivation too.”

      In my mind, I often compare Arrow to the Buffy Vampire Slayer spin-off Angel, partially because that’s where my mind naturally goes and partially because it’s something the producers have repeatedly cited as an influenced. Both shows are very male-centric examinations of the nature of heroism, with brooding, male central figures, and just like Arrow over time pretty much any female character on Angel died to help motivate the male characters, most specifically Angel. It never particularly bothered me, largely because it was a Joss Whedon show where death is expected but often not permanent. Plus, they had so few female characters that I don’t even know that I noticed that particular trend while watching the show. It’s harder to miss it with Arrow, which, as you perfectly summarized, now has a very bad track record with killing female characters to motivate the males. When it first started happening on Arrow I thought of it as a byproduct of being a show about a male hero, but by this point it’s probably too fair to give them a pass just because of that.

      “This “drug that makes you do what the other person wants and no memory of it” is the lamest thing ever. So beneath this show. Not to mention, it’s the least pay-off dramatically because there’s no redemption if there’s no free will, and we already had the “I killed someone while I was drugged” story with Roy.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      “She’s spent the last 7 episodes telling everyone but her father that Sara died, adding “but you have to keep it a secret” and taking boxing lessons while doing nothing to actually look for Sara’s killer. Is Dinah saying “Do whatever you have to find and punish Sara’s killer” what it really takes to get Laurel to put on the black leather? Do we owe the existence of the Black Canary to Quentin’s decision to have Dinah come to Starling City for Christmas? And since Laurel plain out told Oliver “I’m not on your team and you can’t tell me what to do”, how are they going to integrate her into Team Arrow, especially since she still can’t fight?”

      One of the things I liked about the idea of killing off Sara was the potential for this to be the season of “Who killed Sara Lance?” The way I planned out the story in my head involved Caity Lotz returning for more flashbacks, tracking what she had been up to immediately before coming back to Starling City, with Team Arrow and Laurel going all True Detective or Gracepoint/Broadchurch or, more comic book-y, Rorschach from Watchmen on it. The reveal would be that Ra’s Al Guhl himself was the murderer, personally executing Sara either over her relationship with Nyssa or because she was trying to leave the League again. That way Nyssa eventually becomes somewhat of an ally to the good guys, Ra’s Al Guhl is introduced in a very direct and meaningful way, etc.

      The fact that they didn’t do the story I anticipated is not wrong, especially since for all I know the Ra’s Al Guhl of the comics would never (ever!) behave in the way I described. But I still thought this was would be more of an active investigation situation. As it pertains to Laurel, you’re pretty spot-on. Beyond taking boxing lessons, she hasn’t actually been doing anything to actively look for Sara’s killer. Oliver at one point told her the trail had run cold, but that he’d keep looking into it. She apparently just trusted that he would figure it out, and when he did she’d be ready to kick the killer’s ass. The one thing they did with Laurel that I did kind of like was to have her get her butt kicked the first time she tried to be a vigilante. It’s a page out of Kick-Ass, but it was a necessary one if they want us to take her seriously. It’s still hard for me to buy the idea of her becoming a Black Canary anyway near the level of Sara’s Canary at any point this season, which is fine because they may stick with the idea of her being really bad at this at first. In fact, they darn well better. I imagine that the final push won’t have been from her mother, though, but instead the news of Oliver’s death, especially depending on how much Team Arrow tells her about it, i.e., that they figured out who killed Sara.

      “Marc Guggenheim was giving interviews saying that he didn’t know where people got the idea that the next three episodes were about Laurel (that would be from Andrew Kreisburg, Marc) and that they will be showcasing Roy. And oh, there’s going to be a lot of Malcolm too. It feels a lot like damage control. When so many people say they watch this show for Team Arrow (Oliver/Diggle/Felicity), spending four episodes in a row, two of them sweeps, focusing on other characters seems like a risky move.”

      Agreed. What they’re up to with the show right now is a huge risk.

      The

    3. “But one of its main weaknesses is that it’s willing to kill off female characters to fuel manpain, male spitting contests, or sheer plot contrivances. Shado died for Slade’s revenge motive against Oliver, Moira died for the same reason, and Sara died for both Oliver’s manpain and to put Laurel into the Black Canary suit. Now Thea has been caught in the trap. I’m really hoping Katana wasn’t killed for Maseo motivation too.”

      In my mind, I often compare Arrow to the Buffy Vampire Slayer spin-off Angel, partially because that’s where my mind naturally goes and partially because it’s something the producers have repeatedly cited as an influenced. Both shows are very male-centric examinations of the nature of heroism, with brooding, male central figures, and just like Arrow over time pretty much any female character on Angel died to help motivate the male characters, most specifically Angel. It never particularly bothered me, largely because it was a Joss Whedon show where death is expected but often not permanent. Plus, they had so few female characters that I don’t even know that I noticed that particular trend while watching the show. It’s harder to miss it with Arrow, which, as you perfectly summarized, now has a very bad track record with killing female characters to motivate the males. When it first started happening on Arrow I thought of it as a byproduct of being a show about a male hero, but by this point it’s probably too fair to give them a pass just because of that.

      “This “drug that makes you do what the other person wants and no memory of it” is the lamest thing ever. So beneath this show. Not to mention, it’s the least pay-off dramatically because there’s no redemption if there’s no free will, and we already had the “I killed someone while I was drugged” story with Roy.”

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      “She’s spent the last 7 episodes telling everyone but her father that Sara died, adding “but you have to keep it a secret” and taking boxing lessons while doing nothing to actually look for Sara’s killer. Is Dinah saying “Do whatever you have to find and punish Sara’s killer” what it really takes to get Laurel to put on the black leather? Do we owe the existence of the Black Canary to Quentin’s decision to have Dinah come to Starling City for Christmas? And since Laurel plain out told Oliver “I’m not on your team and you can’t tell me what to do”, how are they going to integrate her into Team Arrow, especially since she still can’t fight?”

      One of the things I liked about the idea of killing off Sara was the potential for this to be the season of “Who killed Sara Lance?” The way I planned out the story in my head involved Caity Lotz returning for more flashbacks, tracking what she had been up to immediately before coming back to Starling City, with Team Arrow and Laurel going all True Detective or Gracepoint/Broadchurch or, more comic book-y, Rorschach from Watchmen on it. The reveal would be that Ra’s Al Guhl himself was the murderer, personally executing Sara either over her relationship with Nyssa or because she was trying to leave the League again. That way Nyssa eventually becomes somewhat of an ally to the good guys, Ra’s Al Guhl is introduced in a very direct and meaningful way, etc.

      The fact that they didn’t do the story I anticipated is not wrong, especially since for all I know the Ra’s Al Guhl of the comics would never (ever!) behave in the way I described. But I still thought this was would be more of an active investigation situation. As it pertains to Laurel, you’re pretty spot-on. Beyond taking boxing lessons, she hasn’t actually been doing anything to actively look for Sara’s killer. Oliver at one point told her the trail had run cold, but that he’d keep looking into it. She apparently just trusted that he would figure it out, and when he did she’d be ready to kick the killer’s ass. The one thing they did with Laurel that I did kind of like was to have her get her butt kicked the first time she tried to be a vigilante. It’s a page out of Kick-Ass, but it was a necessary one if they want us to take her seriously. It’s still hard for me to buy the idea of her becoming a Black Canary anyway near the level of Sara’s Canary at any point this season, which is fine because they may stick with the idea of her being really bad at this at first. In fact, they darn well better. I imagine that the final push won’t have been from her mother, though, but instead the news of Oliver’s death, especially depending on how much Team Arrow tells her about it, i.e., that they figured out who killed Sara.

      “Marc Guggenheim was giving interviews saying that he didn’t know where people got the idea that the next three episodes were about Laurel (that would be from Andrew Kreisburg, Marc) and that they will be showcasing Roy. And oh, there’s going to be a lot of Malcolm too. It feels a lot like damage control. When so many people say they watch this show for Team Arrow (Oliver/Diggle/Felicity), spending four episodes in a row, two of them sweeps, focusing on other characters seems like a risky move.”

      Agreed. What they’re up to with the show right now is a huge risk. One of the reasons I gravitate more toward Flash than Arrow now is because I like the ensemble on that show better, but Arrow always has that central trio to pull me back. I am interested to see everyone’s immediate reaction to Oliver’s “death” when the show returns, but beyond that I am very weary of where they’re going with it.

  4. When I first heard Andrew talking about the episode story arc I thought great, but I seriously didn’t think it was solely going to focus on Laurel, the show has never been like that so why would it change. I saw it simply as her transforming to the Black Canary over the three episodes and then with a more centric episode called Canaries. There was also far too much else you knew was going to happen for it to be any different. I think Laurel fans got too excited and Laurel haters over reacting. But I do agree the between Andrew and Marc they come off basically contradicting one another.

    We know Brick is going to be the villain across these three episodes, so I think based on their limited skills they are going to struggle and that is what is going to be interesting, as Arrow was in danger of becoming too formulae driven – you known with the obligatory stock standard fight scenes. And TBH do we really think we won’t see Oliver in at least two of these episodes, even if he isn’t in Starling City.

    I think the days of ‘Team Arrow’ are over, as it was never meant to be just the three of them, it was always going to grow. So for me some viewers will have to just get over that fact. I like how the story is wiling to take risks, and there are lots of the other shows offering that team formula to watch. Bring on the all the comic book characters I love, as we are finally getting to the guts of what the show is about and the journey we knew it would eventually take.

    Can’t wait until 21 Jan 2015. At least I’ve got something to look forward to.

    1. Stephen Amell said in an interview that there are two episodes in which we will only see Oliver in flashbacks. He was on set for the last day of shooting 312, so presumably he will be missing in 310 and 311, and appear at the end of 312, although since Vertigo is back, there’s a debate going whether he will really be in Starling City for 312 and 313 or whether his appearances will be Vertigo-induced hallucinations.

      1. I’d actually kind of like to see him in Vertigo-induced hallucinations. That might give Amell a chance to behave in a way and say things normal Oliver never would, and that sounds fun to me.

    2. “I think the days of ‘Team Arrow’ are over, as it was never meant to be just the three of them, it was always going to grow. So for me some viewers will have to just get over that fact. I like how the story is wiling to take risks, and there are lots of the other shows offering that team formula to watch. Bring on the all the comic book characters I love, as we are finally getting to the guts of what the show is about and the journey we knew it would eventually take.”

      The test now will be whether or not they truly have the characters (or know how to use the characters) to support this expansion. In theory, I like where they’re heading, but in practice it means a lot of Colton Haynes and an indeterminate amount of Laurel as Black Canary. This is going to be their crucible as viable characters on this show, more so the former than the latter I’d say.

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