Arrow Season 3 Review “Corto Maltese”

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I’m a bit conflicted about his week’s Arrow. There were some things I liked about this episode, but as a whole, it won’t go down as one of my favorites. There were a couple of moments during the show that literally had me rolling my eyes, and that’s not a good thing. Not at all. Perhaps the major problem with this week’s episode is that it focused pretty heavily on two characters that I don’t particularly care about: Thea and Laurel.

We’ve seen what everyone on Team Arrow was doing for the six months following the Slade Wilson incident, but this week gave us a peek of what Thea was up to. The problem is, I just don’t care. Thea was one of the weakest links last season and nothing in this episode did anything to change my opinion on that. One of the many problems with her character is how completely self-centered she is. The reason she gave for leaving Starling City in the first place is that everyone lied to her and she just couldn’t deal with the lies. I can understand that. No one wants to be surrounded by liars on a constant basis. However, instead of confronting the people who lied to her, she ran away and told them not to bother trying to find her. Then after she left she spent the next six months lying to them about her whereabouts. So, you get angry about people lying to you and then you spend the next half a year lying to them? Seems legit. Furthermore, she ran off with Malcolm Merlyn. I mean honestly. You’re having trouble dealing with all the emotional upheaval that’s occurred in your life recently so you go running to Malcolm Merlyn for help? Yeah. Because he’s the poster child for showing someone how to deal with emotional pain in a healthy and productive way. That’s bothersome, but I think the thing that bothered (and still bothers) me most about Thea was how quickly and completely she dismissed Robert Queen as her father after finding out Malcolm Merlyn is her biological father. I would tell Thea something my father told me. Giving your DNA to someone doesn’t make you their father; it’s the day to day living and loving that makes you a father. By all accounts, Robert Queen loved Thea and it didn’t matter to him that his blood didn’t flow through her veins. He didn’t tell her she wasn’t his because to him, she was his and I don’t understand why Thea can’t see that. That’s exactly what Oliver told her. I don’t know if that’s finally what got through to her or whether it’s that she finally decided to stop acting like a spoiled brat. But whatever her reasons, she decided to go back to Starling City. Her time with Malcolm Merlyn has changed her, but it remains to be seen whether those changes will positively or negatively impact her going forward. Just as an aside, Stephen Amell is really killing it. The emotion he put into the last conversation between Oliver and Thea was just right. He’s really growing as an actor and I’m loving it.

One of the upsides to finding out what Thea has been up to was Malcolm Merlyn. My love for John Barrowman aside, Malcolm is a fascinating character. He is obviously very sick and twisted, but at the same time I think he truly does care about Thea. As much as he is capable of caring for anyone anyway. Malcolm’s problem (other than being sick in the head) is that, much like Thea, he is a very self-centered person. For example, his attempt to destroy The Glades didn’t have anything to do with making the city better. Not really. It had everything to do with him getting revenge for his wife’s death. It was completely about him, and so is his desire to “help” Thea. After Malcolm lost what he thought was his only child he developed a burning desire to form a relationship with Thea. That desire wasn’t driven by fatherly instincts to protect her. That desire is about Malcolm being able to do with her what he was unable to do with Tommy; shape Thea into his own image.

The other main story of this episode was Laurel’s inability to cope with Sara’s death. Thankfully she’s not relapsing into booze and pills, but she’s still engaging in risky behavior. After seeing the bruises on one of her fellow AA members’ neck from where her boyfriend beat her up, Laurel decided to take matters (and a baseball bat) into her own hands and go after him. There are a number of problems with this. First of all, the powers that be have done a pretty good job of ensuring that we know Laurel is a damsel in distress. That’s problematic since Laurel in the first season was pretty capable of holding her own in a fight and it’s like they forgot that by the time the second season rolled around. Because in season two Laurel forgot all of her badassery became someone always in need of a rescue. I was disappointed with that, but if that’s the way the writers are going to do things, so be it. So, since it’s been established that Laurel isn’t capable of being physical, it didn’t make much sense for her to go after him like that. Second, Laurel is an assistant district attorney. If she wanted that dirtbag to pay, all she had to do is what her father did. Search for outstanding warrants and have him arrested. It’s not nearly as satisfying as seeing him get a dose of his own medicine, but it would’ve made more sense than Laurel trying to go all vigilante on the guy. I guess all of that was supposed to demonstrate just how off the rails Laurel is since Sara’s death. I get it. I do. The thing is, the show is working entirely too hard to show me that Laurel is taking on the Canary mantle. Wearing Sara’s black leather jacket, asking Oliver to train her, going to the gym to learn to fight, telling her father that she feels compelled to help people. All of that is way too on the nose for me. I know that Laurel does eventually become Black Canary, but I’d really rather have fewer anvils dropped on my head about it.

There were a couple things I did like about this episode though. I thoroughly enjoyed Oliver, Dig, and Roy taking down the rogue ARGUS agent. That suckerpunk had it coming. If you want to get back at Evil Scowling Lady, then go after her, but putting all those other agents and their families in danger is completely uncool. Plus, I always enjoy the fight choreography on Arrow. The actors do a lot of their own stuntwork, and I’ve always appreciated when an actor puts in the extra effort to learn how to fight so the camera can pull back far enough for the audience to see what’s going on. I also liked the little bit of time we got to spend with Diggle as a new father. It’s not that I necessarily want to see Diggle rushing around town looking for diapers and baby formula, but I would like to get a sense for how he’s adjusting to fatherhood. It would be nice if we got a more Diggle-centric episode sometime in the near future. However, it looks like that may have to wait since Ras Al Gul’s daughter has reappeared in Starling City. She apparently didn’t know about Sara’s death, and I have a feeling she’s not going to take the news well. It also looks like Malcolm is about to head back to Starling. In short, Team Arrow is about to have their hands very full. I’m looking forward to it. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?