Arrow Season 3 Review “The Magician”

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It’s a very fine line between vengeance and justice. In the midst of grief and anger, it’s pretty easy to interchange those two very different objectives. Once you get your mind set on vengeance, it’s very easy to be blinded from the truth. That’s the position a couple of people found themselves in on this week’s Arrow.

Nissa al Gul showed in up Starling City looking for Sara. After Oliver observed Nissa’s reaction when he told her that Sara was dead, he figured that Nissa knew something that she wasn’t sharing. Nissa finally spilled that The League had sent Sara to Starling in order to determine whether the rumors about Malcolm Merlyn being alive were true. Nissa, and everyone else for that matter, figured that Malcolm had killed Sara to protect his secret, so they teamed up to track him down. They found him hiding out in the temple of a local Buddist monk, and Oliver tagged him with GPS. Nissa and Laurel were furious that Oliver hadn’t killed Malcolm, but Oliver was adamant that they conduct the investigation properly. Nissa and Laurel weren’t all that interested in hearing anything Malcolm had to say because they figured it was all lies, but Oliver was convinced that Malcolm was (for once) telling the truth. Nissa kidnapped Thea in order to draw Malcolm out resulting in a pretty awesome confrontation between Nissa, Oliver, and Malcolm. Malcolm swore on Thea’s life that he hadn’t murdered Sara but that it was Ras al Gul. I’m not sure whether Nissa was convinced, but it was enough to convince Oliver. Unfortunately, Oliver let Malcolm live and now he’s apparently made The League his enemy. There’s no way this ends well.

Oliver was confronted, once again, with the choice between being a hero and being a killer. There was a brief moment I thought that he was gonna put Malcolm down, but for the most part it seems that Oliver has firmly planted his feet on hero ground. It was pretty clear that Nissa and Laurel wanted Malcolm dead. Dig too, but not just to avenge Sara. Dig wants Malcolm to pay for all those people who died in The Glades. Oliver refused to kill him, but probably not because he was trying to be a hero. I just think he couldn’t bring himself to kill Malcolm after he said he was protecting Thea. I truly hope that decision doesn’t come back to bite Oliver. I understand Oliver’s decision to take up a policy of no killing, and I applaud it. I don’t think every crime warrants a death sentence, and Oliver is trying to be a hero. But the thing is, even heroes must, on occasion, kill. I’m not saying that it should be a matter of course, but to paraphrase Falcon in Captain America, some men you save but some you stop. Malcolm is definitely the kind of man you stop; not the kind you save. He’s an indiscriminant and unrepentant killer. He’s responsible for all those people who died in The Glades and countless other deaths that we probably will never know about. I get the feeling that Oliver will, at some point in the near future, be forced to confront Malcolm again. At that time, it will remain to be seen whether he’s able to keep his vows or not.

I’m really having a hard time with Thea. She left Starling City because she claimed that everyone was always lying to her. Part of the reason she was so angry with her mother and Oliver was that they kept information from her. Part of the reason she broke up with Roy is that he was keeping things from her. So everyone has been working really hard to keep Thea in the loop and basically walking around on eggshells around her just to make sure they don’t offend her tender sensibilities. And how does she repay them? By lying to their faces. First of all, she’s lying about Malcolm. As soon as Oliver found out that Malcolm is alive, he went to Thea and told her. He even said that he was just trying to do things differently and be honest with her. What did Thea do? She pretended to be surprised and acted like she thought he was still dead. Second of all, she’s lying about what she was doing the whole time she was on Corto Maltese. She’s allowing Oliver and the bunch to think she was just waiting tables and “finding herself” while she was on that island, but a lie of omission is still a lie. It’s frustrating for someone who demands that everyone tell her truth to lie so blatantly. Aside from being a hypocrite, it makes her very unsympathetic. It seems Oliver can tell something is not quite right with Thea, and I’m wondering how long it will take him to put two and two together. When he and Roy figure out that Thea has been lying to them this whole time, I don’t think it’s going to be pretty.

I’m also having a hard time with Laurel. Oliver has been doing his best to make sure that they conduct the investigation into Sara’s death the right way. He wants to make sure that the right person is brought to justice, and he’s been doing a pretty solid job of keeping his eye on the prize. His method is to ask questions first and shoot later. Good policy. Laurel, on the other hand, seems to want to shoot first, shoot some more, and ask questions never. You would think that Laurel would’ve figured out, after she tried to kill the wrong person the first time, everything is not always as clear as it seems. She wanted to kill the Greek assassin that they initially thought was the killer, but Oliver stopped her from killing an innocent man. Or rather, a man that was innocent of that particular crime. Now that Malcolm is involved, Laurel wants to put him down for Sara’s murder too. Who’s next? The pizza boy? Every time they get a suspect, instead of doing things right, Laurel just wants to kill them. But what then? What happens after she kills the person who killed Sara? She’s still going to have a Sara-shaped hole in her heart. Not to mention that if she kills the wrong person, she’s also going to have to carry that weight around. Once again, the show is bashing me over the head with the fact that Laurel has a lot of grief and anger that’s going to lead her to becoming Black Canary. First with Laurel standing at Sara’s grave wearing her (way too small) black jacket; second with Laurel training at the gym; and finally with Laurel and Nissa establishing a shaky respect for each other. Alright, Show. I get it. Laurel is headed toward becoming Black Canary. I just really wish Laurel were less of a grating character and her transformation were more subtle. It’s much more satisfying to watch a character evolve into who they’re supposed to be gradually and with less obvious hints along the way than to be smacked in the face with it on a regular basis.

I feel really bad for Captain Lance right now because he’s completely in the dark. Laurel decided that he couldn’t handle Sara’s death, so she’s lying to him about it. Yeah. Because that’s going to end well. I get that Laurel is concerned about his heart condition, but what does she think is going to happen when he inevitably finds out the truth? Not only will he have to grieve for his daughter a second time, but he’ll also have to deal with the fact that Laurel has been lying to him all this time. He’s going to be hurt and angry, and that can’t be good for his heart either. Laurel needs to tell him the truth. He’s going to sniff it out anyway because he is, after all, a cop and I get the sense that Nissa’s visit raised some of his suspicions.

All in all, I enjoyed this episode. It set up some interesting paths for the story to take over the course of the rest of the season. We saw Ras al Gul for the first time, and I must admit, the dude was kinda creepy. Now that Malcolm’s back in town, I’m sure he’s got some nefarious plans afoot. He wouldn’t be Malcolm Merlyn if he didn’t. I’m also interested to see more of what happened to Oliver while he was under Evil Scowling Lady’s thumb in Hong Kong. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?