Arrow is back, and it’s letting us know a couple of important things. One - no one can even guess where this season is going to go. Two - it’s going to be incredibly sweet to get there.
The Right Villain Played by the Right Guy
Green Arrow fans know Brick from the comics. A ruthless thug with a brilliant mind and a near-indestructible body, he was set up to be Oliver Queen’s Lex Luthor or Joker, a character that is both an antagonist and a funhouse mirror version of the hero. This episode, “Left Behind”, brings him in smooth as a buttered ice rink. This is very well done. We start out by watching Roy and Digg catch one half of a duo who shot a cop. It turns out that both of these guys work for Danny Brickwell, a guy who stays out of jail because witnesses against him keep disappearing.
In fact, he’s disappearing the other half of the duo right that second. Brick’s method of execution is odd. He gives the cowering man his gun, and offers him a free shot. Which he takes, but aside from a little blood, bullets don’t seem to affect Brick. He turns around and - oh my god! It’s Vinnie Jones! To give you some idea of how perfect Vinnie Jones is for this, he has already played a guy named Brick. He’s also played guys named Killer, The Extractor, and Rover, Ryker, and Sarge.
He disappears a few people in this episode, but more importantly, he disappears some things. Namely, all the evidence from all the criminals brought in from the last eight months. The criminals get out of jail, but Brick has the evidence to put them back, and he wants their help to take over the Glades!
That should be disappointing. It lacks ambition, to say the least. What would you say to a guy who hatches a scheme like that and his only goal is to take over the worst part of a city that has been declared a disaster area twice in the last twenty months? That’s like exalting because you’re the only one who can swim in a pool someone crapped in. However, Arrow saves itself. Brick and Digg get into a fight that’s amazing - two big guys swinging each other around like batons. Brick gets the upper hand, but is put out of the fight when Roy shoots him with an arrow, and both heroes realize that arrows work on this guy when bullets don’t. We’ve finally come up with a villain that it makes complete sense to fight with arrows instead of bullets!
Felicity Smoak Becomes Haymitch Abernathy
Brick might not have been able to steal that evidence, but as the recovered Arrow team rushed to stop a truck full of evidence leaving a storage facility, a door slammed shut in their face. And Felicity was the one who slammed it.
Felicity spent the episode tremulously holding out hope for Ollie’s return. When it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen, she did a lot of important angry yelling. She yelled at Ray, saying that Anna, his fiancee, wouldn’t want him committing suicide by vigilantism. She yelled at Digg and Roy, saying they were stupid to use arrows when going up against machine guns and that’s why she shut the door in their faces. And she yelled at Malcolm Merlyn, when he comes to confirm Ollie’s death.
Then she shuts it all down. She quits on Ray, and she walks out on the Arrowcave, saying they’re all done without Ollie. If you remember, Felicity was the sidekick/accomplice of a guy got flattened while trying to make the world a better place well before the Arrow team assembled. Basically, she has become the crotchety old mentor in the hero’s journey. You know the one. She’s seen lots of young whippersnappers come in, thinking they can change the way things are. You know what happens to them? They die. She’s not getting involved. She’s too old for that foolishness.
Malcolm and Thea
How does Malcolm know Ollie is dead? Well, first he strolls right into the Arrowcave, while Digg points two guns at him, asks them a few polite questions about whether they’ve heard from Ollie since the duel. Then he strolls out again. When he learns Ollie’s fate, he goes back, and apologizes to them for causing Ollie’s death, and talks about how he can see Felicity’s love for Ollie. Then he goes to Thea, and tells her that they have to get the hell out of Dodge.
But to actually understand Merlyn, you have to see what he does to confirm the death. He goes out to the duel site - which we saw last time was at the top of a nearly impossibly high and sheer cliff - and scouts around. In the dark. Does he bring a flashlight? You can go right to hell if you think he does. He brings a lantern, and not a small one. He brings a giant, elaborately carved lantern that he has to hold aloft over the ravine Oliver fell into. Why? Because his skin is made of moonlight and his hair is the darkness between the stars. Because his hands are made of rainwater and ivory and his teeth are the line of white breakers on a beach. Because he is thunder in the desert and he is the sound of an infant sleeping. Because he’s Malcolm Merlyn, that’s why!
Also, does anything think that Thea is now the show’s most pitiful character. Her brother is dead, her father is using her as a murder puppet, her friends are operating a secret base under her business, and they are all lying to her about it, pretty much for no reason.
The Heroes Live!
Of course Ollie is not dead. A mysterious figure comes to get his body from the side of the mountain. It turns out to be Maseo. And Tatsu, hiding in a cave in the mountain, brings him back to life, somehow. And he’s fine.
In the flashback Tatsu (Katana) has been kidnapped by the triad, and Waller isn’t interested in getting her back, because she wouldn’t be Waller if she had the slightest regard for human life, or gave her employees the least reason to be loyal to her. Instead, she has Ollie and Maseo retrieve an important doomsday device component that the triad is after. Ollie, during the operation, hesitates to kill a triad member. Amanda is angry that the triad member can’t be tortured, but lets it go. Turns out, Ollie slipped a tracking device into the guy’s pocket. That’s clever and more useful than just interrogation. Which means Ollie, and his pouty look and his proto-goatee an his frat-boy-wakes-up-in-after-a-weekend-in-Tijuana hair is better at Amanda Waller’s job than Amanda Waller.
And, finally, after seeing the heroes disband and the criminals run free, Laurel has had enough. She masks up, goes out, and hits them with sticks! Long live the Black Canary!